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Alex Korb WYC



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

Dr. Alex Korb is back for part 2 of the Upward Spiral discussion with Molly. In the second half of the interview, Molly and Alex talk all things related to brain-based solutions to overcome the downward spiral. 

The two start off the discussion by talking about the power of reframing certain situations in our minds. Dr. Alex describes it as the power to be able to imagine things that don’t exist yet and being able to make decisions based on those imagined solutions. With the power of reframing, instead of criticism, our prefrontal cortex can differentiate between feelings and actions and know that they are separate.

This segues into Molly’s question to Alex. What else can we do to not go through a downward spiral? Dr. Alex talks about several things here, but two important topics of note are the already mentioned separating feelings from action. When we are able to do this, we realize that our feelings are not our reality. This also lends itself to the next suggestion from Dr. Alex, we have to know the difference between things we can control and things that we can’t control. As he explains in the episode, literally the second we make a mistake, there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t go back and *not* eat the cookie. What we can do is take a moment to become aware and use this mistake to learn from and influence our future decisions.

Tune in!

Episode Quotes

  • “There are millions of things in the world that are true– most of them are irrelevant.” –Dr. Alex Korb
  • “Negative emotions are good if you use them to take positive action.” –Dr. Alex Korb

Key Highlights

  • Deeper parts of our brains follow an animal-type response rather than follow logic, this is why we habitually do the things we do at certain stress points;
  • Our prefrontal cortex and habit circuitry are often at odds with each other when it comes to goal attainment;
  • Reframing is a mindset shift that is the exact same as imaginary play with children, being able to imagine a solution that does not exist and then act on it;
  • Awareness is key when we are wanting an upward spiral, when awareness is present, our analytical prefrontal cortex is able to separate feeling from action;
  • Some upward skills include recognizing thoughts and emotions aren’t your reality, sleep, compassion, and realizing what is in our control;
  • When we make a mistake, rather than trigger a downward spiral, we should recommit to what is important to us.

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

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Instagram: @mollycarmel

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