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Published in 2011, You Are Not Your Brain explains how your brain often works against you, below your level of consciousness, causing you to engage in thought patterns or behaviors that ultimately are not beneficial to you.

Based on the premise that the Mind and Brain are different entities, the book employs our Four Step method to help you learn how to change those patterns so that you sculpt a brain that works for you and is consistent with the person you truly are (True Self).

Below are a few key concepts that are useful to patients working with us at Mindful Wellness Maui.

Brain:  The brain works in a passive way, receiving inputs and executing routines/commands, without any regard to what actually matters to you — only what you have programmed it to do over the years, either intentionally or inadvertently. It generates the passive side of experience, something you are largely unaware of as it is happening.

Mind:  The mind is the active part of experience that focuses attention and makes decisions.  When it is aligned with your True Self, you live a life that is consistent with your goals and values.

Deceptive Brain Messages:  Throughout our day, we face many obstacles that have the potential to keep us from doing what is in our best interest.  We refer to these obstacles as Deceptive Brain Messages (DBMs) in the book.  They can come in the form of thoughts, belief systems, feelings, desires, impulses or urges that take you away from your true goals and intentions in life (True Self).

True Self:  Living according to your True Self means seeing yourself for who you really are based on your sincere striving to embody the values and achieve the goals you truly believe in.  It includes approaching yourself, your genuine emotions and needs, from a loving, caring, nurturing perspective that is consistent with how your loving inner guide (Wise Advocate) sees you.

Wise Advocate:  The aspect of your attentive mind (not brain) that sees the bigger picture, including your inherent worth, capabilities and accomplishments.  The Wise Advocate knows your experiences, what you are thinking, can see the Deceptive Brain Messages for what they are and where they came from, understands how you feel physically and emotionally and is aware of how destructive and unhealthy your habitual, automatic responses have been for you.

The Wise Advocate is like a loving best friend who cares for you and encourages you to value your True Self and make decisions in a rational, healthy way based on what is in your overall best interest in the long term.

Four Steps:  The Four Steps are a mindfulness-based approach that incorporates some concepts of cognitive-behavioral therapy and other modalities to help you identify when a deceptive brain message is active and take action, by refocusing your attention, to disregard the unwanted directives of the DBM.

Step 1: Relabel — Identify your Deceptive Brain Messages and any uncomfortable sensations your experience; call them what they are; make mental notes

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 (something good for you) – even while the false and deceptive thoughts, urges, impulses and sensations are still present and bothering you

Step 4:  Revalue — Clearly see that the deceptive brain messages and sensations are not true and have little to no value (i.e., they are something to dismiss, not focus on).

For more information, please visit Dr. Gladding’s Psychology Today blog or purchase the book at Amazon or elsewhere.