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Alex Korb WYC



Going on the Upward Spiral with Dr. Alex Korb (Part 1 of 2)

In today’s episode, Molly welcomes back Dr. Alex Korb! Molly and Alex are getting down to the why behind our brain behavior– why certain actions may trigger negative thoughts, and what we can do to go on an upward spiral rather than downward.

As the episode starts, Dr. Alex sums up what we talked about the last time he was on– when downward spirals are triggered. To review that, think about being invited to a party, but thinking to yourself you don’t want to go and then this triggers the action of not going then that triggers other negative thoughts and emotions. If we translate this to food and think about eating a cupcake when we know we shouldn’t… ring any bells, anyone?

The downward spiral is the problem, now let’s talk solution. The moment a mistake has been made, there is literally nothing we can do about it anymore. That being said, when we have awareness of that, it allows us to approach ourselves with a sense of compassion and grace. We are human. Next time, we will have a plan to not make the same mistakes. Speaking of plan, when the stressor (whatever it may have been) is no longer present, we can plan ways to do better next time. Our brains want control, what we can control is creating a plan before times of distress so we know what to do when the crisis does inevitably happen.

Tune in!

Episode Quotes

  • “Your brain wants you safe, not happy. It doesn’t care if you’re happy.” –Molly Carmel
  • “You’re not broken, this is just how the human brain works. You’re human.” –Dr. Alex Korb

Key Highlights

  • The problem is the downward spiral. Once a thought pops into your head, it will trigger a habit like a stimulus response which can lead to negative thoughts;
  • You can’t change everything, but you do have the power to turn the volume up on positive emotions or turn the volume down on unhelpful habits;
  • It is an empowering thought that we are not broken, we are human. This is just how the brain works, separating us as the person from how our brain functions;
  • Our brains cannot distinguish between a good habit versus a bad habit because it acts in the short term which is why it can be difficult to break some habits;
  • If we understand the why of what we do, it allows us to approach our actions and mistakes with a sense of compassion for ourselves;
  • Because it may take longer to feel the benefit of good habits, we should create plans and practice those skills when we are NOT activated.

About Dr. Alex Korb

Dr. Alex Korb has PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, and currently teaches there in the Department of Psychiatry. Outside of the lab he is a personal coach who helps smart, successful, and passionate professionals get unstuck and unlock their brain’s peak performance. Dr. Korb is also head coach of the UCLA Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, and has a wealth of experience in yoga and mindfulness, physical fitness, and even stand‑up comedy. He’s the author of the amazing book, The Upward Spiral, and a crowd favorite on our podcast. For more info visit or follow @alexkorbphd on twitter, facebook, and instagram.

Connect with Alex

Instagram: @alexkorbphd

Facebook: Alex Korb, PhD

Twitter: @alexkorbphd


About Molly Carmel

Molly is a leading addiction and eating disorder therapist and the founder of the Beacon Program, which offers individual and group solutions to help people break free from their destructive relationships with food and dieting. She is also the author of ‘Breaking up with Sugar’ and the host of ‘What You’re Craving’ Podcast.

Connect with Molly

Want to spend MORE time together? Me too! Here are all the ways:

Instagram: @mollycarmel

Facebook: Molly Carmel

YouTube: Molly Carmel

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