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Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…

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Depression Is a Seeking Disorder

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

I did a podcast interview yesterday with Mike Miller of Simple Self Mastery. The interview will be released in a few weeks but one of the questions Mike asked me, led to an answer I think is very important. I believe it can help us stay clear of depression.

Mike asked me what I do when I feel overwhelmed. My response was “I learn.” When I start to feel out of sorts, I pick up a book, listen to a podcast or I go online to read non-fiction. I seek knowledge, often about what is bothering me. Curiosity and its satisfaction, calm me.

Gathering resources

This makes sense. As humans, we have sought for thousands of years. We were hunters and gatherers seeking resources. We still must gather resources.

When depressed, we lack the motivation to gather resources, to look around, to be curious.

Estonian neuroscientist and psychobiologist, Dr. Jaak Panksepp, said depression is a seeking disorder. Panksepp theorized that seeking is one of the primal/survival systems, along with PLAY, PANIC/GRIEF, FEAR, RAGE, CARE and LUST (his capitalization). These emotional systems allow all animals to prepare for survival concerns automatically, without thinking.

What cancels out seeking?

Panksepp also said when you’re in the panic-grief modality, seeking is automatically cancelled out. Panic/grief emits a feeling of sadness and loneliness.

I can relate to this. When I’m deep in a state of overwhelm or sadness, I cannot focus. I just want to lie down and sleep. I shut down and stop listening to my curiosity. I don’t have the energy to follow it.

The key is to get into seeking mode before I get to shut down mode.

If my seeking system does not fire up, I lapse into a depressive state — lethargic, tired, blah, unmotivated and stuck.

Perhaps most intriguing of all is that the SEEKING-EXPECTANCY system might be at the core of healing, certainly Panksepp thinks it may be the system at the core of shifting depression. – Deirdre Fay, Psychotherapist

Where to start?

I have to get curious about what is making me upset. What old wounds surfaced? What core attachment needs of mine are not being met? My most familiar old wound is that of not being noticed and subsequently feeling alone, like I have to handle everything myself, including big emotions, difficult decisions and physical work.

I have to seek out the genesis of my unhappiness and find ways to quell it. Once I have an idea what the main issue is, I make it better by seeking information through learning. Sometimes I return to my old tried and true reference books — Wired for Love, The Highly Sensitive Person, Hold Me Tight, Running on Empty, to name a few. Other times I am off on a whole new search for answers. I look to my favorite podcasts, the stack of unread books I have on my shelf or my close friends/family.

On a higher level this SEEKING system is part of our need to make sense of the world, to understand, to make meaning of all that we struggle with.  In fact, Panksepp suggests that our systems are wired for the search more than the end result. — Deirdre Fay, Psychotherapist 

Another way to stimulate seeking

Panksepp said we can restore our seeking system with play. Play stimulates curiosity and seeking. It gives us a feeling of enthusiasm. During play animals and humans find safe ways to compete and create companionship. Social cooperation and boundaries around what we can do and cannot do develop during play. Much of our playtime involves social interaction.

Play ignites the pro-social programming of our higher brain, which moves us away from the reactive and protective lower/primitive brain.

By immersing ourselves in play (whatever our kind of play is), we activate joy and enthusiasm which kick-start our seeking system. When we seek we come back to our core system of engagement and curiosity. More importantly, we lift ourselves out of depression.

What does your seeking look like? Your playtime? What do you do when depression visits you? 

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  1. mariachristina nodarse September 12, 2018 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Yeap…apparantly while I was “seeking”, I, too, stumbled on to this site. Thank you Brenda! You’ve truly helped and the comments from other readers as well. Keep seeking!! And KNOW you are NOT alone.

    • Brenda Knowles September 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      Happy you stumbled upon! Welcome!

  2. Beatrice September 8, 2018 at 3:26 am - Reply

    I stumbled upon your blog, about a year ago, while in seeking mode. Seeking for answers. Why I feel like shutting down, why this or that impacted me so much, why am I slowly but surely slipping into… depression? I realize from this article that I intuitively switched to seeking mode and whenever I feel overwhelmed I do this – I try to find the root of my low state, the core wounds that exacerbate a present situation and make it feel unbearable. When deeply depressed I had only one choice to make – end everything or look for answers. Because of this I began to see behavioral patterns, I began to explain to myself why I feel or even react in a certain way in a particular situation, I began to understand better others’ behavior, see inner wounds and deep rooted fears that make a person react in a specific way. Due all of this I am even less judgemental than I was. I adjust my own reactions to people’s bad behavior, knowing that beyond it there are fears to overcome and/or wounds to heal. I subscribed to your blog because I was always seeking for answers. I want and need to understand. Thank you.

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you found space2live fellow seeker! It’s cool you’ve figured out some of your own behavioral patterns. Those patterns are the things we can change to make us feel better. It’s not easy breaking the patterns of reactions and actions that we have wired into our lives but awareness and shifts in relationships can change the wiring. Safe, secure relationships are one way to increase our confidence and give us courage to make changes. Sending you warmest wishes.

  3. Andrea September 7, 2018 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    Dear Brenda,
    It all makes sense. “The key is to get into seeking mode before I get to shut down mode” is something I’ll keep in mind. I’ve only read 2 of your posts in many months (even though they’re wonderful) because I’m in shut-down mode. I’ve forced myself to read those 2 posts (this one included) because I know, deep down, that they will help me. So, thank you for that.

    • Brenda Knowles September 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      That’s all I can ask for – for my writing to resonate and help others. I hope you get some play time and find yourself in seeking mode soon Andrea. Just keep interacting with the outside world. Wishing you the best.

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