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Last week, I was struggling. I was dealing with some issues related to taxes and refinancing our house, and I was getting confused and frustrated. I had to make some decisions, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I started to get emotional and feel overwhelmed, which made it even more difficult to think clearly about the decision I had to make.

Amygdala in Control

When I get in a situation like that, it’s best for me to press the pause button, take a break, and try again tomorrow. This isn’t always possible in life, but usually it’s not a big deal to give yourself some time to recover. The reality is that when we get overwhelmed, our emotions are in the driver’s seat. The part of our brain that is responsible for thinking clearly and making rational decisions is shut off. Our amygdala is in control.

Try Again Tomorrow

If we keep at it, it’s like banging our head against the wall. We’re unlikely to make much progress. Instead, we get more and more frustrated and anxious. If you can “catch yourself” when you get in this position, it’s good to stop what you’re doing, take a few breaths, and realize that you aren’t in the best state to solve the current problem. Try doing something completely unrelated (like watching TV or going for a run), and plan to tackle the problem the next day. You will likely find that you can think more clearly and make progress when your emotions have settled down.

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