In my last blog I mentioned Dr Jeffrey Schwartz and recommended you look at one of his you tube videos. I hope you checked that out and if you did you probably were made aware of his book “You Are Not Your Brain”. I highly recommended getting and reading this book, especially if you want to make any changes in your habits, whether it is eating too much, drinking too much, struggling with obsessive or negative thinking, etc. He presents a clear but challenging process to changing the way your brain functions and thus your life. As I have mentioned in recent blogs, we have a mind, a self, a consciousness, an awareness that is somehow “independent” of our brain and able to change the way our brain functions.
I am reminded of the Christian scripture Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free, do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Habits and behaviors can be a form of slavery; mine certainly feel like that and to know that I have the choice and the means to change them is very encouraging. We are not just our thoughts or our habits or our performance, we are “something” else.
I am also reminded of another Christian scripture, Romans 7:14-25 where Paul describes the struggle that we all have, this awareness of struggling with the sin nature and doing what is good. Hopefully you are not getting hung up on religious language and are able to see the bigger picture that is at play here. Paul is saying he is not able to help himself, that he is battling forces that are greater than him but he is in relationship with a force, Christ, the Spirit of God, who can set him free.
Dr. Schwartz’s contention that we are not our brain is a similar statement to Paul’s. He calls it our true self that is free of compulsions and habits that bind us in negative patterns of behavior that have been ingrained in neural pathways. I know people, including myself who have been miraculously almost instantaneously set free from negative and destructive habits, but that is the exception. It certainly has been so in my life and everyone else I am familiar with has had to work at gaining such freedom. However you understand this “something” else that we have in us, it is there and available to all of us.
Christians understand this as incarnational reality, that God lives in us, that we are indwelt by the presence of God. This is who we truly are, our true self, and the work of Dr. Shwartz, and others, are providing means to help us realize it.