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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 by Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Rebecca Gladding

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Separating your sense of self (mind) from deceptive brain messages is the main message of this book.

Begins by teaching you what deceptive brain messages are and helps you identify the ones that are bothering and impairing you. The mind can powerfully and unexpectedly change the brain in positive ways when you intentionally direct your attention.

Understand that negative thoughts are highly deceptive intruders are coming from your brain, not you! These false messages are not indicative of who you are or of the life you could lead. Focus on this crucial distinction between who you are and the symptoms you are experiencing.

Some methods may teach how to change the meaning of your thoughts such as cognitive behavioral therapy or how to become aware of your thoughts – mindfulness they do not emphatically tell you that these brain-based messages are not representative of who you really are and that you do not have to act on them.


Step 1: Relabel—Identify your deceptive brain messages and the uncomfortable sensations; call them what they really are.

Step 2: Reframe—Change your perception of the importance of the deceptive brain messages; say why these thoughts, urges, and impulses keep bothering you: They are false brain messages (It’s not ME, it’s just my BRAIN!).

Step 3: Refocus—Direct your attention toward an activity or mental process that is wholesome and productive—even while the false and deceptive urges, thoughts, impulses, and sensations are still present and bothering you.

Step 4: Revalue—Clearly see the thoughts, urges, and impulses for what they are, simply sensations caused by deceptive brain messages that are not true and that have little to no value (they are something to dismiss, not focus on).

Focus your attention influence your brain and how it is wired. This means that if you repeat the same act over and over—regardless of whether that action has a positive or negative impact on you—you make the brain circuits associated with that act stronger and more powerful. In essence, indulging these habitual responses causes your body and brain to begin to associate something you do, avoid, seek out, or repetitively think about with temporary relief or pleasure. These actions create strong and enduring patterns (circuits) in your brain that are difficult to change without considerable effort and attention. This means that deceptive brain messages can occur more frequently and the uncomfortable sensations grow more intense, making it harder for you to resist them or change your behaviours.

Emotions should be felt and constructively dealt with because they honour your true needs and your true self, whereas emotional sensations should be relabelled and reframed with the Four Steps because they can be destructive and false.

Deceptive brain messages aren’t congruent with your goals, only when considerable effort is applied to to focus attention on things that matter such as achieving meaningful goals can you move forward and change your brain.

Hebb’s Law: Neurons that “fire together wire together.

Quantum Zeno Effect: Focused attention holds together and stabilizes brain circuits, so that they can wire together by Hebb’s law.

Therefore attention density is the key ingredient to getting the quantum Zeno effect to work. When you repeatedly focus your attention on specific behaviours, Hebb’s law and the quantum Zeno effect create brain circuits associated with those actions.

Book suggests that sometimes people will disagree with you, will be disappointed in you, or act inappropriately most importantly this may have nothing to do with you. 

We get so caught up in this endless thought-stream that reality flows by unnoticed. We spend our time engrossed in activity, caught up in an eternal pursuit of pleasure and gratification and eternal flight from pain and unpleasantness. At times spending all our energies trying to make ourselves feel better, trying to bury our fears, endlessly seeking security.

In other words – we spend a considerable amount of our time engrossed in following deceptive brain messages until we begin to see them for what they are and value our true emotions and needs.

 Mindfulness Is an Activity, Not Merely a State of Mind.

If you “buy into” the deceptive brain message and overanalyse what happened in that social situation or how you should respond in the future, your brain will wire the overanalysing response into its routines. Because you sharply focus your attention in these ways, a vicious cycle forms, which will drive your future responses, decisions, choices, and actions.

Whenever you listen and respond to a deceptive brain message, you are inherently filtering the information, minimizing your or other people’s contributions or worth. This can potentially make you think that there is something is wrong with you.

The 5 A’s





Acceptance this includes acknowledging that the deceptive brain messages and sensations will arise, but that you do not have to act on them. Rather, you can let them be present while continuing on with your day.

Don’t seeking the 5 A’s from another, rather than providing it to yourself.

Thinking errors result from deceptive brain messages, examples would be all-or-nothing/black-or-white thinking, catastrophizing, fortune-telling and discounting the positive. 

The Wise Advocate is your ally and can be anyone or anything that helps you act in your genuine best interest and empowers you to see yourself from a loving and caring perspective.  Listen to your Wise Advocate and support your true self.  Your true self is your mind that enables you and gives you the power to choose what to focus your attention on.

Revaluing helps strengthen your healthy messages, which enables you to further align your actions with your true self. Refocus with Progressive Mindfulness helps you get engaged in the world and following the path of your true self.

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