What Is The Difference Between Self-Care & Self-Centeredness?

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

Dr. Amen often says that it’s best to do the right thing not because you should, but because you love yourself. This episode of the podcast explores this concept of self-love, or “philautia,” as it was coined by the Greeks. Self-love is best looked at through the lens of how we react to the development of our own brains, and Dr. Amen and Tana use this lens to show us how we can use this self-focus to improve our lives.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: 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.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 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 amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are working through the Greek words for love and we've talked about Eros of course my favorite, and we ...
Tana Amen: Big surprise.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... talked about storge, which is love of family, and phileo, which is brotherly love. Well, today we're going to talk about philautia, which is self-love. And I love this new phrase I've come up in the last year, it's, “Do you love food that loves you back?"
Tana Amen: Oh yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That doing the right thing is not because you should, it's not punishing, it's because you love yourself. Just like that quote from Drew Carey that when you do the right thing, you should celebrate.
How would you treat the four-year-old, because you know the four-year-old wants ice cream, and churros, and play video games for 42 hours straight. The four-year-old wants what he or she wants, when he or she wants it. But, that's why God gave you parents. Right? They're supposed to be your frontal lobes until yours actually develop.
Natalie Buchoz: Can you talk about that for a minute because I think that's so fascinating. We say that a lot around the office, you know, if you talk about frontal lobes, you talk about your kids and making sure that their frontal lobes are developing properly. Well, what age do they end, do they stop developing, and ...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, new research, brand new research it's actually closer to 30.
Tana Amen: Oh boy. Wow.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That, to see and you know I don't know for you Natalie if you're different at 25 than you were when you were 18.
Natalie Buchoz: Oh I was.
Dr. Daniel Amen: When I was 18 I was not that smart. I was just not making really great decisions.
Tana Amen: It's funny that you say that, 'cause I felt it changing at about 23, but I was still going through a lot of medical stuff. At 25, bam it just like shifted.
Natalie Buchoz: I feel like people say that too, 25 and 30 and after that its just like ...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well and lets just talk for a second how important that is so the front third of your brain largest in humans and any other animal. 30% of the human brain, 11% of the chimpanzee brain, 7% of your dogs brain, 3% of the cats brain, 1% of the mouses brain. It's the part of you that makes you human it's involved in important things like focus, and forethought, and judgment and impulse control, planning, empathy, getting outside of your head into the head of other people, learning from the mistakes you make. When people talk about maturity, it's not "Oh you're mature." It's not that you don't make mistakes, it's you just don't make the same one ...
Natalie Buchoz: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... Over and over.
Tana Amen: Well and you're a better problem solver.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And what happens in the brain is there's this process called myelinization, where myelin, which is a white fatty substance, begins to surround the nerves, and when they become myelinated, they work like a hundred times faster.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Your brain becomes more efficient. Myelinization actually starts at two months old in the occipital lobes in the back, which is why little babies around three or four months when you look at them and smile, they smile back at you. They're really beginning to see you much better. They're more efficient visually.
It marches very slowly from the back of your brain and doesn't finish in the front until the middle to late 20s. The idea that a teenager at 18 is an adult. The insurance industry knew about that, because they go, "No, that's ridiculous. We need to charge them a lot more for their insurance because they're more likely to make mistakes." Isn't that interesting that the insurance industry, just looking at the math at what they had to pay.
Tana Amen: Right, all they had to do was look at car accidents.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Knew it before neuro scientist knew it. You want to do everything you can to protect it and the problem is adolescence is such a vulnerable time because parents are starting to separate ...
Natalie Buchoz: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... Their supervision. The normal task of adolescents are independence and identity. So who am I separate from you? And, oh by the way I want to make my own decisions.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And that's why adolescence is so hard with a brain that is not fully developed. And then at 18 we often send them away to college and that's often when they will have their first psychotic episode, when they'll get depressed, have suicide behavior and we're going, "But they're an adult." Well not really ...
Tana Amen: Not really.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... From a neuroscience standpoint.
Tana Amen: It's interesting you have always told me that all the time I spent with Chloe was an investment, and I have always felt that way. I have always felt that all the time that I spend with her is an investment. Now that she is 15 and a half and there are times where I get frustrated, and most of it is my own hurt feelings because she's leaving.
She's a really good kid but I still worry. I worry that she is going to make these decisions. What's interesting is that because of all that time I spent, and I made her feel safe, and I think that's the number one thing, made her feel safe in knowing that no matter what it is, it's better to come to us, than to not come to us.
Natalie Buchoz: Right.
Tana Amen: All of a sudden she comes, and she's like, "I need to talk to you about ... " Well the way she approached it was she comes and she's like, "Mom, I want to know that you were serious, that I can talk to you about anything. I can talk to you about hard stuff, because I need to be able to do that now."
Natalie Buchoz: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: I was like, "Oh my God, like it worked." She actually ... I was like, "Oh," my heart's pounding, but I'm like, "Oh, of course." If you invest in that, your kids will begin to trust you. If you shut them down, or tell them they're wrong for how they feel, they will not.
Natalie Buchoz: Or try to fix them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Active listening is so important.
Tana Amen: Or try to fix it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We are talking about self-love and taking care of your relationships. I know I feel the best when you and I are close. I am not happy, it's actually really rare when we're not ...
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... Close.
Tana Amen: Me too. It feels really off.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Taking care of your relationships is clearly one way to take care of ...
Tana Amen: Of yourself.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... Yourself. Taking care of your brain is a major way of taking care of yourself.
Tana Amen: And I always want to differentiate self-care from self-centeredness.
Natalie Buchoz: Right.
Tana Amen: There is a difference. I always think of it like this. Like I've been very, very, sick so my values are God, health, family. Family comes after health. That's self-care. I can't take care of my family if I am not healthy.
Natalie Buchoz: Right.
Tana Amen: Like if I am sick, if I am dying, or a burden to other people.
Natalie Buchoz: Right
Tana Amen: I can't do that. That's self-care because I want to be my best for the people I love. Self-centeredness is very different. That's where my world revolves around me. I'm gonna leave my teenagers at home so they can party because I want to go to the Bahamas.
Natalie Buchoz: Yeah.
Tana Amen: That's self-centeredness. There's a big difference.
Natalie Buchoz: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You're so smart.
Tana Amen: Well that should be fairly obvious, but in our society it's not. Commonsense is not that common.
Natalie Buchoz: Just to back off what you said Daniel and Tana, you also mentioned this as well, is that you need to care for yourself, you need to learn to love and care for your brain. What are some things that people can do today, aside from visiting Amen Clinics.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Now that could be a great thing for them. We actually have a review I didn't read. Three Steps to Defeat Negative Thoughts by [inaudible 00:08:43]. What a marvelous idea to stop negative thoughts, my biggest issue. I will put this plan to work. I will have to buy lots of paper and ink. Clyde Glen, thank you Clyde.
Self-love is one, knowing what you want, behaving in a way to get you what you want, loving your brain, and our little tiny habit for loving your brain takes three seconds. You just ask yourself, is this good for my brain, or bad for it? Then you just need to know the [inaudible 00:09:23] and not believing every stupid thing you think. Taking time to just focus on taking care of yourself. When you take time to meditate, to pray, to workout ...
Tana Amen: That's self-love for sure.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... That's good for you, but it's totally good for me because she's happier.
Tana Amen: Are you saying it's self-love for you, when you tell me go work out?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes, I'm taking care of myself.
Tana Amen: Because I'm not that fun to be around.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm going to be less stressed. This is especially true for women. They're so other focused. You remember when you read the research about how having a baby changes a female brain?
Tana Amen: It does.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Then going through menopause changes it back.
Tana Amen: It's really fascinating.
Dr. Daniel Amen: They go from other ...
Tana Amen: What happens is your brain becomes estrogenized, right? You get pregnant and your brain becomes estrogenized, and that's why you begin to nest. It's why you all of a sudden are focused on your family, especially your baby. That's where the mama bear thing comes in. All of a sudden, you'll do anything to keep your nest together and safe. You'll put up with stuff you would never put up with from everyone in your family because your number one goal, keep family safe. It's like a neon sign in your head, keep family together, keep family safe.
What happens is, it's so interesting that typically it's around menopause that your kids begin to leave the nest. It's an interesting dynamic, although now kids are leaving ... Women are having kids later. It's typically around menopause kids begin to leave the nest, and all of a sudden the brain becomes de-estrogenized and becomes testosterone dominant. All of a sudden, all the stuff that you used to put up with and didn't bother you that much ...
Natalie Buchoz: Triggers you.
Tana Amen: Oh, you're just like, "Get out of my face. It's about me now. All of you go away."
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's actually a time where a lot of divorces happen.
Tana Amen: And women, that's the myth. The myth was that they thought men were going out finding younger women, and men were filing for divorce. Not true. Most divorces are filed by women.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 75% of the time.
Tana Amen: At that age. It's at that age, that stage. They're done.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Guys, you want to support the hormone therapy that she wants to do with the integrative or functional [crosstalk 00:11:55].
Tana Amen: I often say ... Well now I don't need it because I've had a hysterectomy. Before, like I often said, like for 10 years I took progesterone so I didn't end up on the evening news. No joke. I did not want to be divorced and I did not want to end up on the evening news.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Why would you have been on the evening news?
Tana Amen: Dear Lord, I was so ... I would just be prickly all of a sudden. I'd be fine, and all of a sudden ...
Dr. Daniel Amen: Did you chase people on the freeway.
Tana Amen: No, that was ... No, no, I'm not that dumb, because I know they have guns, so I'm not going to do that. I would think it. I would have this issue in my head, like the language that comes out of my mouth in my car, not to other people, but ...
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right, self-love. Stay with us, we're going to talk about agape when we come back.
Tana Amen: If you are enjoying the Brain Warriors Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. While you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.