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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

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  519 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Two neuroscience experts explain how their 4-Step Method can help break destructive thoughts and actions 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 structure and neuronal firing patterns of the human brain. He
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 9th 2011 by Avery (first published May 19th 2011)
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133rd out of 405 books — 700 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,701)
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Sara Strand
Jul 14, 2012 Sara Strand rated it liked it
I will tell you that the reason I picked this book to review is because I have a very unhealthy way of thinking when it comes to diet and exercise. I am extremely good at talking myself out of good behaviors and convincing myself that the bad behaviors are not only more fun and awesome, but will be better for me later on. Despite the fact thunder thighs are not my friend.

Basically everything in the book comes down to four steps:

Step 1: Relabel: Identify your deceptive brain messages and the un
Jesse Bowers
Nov 18, 2012 Jesse Bowers rated it it was amazing
Not a book for people wanting to learn about the brain, but for people who struggle with OCD, anxiety, and depression, you will find this book a powerful tool.
Daniel Ionson
Mar 05, 2016 Daniel Ionson rated it liked it
Shelves: science-psych
I love this book for the data that it gives. SDN: "Self-directed neuroplasticity" was a complete life-changing piece of knowledge for me.
However, I hate the style used in the writing of this book. It comes across as very "self-helpie" in the worst kinds of ways.

So, if you go into this book forewarned of that style, the knowledge you gain is exciting and helpful.
Apr 02, 2012 Melody rated it did not like it
I've been on a neurology kick, and picked this up at the library based on the credentials of the author. I thought it would not be a typical self-help book, even though the cover sure looked like one. I should have turned it over and noticed that one of the blurbs on the back was from Leonardo DiCaprio, noted neurology researcher movie actor.

I guess that was a good example of a deceptive brain message, because this is a self-help manual with all the smarmy examples one might imagine. Abby thinks
May 30, 2012 Aggie rated it it was amazing
If you are doing inner work, this book is a must read. Seeing the prison is paramount if you hope to escape.
Aug 24, 2012 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I'm not crazy for the gimicky title and much of the material has been in other books but it's the overall content of this book, the message and the concrete help the author offers that I'm loving. It's the neurobiological how-to of inner-bonding (Margaret Paul's Inner Child healing process) that I am always trying to distill for myself and other people. This book illuminates how to differentiate between the wounded part of us, what Schwartz calls "deceptive brain messages" versus the loving adul ...more
Mar 03, 2015 Iain rated it liked it
I liked this book and it has a lot of good advice for coping with "deceptive brain messages" - that negative inner dialogue you sometimes have with yourself that holds you back from doing something or makes you reach for another glass of wine to cope after a stressful day.

There's quite a lot of repetition in the book, which is why it didn't get a higher rating from me, personally, but I can see why it's there. It's designed to be repetitive to drum into you the four steps recommended to deal wit
Aug 29, 2015 Eric rated it it was amazing
READ THIS BOOK! Excellent book! Although very redundant (it could use a ruthless editor to delete redundancy and dumb analogies), it has changed my life for the better. This book has empowered me. It just clicked with me and I "got it" instantly. It has given me a new direction.

The very simple point that clicked for me was this: Your brain and your mind are two different things: your brain fires connections and your mind thinks/analyzes/decides. Sometimes your brain sends your mind wrong impulse
Hlyan Htet Oo
Dec 16, 2015 Hlyan Htet Oo rated it it was ok
I wonder how this book even became a book. A fairly long article can do the work of it. The reason it deserves two stars instead of one is the 4-step solution, the main point of the book, is good and the book may also be interesting to people who are patient enough with unnecessarily long and repeated information.
Fred Zimny
Jan 06, 2016 Fred Zimny rated it liked it
Your brain sends you false messages, but you aren’t defined by them.

Brain wiring makes habits hard to change and causes intense, uncomfortable sensations.

The mind’s ability to change the brain, called self-directed neuroplasticity, enables you to rewire your brain to work for you.

There are Four Steps to dismantle the associations between unhealthy thoughts and habit.

Step 1: Relabel by identifying your deceptive brain messages and call them what they really are.

Step 2: Reframe your deceptive thou
Sep 14, 2012 Lesley rated it liked it
Great read for do-it-yourself life coaching. Once you realize your brain is continuously sending you messages for all the wrong reasons (e.g., habits), you are able to readjust those destructive thoughts by calling on the mind for reconstructing the reality and presenting healthier responses. Interesting theory but will take some practice in awareness and differentiation to fully implement. However, I found the approach very valuable and refreshing.
Jul 17, 2015 Ellie rated it really liked it
Well, if Leonardo Dicaprio digs this dude...

In a nutshell, this is a guidebook of dealing with triggers (and the negative thoughts/emotions/habits/urges that accompany them) and living though them by using "the four steps": To Relabel (calling what the thoughts, sensations, urges are in one word with no judgement), to Reframe (why these feelings, thoughts, and urges are in there in the first bloody place), to Refocus (be active in something while being mindful of these feelings and emotions), an
Jan 05, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok
I read a synopsis of this book in a magazine, which was really interesting. However, it turned out to be a self-help book which turned me off by immediately introducing an internal "wise advocate". I'm marking this "read" so I don't try to pick it up again.
Kirk Hanley
Nov 21, 2015 Kirk Hanley rated it liked it
I was a little disappointed in this book. There was some good information, but I feel like it was not presented as effectively as it could have been. Jeffery Schwartz has a four step process for changing your thinking, but he doesn't get to the meat of it until a third of the way through the book. And because the steps are so interrelated, he jumps back and forth between them in chapters where he is purportedly concentrating on a single step. And while I normally like a lot of real world example ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Excellent ideas, poor editing! I have been reading several books on how we can make use of neuroplasticity so that we learn better habits and get rid of bad ones. I have great respect for the author and his contributions in the field of OCD studies as well as other fields of brains research. His book has the right ideas, indeed, they are excellent but it is poorly edited. This book should have been edited in such a way as to get rid of all redundancy. In fact, this book could have been cut by ha ...more
Jun 21, 2011 KC rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
You Are Not Your Brain is a wonderfully written self-help book by two prominent neuroscience researchers. Many years of research have culminated in their theory to help people stop listening to the deceptive messages produced by their own brains and become the person they want to be instead.

Do you have any bad habits that you wish you could just stop doing? These include excessive worrying or anxiety, eating or drinking to cope with stress, caring too much about what other people think, and mor
Jun 26, 2011 Farrah rated it liked it
You Are Not Your Brain is a book that teaches the reader how to recognize deceptive brain messages and how to change their relationship with those messages. The book could be a source of empowerment to an individual following the 4-steps (relabel, reframe, refocus, and revalue) because it tells them they have it in them to be capable of whatever it is they are facing. Those who’ve experienced stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed will be able to take something away from the book and it’s 4 ...more
May 28, 2012 Julene rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
The beginning of the book is engaging, the further into the book I read the harder it was to read. It is a do it yourself psychology book that integrates cognitive-behavioral with the new brain science and mindfulness giving four steps to work with many stuck patterns typical of OCD, or a way to rid ourselves of unhealthy habits that are wired into our brains. The concept is simple, the process to rewire challenging and I think better to do with a live counselor than with a book.

The explanation
Kai Sousa
Nov 22, 2013 Kai Sousa rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Kai by: Therapist
There were so many things that I didn't like about this book that I just couldn't seriously recommend it to anybody.

1. The section on how to deal with depression and fatigue are at the BACK of the book. Don't I have to get over these things just to pick up the book? Shouldn't this be at the beginning?

2. The introduction reads like an infomercial.

3. The seem to completely ignore the origins of the issues and perceptions of their case study patients and go straight to "Let's learn to look at this
Sep 16, 2013 Ariel rated it really liked it
Mindfulness For Dummies!

A very helpful book that illustrates exactly how to get rid of bad habits through mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy. The accessibility of the writing is both the strength and weakness of the book as it makes it easy for anyone (especially the distressed demographic the book is aimed at) to get comprehend and begin applying the '4 steps' to their lives immediately, but will also inevitably leave some people feeling patronized as a result of seeing brain parts
Jul 01, 2011 Laura added it
We all have habits, or other things about ourselves that we would like to change. Whether it is eating too many coffee shop muffins, checking your email fifty times a day, buying too many books (clears throat), or something more serious like alcohol addiction or depression. I know I have plenty of habits I would like to change. In fact, I've struggled with my weight my whole life, and I've been on every imaginable diet. One thing I haven't ever tried is reading a self-help book, but when I read ...more
Aug 10, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't even think I've made it to chapter two yet, and already I feel the need to pontificate. Not a good sign.

Never mind the deadly earnest tone of the audiobook narrator, I wanted to quibble with the author before I even started to listen. As a matter of fact, I *am* my brain. If you don't believe me, have yours surgically removed, then get back to me.

The author has cast the brain in the role of enemy. I kid you not-- your devious, nasty brain is the cause of all your problems. Who's the hero
May 27, 2013 Robby rated it it was amazing

<><>><><>>>><><><><><><><>Spoilers for Inception follow<>><><><><><><><<><><><><><

"An idea can grow to define you or to destroy you."

You Are Not Your Brain, as I like to call it, Inception: The Book, first of all because it is written by Jeffery A. Schwartz, the Howard Hughes expert who worked on the movie, The Aviator. Jeffery helped Leon
Sep 30, 2011 Lara rated it liked it

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
You Are Not Your Brain

Bad Habits? I definitely have more than enough of those. Unhealthy thinking? Unfortunately, yes. I struggle with that, too.

Sometimes I wonder why I can't control my actions as well as I would like. Self-discipline and moderation have always been a little elusive to me. I have my moments, but I also have my moments, if you know what I mean. It seems like sheer willpower should be enough to break bad habits and establish the ones that my heart really w
Jan 21, 2016 Nicole rated it it was amazing
This book was very insightful. I recommend reading this with a notebook handy to do the exercises and take notes. I highly recommend this to everyone to read!

This book goes over what deceptive brain messages are (fade messages), and how we can overcome them by changing the wiring in our brain. Mainly, the deceptive brain messages we get were instilled in us in childhood. Our brains were missing something we needed to possible decifer our true emotions, retiring our brain to handle them different
Michael Sanjaya
May 28, 2015 Michael Sanjaya rated it liked it
Good books in explaining how brain activity affects person's habit. Learned new terms like Zeno effects which really helpful to remind a person who are in a midst of eliminating habit or instil one.

Although the given examples are very much typical issues in society, however it sounds fictitious which makes the credential of the examples in doubt

Overall: still a good book to read
Dec 02, 2015 Jason rated it liked it
You Are Not Your Brain is a DIY psychology book that integrates cognitive-behavioral with recent brain science findings and mindfulness.

I found it less readable or impressive than Emotional Life of the Brain by Richard Davidson or Emotional Chaos to Clarity by Phillip Moffitt.

Basically, I was put off by the defining of "...the amygdala, insula, and anterior cingulate as the warning center of the brain, or what we like to call the Uh-Oh Center." The author's appeals to neuroscience are totally un
Jun 10, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, work
This book offers solid ideas for changing the habits that most impair a person's ability to live a happy life -- all backed by a considerable amount of science. So why am I not raving about it? I'm not sure. The four-step solution Schwartz offers comes across as simple in concept but complicated in practice. Each step has a full chapter or more dedicated to it. I listened to it on tape, so maybe it's the narrator or the writing or both that make it come off a little flat. In summary: the informa ...more
Jul 31, 2012 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: therapy, 2012
If you put aside the excess wordiness and repetitiveness of the author there is a good gem of an idea underneath.(I would have rated it higher if the writing was clearer.)

Being able to see that your thoughts (your brain) are not actually who you are can be an extremely eye-opening experience (akin to mindful meditation in my mind). The fact that the writer offers hope and simple ways to see these negative thoughts/behaviours as old patterns and be able to start to change them is great.

If you sc
Sylvia Harper
Mar 29, 2016 Sylvia Harper rated it really liked it
I loved the concepts in this book and found them very eye opening. However, the book was a little "wordy" for me. I kept jumping paragraphs to get to the real material of the book. I did feel that it is worth reading though.
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Research Psychiatrist,
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences,
University of California, Los Angeles
More about Jeffrey M. Schwartz...

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“To help them understand that they are not to blame for their deceptive brain messages, we taught Steve and Sarah about Free Won’t, a term popularized by the well-known neuroscientist Benjamin Libet. In a series of carefully executed scientific experiments completed in the 1980s, Libet studied how people decide whether and when to move their own bodies and what generated the initial desire to move. While the meaning of what he discovered is still the subject of passionate disagreement in academic circles, the bottom line for you is this: Your brain—not your mind—generates the initial desires, impulses, thoughts, and sensations, but you can veto almost any action before it starts. This means that while you are not responsible for the emergence of thoughts, desires, impulses, urges, or sensations, you are responsible for what you do with them once they arise. Libet himself interpreted his results in this way and emphasized that you have a choice in whether or not to respond when your brain puts out the call—this is the essence of Free Won’t. As he described it in one of his landmark papers:7 The role of conscious free will [aka Free Won’t] would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act but rather to control whether the act takes place. We may view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as “bubbling up” in the brain. The conscious will then selects which of these initiatives may go forward to an action and which ones to veto and abort, with no act appearing. In other words, what Libet was saying is that you really can’t decide or determine what will initially grab your attention—your brain does. However, his research also indicated that once your initial attention is grabbed, you can determine whether you keep your attention focused on that object (and act on it) or veto it based on the principle of Free Won’t. Free Won’t turns out to be of the utmost importance because it tells us that we have, in essence, the power to veto almost any action, even though the desire to perform that action is generated by brain mechanisms entirely outside of our conscious attention and awareness. How might that Free Won’t express itself? Through Veto Power.” 1 likes
“THE FOUR STEPS 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).” 1 likes
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