Trauma + “Being Polite” – Finding Your Voice

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

A traumatic incident from Tana’s past, as referenced from her new book “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child”, taught her that finding her voice could be a powerful weapon. Ever since, she’s found using her voice like a sword allowed her to express herself and to fight back against forces of harm. In this episode of the podcast, Tana and Dr. Amen discuss the concept of finding and using your voice, and why it can be so important for those dealing with anxiety, depression, or trauma. 

For more information on Tana’s new book, “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child”, visit relentless

For info on Tana Amen’s upcoming free live virtual event, visit

Daniel Amen, MD:            Welcome to The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:            The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT Imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen, BSN …:          The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to

Daniel Amen, MD:            Welcome back. We are so grateful that you’re with us, and we’re continuing on the last week for The Relentless Courage of the Scared Child. I have so many reviews to listen to.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          You have to pick one.

Daniel Amen, MD:            This is from MH521. “I’ve been tuning into their podcast now for a little while. And it’s not only been very informative, but also very inspirational and empowering. Ever since my concussion, I’ve been seeking out many natural supplements and diet changes to help my recovery. Dr. Amen and Tana Amen’s podcast have been instrumental in helping manifest positive change in my mental health and well-being. I look forward to listening to more podcasts and consider both of them partners in my recovery.”

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Love that. Love that.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Today we’re going to talk about finding your voice. Isn’t that when you posted about finding your voice, that you get a lot of comments?

Tana Amen, BSN …:          I do and that sort of surprised me. I didn’t realize how many people, how many women especially, struggle with that. I don’t know why that surprises me because we’re told to be polite and be quiet most of our lives. From the time we’re little, it’s like, “Be polite. Be quiet. Be a good little girl.”

Daniel Amen, MD:            Were you told that? Because of my five sisters, nobody told them to be quiet. They were not quiet. Still, I go over to my mom’s and if everybody’s there, I’m like, “Wow, there’s a lot of noise.”

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Yeah, no. I think societally, we teach our girls to be polite and quiet, and we teach our boys to be powerful. One of the reasons I love martial arts for women so much is because we get loud, we hit stuff, and it’s empowering as opposed to disempowering. But when I was young, I don’t think I was taught that necessarily because my mom was pretty intense.

Daniel Amen, MD:            She is not quiet.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          She is not quiet.

Daniel Amen, MD:            And your daughter is not quiet.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Not quiet. I intentionally taught her that. I intentionally taught her to use her voice. I always said, “Use your words.” I would not let her get away with whining and pouting. It’s like, you’re not getting it until you use your words.

Daniel Amen, MD:            She had 12 word sentences when she was two, so apparently she listened.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Right. And I never use baby talk. I never use baby talk with her. In fact, even at four, when we will go to the doctor’s office, I would make her talk to the doctor. I never wanted her to think that just because someone was in a position of authority, that she didn’t have the right to speak up. But I was a very timid child. I was really timid when I was little, not because someone told me. It may have even been partially because my mom was so powerful, but I discovered that because of all the chaos in my life, it was safer to hide. I was afraid. It was safer to just go away and hide somewhere.

Daniel Amen, MD:            She also has ADD, which we have talked about, and she was not a good listener and would often talk over you. And if you have ADD, what you really want to work on is listening.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Well, I have to work on that with my daughter.

Daniel Amen, MD:            It’s important because when no one hears you… And it could be your mom or dad, their intention was great, but they didn’t have the ability to inhibit the first thought that came into their head. And the more language they used, the more it often shuts people down.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Yeah. Well, in my house there was just yelling, screaming, chaos, drugs, people breaking in. I mean, it was just nuts. I figured out that it was easier to hide. And it wasn’t until I was molested when I was 12, a word I can finally say, that I realized being nice is not going to cut it. Now at first, I went to an extreme other direction with it. I was this very attitudinal teen who was not very nice. I used my voice a lot, but probably not very helpful way, not very constructive way, but I thought it was better than being hurt.

I was tired of being hurt. I was tired of being overseen. I went to an extreme, and so I could cut someone down pretty quick. It was this like sword that I was going to use. I use my voice as a sword basically. It was like to keep people away from me. It took time. Just like a knight uses a sword to protect, but not to just intentionally harm. It took time to learn to do that. That was a skill. But initially it was hard, but learning how to draw boundaries is such an important thing.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Well, and another part of the book where finding your voice was so important was working in the ICU at Loma Linda.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Oh yeah. That was a whole nother thing, but I want to go back really quickly. My mom never told me to be polite when I was little because she didn’t have to, because I was timid. When I found my voice, I was suddenly told, “Be polite.” What happened was after I was molested, I have an encounter with my stepdad. I never thought I’d have to see him again or talk to him again. My mom did a great job. She protected me. She believed me. And then I have this moment where I have to talk to him and it was like a sucker punch. I hear his voice and I didn’t really…

I was like, whoa, I didn’t expect that to happen. And so it shocked me when I heard his voice on the phone and I was very rude. I was very rude, and I still don’t feel bad for it. But anyways, I was very rude and I yelled at him and my mom came around the corner and was like, “Tana, be polite,” and she sort of hissed it at me. Now, there are a lot of reasons she did that, right? The loss of control, the sudden change in me shocked her. She didn’t know what to do with that, but I was resentful to her.

I held a lot of resentment toward her for a long time because of that “Tana, be polite”. It took me time.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Where in your life did you lose your voice? I think it would be good to think about it. And then how do you think you got your voice back in rationale?

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Yeah, it was a rollercoaster. I mean, it took time. Therapy was one. I mean, I started… I love martial arts, like I said. Therapy for sure. Doing intentional training. When you become a parent, dear Lord, I mean, parent training, there’s no book. But I intentionally…

Daniel Amen, MD:            There is a book.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Right. I intentionally started seeking out parent training, because they don’t come with an instruction manual. When you are gifted a strong-willed child, you have no choice but to figure out how to temper your own frustration, because you got to learn how to temper theirs, how to guide theirs.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Well, and actually we have a great announcement. Amen University, Amen Clinics, Tana, and I, we just became the exclusive distributors for Love & Logic, the parenting program that I always say saved my daughter’s life.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Which is why we got involved with them. That’s why we did this. But I intentionally took communication courses for that reason. It was intentional on my part to take communication courses. It’s like, I’ve got this voice. Now what do I do with it?

Daniel Amen, MD:            Yeah. But Love & Logic was a very important part of that because it taught you that you be firm.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Well, I think of it as a communication course.

Daniel Amen, MD:            You can be firm and kind and help really plant responsibility into children.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          It’s about coaching. It’s not about taking control. It’s about coaching. It helped me so much because it’s like… And it works not just with kids. It works, like it really is a communication course. It’s almost like when you are in this power struggle with someone, you’re both tugging on this rope, and what it teaches you is to let the rope go. You let the rope go and you let the person pay consequences. You don’t try to be in a power struggle. It’s like, you let the rope go.

Whatever happens, they need to pay the consequences for it, and you’re just there to coach them. You’re there to love them, use empathy, and coach them through it.

Daniel Amen, MD:            And to create competent people, which is why… So in the near future, we’re going to do a whole week of podcasts with Charles and Jim Fay and just talk about our excitement partnering with them.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Some of my favorite humans.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Because one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do is raise children.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Especially now.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Especially now.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Well, they’re home.

Daniel Amen, MD:            So elevating your skill is just so important. All right. Finding your voice.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          I’m so grateful to all of you for joining me on this journey. I would love to hear from you, love to hear if you’ve been struggling, if feel like you had your voice taken away, or if you have your voice, how did you find it? Please write to me, tag me. You can find me on Instagram or Facebook. Also, go to Leave us questions, comments, and we would love it if you left us a review. We need to tell them about the event.

Daniel Amen, MD:            We have been. December 12th. It’s free. Overcoming Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Grief. We have great speakers, Pastor Dorian Gray, who we just adore, Dr. Carolyn Lee, Dr. Sharon May.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          JJ Virgin.

Daniel Amen, MD:            JJ Virgin.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          And you.

Daniel Amen, MD:            And me and you. December 12th. If you go to, you can sign up for free, and we will enter you into a drawing to win a free evaluation with SPECT scan at Amen Clinics. Stay with us.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:            If you’re considering coming to amen clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code “podcast10” to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.