The Overwhelmed Brain


I’ve been making a concerted effort to go to the gym more. While taking care of ‘body’ I also want to be working on ‘mind.’ So, I’ve taken to listening to audio books and podcasts. Sometimes it’s “Serial” or history programs. Either way, I tend to lose track of time and just listen, making my minutes on the treadmill fly by.

One of the wellness podcasts that I’ve checked out is “The Overwhelmed Brain: The Personal Growth Podcast for the Critical Thinker,” by Paul Colaianni. You may initially find that the calming voice and affirming tone is off-putting. I like to think that I’m able to solve my own problems. However, I’m also realistic enough to know that there are some nagging thoughts that seem to replay on a loop that, despite my competence and self-awareness, I haven’t managed to shake.

In Colaianni’s episode, “Closing the past to Open the Future,” he outlines some truly helpful questions that you can use to investigate what he terms the ‘open loops’ of unresolved past experience that have formed into negative mindsets. He explains that you need to ask yourself, “What’s wrong? How do you feel about that? Why do you feel that way? What about that makes you feel that way?” Be specific about the cause.

These are pretty obvious questions, he admits, but how often do we stop at the ‘obvious’ problem and avoid figuring out why it upsets us so much? I found that listening to things I thought I already knew and then trying to be even more transparent about what, specifically, upsets me about a given situation can really help to take down the level of emotion, making it more manageable.

The last question, in that series of suggestions, is “If you had all the time, energy, knowledge and resources at your disposal to deal with this right now, what would you do?”  Answering that question can help to get you closer to figuring out what is actually bothering you.

Check out “The Overwhelmed Brain” where Coliainni explores the questions below.

How to dig down and figure out what is really upsetting you: The Drill Down questions:

1) What’s wrong? You’re looking for an emotion.

2) What’s causing this emotion?

3) How does that make you feel upset? For example, how does losing your job make you feel sad? How would that be bad? Follow it to the worst-case scenario to figure out what, at the core, is really upsetting you.

4) How would that be bad? Usually what is bothering you is a deeper-level fear. Keep going. The worst-case scenario in our mind is somewhere underneath.

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