Download You Are Not Your Brain – You Are Not Your Brain: A leading neuroplasticity researcher and the coauthor of the groundbreaking books Brain Lock and The Mind and the Brain, Jeffrey M. Schwartz has spent his career studying the human brain. He pioneered the first mindfulness-based treatment program for people suffering from OCD, teaching patients how to achieve long-term relief from their compulsions.
Schwartz works with psychiatrist Rebecca Gladding to refine a program that successfully explains how the brain works and why we often feel besieged by overactive brain circuits (i.e. bad habits, social anxieties, etc.) the key to making life changes that you want—to make your brain work for you—is to consciously choose to “starve” these circuits of focused attention, thereby decreasing their influence and strength.You Are Not Your Brain carefully outlines their program, showing readers how to identify negative impulses, channel them through the power of focused attention, and ultimately lead more fulfilling and empowered lives.
You Are Not Your Brain – Contents
PART ONE – A Sense of Self
CHAPTER 1 – You Are Not Your Brain
CHAPTER 2 – Using Your Mind to Change Your Brain
CHAPTER 3 – Why Habits Are So Hard to Break
CHAPTER 4 – Why These Sensations Feel So Real
CHAPTER 5 – A New Sense of Self
PART TWO – The Skills
CHAPTER 6 – Ignoring, Minimizing, and Neglecting
CHAPTER 7 – Moving Forward with the Four Steps
CHAPTER 8 – You Can’t Change What You Can’t See
CHAPTER 9 – Changing Your Relationship to Deceptive Brain Messages
with Step 2: Reframe
CHAPTER 10 – Reframing Your Thinking Errors
CHAPTER 11 – The Power Is in the Focus
CHAPTER 12 – Progressive Mindfulness and Step 4: Revalue
PART THREE – Applying the Four Steps to Your Life
CHAPTER 13 – What Is Going On Here?
CHAPTER 14 – Using the Four Steps to Help You Move Forward in Your
CHAPTER 15 – Putting It All Together
You Are Not Your Brain – Introduction
There are only a few true necessities in life, but for many of us, it doesn’t feel that way. A lifetime of habits, ingrained by repetition, can seemingly make us slaves to a not always beneficial master—our own brain. Nothing is more confusing or painful than when your brain takes over your thoughts, attacks your self-worth, questions your abilities, overpowers you with cravings, or attempts to dictate your actions. You Are Not Your Brain
Have you ever felt that something is compelling you to “go” places, mentally or emotionally, where you don’t want to be? Do you find yourself acting in uncharacteristic ways or doing things you don’t really want to be doing? The reason is simple: Deceptive brain messages have intruded into your psyche and taken over your life. Left to its own devices, your brain can cause you to believe things that are not true and to act in any number of selfdestructive ways, such as: • Overthinking problems and fretting over things that are out of your control • Getting stuck or panicked by unfounded fear and worries • Blaming and chastising yourself for things that are not your fault • Engaging in unhealthy behaviors to escape life’s daily stresses • Reverting to past patterns when you are trying to make a change The more often you act in these unhealthy ways, the more you teach your brain that what is simply a habit (a learned behavior) is essential to your survival Your brain does not distinguish whether the action is beneficial or destructive; it just responds to how you behave and then generates strong impulses, thoughts, desires, cravings, and urges that compel you to perpetuate your habit, whatever it may be. You Are Not Your Brain
Unfortunately, more often than not, these behaviors are not ones that improve your life. Clearly, the brain can exert a powerful grip on one’s life—but only if you let it. The good news is that you can overcome the brain’s control and rewire your brain to work for you by learning to debunk the myths it has been so successfully selling you and by choosing to act in healthy, adaptive ways. That’s the mission of this book and the cornerstone of our approach: to share our innovative, empowering method of learning how to identify and demystify deceptive brain messages, so that you develop healthy, adaptive brain circuits that enable you to live a fulfilling life free from these unwanted, unhelpful, and false intruders.You Are Not Your Brain
It will be your life, the life you have chosen, with the brain you have sculpted—not the old path of troubling actions and behaviors imposed upon you by deceptive brain messages. How can you achieve this? With our Four Step method, which teaches simple skills you can use and practice every day and apply to any unsatisfactory part of your life. The result will be a lasting change in perspective, courtesy of a source that has been seriously stifled by the deceptive brain messages: your intelligent, caring inner guide. This friend will help you counteract deceptive brain messages and act in concert with your own goals, values, and interests. You will finally see who you really are—not who your brain has been telling you that you are—and put your true self in the driver’s seat for the rest of your life. Sound difficult to accomplish? You won’t think so after you read the stories of others who have successfully employed our Four Step method to turn their lives around. You Are Not Your Brain touches on intimate personal journeys of several people whose lives were once plagued by deceptive brain messages and who managed to break the cycle—like Sarah, who struggled with depression and self-doubt; Ed, who was paralyzed by fears of rejection; Steve, who used alcohol to relieve stress; Liz, who worried about her future; Kara, who felt she was unlovable unless she was physically perfect; John, who repetitively checked e-mail as a way to assuage his fear that his girlfriend was leaving him; or Abby, who constantly worried that something bad would happen to someone she loved. You Are Not Your Brain
While your situation may not be as dramatic or intense, some form of deceptive brain messages impacts almost everyone at some point in life. Even if our lives usually run smoothly, when we are stressed or feeling down these false thoughts and unhealthy actions find a way to sneak in and cause havoc. They can shake our confidence, make us find ways to escape reality, use drugs or alcohol, overeat, spend money we don’t have, avoid people we care about, become angry, develop excessive expectations of ourselves, not say what we really think or feel, limit our range of experiences, worry excessively … you name it. Even in the most benign situations, giving in to deceptive brain messages causes us to lose time that would have been better spent elsewhere. At its worst, we end up acting impulsively—in ways that are not representative of who we really are—and falling into grief and regret. Most encouragingly, however, this powerful approach will help you identify and deal with the majority of your problems, not just one symptom, because we focus on the underlying, unifying cause of your distress: deceptive brain messages. In short, You Are Not Your Brain will empower you to approach life’s ups and downs in a skillful way, using just four easily learned steps. You will find that repeated practice with the Four Steps will transform your life—and your brain—giving you the power to become the person you want to be.
How This Book Is Unique
A critical component to getting better—in the long term—is to understand that these highly deceptive intruders are coming from the brain (not you!) and that these false messages are not indicative of who you are or of the life you could lead. Other popular therapies have failed to focus on this crucial distinction between who you are and the symptoms you are experiencing. Although some methods may teach how to change the meaning of your thoughts (as in cognitive-behavioral therapy) or how to become aware of your thoughts (mindfulness), they do not emphatically tell you that these brainbased messages are not representative of who you really are and that you do not have to act on them. In contrast, this book combines the best of cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness while simultaneously helping you bolster your belief that you deserve to be free of these unwanted intruders.You Are Not Your Brain
In so doing, you learn that to truly change your life and your brain, you must reevaluate the deceptive brain messages and engage your mind to focus your attention on new, healthy actions and behaviors. So, not only do we teach you how to notice your deceptive brain messages and how to change your relationship to the deceptive brain messages, we also empower you by showing you that you have within yourself an intelligent, loving guide (your Wise Advocate) that knows that your brain has been the problem, not you or your mind.
“A testament to mind over brain … It’s the truth of the matter that sheer willpower can truly make you break free.”
“Operating on the highly rational perspective that we are not our brains, but rather, substantial free agents who exercise control over our brains, Schwartz and Gladding develop a simple, yet profoundly insightful approach for developing a flourishing life. The result is truly life-giving, and it will bring healing and hope to all who read it and practice its wisdom.”
—J.P. Moreland, author of The God Question
“How can the brain, which is just a complex network of interconnected nerve cells, give rise to consciousness and to thought? Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz and Dr. Rebecca Gladding argue, persuasively, that the mind actually has massive causal effects on the functioning of the brain. In other words, you can not only change the way you think, feel and behave through conscious effort when you’re upset, but you can also change the programming and chemistry of your brain. A compelling and important message.”
—David Burns, M.D., author of Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
“The idea that we can deliberately and systematically change our brains with our minds was once thought ridiculous. But now, largely due to Jeffrey Schwartz and his UCLA research on neuro-plasticity and OCD, this once revolutionary idea is well accepted. Rebecca Gladding and Jeffrey Schwartz adapt Schwartz’s extraordinarily successful program for a mainstream audience giving simple, self-directed tools to help achieve greater happiness, emotional balance, and overall well-being.”
—Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child
About the Author
Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D., is a research psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine and a seminal thinker and researcher in the field of self-directed neuroplasticity. He lives in Los Angeles.Rebecca Gladding, M.D., is a psychiatrist specializing in anxiety and depression. She recently was Medical Director of the UCLA Adult Inpatient Eating Disorders Program. She lives in Los Angeles.