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.
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:
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.
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.