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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 [Paperback]

Jeffrey Schwartz , Rebecca Gladding MD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 5 2012
Two neuroscience experts explain how their 4-Step Method can help identify negative thoughts and change bad habits for good.

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.

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“A testament to mind over brain ... It's the truth of the matter that sheer willpower can truly make you break free.”
—Leonardo DiCaprio

“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.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So simple and yet effective. April 4 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm so glad that I bought this book when I was in a depression and hopeless situation. This book has change my life and my mind. Its been a month reading this book, doing all excercises and practicing the 4 steps in everyday situation. Doing so, made a huge impact in my life, the way I view the world and myself. I became positive and more driven to change myself and become successful. It also helps some of my bad habits and addiction. It boosts my confidence and my self esteem. I also worry less. I'm getting better doing the techniques this book teaches. Very easy to implement the 4 steps yet very powerful. I never thought I would be able to get out in the "rut or a pit" that I was in until I read this book. Highly recommended to anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent June 16 2013
By H. muca
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have started to read this book so far what I have read its been so empowering, this book explains in a way that anybody could understand how we can change to see the world in a different perspective, love this book!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Positive Approach to Deep Healing Jan. 22 2012
By Sarah Chana Radcliffe TOP 1000 REVIEWER
As a psychological practitioner, I am always looking for positive ways to help people feel better and I particularly like to offer skills that people can follow up with outside of the office. Now, I can refer clients to Jeffrey Schwartz's excellent book You Are Not Your Brain. However, this book is not only for clients - I really think it is for anyone who ever entertains a negative thought! The strategy shows readers how they can banish worry and negativity and wire their brains for consistent optimism and happiness. What could be better? The techniques Schwartz offers in this concise manual are grounded in the latest brain science. He shows the reader the mechanics behind the changes that they can make, inspiring both confidence and skill. Each of the 4 simple steps are carefully described, making the strategies very accessible. This is an approach that makes sense and goes down easy, something that people can do as soon as they've read the book. I highly recommend it!
Sarah Chana Radcliffe, author "Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice."Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Dr. Swartz has done some wonderful research and clinical writings on OCD. This is an interesting extention of this work, which does have some empirical support.

That said, he sometimes overstates our ability to "change our brain" (we ARE in fact our brain, but CAN use techniques to learn/change).

PS. The other reviewer who alleges to be a mental health professional states "I really think it is for anyone who ever entertains a negative thought! The strategy shows readers how they can banish worry and negativity and wire their brains for consistent optimism and happiness". What nonsense; negative thoughts in themselves are NOT a problem, but in fact are funtional, unless they are distortions or ruminative in a non-fuctional way ('spinning one wheels").

Let's hope this person is not a professional...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  85 reviews
127 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Books Shows How-to Self-Direct Your Life June 25 2011
By Donald Altman - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Habitually dismissing and devaluing your true emotions and needs causes your brain to adopt unhealthy responses and to strongly discount much of the positive information about you that is coming in." -- Jeff Schwartz, MD, and Rebecca Gladding, MD

I was well aware for some months that Jeffrey Schwartz's new book (co-authored with Rebecca Gladding) was coming out. When I saw the package from on my front porch last week, I quickly opened it. The reward circuit in my brain got activated as I held the hardcover book with bright yellow lettering that told me: YOU ARE NOT YOUR BRAIN!

Jeffrey Schwartz is a pioneer in the field of self-directed neuroplasticity, and his work with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (as described in his book BRAIN LOCK) is highly regarded and used in clinics around the world. In this new book, Schwartz and Gladding have refined the 4-step method used in "Brain Lock" as well as expanded the scope of how it can be applied to lifestyle habits, addictions, and unhealthy thinking.

The 4-Step process is based on mindfulness. I found their revised process very clear and easy to grasp--and it can easily be used personally or by counselors, psychologists, and others to be shared with clients as a form of treatment. The 4-Step process includes 1) Relabeling (noticing thoughts), 2) Reframing (naming the brain's deceptive thought pattern to change your relationship to the thought), 3) Refocusing (placing awareness elsewhere), and 4) Revaluing (aligning with one's deeper values, or true self).

The book is a treasure trove of real-life case studies that demonstrate how Schwartz and Gladding used the 4-Step mindfulness process--and show how anyone can rewire their brain in this way. This is a step-by-step book that includes examples of charts and journaling methods that can help anyone track their movement toward wellness, clarity and purpose.

I highly recommend this book. It shows how to put the power of focus to work in a way that can change lives for the better. Thank you Jeff and Rebecca for sharing with all of us this very valuable and life transforming information!
76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendously helpful Aug. 14 2011
By E. Whalen - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading "The Brain that Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge, MD, which is a fascinating book. In it, Doidge mentions Schwartz and his method for helping patients who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

In "You Are Not Your Brain," Schwartz and Gladding expand on that method and help the reader apply it to other problems that result from what they call deceptive brain messages. I have also heard these deceptive brain messages referred to as automatic negative thoughts, core beliefs, et cetera. Essentially, they are ideas/beliefs you have that lead you to engage in bad habits, feel terrible about yourself, avoid taking actions you need to take, and generally prevent you from living the life you want to live. One example the book gives is an actor who doesn't believe he's good enough and therefore does not go on auditions for parts and, as a result, sabotages his own career success. In short, these false messages are running your life and it's time to stop listening to them. This book teaches you to identify these false brain messages, how to deal with them and how to take back control of your choices and your life.

Could this book have been written in a more engaging and perhaps slightly more cohesive way? Sure, but I bought this book for what it could teach me, and it has taught me a great deal. It goes beyond what a lot of books say, which is to write down and challenge the deceptive brain messages. Yes, that's helpful, but the steps in this book, especially the steps about doing something constructive and engaging while allowing those brain messages to continue to play on in the background are what really creates lasting change in your brain.

I liked the concept of the "Wise Advocate." You can re-cast it, if you like, as the role of a higher power or perhaps "Your Best Self," but the result is the same: to teach you to look at yourself with kindness, compassion and to believe the best things possible about yourself.

This book also contains tables you can fill in, either in the book itself or on a separate piece of paper. I found these tables to be quite helpful in really getting clear on what my messages were and what they were costing me.

Before this book came out, I had tried various methods for dealing with my deceptive brain messages, but the method described in this book is the only method that's really worked for me, and so for that, it deserves five stars. If you are looking for a good companion book to this one, "The Brain that Changes Itself" is excellent, but it's not instructive. This one is.
64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - Very Practical and Useful June 22 2011
By Book Fanatic - Published on
I read a lot of books and I have a hard time imagining anyone with an interest in practical results not finding this book valuable. I noticed the previous reviewer panned it because it wasn't full of detailed scientific descriptions, despite the fact that would probably turn most of its intended audience off. This is a common problem in book reviews. People read a book, like this one whose intent is to provide a practical technique and then criticize it for what it is not and was never intended to be. This book wasn't written to convince you of its theoretical foundation or educate readers on exact "neural pathways", although it does touch on that lightly. It was written to help you so get over it. This is a self help book and in that regard succeeds brilliantly.

The case histories included throughout this book are people with moderately significant problems (I would say even sometimes pretty severe). However, don't let that dissuade you because I think virtually anyone who is a normal human being would find the advice practical in many circumstances. I don't have any issues even remotely approaching those of the people described in the book but I still found it very helpful.

This is a fairly long book for this genre (approximately 350 pages) and it is very well organized. It includes a lot of worksheets and practical tips. I have no major criticism at all. I would recommend it to anyone who wants practical advice on how to improve their mental well-being and that includes people who think they are doing well already. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Maggie S. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have read many other books about changing bad habits and dealing with emotions, but I have to say this book is like no other and I mean that in a good way. It goes above the other books in explaining in easy terms that it is really our brains that cause the unhealthy thinking patterns we have. I gained so much from reading this book in such a short time. In my everyday life, I often blame myself for my depression and OCD, but this book explains why I feel this way and helps me to deal with those problems in a new way. It makes me realize it is not really my fault that I feel this way. I couldn't stop reading this book. It is extremely interesting and very helpful. I found myself highlighting half the book so I can go back and use the information later. Definitely a must read.
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars End Bad Habits, Stop Unhealthy Thinking, Change Your Life! June 13 2011
By Love to Read - Published on
YOU ARE NOT YOUR BRAIN is a book that everyone can use. If you want to change your life and finally stop all of your bad habits (and end unhealthy thinking) this book is for you. Whether you want to stop eating too much chocolate, cut down on your facebook or twitter time, end destructive relationship habits or transform your life, this book is for you. It's easy to read and very empowering. Dr. Gladding and Dr. Schwartz give us practical, useful information. I am telling everyone I know about this new book. Also just found this site: [...]
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