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You are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life ~ Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D. and Rebecca Gladding, M.D.

You Are Not Your Brain

Just the title of this book alone is quite a mouthful, but it is well worth the read and the book came in great timing for me when I was feeling stuck in my healing and changing.  I am reading it for the 3rd time.

Both authors are specialists in the area of Neuroscience and Human Behavior and work at UCLA medical school.  Dr. Schwartz is a leading researcher in the area of self-directed neuroplasticity.  I will say that I was very thankful that my copy of this book came early enough for me to read the book twice.  The writers have taken tough to understand terms and given them easier to comprehend labels such as the “uh-oh center”   and truly defined the concept mindfulness and removed the concept of thinking from its realm.

I have often thought I just do not write down enough affirmations or that I do not believe strongly enough and that is why I am not succeeding at making changes. This is not about the power of positive thinking, this is about changing deceptive chemical changes that cause habitual behavior.  But these doctors say that is not the problem at all.  These are thinking strategies and not mindful strategies because we have habitual deceptive brain messages pouring into our brains all the time and we need to acknowledge and name these for what they are in order to move beyond and find our true self.

Here are a couple of examples:   I did one of the early exercises in the book about discovering and recognizing these deceptive brain messages, which are just emotional and chemical release habits. The first time through the exercise I chose food cues and low and behold up came, “You must belong to the clean your plate club to save the starving children in some foreign country.” Now intellectually I have known this message is not true, but there it was popping up and I could hear my mother saying it.  I found 10 similar messages that just popped up right away.

Once I had finished the exercise, I began discovering even more messages, like every time I went past a certain building I thought, “I wish I was going out to lunch with someone today or had a lunch date on my calendar.”  Whenever I passed a grocery store out came my most recent menu planning schedule.  No lie, but the end of the week I had ID nearly 100 deceptive brain messages about food.   Just old habit messages that had nothing to do with the present but they did stimulate an emotional response and cued up my systems desire to respond and relieve the uncomfortable ones in the same old ways.

These old habit messages stopped the new healthy messages I was attempting to add to my positive habits list.  I could not believe how often I was thinking about food – all day long.

I just finished writing a post for my blog Biking Architect, and right away the deceptive message – you should have a food reward came popping up – about 90 seconds worth of chemical release.

Now that I am recognizing these deceptive messages in this area of my life, I can find them in other areas of my life and follow the 4 steps:
#1 Relabel
#2 Reframe
#3 Refocus
#4 Revalue

This program and ideas can be used for chronic worry, avoidance, overeating, lying, over thinking (worry), drug and alcohol addictions, depression, avoidance and any habit with is not making our lives full of contentment and joy – anything which keeps us from the potential of our most authentic selves.

Habits have been taught and programmed into our brains and can be changed and modified.  This book is a great study in how to do this retraining and making big changes in our lives – using our own brains.

I would like to say that as I completed the exercises – IT HAS NOT BEEN EASY – but it has been very satisfying.   I think this is a good book about the lessons I learned from caring for a child with a lesion in her brain over long term memory (think stroke) and working at retraining other parts of the brain to take over some of those missing functions.
I just feel like happy dancing when I can recognize a deceptive message – label it as such and move in a different direction – make a new pathway.

Emotional Intelligence is vital to understanding how our habits are formed and how to change them to work better for us and create more joy and satisfaction in our lives.
5 Ladybugs


I did receive a copy and am very happy about reading this book from TLC book tours and the  Penguin Group publisher.  If you purchase anything from Amazon from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Related Reading:
Exercising the Emotions I
Exercising the Emotions II
The Female Brain Gone Insane
90 seconds of anger 90 seconds of happiness

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20 Responses to “You are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life ~ Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D. and Rebecca Gladding, M.D.”

  1. patricia Says:

    Happy Dominion Day to all the Canadians who come by for a read and Happy Fourth of July to the USA readers….

  2. Todd | Channelingmyself Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    Sounds like this book could be quite the life changer. I’ve never thought about there being blockages like you said the books mentions. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Patricia Reply:

    Todd,
    I thought I understood the chemicals running the brain – but I was shocked that the clean plate club message popped up in auto pilot – The brain is not a very reliable resource and it is not truly where your soul is located….it is a computer memory system it turns out….our stomach, heart, and hormones are calling most of the “shots” to our brain…so becoming an expert on emotions is mandatory if one wants to make changes in their life…this book is quite amazing research put to the test and made into a do it your self manual.

    I think you would like this one a great deal, with your plans and visions.

  3. Betsy Wuebker Says:

    Hi Patricia – What a fascinating sequence in this exercise. It’s always good to remember the impact of subliminal messaging – whether we’re the receiver or whether we’re (inadvertently?) sending them.

    I love how you say this: “I have often thought I just do not write down enough affirmations or that I do not believe strongly enough and that is why I am not succeeding at making changes.” If only we would just try harder at the things we are not succeeding! Sometimes the problem is the things we are doing themselves, not the effort we are making at them.

    It sounds like this was a very enlightening experience. Thank you for sharing it.
    Betsy Wuebker recently posted..What Our Move to Location Independence is NotMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Betsy,
    It is a remarkable book and program. I was amazed by how it pulled together so much of what I learned in helping my youngest learn and grow – with a lesion in her brain over long -term memory….I just took all my counseling know how/ teaching know how/ and developmental psychology and mixed it with a hearty dose of wisdom and she is a very good success story today.

    The problem being is not everyone will do the work with out help. People with addictions are calling for help and they chose the addiction to attempt not to do the work of change.

    I found it took diligence to work on myself with their program.

    Yes, there is a whole section on how we are programmed by our living…..parents, school, grandparents, even before we have much of a chance to refute the messages.

    This will make a good case for getting commercials out of children’s lives…

  4. Melody | Deliberate Receiving Says:

    What a fantastic perspective on taking the emotional and energetic journey instead of the action journey. I love that you recognized that you can’t DO enough to make things happen (or it’s always an uphill battle), but if you release that old programming, everything gets easier. Yay Patricia!!!
    I’ve put the book on my reading list (it’s huge, but I’ll get to them all. Eventually…)

    Hugs,
    Melody
    Melody | Deliberate Receiving recently posted..How Do I Use LOA To Get Him To Commit?My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Melody,
    I am reading this book for the third time…it was difficult to get into but the exercises are working well for me…I was amazed at how much old messages are popping up..and they have to be re framed and re categorized – awareness and renaming moves then out of auto pilot…

    well worth the money

    …then again folks have to be willing to do the work/ it is not a magical solution

  5. Galen Pearl Says:

    I’m intrigued! This sounds like a very interesting book, and it certainly has an attention getting title! Thanks for telling us about it.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Life is GoodMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Good term Galen to describe this book. The neuroplasticity of the brain is fascinating and the workbook section amazing…
    It is not an easy read or work to be accomplished but well worth it.

  6. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia! Great review – you sure do get into the book! I agree this sure could help people – as could really understanding the brain altogether. We have such tremendous potential and have been given the most fantastic opportunity to live a life of joy and peace without the emotional garbage we so often cling to and embrace as “who we are”. A little brain cleansing (as opposed to brain washing) is in order and this book would help with that if one takes the time with it as you did.
    hugs
    suZen

    Patricia Reply:

    susan,
    this is an amazing book – not an easy read, and I have truly gotten deeply into it because now even my naturopath believes that the reason I am not losing weight is all in my head…and I do not have enough funds for the energy meds gal to assist me right now..

    It is quite a workout….and well worth it

  7. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    I enjoyed reading about your experiences trying to change your habits – I hope that the book gave you tips on how to continue those changes!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Heather for asking me to be part of the tour. And I have pieced together many of the things I learned throughout my life and I liked the games and exercises

    I think that it is a hard book for people who do not wish to do the work and it could be used as a weapon against people – that was my most major concern.

    I think it needs to be part of a counseling experience for most people

  8. Sam Juliano Says:

    “Emotional Intelligence is vital to understanding how our habits are formed and how to change them to work better for us and create more joy and satisfaction in our lives.”

    Bravo to that Patricia! Geez, you’ve read this book three times?? Wow. Well, as you note here, our minds can be just as quickly de-programmed with the right mental attitude that will mitigate against falling back into the same old problems. Sounds like this book will help to strenghthen the resolve!
    Sam Juliano recently posted..This week’s ‘Monday Morning Diary’ will become the “Tuesday Morning Diary”My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Sam,
    I decided after reading the book quickly through that I really wanted to learn how to do these techniques and learn to use them with skill and dexterity. When I started doing the exercises and could see how much change was produced by each one…I decided this book was a very valuable tool box and this practice could help a great many folks.

    Understanding the brain is quite fascinating and this was quite a good use of new information.

    Everything I am reading as of late is full of how important understanding the emotions are – a new literacy
    Patricia recently posted..Independence, Freedom, PeaceMy Profile

  9. Davina Haisell Says:

    Great review, Patricia. What I love about this review is that you didn’t just read the book and review it, you put it into practice.

    It is true that we sometimes don’t recognize that we *have* changed even. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves and push, push, push, without giving ourselves credit for how far we have come. The very fact that this *isn’t* easy…? To me that shows that folk are aware and not living on auto pilot. They’re breaking new ground! This book sounds like a great tool.

    Patricia Reply:

    Davina,
    great review of the review…this book truly is a tool box.

    It is not an easy button when one first starts, but I am amazed at how 6 weeks later my thoughts are actually changing and many of those auto idea are being removed and I am more open to more creative thinking.
    Patricia recently posted..Independence, Freedom, PeaceMy Profile

  10. “Terri,” Eric Rohmer’s “Le Rayon Vert,” “Summer Wars,” Buster Keaton and Sachin Gandhi on Tuesday Morning Diary (July 5) « Wonders in the Dark Says:

    […] Patricia at Patricia’s Wisdom takes a fascinating look at a book titled “You Are Not Your Brain,” which aims at reversing some bad habits: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2011/06/you-are-not-your-brain-the-4-step-solution-for-changing-bad-habit… […]

  11. Brittany Says:

    Sounds like an interesting book, I think I have heard of it before. If you’ve read it three times, it must be pretty good! I’m glad it’s been helpful for you! I might just check it out sometime!
    Brittany recently posted..Bringing the Story Game to Table TopicsMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Brittany,
    I am reading it for a third time,because I wanted to do the exercises and there is just so much material in this book of interest and help for me…
    Having a child with a lesion in her long term memory of her brain, and having to figure out so much of this material myself…it is just amazing to find it so “put together” in this tome.

    It truly reminds people they need to be careful about what they tell children – especially repeatedly.
    Thank you for you comment.
    When my company leaves I will be over to check out your post
    Welcome, welcome so nice to have you here
    Patricia recently posted..The Art of Racing In the Rain ~Garth SteinMy Profile