Of course you’re not your brain, but then if you are not the sum of your impulses, thoughts, reactions and drives then what are you? Do you have the capacity to influence your brain?
This concept, discussed further by co-author Rebecca Gladding MD, is creating controversy and conflict in the neuroscience community.
Your brain’s main function is to keep you alive, not just physiologically in controlling your heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, etc but also in basic survival of the fittest, almost primal mode. Of course this is useful when you are faced with life or death situations but realistically this is not a function many of us need often, if ever, thankfully. Unfortunately this short term focus of our brain responses does us no favours in the long term when it comes to our relationships or place in society, causing difficulty in making long term goals a priority. It goes against the grain of our basic instincts.
So does this mean we have permission to surrender to our negative thoughts and unhealthy practices such as ignoring our feelings instead of dealing with them, over analysing every little thing or becoming obsessed with whatever activity serves us in the moment but damages us in the long term? Because we can’t fight it?
No. Along with Dr Jeffrey Schwartz, Gladding instead offers a solution to overcoming our self-limiting primal instincts to live only for the now, and harness the power of our brains in more healthy and beneficial ways.
These concepts are not new. If you have read anything about the Law of Attraction, and put the strategies into practice, it soon becomes clear that what we focus our attention on is the direction we head. The ‘you are not your brain’ theory simply explains the reasons why we struggle to overcome some of our negative thought patterns and primal urges instead of targeting our thoughts and behaviours in more positive ways.
‘What you think about and thank about you bring about’- John De Martini
Dr Schwartz originally developed the four steps outlined in the book, You Are Not Your Brain, as a powerful and effective tool for people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and they have been revised and refined to be relevant to the wider community in harnessing our awareness and redirect our brain in healthier and more positive ways.
In a nutshell, the four steps are:
Relabel. Recognise the deceptive brain messages and uncomfortable sensations and be truthful about what they are. For example boredom or stress not hunger.
Reframe. Acknowledge why these unhelpful urges and thoughts make you uncomfortable and change your perception. (It’s not ME, it’s just the BRAIN!)
Refocus. Distract or redirect your attention away from the negative behaviour even though initially the negative urges are still present.
Revalue. Recognise the urges and responses you are feeling based on your negative brain messages are incorrect and don’t move you forward.
If you have identified that your negative thoughts are holding you back and you need assistance in redirecting your behaviour to bring out your best, contact me for your no obligation consultation to discuss how together we can harness your brain power and get you where you want to be.