Necessary Interruptions

Necessary Interruptions

Episode: 064

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Necessary Interruptions


Don’t you hate interruptions? There are few things more frustrating than when you are in the middle of something important or trying to hit a deadline, and something pulls you in a different direction.

It could be a ringing phone, someone popping in with a “quick question,” or even our own mind straying from the task at hand. 

Regardless of their origin, interruptions have a knack for destroying our focus and leaving us to regain our train of thought.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

II. Necessary Interruptions Story

Chapter 19 begins with a powerful story about a family whose lives were saved by a carbon monoxide alarm.

The strange thing about this is that they had reluctantly installed the alarm days before leaving for vacation.

Shortly after returning home from their vacation, they awoke to a loud beeping noise from the carbon monoxide alarm. The alarm company insisted they call the local fire department. Within minutes of being in the home, the fire department ordered the family to evacuate.

The firefighter pulled the couple aside to let them know that the levels of carbon monoxide were so high that if they had not heeded the warning, they would have been dead by morning.

This interruption turned out to be a necessary one, as it alerted them to deadly gas levels that could have killed them if ignored.


III. Our Built-in Alarm System

This story illustrates that our emotions can act as our life-saving alarm system.

Debra explains that we have a built-in “alarm system” called the sympathetic nervous system.

This system is best known for its stress response, more commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. 

Whether crossing a busy street or in the middle of an argument – our emotions are an integral part of this system, sending signals that something needs our attention. 

Every single emotion clues us in that something is happening under the surface.

This is why therapists often ask “How does that make you feel?” – because feelings are part of a bigger equation about our internal experiences.

We often react to the feeling itself instead of recognizing it as a signal and responding accordingly.

IV. Reacting to Feelings VS. Responding to Emotions

A. Examples of Reacting to Feelings in Unhealthy Ways

• Mike was feeling overwhelmed, so he snapped at his wife and kids even though they hadn’t done anything wrong.

• Kelsey was feeling insecure, so she lied about her job to make herself sound smarter.

• Ben was feeling stressed, so he blew some money shopping online even when it broke his budget.

• Susan was feeling desperate, so she gave him another chance even though he had broken her heart before.

• Trey was feeling guilty, so he said yes to the meeting even though it took away more time from his family

B. Reacting means acting quickly to make the feeling go away

Much of what we do is driven by how we feel. 

If you feel something, you might act in a certain way.

The Problem:

We often don’t take time to fully process or understand why we are feeling the way we do.

We don’t take time to ask, What might this feeling be telling me?

What is it signaling to my brain?

If it is a bad feeling, we do whatever we can to make the feeling go away.

C. Responding means processing the feeling and what it signals

We must begin to see our feelings as signals. 

Making this shift in our thinking will help us to take positive steps with our feelings.

If we take a minute to break this down, we will quickly realize that a signal is there to tell us something.

Responding allows us to act in a healthy way to address the root issue.

Understanding Feelings as Signals Gives Us Options

V. [Conclusion:]

Let’s review what we have learned.

We have the power to either reactively act on our feelings or consciously respond to them.

Don’t simply tune out your emotions. Lean in and ask questions to see what they might be telling you. Doing so might just save your life.

Verse for Reflection

“There is a time for everything…a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4).


Show Notes




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Episode Description

In this episode, we discuss the chapter Necessary Interruptions. This is part of a study inspired by Reset – Powerful Habits to Own Your Thoughts, Understand Your Feelings, and Change Your Life by Debra Fileta. We take concepts from the book each week and apply them to brain health.


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Last updated on: 05/21/2024

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