We learn a lot about what it takes to be healthy throughout a lifetime. But strangely when it comes to our brain we know very little. We have these complicated machines that are talking to us constantly. And they don’t always make life easy. They tell us we can’t do this, or that we don’t have time for that. That’s because the mind’s goal isn’t to make us happier or more peaceful. It only wants to keep us alive which is why it creates so much darn resistance.
Today’s’ guest is Dr. Shawn Smith author The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Makes Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do About It. He is a licensed psychologist in Denver, Colorado working mainly in the area of anxiety treatment and relationship repair. He is a mindfulness-based psychologist specializing in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. He has been in private practices since 2006.
On Episode 15 of The Healthy Family Podcast, Dr. Shawn Smith helps us understand our mind so we don’t fall into the modern-day traps that make us unwell and unhappy.
Highlights from the Show
- Why this massively complicated machine’s (brain) main goal is to keep you safe (hint: it has to do with evolution).
- What the different components of the brain are and why our desire for short-term rewards feels like it’s at odds with our long-term goals.
- Why the brain is a history-gathering machine and learns from bad experiences wanting to avoid them at all costs. It’s at the core of why Dr. Smith repeatedly hears the same thing from 20 and 70-year olds (“I should be over this by now”).
- Why people need people and rejection is one of the worst fears of the mind.
- Why thought suppression doesn’t work and covering up unpleasant thoughts with short-term pleasures makes things worse.
- Why thoughts are not facts and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
- Other ways to understand/observe the mind besides meditation and why getting better at this practice can help you take control and feel better.
- The importance of values and how to use your most cherished values to live the life you want.
- Why learning to sit with the mind’s discomfort and resistance as you follow through with your values is an important part of the process.
- Tips on how to raise a psychologically flexible child (and what psychological flexibility means).
Rather than trying to suppress the mind, we can fight a different battle. We can fight for the flexibility to live our lives as we wish, recognizing that the mind hopes to constrain us but knowing that we need not be constrained. — Shawn Smith, The User’s Guide to the Human Mind
The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains make us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do about It
Podcast Music: Corporate Uplifting by Scott Holmes