7 Ways Other People’s Dragons Pick on You

They, Them, and Other Dragons

By Daniel G. Amen, MD

Everyone struggles with inner Dragons from the Past that breathe fire on your emotional brain and can drive anxiety, depression, and other emotional health issues. Your brain is always listening to these “mental” dragons. In addition, your brain is always listening to the words and actions of other people (They, Them, and Other Dragons), both alive and dead, who each have their own Dragons from the Past. That’s why relationships are often messy.


Your brain is always listening to the words and actions of other people (They, Them, and Other Dragons), both alive and dead, who each have their own Dragons from the Past. That’s why relationships are often messy. Click To Tweet

Unless you’re careful, you’re never just dealing with the moment; you’re also dealing with all the moments of all the people involved.

When They, Them, and Other Dragons Attack

In times of stress, such as when families, couples, and roommates have been cooped up for months to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, there is no escape from the They, Them, and Other Dragons. Being in close quarters escalates the fire breathing among these beasts. We’re also all being subjected to conflicting societal messages that left us feeling confused, sad, anxious, frustrated, angry, and fearful, and they are fueling our own Dragons from the Past.

Let’s start by asking who “they” are. Growing up, my mother said (and maybe yours did too), “If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all. ‘They’ wouldn’t like it.” I often wondered who “they” were. Have you noticed people say things like “They said this . . .” “They said that . . .” “They think you should dress better, be taller, smarter, stronger, or more talented.” “They” are the collective voices in our heads that are constantly judging or criticizing our thoughts, actions, words, and the way we look.

7 Types of They, Them, and Other Dragons

In my book, Your Brain Is Always Listening, I introduce you to a variety of They, Them, and Other Dragons that may be unconsciously impacting your happiness, relationships, and success, including:

  1. Parent Dragons: Your brain is always listening to the voices of your mother or father (or mother or father figures) criticizing you or pushing you to be better.
  2. Sibling and Birth Order Dragons: Your brain is always listening to your birth order and the voices of your siblings, who were often competing with you for your parents’ attention.
  3. Children Dragons: Your brain is always listening to the voices of your children who often (although not always) adore you through their elementary school years then push away and criticize you during their adolescent and young adult years.
  4. Teacher and Coach Dragons: Your brain is always listening to the voices of your teachers who graded your intelligence and effort and your coaches who noticed your abilities and flaws.
  5. Friends, Popular Kids, Bullies, and Mean Girl Dragons: Your brain is always listening to the voices of your past friends, as well as the popular kids, bullies, and mean girls when you were growing up. These relationships soothe your dragons (good friends) or cause them to breathe fire (bullies and mean girls).
  6. Former, Current, and Prospective Lover Dragons: Your brain is always listening to this group. These are the most emotionally charged dragons of all, which is why they can make you more upset than any of the other ones, especially when the relationship goes sour.
  7. Internet Troll Dragons: Your brain is always listening to the voices of the people or bots on social media and the internet trolls who criticize you for sport. Unfortunately, this is happening at younger and younger ages.

In Your Brain Is Always Listening, I share what triggers these dragons and provide helpful strategies to reduce their negative impacts, so you can put an end to the Game of Thrones battles in your head.

Your Brain Is Always Listening is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and New York Times bestselling author Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, Dr. Amen equips you with powerful weapons to battle the inner dragons that are breathing fire on your brain, driving unhealthy behaviors, and robbing you of your joy and contentment. Order your copy here

If you want to join the tens of thousands of Amen Clinics patients who have already tamed their dragons and overcome their symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, and more, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Looking forward to the book and upcoming talk about the book.

    Comment by John — February 3, 2021 @ 6:10 AM

  2. This is a absolutely great article. You have nailed it once again. If people would just reprogram the dragons which control and limit their lives they would be much happier and healthier too both emotionally and physically too. Emotions, of course, come before the physical.

    Comment by Mike Edwards — February 3, 2021 @ 7:42 AM

  3. Loved your article about the dragons. I seem to have many of them hanging around. Wish you had facilities in areas where I could get more direct help then just online. Have pre-ordered your new book and look forward to reading it. Am under going counseling through a local lisw who seems to think you have some great things going on as helps. I have found a great deal of value in information you provide but again, wish you had a place closer to Columbus, OH where i live for more direct help.

    Comment by Carole Barkley — February 3, 2021 @ 10:06 AM

  4. Great article. To tie the heart, brain, and what flows out of the mouth, is to understand the Genesis of these dragons from a spiritual standpoint. The condition heart is at the center of all this. Simply said, it’s in the heart before it’s how we think or what comes out of our mouth.
    The problem:
    Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (ESV)
    Matthew 15:18, But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. (ESV)
    Proverbs 23:7, As a man thinks in his heart so is he…(NKJV)
    Below is a great biblical remedy for dragon slaying.
    Ezekiel 36:26, And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
    Philippians 4:8, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

    Comment by Greg Gothard — February 4, 2021 @ 7:10 AM

  5. Thank you for never giving up on our precious brains that have come to a place of such open doors and you have been getting prepared for this for years!

    I am grateful!

    Looking forward to the discussion and book as well!

    Your talks are always helpful to me and my loved ones and others as well!


    Comment by Teri — February 4, 2021 @ 3:05 PM

  6. Love this information that assures me I, in fact, have a brain/processing disorder. While it might be a little embarrassing, the frustration of the dragons, coupled with the other struggles of ADD/ADHD would make me as the following emoji’s!
    My friend. Beth has told me that with my menopause has made this condition worse. (Lord help me, those around me and my poor husband. (BTW, Beth used to be a teacher so she is well equipped as most all teachers are to pick up on such)
    As others have said above if your were closer (and due to the pandemic) I would check myself in at the nearest facility to Georgia. (I live fairly close to Six Flags over Georgia) Less than. 20 miles from downtown.
    Heck you might even come up with an 8th level of ADD/ADHD studying this ole/old brain. Lol, but not lol.
    I am a believer in God and that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, and in his death burial and resurrection . That it TRULY gives my life purpose and meaning. Without this assurance and hope with my condition, I would be in a Mental Institution possibly.
    Just to clear this up, I know Mental Issues are a “REAL” issue. My father and a few in his family had it. In fact, I think, if ADD/ADHD is hereditary, I got it from him.
    Thank You again, Dr. Amen, your staff and assistance in your passion in this area if medical practice.
    Angela Head

    Comment by Angela Head — February 10, 2021 @ 6:25 AM

  7. DR AMEN
    You are a GENIUS. I know I have ADD/ADHD now DRAGONS. OMG must make an appointment @ NY AMEN CLINICS. Took all your suggestions you always give. Now I need to have brain SPECT. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO

    Comment by MIRIAM LAFFERTY — February 12, 2021 @ 3:23 PM

  8. Hello Miriam, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information regarding appointments with one of our clinics. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 15, 2021 @ 9:35 AM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Contact Us