Though it usually happens on a subconscious level, we talk to ourselves all the time. Sometimes our self-talk is helpful, as it allows us to examine our issues in fine detail before acting, or to build up the confidence necessary to grow. Yet other times our minds betray us, reinforcing feelings of inadequacy, instability, and chaos. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen discuss the phenomenon of self-talk, and how one simple act can change the way you feel and react to your unconscious self-sabotage.
For more information on Tana’s new book,
“The Reluctant Courage of a Scared Child”, visit relentlesscourage.com
For info on Tana Amen’s upcoming free live virtual event, visit tanaamen.com/event
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
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.
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.
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 brainmd.com.
Welcome back. We are still talking about my journey and when I met you and how things changed and my reluctance at dating a psychiatrist. So we’re talking about the Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. So yeah, things changed when I met you.
Yeah. Now, pay attention to the lessons. There’s a lot of lessons, and we’d just dearly love it if you’d write it down, post it on any of your social media sites #brainwarriorswaypodcast.
I mean, that’s one of the reasons I wrote this, right? I wrote this because there’s no reason for me to just have people voyeuristically looking into my life. I wrote this because of the lessons and the things that people write to me. And the comments I’ve been getting recently with some of the stuff we’ve been talking about have been sort of mind-blowing.
So I know there’s a lot of people suffering, and I think when we open up this part of ourselves, it’s really scary. But all of a sudden, you just don’t feel alone. The stories I’ve been getting, the messages I’ve been getting, have been really, really powerful. So I really do love getting those from you. Please keep sending them. And that is the reason that we’re talking about all this. So let me know if it resonates.
So, knowing about this trauma, I’m thinking to myself, I want to be-
I hated when you use the word trauma. Do you remember that? I got so angry. I’m like, “I am not traumatized.” But you could see it on my scan.
You showed me the trauma pattern in my scan, the PTSD pattern. I’m like, “What? No. I don’t have trauma. Like I’m not, no.”
Yeah. No. Denial is a very important defense mechanism, and you were in denial. Yeah. You had just come out of a pretty traumatic marriage that was not good.
A little bit, a little bit.
And you hadn’t been settled, and you had a baby. Chloe just turned two after we had met, and I adored her. She had 12-word sentences. I mean, she was just a little chatterbox. She still is. And so, no matter who is in my life, I always just want them to be better. So you can go, “Oh, you have a rescue complex.”
And I’m like, “That’s where I get a sense of significance.”
Right. So what?
Being helpful. It’s why we do this. I like being helpful. And for whatever reason, my oxytocin level went way up when I was with you. It just made me happy. And so a couple of important things. I took you to meet my friend, Byron Katie, who-
Yeah, that was mind-bending.
… I had read her book, Loving What Is, so right before I had met you, I had dated someone for three years. And when she went away, it just broke my heart, and I was just not normal. It’s really the first time in my life, except losing my grandfather, I felt grief. I mean, I was just super off and sad. And then she and I are published by the same imprint at Random House. And I read her book, and then I got to meet her. And then I got to treat half the people in her family. That sort of goes with me. And I fell in love with her work, and I still teach it all the time.
Yeah, me too. It’s powerful.
And I had an opportunity to go visit her, and so you and I went and visited her.
I had no idea what I was in for. I had no idea what I was in for.
And what did you learn?
So, first of all, I was, well, I thought that I was really good at having my wall, my facade, intact. I was really good at it. And most people thought I had it pretty, even you, thought I had it pretty together. I mean, yeah, you’re a shrink, and you would get little pieces out of me, but you still thought I’ve had my life pretty together for the most part. I mean, I had a good job. I owned my house and didn’t have a lot of bills. And on the outside it looked like-
There is so much attractive about you from how smart you are, how empathic you are, to be a neurosurgical ICU nurse, you can take care of the sickest people, so kind, competent, beautiful. I mean, we went through the whole Playboy thing. So yeah, I mean, I was completely taken, but thought maybe with a few adjustments.
But you kept seeing this trauma. But even you at first-
Because it was there.
… kept mentioning this comment, and I was so irritated, and it irritated me. But what even you didn’t know at first was that I had never really addressed that I had suffered with an eating disorder secretly. So from the time I was 17 years old, when my mom took me to UCLA Eating Disorders Clinic, and they freaked me out so badly that I left.
And I’m like, “I did not come here to get labeled and see people die.” I mean, someone went into a code blue while I was there, a 17-year-old, because she had heart failure, no, cardiac arrest. And it freaked me out so badly that I never went back and got treated. And so I just would exercise as hard as I could to manage my anxiety.
But every now and then, it would peak its head, like when I got cancer and I couldn’t exercise, or when I went through my divorce and I was working crazy hours and trying to take care of a baby, and life was just overwhelming. And then it popped his head up. And I felt like such a failure, but I couldn’t let anyone see that. And so I didn’t even tell you, and I couldn’t say the word.
So I couldn’t say certain words like molested. I mean, I could say it in the context of other people, but not me. I couldn’t say the B word. And so I remember when I met Byron Katie and one of the first things she asked me was how long I had suffered with an eating disorder, or she said disordered eating or something. I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I was stunned. And I had finally just told you, on the drive up there, I don’t know why, something prompted me. And I looked at you-
Actually it was in the hotel room.
And I was so angry at you because I thought you told her. And you’re like, “I didn’t say anything. I just learned myself. I just found out myself.” And so I was so mad because I prided myself on no one knowing anything. And everything began to crumble from that moment. Just like a house of cards, it just began to one-by-one just break down.
So I write the story in the book, and it’s a pretty powerful story about how she turned that thought around with, is it true? Can you know it’s true? How do you feel when you have that thought? Who would you be without that thought? And then we turn it to its opposite, and it’s a really powerful lesson.
Well, and then I took you to a three-day workshop by Katie up at Esalen. And there is this very powerful exercise where she has you write down your thoughts about your body. And what you discovered was, and you’re in a size zero jeans, that your thoughts were virtually identical.
To every woman in there.
To every woman.
Didn’t matter what they looked like. Didn’t matter what size they were or how old they were. It was mind-boggling. They all had the exact same thoughts.
And you actually tell the story in the book of a woman who stands up and reads her list. And it’s the same as your list, that she is considerably-
Much older than I am.
And it was so mind-boggling.
And then you got up, and it just shocked me in front of all those people.
Because I never would do that.
There are hundreds of people there, and you commented on her thoughts.
And I commented on mine because she had said something about sort of women like me. And I was like, “Oh, hold up right now.”
And then afterwards, you told someone else you’d struggled with an eating disorder, and I’m looking at you like, “You actually said that?”
I said it out loud, yeah.
You said it out loud. And in so many ways it was freeing for you.
Well, it opened up the door. I knew that wasn’t it. I wasn’t done. That was the beginning. All of a sudden I felt ready to go to therapy. You had given me a gift of 10 sessions of EMDR, and at first, I was like-
“Why would you give me a gift of therapy?”
I want to talk about that in the next one because it’s such an important treatment tool for trauma but-
But only a shrink would give you therapy as a gift.
But at Esalen, you really got to dive deeply into these five questions, right?
You are not your mind. In fact, I’m going to give you, as a bonus for staying with us, a new exercise that I learned from our friend, Steven Hayes, you’re going to meet him soon, is give your mind a name. That way you can separate from your mind. And the name I’ve given my mind is Hermie. So Hermie was my pet raccoon when I was 16, and I loved her. I actually didn’t know it was a her until she had babies. But Hermie used to talk all the time. All the time. And she never said anything, at least anything that-
That made sense.
… that made sense. And now that I’ve named my mind Hermie, that I get to choose if I listen to it or I don’t listen to it. And what Katie really teaches is you don’t have to believe every stupid thing you think. Is it helping or is it hurting? You should carry these three words around with you all the time. Is it true? That just because you have a thought has nothing to do with whether or not it’s true. And then you actually ended up taking her nine-day course-
… to really get in the deep end of the pool.
That was hard.
… of managing your mind, and that you don’t have to believe everything you think. All right. So when we come back, we’re going to talk about your experience with EMDR. You had a masterful therapist, and it was hard. And initially some of the feelings you had, like about your mom, it turned from, “Oh, we have this great relationship,” to “not so much,” which comes full circle. So anyways, stay with us. If you learned anything, like give your mind a name, write it down. Post it on any of your social media sites. Leave us a comment, question or review at brainwarriorswaypodcast.com.
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