You Can Train Your Brain To Have Better Relationships

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

In Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, Feel Better Fast and Make It Last, he stresses the importance your relationships have on your everyday well-being. In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Amen and his wife Tana give you advice on how to be more responsible and empathic in your treatment  of those closest to you in order to improve relationships.


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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 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
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're talking about feel better fast and make it last. It's based on the mnemonic I created, BRAIN XL. In order to feel better fast, you have to optimize the physical functioning of your brain, and we taught you how to do it. You then have to get your mind programmed properly, you have to discipline your mind. What we're going to talk about in this next series of podcasts are your relationships, so it's attachments, because one of the things I've learned is when your relationships aren't right, you are not right, that is the fastest way to feel worse. If you want to feel better fast, you want to get your relationships right.
Tana Amen: It's really interesting. In church, we actually, the last week was all about community and relationships, and about how much, I didn't realize how many times throughout the Bible that it talks about how much we need each other. I was like, "Wow, that's really interesting", but it's very clear, it talks about how important it is to be together as a community, relationships, how people need each other. So many of us tend to think, "Oh, I can do this on my own", but it's not healthy for us.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We are a relational species, we are a bonded species, we desperately need each other to survive. We're not polar bears. We're not wired. Social isolation and loneliness are actually risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.
Tana Amen: But we've begun to think it's cool in this era, this time like, "Oh, I like to be alone, I'm, I'm gonna stay single." It's interesting though, that they tend not to be as healthy, people who are single tend not to be as healthy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's not completely true. Men who are married live longer than men who are not married and large part because their wives harass them to stay healthy, to do the right thing. But women who are married according to one study, did not live as long as women who are not married because they didn't have the stress of having to get the other guy healthy.
Tana Amen: Yes, but it depends who you're married to. You take really good care of me. You make me my little cappuccino in the morning and you don't like stress my life out, so it depends on who you're married to.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Totally.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What I've learned is you are powerful. If you're in a bad relationship, there are a lot of things you can do to make that relationship worse. You know that's true, and there's a lot of things you can do to make it better.
Tana Amen: We're on the the hallway, I'm holding my brand new little niece and she is two weeks old. My niece who just had this baby says, "Oh, she can go from like sleeping to screaming in two seconds flat", and Daniel goes, "Well, so can my wife. You wanna see?" You're such a brat.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It just shows how powerful-
Tana Amen: You are?
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... we are in our relationships. No, I don't choose to get Tana screaming at me, but the fact that I know I can get her to scream at me means I can also get you to smile. I can also get her to kiss me. I can also get her to love me.
Tana Amen: I think I can count on one hand how many times you have done that in 13 years. You're a fast learner.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm a fast learner, and the pain is overwhelming. So, pair bonded species, relationships-
Tana Amen: And you have power.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... are incredibly important. In feel better fast, I don't know, it's like going crazy with all the mnemonics and feel better fast. When it comes with relationships, I like relating. R-E-L-A-T-I-N-G, and so we're going to talk about that in these podcasts. The R in relating ... You want to have great relationships? It's responsibility. What's your role. If you're a victim as we talked about with the ants, you're not going to have good relationships.
Tana Amen: I went through very hard divorce before I met you, and one of the reasons I went to therapy for almost two years wasn't because I hated him so much. I mean my divorce was hard, that wasn't the reason. Yes, it was to get over some of that stuff, mostly it was because I didn't want to carry that on, number one, to my daughter and number two, into the rest of my life if I ever did get married again because I thought I was going to have to stay single forever. [inaudible 00:05:32].
Dr. Daniel Amen: Fortune telling right?
Tana Amen: But if I did meet someone, the last thing I wanted to do is take my part of it into that relationship. You need to take responsibility for your part or you'll never be happy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What is it I can do today to get what I want? Now, you first have to define what you want. On our podcasts, we've talked about the one page miracle. On one piece of paper, write down what you want. That's actually in the inspiration part of this book. If I'm really clear what I want in my relationships, then I ask myself, "Well, does it fit?" if I say this, "Does it fit?" If I do this, "Does it fit?" I'm really clear on what I want with Tana, I want a kind, caring, loving, supportive, passionate relationship.
I always want that, but I don't always feel that way. If I haven't slept, if I'm stressed I've got a bad thought in my head, and if my frontal lobes are working right, I will catch myself and I'll go, "Does that comment fit the goals I have for my life?" If it doesn't fit, I don't say it. Where were we? We were someplace recently, and the person said ... oh, we're in church. He said, "You should always have honesty."
Tana Amen: You almost fell out of your chair. You're like, "No, you shouldn't."
Dr. Daniel Amen: You absolutely should not say everything you think.
Tana Amen: That's different than ... so not saying it is different than lying, it's omission, but it's different. You don't need to say something mean just to say something mean, just don't say it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If she says, "How do I look in this skirt?" You should not say, "You look like the back of a school bus."
Tana Amen: He said that to someone else. Anyways.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It needs to be filtered. What you say needs to be filtered through the goals you have for your life.
Tana Amen: There are kind ways to say things if you are sophisticated enough, and if you're not, just don't say it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Often, when you do that to me, when I say, "You know, how do I look in this?", if I don't think you look great in it I'll go, "What do you want me to say?" I've learned. What do you want me to say, because then you'll go, "Oh, you don't really like it", or, "I want you to tell me the truth"-
Tana Amen: I want you to be honest.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... because they don't always want you to be honest.
Tana Amen: No, no, I want you to be honest, but there's a way to say ... you could say, "Well, you have other things I like better", that's being honest in a nice way. "There are other things in your closet I like better."
Dr. Daniel Amen: I often tell my patients, "There are ways to say things, and there are ways to say things", and that's why you need a healthy brain to have a healthy relationship. What our friend Earl Henslin often says, "If there's no forethought, there is no foreplay." So thoughtfulness is very important. I want you in your major relationships, write down what it is you want. Not what you don't want, I don't want this, I don't want that, no. I want you to focus on what do you want, and then I want you to ask yourself, "Does my behavior, does my behavior get me what I want?"
The E in relating is empathy. It's being able to see things from another person's point-of-view not just your own. This is what autistic kids and adults often lack. There's actually a system in the brain for empathy, it's deep in your frontal lobes, it's called the mirror neuron system. You're able to sort of have a sense what is going on in someone else's head, and so you can adjust your behavior. Now, you can't read their mind as we talked about in the rational mind section, but constantly understanding what's going on with the other person is so important to relationships. Without empathy, your relationship is not nearly going to be as good.
Tana Amen: Yes, Chloe is actually oddly good with empathy for a teenager, for someone her age.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, there are actually people called empaths who are loaded with empathy. There are actually medical empaths, Judith Orloff is one, who can literally read the health of other people I can't do that. Working on help me understand this, you stay with us, we're going to talk more about relationships and relating so you can improve the quality of your relationships to feel better faster.
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