The podcast shares practical, down-to-earth advice to help people honour their personal boundaries, raise their self-esteem, and live authentically. The show helps listeners discover what they can do so that they can create a happier and more fulfilling life.
So it is my pleasure to introduce today's guest, Paul Colaianni.
Hi Paul, thank you for stopping by Activia’s Expert Insights section. Could you tell us a bit about yourself for our readers?
Thank you so much, it’s an honor to be here! It’s funny, the first thing I think about when I describe myself to someone is that I am a product of many years of dysfunction and challenges. I grew up in an alcoholic household and took many incorrect childhood beliefs into the adult world, causing the destruction of every relationship and job I had until I was about 35. At that time, I had a breakdown where many years of repressed anger and hatred toward my stepfather came out in tears. But from that point on, I started a journey of learning and healing that I’ve been on ever since. Today, I’m the author of the book The Overwhelmed Brain: Personal Growth For Critical Thinkers, and host a weekly personal growth podcast of the same name. I coach one on one with clients from all over the world over Skype and phone, and currently reside in Atlanta, Georgia.
What interests you about psychology and personal growth?
Everything. For the longest time, I wasn’t into it at all. I was just drifting through life getting low paying jobs and not really planning for my future. After my long-term relationship of thirteen years ended, I went into a depression and didn’t heal from that for another couple years. When I got into another relationship, got married, then got divorced four years later, I had the sudden realization that the wake of destruction I was leaving behind in my life was actually my responsibility. And if I was going to improve my jobs, finances, relationships, and everything else, I needed to improve me first.
I decided to study psychology, human behavior, communication, hypnosis and NLP for several years before finally getting certified as a coach. Since then, I have been fascinated by human behavior and why we do the things we do. Learning about myself and what caused me to tick really got me on the kick to help others. The more I healed and emotionally evolved, the more I wanted to get others to a better place in them.
Why we do the things we do is never a boring subject. It’s complex and consistently surprises me. It’s always interesting and I learn something new almost every day.
Your new book, The Overwhelmed Brain: Personal Growth for Critical Thinkers is coming out in January 2017. Could you tell us a bit more about it?
I wanted to write an A to Z manual of sorts that took someone from powerless to powerful. That doesn’t mean you have to be powerless when you begin, but I truly believe if you build a solid, emotionally stable foundation and build on it from there, you’ll be empowered to create the life you want.
After I wrote the outline, I realized there was a process. I took that outline and made it into a book. There’s a starting point that talks about how you show up now, what you value, what your personal boundaries are, and more, and you’re led down of road of building or rebuilding your foundation so that you end up more empowered with each chapter.
What do you think is the most common obstacle to happiness?
Great question! I think the most common element that prevents people from attaining happiness is the fear of honoring themselves. Over 90% of my clients run into the same obstacle:
The inability to do what’s right for them.
When you try to keep the peace and honor other people’s desires over your own, to the point where you dishonor yourself, you are slowly deteriorating who you are. What’s worse is that when you are in a relationship with someone who supports that behavior in you, it’s like they’re supporting you dishonoring yourself. If you do that often, you will find happiness slip away a day at a time.
How does putting others’ needs before our own have an effect on our lives?
This is a very common behavior among people-pleasers. When you please others to the point where it creates a deficit in you, it’s like you’re telling the other person, “you’re more important and worthy than I am”. That’s simply not true! Pleasing others to your own detriment wears you down and burns you out. I can’t tell you how many friends I lost simply because I was trying to please them all the time. They didn’t leave me, I left them. I couldn’t handle giving so much to the point where I never got back. And even when they gave back, it was never enough.
There are times where you are going to put someone else’s needs before your own. Running into a burning building to save a child could be an example of that. But if your daily life involves being overly giving or what I call overly compassionate, you will drain the kindness and compassion out of you. Trying to give when you don’t even have enough for yourself will make you resentful and maybe even angry. You can’t genuinely give what you don’t have.
How important is personal growth in relationships?
Relationships are only as strong as the individuals that come into it. In other words, the more you learn, grow and heal in yourself, the more you can bring a happier, healthier you into a relationship. And if you have two people on a path of personal growth, you’ll likely have a long-lasting, deep connection in your relationship. Self-healing is the key to almost all healthy relationships.
What would you say is the first step in creating the life that you want?
It depends on where you are now. However, if I had 30 seconds with you in an elevator and you asked me this question, I’d tell you to start honoring your boundaries in small ways. For example, if someone calls you and asks you to help them with something that you want nothing to do with, learn to say “no”. This is something I started practicing in 2008. The first time I really honored myself was with the two co-owners of a company I worked for. I was so nervous I’d get fired, but I didn’t! It’s not to say that it couldn’t happen, but I was willing to take that chance just because I wanted to be in integrity with myself.
You don’t have to take such leaps of faith when you honor yourself, but the more you do it, the more your life changes and you start getting the results you want.
What motivates you to help other people with their personal growth?
I remember being in such a dark, fearful place most of my life. To the world, I was happy and nothing bothered me. But on the inside, I was a frightened child trying to survive. After I healed from many emotional wounds, I felt so free and alive.
I realized just how many people must be in the position now that I was in then, if not worse, so I wanted to take what I learned both in my personal experience and from my studies and certifications, and give them to the world. I give away everything I know on my weekly podcast because information that helps people get out of a bad emotional place should be freely available. The book condenses a lot of what I talk about on the show into something you can carry around with you. But even if you don’t buy the book, there are over 180 episodes of The Overwhelmed Brain podcast available as of this writing.
I am motivated to help others because depression, anxiety, unhappiness, and overall fear shouldn’t consume anyone. I’ve been there and I know there’s a way out, and I want to share how.
What do you hope the reader walks away with after reading The Overwhelmed Brain?
A new sense of self-esteem, self-worth, and the confidence to stand up for themselves when they feel violated or disrespected. My goal is to empower the reader so that they can make decisions that are right for them. So many people make decisions from a place of fear and “what might happen.” Where, after reading this book, they will instead make decisions from a place of honoring themselves. Personal empowerment comes from an empowered foundation. That foundation, the “emotional core” as I call it, needs to be strong enough so that one can access their strength, even when they are most vulnerable.
Are you working on any new projects you’d like to share with us?
Yes! The book is an outline to an online course that will really drill into what it takes to create an empowered life. I’m hoping to get it done before the book is released. Wish me luck!
Best of luck with the book, Paul! Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
It’s never too late to start honoring yourself and creating the life you want. My mom left an abusive marriage after 44 years and she’s never been happier in her life. Now at 72, she’s experiencing what freedom and joy are like for the first time since she was child. It may seem like the obstacles in your way are huge, but each step toward your healing makes those obstacles smaller and smaller. Never think that what you’ve been through is insurmountable or impossible to heal from. Even if you can’t reach full healing, you can start doing things for yourself that empower you and lead you to a better life all around.
You are significant and absolutely worthy, and I want you to live the best life you can. There will always be a struggle in one form or another, but as you evolve emotionally and heal inside, you will be prepared for those challenges and overcome them as they appear. You are amazing.
Paul's book, The Overwhelmed Brain: Personal Growth for Critical Thinkers, is due for release on the 10th January 2017. If you'd like to have a look and pre-order your copy, you can do so here. And, if you'd like to connect with Paul, make sure to say hello on Twitter at @paulcolabrain.