Retrain Your Brain Book Summary - Retrain Your Brain Book explained in key points
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Retrain Your Brain summary

Seth J. Gillihan

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks

4.3 (521 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Retrain Your Brain by Seth J. Gillihan explores how to change automatic negative thought patterns and promote positive thinking through mindfulness techniques. It offers insights on taking control of your mind and developing emotional balance.

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    Retrain Your Brain
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    Retraining our Plastic Brains

    Have you ever wondered if it's possible to teach an old brain new tricks? Well, it turns out that our brains have an amazing capacity to reorganize themselves by forming new neural connections. That's right – our brains are capable of change, no matter our age or circumstances.

    To illustrate this concept, imagine you're a taxi driver in London. To pass the grueling "Knowledge" exam, you have to memorize the city's complex street map, including over 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks. Sounds daunting, right?

    Well, here's the amazing part: as you study and practice, your brain begins to form new neural connections and pathways, making it easier to remember the information. In fact, studies have shown that the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for spatial memory, is significantly larger in London taxi drivers than in the general population.

    So, what does this mean for you? It means that you can apply the same principles of neuroplasticity to change your own habits and behaviors. Whether you want to eat healthier, exercise more, or reduce stress levels, you can start by breaking down your goals into small, achievable steps.

    For example, if you want to start eating healthier, you can start by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet or swapping out soda for water. These small changes may seem insignificant, but they can lead to bigger changes over time as your brain adapts and you form new habits.

    It's also important to practice self-compassion throughout the process of rewiring your brain. Sure, it's easy to be hard on yourself when you fall short of your goals, but this only creates a negative cycle that's hard to break. Instead, you should practice self-compassion and be gentle with yourself as you navigate the ups and downs of creating new habits.

    Imagine for a moment that you're a college student. You’re struggling to keep up with your coursework and have fallen behind on a paper. Naturally, you feel overwhelmed and anxious about the situation.

    In this scenario, you have two options. You can either beat yourself up for falling behind and add more stress and pressure to the situation, or you can practice self-compassion and give yourself the space and understanding you need to catch up.

    To do so, you could take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that it's normal to struggle sometimes. You could give yourself permission to take a break and come back to the paper with a fresh perspective. You could also remind yourself of past successes and accomplishments to boost your confidence and motivation.

    By practicing self-compassion in this way, you're not only reducing your stress levels and improving your mood, but you're also creating new neural connections in your brain that support positive self-talk and self-care.

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    What is Retrain Your Brain about?

    Retrain Your Brain (2016) is all about learning practical strategies to break free from negative thought patterns and cultivate a more positive, fulfilling life. Whether you're struggling with anxiety or depression, or just want to improve your overall mental well-being, this guide is a valuable resource for retraining your brain and becoming your best self.

    Who should read Retrain Your Brain?

    • Anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or low mood
    • Life hackers looking for tools to enhance emotional well-being
    • Curious minds interested in the science behind cognitive behavioral therapy

    About the Author

    Seth Gillihan, PhD is a psychologist, best-selling author, and host of the Think Act Be podcast. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and has written several books on psychology and mindfulness, including Mindful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, The CBT Deck, and A Mindful Year.

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