Read Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You: Retrain Your Brain to Conquer Fear, Make Better Decisions, and Thrive in the 21st Century by Marc Schoen Online


Thanks to technology, we live in a world that’s much more comfortable than ever before. But here’s the paradox:  our tolerance for discomfort is at an all-time low. And as we wrestle with a sinking “discomfort threshold,” we increasingly find ourselves at the mercy of our primitive instincts and reactions that can perpetuate disease, dysfunction, and impair performance andThanks to technology, we live in a world that’s much more comfortable than ever before. But here’s the paradox:  our tolerance for discomfort is at an all-time low. And as we wrestle with a sinking “discomfort threshold,” we increasingly find ourselves at the mercy of our primitive instincts and reactions that can perpetuate disease, dysfunction, and impair performance and decision making. Designed to keep us out of danger, our limbic brain’s Survival Instinct controls what we intuitively do to avert injury or death, such as running out of a burning building.   Rarely are we required to recruit this instinct today because seldom do we find ourselves in situations that are truly life-threatening. However, this part of our brain is programmed to naturally and automatically react to even the most benign forms of discomfort and stress as serious threats to our survival.   In this seminal book we learn how the Survival Instinct is the culprit that triggers a person to overeat, prevents the insomniac from sleeping, causes the executive to unravel under pressure, leads travelers to avoid planes or freeways, inflames pain, and due to past heartache, closes down an individual to love.  In all of these cases, their overly-sensitive Survival Instinct is being called into action at the slightest hint of discomfort.  In short, their Survival Instinct is stuck in the “ON” position…with grave consequences.  Your Survival Is Killing You can transform the way you live. Provocative, eye-opening, and surprisingly practical with its gallery of strategies and ideas, this book will show you how to build up your “instinctual muscles” for successfully managing discomfort while taming your overly reactive Survival Instinct. You will learn that the management of discomfort is the single most important skill for the twenty-first century.    This book is, at its heart, a modern guide to survival....

Title : Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You: Retrain Your Brain to Conquer Fear, Make Better Decisions, and Thrive in the 21st Century
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 18921383
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 273 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You: Retrain Your Brain to Conquer Fear, Make Better Decisions, and Thrive in the 21st Century Reviews

  • Alex Rubenstein
    2019-02-11 02:02

    I've just finished reading 'Your Survival Instinct is Killing You", by Dr. Marc Schoen. Let me preface this review by saying that I have a Ph.D. in Management, and am well-versed in common terminology in habit theory, the science of stress, and decision-making. I do not say this intending for readers to agree with my on an appeal to authority, but rather just to provide a foundation on which to base my critique. I felt the general thesis of this book is fair: As a result of modern conveniences, we now live in a world where we are becoming less tolerant to discomfort. When this discomfort inevitably arises in our lives, our "survival instinct" sets in, leading to fear and panic. The book seeks to train individuals to better manage this discomfort, if even to avoid some forms of it altogether. Part 1 of the book discusses the origins of discomfort, while Part 2 is the more self-help techniques offered by Dr. Schoen. I'll critique each part separately, for they are grounded in different issues.PART ONE: I was generally annoyed that this part committed such an atomistic fallacy. Too many case studies were used to draw general theoretical conclusions about the nature of discomfort. For instance, on p. 78 we are told that people "turn to medication, alcohol, and avoidant behaviors to deal with fear". Well, in some cases medication IS valuable, but the tone is such that everyone is overusing meds to deal with fear, as per your later disclaimer in Part 2 which backs off this claim a bit, p. 166 (Note: I am seriously curious if the publisher required that disclaimer be put in before press). Rather than these cases, a stronger argument from theory and scientific findings would bolster the lead-in to later assertions. But these things are lumped together as poor coping mechanisms. Some are, no doubt, but medicine does have it's place as valuable, just as it's unfair to also lump the discomfort of panic attack sufferers along with those of obese people seeking food to manage discomfort. Yet alas, readers may relate more to the stories and metaphors, and to the layperson "theory" has somehow become a pejorative synonym for "probably untrue". The book is 231 pages of what could be said in 50. Example (p. 49): "the more agitance we feel, the more out of sync we become with our inner and outside worlds. And the more out of sync we become, the greater level of misalignment." This reeks of tautology (i.e. this phrase is true by definition because agitance IS misalignment).My next issue was what felt like a tone of narcissism and shameless self-promotion by the author. We are given numerous new terminology throughout the book, which I found confusing and unscientific. The author frequently says "what I call _______", when common terminology would certainly suffice, unless he can sufficiently argue for a different definition. Come on!: Agitance and Discomfort and Misalignment are the same thing (so the cycle of agitance seems weird)! Resonance is Comfort or Balance. Let Down Effect? Cozy Paradox? Lecturing Your Emotions (is this possible?)? Conditioned Powerlessness (i.e. learned helplessness)? Brain Community? Inner Core State of Balance? This is either pseudoscience nonsense, or already has a scientific basis, but the author prefers his own new terms. The Schoen Breathing Technique is called "Deep breathing and holding your breath at the top and bottom". The agitance checklist even feels impossible not to score highly on. First, a 33% yes score means you're in the danger zone. I won't copy questions out of his possible propriety, but uncertainty avoidance is too common (and also is in other existing measures...) I found it too bold a claim that this Survivalist Strategy of the 21st Century (which seems none other than to boost my self-efficacy, or to learn to enjoy discomfort) should somehow be more beneficial than scientifically-supported findings of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the like.Chapter 4 was just a very weird shift to a biochemical discussion of the "survival instinct", with impressive medical discussion about dopamine regulation and this and that. Despite this discussion, I am forced to ask: is this book REALLY about a survival instinct? What IS the survival instinct? I feel we never got a clear understanding of this, other than thinking of it as getting a panic attack from a cusp-catastrophe of discomfort. To be clear, the book is about discomfort and managing that, not managing your survival instinct itself. However, Part 2 speaks too openly about retraining your limbic system--which is unconscious, by the way--and finding harmony by making your brain work together. I'm jumping the gun on this section, but the science is too thin and the foundation of these claims too precarious to start a sound argument, though I agree with the ultimate point. (jenga)Ch. 5: I'll define habits as repeated patterns of learned behavior. I don't really think there are Sick Habits, and an Insomnia Habit is just called insomnia. and protective/avoidance habits are phobias, not habits. I feel like medicine is really given short-shift here, where the author frequently gives examples of medicinal abuse (which no doubt, is true for many), but shouldn't be foregone in favor of willpower alone. I think many manage fear poorly, but the argument for willpower alone was disconcerting--and likely ineffective for many.This leads me to PART TWO:The contribution of this book NEEDS to be: what are some viable techniques to manage this growing (or lowered tolerance of) discomfort in our lives? My main problem with some of recommendations is that many have unfounded bases on which to build arguments. If we can change our discomfort, we should be good, right? We just have to change our emotions by lowering our agitance, or by managing it (p. 132). I like some of the points to manage our comfort, but 15 points should really be like six (seriously, point 12 is the exact same as points 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 14, while some points are just weird, like 9 [well, just don't get agitated!]; same for the later list in Ch.10, and in an earlier list about conditioning...smh, pairing IS association). Moreover, many are just common knowledge, like other reviewers note (breathe, exercise, limit the amount of time spent on technology). I don't think we can control our limbic brain as simply as the author suggests, and the limits of willpower to manage truly stressful situations--beyond those that are just challenges. Neuroplasticity is an interesting field, but Dr. Schoen *REALLY* stretches to the malleability of many predispositions. But hey, self-help books can't profit unless people think they can make easy changes. I just wish there were a closer connection between the scientific findings presented, and the application Dr. Schoen makes to the concept of consciously managing discomfort for positive results. The jump from those studies to his assertions was too wide for me.The point is, some events are **predisposed, chemical imbalances** to the way we live our life, imbalances that require professional and medicinal attention. Ultimately I would recommend many of these tools like breathing and yoga and tech-fasts, but this book shouldn't be considered a catch-all solution, and certainly we shouldn't think it so easy to really change our habits and just FEEL THE OPPOSITE! or EMBRACE IT! whenever we do feel discomfort. I don't think it's impossible, but more discussion of the fine-grained habitual changes in our life should be discussed, rather than redundancies, or trying to convince us--and weakly in my opinion--that we can consciously alter our brain physiology. Example: Simply because a study finds amygdala size is associated with social network size, doesn't mean increasing my social network size will increase my amygdala size. Correlation doesn't equal causation. CONCLUSIONS:I agree that discomfort is an issue with our lives, and books like The Shallows and Amusing Ourselves to Death have made that point more clear with regard to our attention and it's relation to digital technology use. The tools suggested here, like "don't use technology if technology is keeping you wired at night", are nothing new. Though I did think some points are valuable, it takes until Part 2 to really get to the meat, especially given that I think the scientific arguments offered in Part 1 were a bit loosely connected, and based on case studies and conjecture rather than theory. Don't think that the techniques offered here are going to be the quick fix you seek, because such a thing doesn't exist, and reinforces his point about instant gratification. If you want to change your agitance, change your habits causing your agitance. Follow some steps in this book on the habitual changes to make. But to start setting better habits (and don't shirk this point, because habits are HARD to change), I would start by reading The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, which helps you to really work on getting to the core of changing your habits first. And as the author concedes in the end, simply because many people do overuse medications to get a short-term fix (leaving the underwater iceberg untouched), there is still value in professional help and many people do need medicine to deal with anxiety/discomfort. But if you are willing to work hard and fundamentally change how you approach situations, this book offers a couple good pointers.

  • Donna
    2019-02-21 01:03

    This was an interesting read and kind of scientific. It is about why we do what we do, and also why we can't help ourselves, especially when it is tied into our Survival Instinct. I liked his approach in identifying agitance. We are busy. The world is loud, and colorful. We tend to master our surroundings and constantly looking for something more interesting and as my mother would say, "More better". I have a son who suffers from anxiety. I've had to teach him coping skills through out the years. This book gave me some insights and ideas on that. So 4 stars.

  • Marty
    2019-02-07 06:41

    talks about "agitance" rather than stress. We are always in a hurry, always expecting more, can't wait, can't tolerate discomfort. This kicks in our survival instinct which is hard on our bodies to be in a constant state of fight or flight. things to do about it - take a break from technology, tolerate imperfection, limit sensory input, regular schedule and bedtime, slow down, don't procrastinate,don't try to get it all done, embrace uncertainty, get rid of anger habit (always angry at something), expand your comfort zone,rest, don't expect instant gratification,chill out, exercise.Good advice. Kind of a boring read. Repetitive.

  • Lorie
    2019-02-01 03:43

    This is possibly the most important book I will ever read. Groundbreaking and surprising this book offers unique and powerful (yet simple) tools to deal with the discomfort in our lives that create anxiety, anger, depression and maladaptive behaviors at unprecedented levels throughout our modern society. This is not yet another one of those New Age books with recycled ideas about how to talk yourself out of your problems. Dr Schoen backs everything up with scientific research and case studies. I found it fascinating and helpful and can't wait to read his other book, "When Relaxation is Hazardous to Your Health" about the letdown effect.If you are remotely interested in how you brain works, read this book!

  • Carolyn Moor
    2019-01-26 05:59

    Highlighted a lot of sections of this book, then tweeted the author and we ended up connecting to see what could possibly be created for my organization Modern Widows Club. A community of women building resilience and yet, disadvantaged and often paralyzed by fear in small and great ways. Sure hope a partnership is fulfilled. I enjoyed the science behind learning we all have the qualities to live a resilient life.

  • Jacob
    2019-02-08 05:49

    A very in depth look at the behavioral side of our brain. The main point is that being unable to manage stress results in survival instincts kicking in. The ability to thrive under pressure is a skill to develop. The author also focuses a lot on how modern convenience has altered our brains. If we are inconvenienced, we experience stress and other issues.

  • Paul Baker
    2019-02-06 03:53

    This is a truly insightful book. Dr. Schoen really nails modern issues of psychology and presents practical, easy, and free methods for dealing with discomfort and how to use discomfort to make your life more full.I highly recommend this book!

  • Julie
    2019-02-02 08:48

    I think if you are under 40, this may be a more helpful read.

  • Angie Brandt
    2019-02-20 03:44

    Some helpful strategies. Chapter 8 was probably the best chapter... there were more helpful tips and strategies there.

  • Alberto Laverán
    2019-01-29 09:00

    Another self help bookAnother self help book, with a lot of pseudo scientific talking. A typical book to read on a commuter train...

  • Nikki Morse
    2019-02-02 05:53

    Like many self-help authors, Schoen has interesting points to make but falls serious victim to putting forward the idea that he's figure something out that is the most brilliant thing ever and is the only thing you'll ever need to learn EVER and will solve all of your problems if you just follow his advice exactly. Sheesh! For those of us with a low tolerance to dogma, this seriously undermines what's interesting about his argument. I found the early analysis more interesting than his strategies, which again were made out to be the most brilliant ever. All that said, I did get a lot out of the general argument and premise, and I've been watching my reaction to discomfort and trying to hold it alongside safety and other positive feelings, rather than thinking I need to get rid of it immediately.

  • weizhe
    2019-02-22 06:50

    A pretty insightful yet simple read. What I found most valuable was how Schoen drags out our deeply-ingrained subconscious thought patterns; he lays them in simple ideas for reflection and action.Essentially the book is all about the creeping discomfort in our lives that nudge us towards discontent and inaction. Perhaps I'm a layman in psychology, but I found certain parts floaty and loosely-elaborated. The book could have been condensed into a much shorter read. Still a decent read, nonetheless!

  • Angela
    2019-02-07 05:07

    3/5 The only reason I requested this book was because My mom is Psychologist and I find psychology quite interesting. Once again I am out of my realm of comfort with this book. But I did enjoy it. I did not read it page for page but i did read quite a bit. It was nice to read when I was bored with the fiction and YA books I was reading. It's not something id sit down and read non stop but it was nice to read a few pages here and there. Once again, Thank you Netgalley for an e-copy of this book :)

  • Ray Smithee
    2019-02-05 03:03

    Marc Schoen explains how our survival instinct, rooted in the limbic brain, can control our actions without our realizing it. Our phobias, bad habits such as addiction, and many ailments can be exacerbated by our unconscious. He recommends that we confront, rather than avoid our fears and tendencies. He gives practical advice on how to get control of our discomfort and fears, to get more empowerment.

  • Diane Dreher
    2019-02-10 08:44

    Fascinating book filled with insights about why so many of us are so stressed out today, so easily upset and prone to anxiety, road rage, and unhealthy habits. Schoen shows how our survival instinct gets us stuck in chronic defensiveness--and what to do about it. The book is filled with informative stories and advice I've already begun to apply to my life.

  • Laura
    2019-02-03 06:03

    Without a doubt our fight/flight response is in high gear more now than ever before in my lifetime. This book is well researched with practical concepts (agitant, discomfort) with easy to employ strategies which I found immediately effective. At times it's redundant but what's good about this book makes it worth wading through some of the repetitive rhetoric self-aggrandizement.

  • Scott
    2019-02-07 05:59

    Overall not bad. The author focuses on expanding your comfort zone by consistently doing things that cause you to push yourself. He uses the analogy of comparing tour comfort zone to a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes.

  • Celeste
    2019-02-10 00:41

    Good review of how your brain handles stress and how the natural chemicals in your body influence this.

  • Rainier
    2019-01-30 08:41

    interesting points on the nature of discomfort and how managing it can make you better.

  • Maurya
    2019-02-16 06:08

    It's ok. It has some good premises and things to think about. It is also an easy read. I didn't get a whole lot new out of it, but some good reminders.

  • Jacob O'connor
    2019-02-18 03:58

    My take away is that in discomfort there is an opportunity. Managing discomfort holds a key to success