Why Our Brains Aren’t Programmed To Face Rejection With Chloe Amen

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

Throughout our lives, there will inevitably be times we face rejection. Whether it’s the outcome of a job interview or asking out a crush, rejection can radically affect our self-esteem. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Tana Amen is joined by her daughter Chloe, an aspiring actress, for a conversation on why it’s so important to reframe the way we think about rejection.


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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. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain, to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the 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 nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit BrainMDHealth.com.

Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, and stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation, as well as any of our supplements at BrainMDHealth.com.

Hi, everyone. I am back with my favorite person. We went and got facials last night, all of us, as a family, and it was really fun because the girl that was doing my facial said, "So you're here with your family? That must be fun." And I'm like, "Yeah, it's really cool." Because my family are my best friends. All we do is hang out together, so here we are again, and we were talking about rejection, because you're going into a field where there's a lot of rejection.

Chloe Amen: A lot. Yeah.

Tana Amen: I've seen your brain. So she has got a really anxious brain and likes to do things really well, so let's talk about rejection and being part of a world where you get a lot of it.

Chloe Amen: So I'm going into the entertainment industry, and that's one of the hardest as far as rejection goes because half of it is rejection.

Tana Amen: Or more.

Chloe Amen: And it's not just rejection of a job, like, "We're not going to give this job to you." It's rejection of sort of disapproval, and I think that's one thing that people get confused. I did for a really long time. That disapproval doesn't necessarily mean ... isn't the same thing as rejection all of the time. Disapproval is somebody's opinion, and rejection a lot of the time is somebody's opinion, too, so people get them confused I think. I certainly did. It's one thing to say, "You didn't get this job because we had another person that was better for the job." And it's another to go, "You're not going to make it in general because I don't like what you do." That's disapproval.

Tana Amen: So it's really interesting to me, as her mom, because I know she's going into this world where I know the competition is fierce. There's a ton of rejection, and there's a ton of ambiguity. So there's a ton of question marks. You don't even know why they're rejecting you sometimes, and sometimes they're just flat out brutal about it. Okay, so there's so much-

Chloe Amen: Yeah. Especially in this industry. They're like really honest.

Tana Amen: Right. So ... like the body image issues for young girls, it's insane, so if you're not grounded ... I've had so many people ask me why I didn't start you when you were really little, because it's harder to start at her age, and so why we didn't start her when she was really young, and quite frankly, I didn't want to because we deal with a lot of that in our clinics with child stars. And the truth is, I wanted her to be very grounded as her own person, know who she is, have a really strong sense of ... her moral compass be really set to be able to withstand some of that. And I knew she was really anxious anyway. She's anxious in the sense of always wanting to do a really good job. Well in that world, even if you do a good job-

Chloe Amen: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. People get confused with-

Tana Amen: It's subjective.

Chloe Amen: Disapproval and rejection. Because disapproval, you could still have done a really good job in somebody else's eyes, and then another person, it's like, "Well I wouldn't have done it that way, so you didn't do a good job." So those two get really confused. I've kind of had to learn, or am learning, how to step back and go, "Did I do my best? Did I do what I would have done? Do I think that I did it right? Or do I think that I did the best that I could have done. And is that an opinion, or is that a statement? Is that a true statement what that person's saying, or is that just their opinion?" So it's kind of differentiating the two.

Tana Amen: And with the disapproval regarding how people look and the big focus on how people look, even, it's like ... seriously, even that's an opinion, because in one breath, in one day, you can have someone tell you, "You're not pretty enough. You're not skinny enough." And then no joke, you will right away have someone say, "You know what? Too stereotypical. You're too skinny, you're too pretty. We need someone who's more real life." If you're not grounded, and you don't know who you are going in, that's tip number one, make sure you know who you are. Make sure you're solid in who you are and comfortable in your skin because you've always got to know, there's always going to be someone skinnier, or that looks a different way, prettier is not even the right word, and there's always going to be people who are not as skinny and don't look the same way.

But there's room for everybody. You just have to know who you are and what you're looking for. You have to know what your look is. You have to know who you are, what you feel like ... whatever your field is, you've got to be strong in that and in who you are.

Chloe Amen: Right. Because then, if what goes around you, as far as disapproval goes, it's like, "Well that's not what I'm set out to be. I know that's not what I want. I know that's not." So when somebody tells you, "You're not this." It's like, well that's not my focus. That's not my goal. So having your eyes set on what you want, it's like everything else that goes on around you, and the disapproval that goes on around you, it doesn't phase you as much because it's like you know ... I know what I want, and I know I'm solid, and kind of that.

Tana Amen: I really like that. And there's also this sort of false ... that sort of goes with what you're saying, though. I was thinking, as you were talking, I was thinking, there's also this false sense of approval or disapproval, but that's really more based on people's opinions, also. And then, one thing that popped in my head while you were talking is, you don't always know what people are thinking.

Chloe Amen: No.

Tana Amen: You go on auditions, right?

Chloe Amen: And they're sitting there, like-

Tana Amen: Right.

Chloe Amen: They're looking at you like ... it's so intimidating. You walk in, and the look on their face. You walk in, and the first thought in your head is, "I'm already doing terrible." And a word hasn't even come out of your mouth yet, and you're already going, "Uh-oh. This is not going well."

Tana Amen: And you've got no clue. In fact, I have a funny story about this in my world. I speak on public stages, right?

Chloe Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tana Amen: So I have a funny story about this, I told you about it, because you came out of an audition one time and you're like, "I don't know. I thought I did a good job but I wasn't sure." So I was on stage, and no joke, there's a woman in the front row, and she had her arms crossed, and I swear she was glaring at me. And I was doing everything that I could ... I was focused on getting a smile out of this woman. I was trying to be funny, I was staring right at her, I was focused on getting her to smile.

Never got a smile at her, and she just was glaring at me. So it was throwing me off. It was throwing my energy off, and so ... this was early in my speaking career, and afterwards, I was so sort of off my game, because I was like, "What did I do that offended this woman?" So I was so freaked out by it. No joke, she called the office the next day to book me, and so I talked to her, I called her, I'm like, "I'm so confused. I'm so confused." And I actually asked her because I was so confused, I'm like, "I thought maybe you were not happy when I was talking." She goes, "What are you talking about? I was so focused on you." And I'm like, "Oh my gosh." So it told me right there, don't try to read people's minds.

Chloe Amen: Right.

Tana Amen: You can't read people's minds.

Chloe Amen: And one thing that I've sort of noticed, too, is that when I go in and I think, "Oh, I'm already doing really bad." And they haven't even said anything or I don't know that. They haven't said that to me, but I'm just assuming. I've kind of figured out that assumptions are like yourself talking back at you. Going-

Tana Amen: I like that.

Chloe Amen: Going, "No. You think you're doing a bad job."

Tana Amen: It's like a mirror.

Chloe Amen: Yeah, it's not them thinking you're doing bad. It's you that thinks you're doing a bad job, so you automatically ... if that thought is allowed to get into your head, it's able to stay because it's your thoughts that are doing it. Because if you went in going, "I'm doing great." And you walked in, you stood there, and you were confident, what they were thinking, or even the look on their face wouldn't be able to get to you because it's ... your head is too filled with, "I know I'm doing good, and I'm confident." So it's like, it's that kind of assumption in your head.

Tana Amen: And that same thing goes on in high school, right? Oftentimes, kids will give other kids a dirty look because of their own insecurities or what's going on in their head, they'll give someone else a dirty look. It's not because they don't think they look good, it's because they think, "Oh, I don't like that girl. She's too pretty." Or whatever. So you don't know what's in someone's head. It's not because they think you're not cool. Sometimes it's because they think you're too cool. So you have to be very careful about thinking you know what people are thinking.

Chloe Amen: Right.

Tana Amen: I like that. If you're set, and confident, and grounded in what you know, just don't read their mind. That would be my thought there. I don't know. So one thing, when we take you to all of these ... you've actually done a couple of things that I really like. We take you to all of these auditions, and the first thing they told us going in, "Make sure she knows that she's not going to get all of them. She can't possibly. She's got to go to a ton of them. It's a numbers game." So you knew that going in. And so one thing I really liked that you actually said to me was, "It's okay. I don't think of it like rejection. I want to go to all of them because, for me, it's also about practice, and becoming comfortable with it."

Chloe Amen: Yeah. It's experience.

Tana Amen: Right. It's experience, and you never thought of it as rejection.

Chloe Amen: Yeah.

Tana Amen: So you reframed it.

Chloe Amen: So for me, whether or not ... I've kind of put myself in the mindset of whether or not I get a callback or book the job or whatever, I've kind of put myself in the mindset that each one of them, going in, every time I walk in the office, I've already accomplished something. Instead of when I walk out, getting the callback, it's when I walk in, "Oh, I'm already in the doors. I've already got one down. I've already accomplished this." Not that I don't give my best when I actually do the audition, because that's just another accomplishment, to book it, but to just walk in the door, for me, is an accomplishment.

Tana Amen: That's awesome.

Chloe Amen: That's how I kind of see it.

Tana Amen: We actually teach that in a different way as a coaching tip, which I don't think I've told you, so that's actually really cool. Basically, if you reframe it and you don't try to make the goal so big that it's hard to accomplish, if you make your success, your win something small, like you said, rather than, my win is going to be getting the job, you made your win once you get in the door for the audition, a win.

Chloe Amen: I can't go, "I'm going to be happy when I have an Academy Award." It's like, no. You have to keep those small little steps, because otherwise, it's like you'd give up halfway through, because you're like, "I don't win at anything." You're like, "I can't accomplish anything." And that's not true. It's how you-

Tana Amen: It's enjoying the journey.

Chloe Amen: It's what you ... it's how you see what you accomplish.

Tana Amen: Right. So that way you're enjoying the journey. The same thing goes in martial arts, by the way. It's really hard for people who are perfectionists because you get knocked over a lot and you look silly, so you have to get over that, and you have to learn that falling is just part of the process. You've got to learn that it's just part of it. You went with me to martial arts yesterday. It was really fun. But you learn that you've got to be willing to not look perfect all the time. In order to get really good at it, you have to be willing to not look great. It's just part of it, and you know that, so you just get back up and you do it again. So it's really good.

Chloe Amen: Yeah, and on that note, one of the other things I was going to say is, when you're rejected or somebody else disapproves, it's about getting back up, like you said, and doing it again and again, and moving on. Because some people will sit there, and they go ... I used to do it too, because I'm a perfectionist, so I'd sit there, and I'd go over it, over it, over it in my head, the same thing. And I'd start talking about it. I'm like, "What if I did this? What if I could have done this?" But that doesn't help because I can't go back and I can't do it again, so if I just move on, it's like put that in the back of your head.

How I think of it is, once I leave somewhere, first of all, when I get in the door I've already accomplished something, but once I leave somewhere, it kind of goes away. I just kind of throw it in the back, I'm like, "Alright, that one's down. Keep moving on." Whether I think it went well or not, because you miss opportunities in front of you if you're focused on what's behind you. So you have to focus on what's in front of you. There's a really cool quote. Hold on-

Tana Amen: While you're ... do you have it?

Chloe Amen: Yeah.

Tana Amen: Okay. Go ahead.

Chloe Amen: Its, "Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually be redirected to something better."

Tana Amen: Oh, I like that.

Chloe Amen: Yeah.

Tana Amen: That's great.

Chloe Amen: I have to get the name.

Tana Amen: That's really good. That's actually really good. I like that. Yeah. I really like that a lot, and one thing that I was trying to help you with, because one day, we just had ... it was a weird day. It's one of those days, where when you wake up ... she woke up, her eye was swollen shut-

Chloe Amen: I had an eye infection.

Tana Amen: It was crazy.

Chloe Amen: And I had an audition that morning, and I had an eye infection, and my eye was like out here. So I still went to the audition. I walked in, and I was like, "Hey." And I had this big thing on my eye, and they just-

Tana Amen: I gave her credit because she showed up.

Chloe Amen: They started laughing.

Tana Amen: But we walked out, and she did, she gave her best while she was there. But we walked out, she had no idea what they were thinking, but we walked out and she felt off her game, so she wasn't that happy with herself. So she was not very happy, and I was like, "You know, honey?" I go, "Not today, but one of these days, I promise you, it's going to be these experiences that you're going to find the most valuable." Because I know from experience that the days that I have done the best on stage, when I know that I gave a really great talk and performance, those are not the days that I ever look back to and go, "Oh, what can I learn from that?" Not at all. The days that I tripped on stage, or I said something stupid, or whatever, I was having an off day, those are the days that I cherish. That I value the most now. Because those days were so painful in the moment that I wanted to make sure it never happened again.

Rather than ... I didn't obsess over the failure, what I did is I made sure that I had learned from it. So that's like the falling. When you fall in karate, you get up and you go over it with your master, and you're like, "Alright. What did I do so I don't do it again?" What do I learn? I need a new strategy.

Chloe Amen: You take something away from each one.

Tana Amen: Right. So I told her, I'm like, "Look, just go ahead and sort of have whatever feelings you have about it today, but I promise you one of these days, you're going to be grateful for this chance because this wasn't a big audition, and you'll be grateful for this chance that you had to be able to have one of these days that are not great so you can learn something from it about having bad days."

Chloe Amen: And another thing is, when you have a bad day and then you move on, you think of the next days ... or the next day, you think, "Well, I didn't have a swollen eye today, so I did better." Right? I accomplished something better today because I didn't do as bad as I did yesterday. So it's kind of ... even on the bad days, the bad days make your good days even better, because it's like, "Well, I did better than I did before."

Tana Amen: And I think, for me, and then I would love to just hear your thought on this and whatever else you have to say. I think the thing that you always want to remember, that I always think about is, try to make it about relationships more than just your performance.

Chloe Amen: Right.

Tana Amen: So I think it's really important that at the end of the day, all business, even your, especially what you're going into, every audition, you're not going in to audition for that job, you're going in to build relationships.

Chloe Amen: First impressions are key. Especially in this industry, because if you meet a casting director, they're not just a casting director for that project. If you walk in and you don't think you're right for the project, it's like ... you can't go in with that mindset. Going, "I'm not right for this, so I don't have to try." That casting director is going to be there for other stuff, and I think that goes with not just this industry, but with a lot of stuff. You might run into another person one day, and they might look at you and go, "Oh, that was the girl that gave no effort. That was the girl that had no enthusiasm." And it might come back to ... you know what I'm saying?

Tana Amen: So keep the end game in-

Chloe Amen: Yeah, it's the end game.

Tana Amen: Don't just focus on that one thing. Just like that woman who was in the front row. I didn't know she was there with another company and was looking for a speaker. I would have no way of knowing that. So it's always giving your best and trying to think about people and relationships. And in the end, it's about the people, it's about the relationships.

Chloe Amen: Yeah. Making the connections.

Tana Amen: So there's always going to be rejection. People are always going to have opinions. You have to know who you are and give your best and not let other people's opinions of you dictate who you're going to be. So I think we are so obsessed, in our culture, with letting people's opinions dictate the direction of our lives. We're so busy watching reality shows and the Kardashians, or whoever else is ... whoever. It's like, everybody's opinions of people's lives, it's how we sort of see ourselves.

Chloe Amen: And it instills this fear, too. It instills this fear of everybody else's opinions, but it's like what makes that person's opinion more valid that yours. What makes them more-

Tana Amen: But at the end of the day, it's not going to matter.

Chloe Amen: They're just a person. Yeah.

Tana Amen: Right? So that doesn't have eternal value. I always go back to that. That doesn't have eternal value. So you have to look at the end game, look at the bigger picture, stay grounded in who you are. To me, and we've done a lot of work on this since you were little, you've got to know your values going in. You've got to know your values going in.

Chloe Amen: Yeah. Because if you don't ... if you don't have that wall, then anything can just come through.

Tana Amen: It's like a protection.

Chloe Amen: Right. Anything can just come through and attack you if you don't have that solid wall in front of you. Knowing what you're set out to do, your focus, anything can just affect you.

Tana Amen: Yeah, for me, it's God, health, family, and my health is always before my family even though that sounds weird because my family is so important to me, but it's because I've struggled with my health, and I can't do anything with my family if I don't have my health intact. So it's God, health, family, and if it doesn't fall into those three, I've got lower values than that, but those are the big three. And if it doesn't meet that, okay, it's probably not going to get through. Those are going to be my big three. Even work comes after that, but work is important to me, my job is important to me, but my work falls into that bigger purpose. I make it fit in to that bigger purpose. But anything else, really, nobody can sort of get to me because I'm clear. And you've got yours. You're clear. As a family, we focus on our values together. You do your journaling, and you're very clear on who you are before you go out there.

Chloe Amen: Yeah. And it's not just in the back of my head all the time, it's not just like, "Oh, I've already got it. It's just there." It doesn't work, necessarily, like that for me. I'm that person that, when things come my way, I'm not always ... I don't always have a protective barrier. I'm not always ready for everything is what I'm trying to say.

Tana Amen: None of us are.

Chloe Amen: Nobody is. So I have to constantly be reminding myself. Every single time I go into an audition, I journal before I go in, and I remind myself of what my focus is. My focus is not to go in and get this job, that's not my main goal. My main goal is not to go in and impress somebody, it's to go in and show them who I am and then let them decide for themselves. Do you know what I'm saying?

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Chloe Amen: You just have to have your ... you have to keep reminding yourself, it's not just there.

Tana Amen: Excellent. So mostly, work on yourself, stay grounded in your values, true to yourself, and don't let other people throw you off. Alright, have a great day. Take care.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Thank you for listening to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review, and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of 'The Brain Warrior's Way' and 'The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook' we give away every month.