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Discovering Courage in Difficult Times with Tana Amen

Tana Amen, BSN, RN. is Executive Vice President of Amen Clinics, New York Times best-selling author of The Omni Diet, highly respected health and fitness expert, cancer survivor, nationally renowned speaker, and media guest.

Tana has written the following highly successful books:

10 Day Brain Boost Cookbook, The Brain Warrior’s Way, The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook, The Omni Diet, Healing ADD through Food, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body Cookbook, Get Healthy with the Brain Doctor’s Wife, Eat Healthy with the Brain Doctor’s Wife and Live Longer with the Brain Doctor’s Wife.

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How do you discover courage in difficult times? 

You’ve heard of or maybe even experienced post-traumatic stress, but what about post-traumatic growth? I am privileged to welcome a very special friend and returning guest, Tana Amen. She’s here to share her moving story and brand-new book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child.

Tana Amen, BSN RN, is Vice President of Amen Clinics, New York Times best-selling author, a highly-respected health and fitness expert, cancer survivor, and nationally renowned speaker. 

In this episode, Tana shares how going through struggles can actually lead to growth, strength, and resilience. She imparts us with powerful techniques, like the “four circles exercise,” that can help build empathy for ourselves and others. 

Furthermore, she guides us to remove the victim mentality by choosing to seek the opportunity in the obstacles we face. If you have found yourself struggling to find courage during these troubling times, this episode offers an empowering perspective to help you champion your way through. 

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"Falling isn’t failing, it’s just a part of the process."


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  • In her book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, Tana shares stories of her past about abandonment, abuse, battles with cancer, depression, and eating disorders.
  • It can be hard for us to confront an uncomfortable past, but like Tana, it’s very possible to come out of your situation like a champion. Now, Tana inspires people who need healing and hope.
  • Tana decided it was time for her to heal the past and not wear the facade. Tana hid behind a facade of perfectionism, makeup, and accomplishments, so no one knew she was broken on the inside.
  • Even after she dealt with what was going on on the inside, she didn’t want to tell anyone about it because she believed people would love her more without knowing all the messiness.
  • That’s not true. Life is messy. People are broken and it’s ok.
  • You can’t learn martial arts without learning how to fall safely. Falling isn’t failing, it’s just part of the process. As long as you get up, you haven’t failed.
  • Brokenness is a normal part of life for so many people. It’s important that we stop hiding and feeling shame for that and embrace each other in our brokenness and help each other up.
  • There is post-traumatic stress and there is post-traumatic growth where struggles can lead to strength.
  • Some people believe you are predestined to experience post-traumatic stress or post-traumatic growth, just like people believe you are born resilient or born a victim.
  • Sharing the same genetics does not necessarily mean you will operate the same. Some people remain in victim mode while others choose not to.
  • Instead of staying stuck in victim mode, asking yourself a question like “what do I do next?” or “how do I turn this into an opportunity?” will help shift your perspective and place you in a position of power.
  • You can learn and build the muscles of grit and resilience. Even if you are not predisposed to those qualities, they can still be strengthened.
  • Your genetics load the gun when it comes to your health, but your decisions decide whether or not your trigger gets pulled most of the time — this is the same scenario.


  • This is a powerful journaling exercise that Tana uses personally and with her clients at Amen Clinics.
  • The four circles are biology (brain and body), psychology (mind, thought life), social circle (your community), spiritual (meaning and purpose).
  • Purposeful people live 11 years longer, are happier, more fulfilled, and more successful.
  • The four circles are like four tires on a car. If one of the tires goes flat, the car will drive for a little while, but if more than one goes flat, your car could flip.
  • People are not paying attention to the levels in their tires. If you are not filling those circles (tires) all the time, eventually the car will crash.
  • Biology (hardware) –  brain, body, hormones, thyroid, etc.
  • Psychology (software) – thinking/thought patterns
  • Social Circle – the people you associate with
  • Spiritual – purpose and meaning

If you have been through childhood trauma, writing your story is one of the most powerful things you could ever do.

  • We develop strategies when we are children that help us survive and help us to get by, but those same strategies are not likely to work well in adulthood.
  • Much like Tana has done, re-writing your story allows you to look back on those childhood traumas and realize why those strategies no longer work.
  • When you reprocess as an adult, it helps to offer a different, more matured perspective.
  • Doing the four circles exercise is beneficial to do for yourself and those people who hurt or disappointed you — you begin to see them through a different light.
  • Considering someone else’s biology, psychology, social circle, and spiritual circle gives you a better understanding and different perspective of that person.
  • Doing this exercise helps to remove judgment, create empathy, and could lead to forgiveness.
  • It’s easy to call other people bad, it’s harder to ask why.

We often don’t meet our own potential because we get caught up in self-loathing, self-hatred, and self-judgment.

  • Doing this exercise is important for forgiving other people but even more important for forgiving yourself. We tend to see the world as we are.
  • Forgiving yourself is necessary if you want to open up your life to joy, happiness, and success.


  • When caught up in self-loathing, a great question to ask yourself is, “Is it true?”
  • Tana borrowed this exercise from her good friend, Byron Katie.
  • It’s a simple exercise that has helped change Tana’s life and many of her clients.

Ask yourself:

  • Is it true? Can I know it’s absolutely true?
  • How do I feel when I have the thought?
  • How do I treat other people when I have this thought?
  • Who would I be without the thought?

In her book, Tana walks the reader through examples of how this worked in her life.

  • Tana’s thought was: no one would love her if they really knew her.
  • Then, take the thought and turn it to its opposite (i.e. people would love me more if they really knew me).
  • The real work comes with the second turn around. For Tana, it was: I don’t love me because I know me.
  • When we take responsibility for something, we have great power to make things better for ourselves so we are no longer a victim.


  • Tana shares a story of her uncle who asked her, “How much responsibility are you willing to take for where your life is at?”
  • Tana was dealing with cancer, treatments, and other overwhelm in her life at the time. At that point she insisted that she could not take responsibility for cancer.
  • He said, “I didn’t ask you to take the blame, I asked you how much responsibility you were willing to take.”
  • Responsibility is the ability to respond. If you take 50% responsibility, then you have 50% ability to respond and change the outcome, but something or someone still has the other 50%.
  • No matter what happens in your life, you don’t have to take the blame, but you can turn on your ability to respond. Ask yourself: what can I do?
  • When you look for the opportunity in your life, you no longer blame people or circumstances.
  • If you fight for your limitations you get to keep them.
  • If you can do one thing today, the minute something goes wrong, look in the mirror and say, “what’s the opportunity?”
  • When we change our questions, we could change our lives.


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@TanaAmen & @JimKwik) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Visit The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child to pre-order the book and receive over $500 worth of gifts from Tana.
  • For every book ordered in the pre-order season, Tana will donate a book to a person in need.

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