The ReWired Brain: Free Yourself of Negative Behaviors and Release Your Best Self by Dr. Ski Chilton
In THE REWIRED BRAIN Dr. Ski Chilton presents "the most important discovery of my life." His discovery was that there are two systems in our mind, which battle for our attention. He gives them the names, "System 1" and "System 2."
The impulse called “System 1” is the more primitive, feeling of the two: “System 1 responses are primitive reactions, feelings, sensations, and intuitions…” System 1 is also very powerful—thus we need to watch it carefully. “System 1 is a powerful force. It provides a constant and often overwhelming stream of unconscious signals."
Whereas System 1 is useful for alerting us to harmful situations, we need to be able to override it. “System 2 can also monitor and intervene in certain high-stakes situations” so that our response is more appropriate. The ability to monitor System 1 and intervene is not so easy—but it can be learned with "great effort and discipline."
These two systems are both important, but they need to be kept in balance.
We have the capability to “rewire” these systems, and thereby drastically change our lives. This is called the “plasticity” of our brain. We can train ourselves to stop using the old, wrong pathways, and make great use of the new, better paths: “The golden rule of brain plasticity is that the circuits or highways used most get stronger and those not used get weaker and eventually deteriorate."
Rewiring our brain is difficult--our mind still wants to "use the mega-superhighways it is familiar with, no matter how emotionally destructive they are." One important way to rewire your brain is via “Self-Narratives: “The simple act of writing about our lives, including our honest thoughts and challenging experiences, is a pathway to healing, Self-development, and overall well-being."
Dr. Chilton presents lots of practical exercises to rebuild the superhighways. In one practical exercise, the author explains the importance of figuring out what you are really PASSIONATE about. “Part of discovering who you are is to unlock your first principles and determine the true passions that give your life meaning." The doctor presents these questions to ponder:
+ What comes naturally to you that you enjoy doing?
+ What can you do that no one else can do or that you do differently, better?
+ What activities give you energy and help you perform at your personal best?
Much of the later part of the book is devoted to changing dysfunctional behavior. The author suggests a 5-Step plan for correcting our dysfunctions:
Step 1. Admit that our prior responses have worked badly.
Step 2. Make a conscious decision to use System 2 choice to change.
Step 3. Surrender your dysfunctions to God.
Step 4. Start building new “mega-superhighways” to provide joy and meaning.
Step 5. Find a counselor or spiritual advisor to guide you on the path.
All in all, I found THE REWIRED BRAIN to be an intriguing book—a book of optimism, hope, and creative ways to change one's life for the better. This is not a simple read, so don’t expect to just breeze through this book and get some terrific benefit. The author makes it very clear that a LOT of work will be required. The exercises contained here will require substantial effort and self-examination. After all, rewiring your brain is no simple matter.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of Netgalley.