You Are Not Your Brain Fall2011

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YouAre Not YourBrainby Jeffrey Schwartz,MD, and Rebecca Gladding, MD "l'm not good enough. SheS going to

leaveme.I am goingfo messup this presentation. goingto think I They're aman idiotand not hireme..."I At onepointor anothe[we haveall experienced these typesof self-defeating thoughts. Knownas deceptive brainmessages, these kindsof thoughts takeoverour livesand can causeus to do thingswe do not wantto do. Perhaps response been feelletharour has to gic,manically check email, too much our eat or overindulge another in unhealthy repetitive we act.When continually respond negative to internal messages the same in unhelpful ways, we unwittingly up reinforcing end them.The morewe do this,the moreour brains form repetitive, automatic habitsthat can take overour livesandprevent from beingthe us people wantto be. we Howdoesthis happen? answer in The lies howthe brainresponds the environment to andour actions. Based our andotherleadon ing scientists' research, haverealized we that the moreyou focuson something, more the strongly that act getswiredintoyourbrainin automatic, unconscious ways.lf our actions are positive and healthy, is fine.But how all manyof us respond negative to thoughts with healthy, helpfulactions? Howaboutwhenwe arestressed? morecases In thannot,weendup repetitively mulling overthe negative thoughts (a form of focusing) doingsomething or that gets rid of the stressfor a few moments, like havinga drink or eatingour favoritesnack. Although seemingly harmless the short in term,engaging over-thinking repetitive in and actions leadto detrimental can long-term conseguences. asexcessively such consuming food or alcohol, distancing loved from and ones more. you Thekeyingredient whether respond in to negative messages healthy unhealthy in or yourattention ways based howyoufocus is on andwhatyouactually oncethe thoughtor do impulse arises. change strengthof a To the pathway yourbrainyouneed keep in focusto ingon or doing samethingoverandover. the Thisis the onlywayto change whichpathway is chosen a specific in situation. Overtime, thosepathways that are usedthe most-for example, whatyoudoevery timeyouarefeeling stressed-become preferred the onesin the brain, andoftenbecome associated with (such momenspecific situations needs or as tarilydecreasing anxiety). So whenyou take deceptive brainmes-

sagesat facevalueand respond in the samemanner themover to yourbrain make will that andover, response preferred the one-even if it isn't goodfor you.Thisis beprinciples cause several biological areworking together cause to brain centers to "teamup"to wirethosehabitsintothe brain. Onceyour brainis wiredin a certainway,it verydifficult spontaneously to stop becomes in engaging the habits that haveformed. H o wd o you change s scenari o? thi The power in focusing. instead giving lies lf, of into you erroneous messages, thosedeceptive, chose resist to actingon thesemessages and yourattention healthy refocus on behaviors, youcanactually yourbrainandcreate rewire positive yoursell association between a new, thoughts actions. critical and The component i s y o u r a bi l i tyto recogni ze thosedecepwhenthey ariseand to tive brainmessages your attention healthy refocus on actions. By doingso,you actuallyrewireyour brain positive your waysthat increase in healthy, the sense selfandpave wayfor moreposiof tive associations between thoughts, feelings. beliefs actions. and These scientific realities essentially mean

within that you havethe ability, reason, shapehow your brain to worksandhowyouautomatically respond thingswhenyou are to stressed. There are many ways you can learnhow to recognize deceptive the Our book, thoughts and unhealthy actions. YouAre Not YourBraln,provides four-step a methodwhichcombines centuries-old the with approach mindfulness otherpowerful to truly seethat they concepts helppeople to inaccuarenot the sumtotal of the negative, running around in ratethoughts impulses and In theirheads. short, theycome realize to that theyarenot theirimpulse'laden, short-termgratification-seeking brains. Rathen they are caringpeople whoaredeserving a lifefree of inaccurate intruders. of theseunwanted,

THEFOUR STEPS1. RELABEL.ldentifydeceptive brainmessages the uncomfortable and sensations; call themwhattheyreally are. your perception 2. REFRAME. Change of the importance the destructive of brainmessages; say why these thoughts,urges,and you.("lt's not me, impulses keepbothering it'sjust my brain.") 3. REFOCUS. Directyour attention toward an activityor mentalprocess that is wholesomeand productive-even whilethe false anddeceptive urges, thoughts, impulses and you. sensations stillpresent bothering are and 4. REVALUE. Clearly the thoughts, see urqfor esandimpulses whattheyare:sensations brainmessages are caused deceptive by that not true andthat havelittleto no value. Armedwith the FourSteps andknowledge that attention focus whatchanges and are the you can learnhowto makeyour brain brain, work for ratherthan againstyou-thereby yourhabits changing andperception yourof selfin positive waysfor life.f Jeffrey Schwartz authorof The Mindand is the Brain: Neuroplasticity the Power and of Mental Force Brain and Lock Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior. created He the program first mindfulness-based treatment for people with OCD. psychiatrist Rebecca is Gladding an attending at UCLA and wasfeatured A&E'scritically in acclaimed seriesObsessed. is an expertin She deceptive brarn rnessages. mindfulness the and FourSfeps.

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