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Our 7 Emotional Circuits + 3 Things You Need to Be a Happy Writer ft. Reneau Peurifoy

In this episode, we’re talking to Reneau Peurifoy, who, with over 20 years of experience in marriage and family therapy, shares wisdom on the 7 core emotions that we share with our pets, the 3 most important emotional factors that impact personal happiness (like being a happy writer!), and practical approaches for quieting destructive emotional triggers and negative core response patterns.

If you ever find yourself in that anxiety downward spiral, that impacts your work and creative life, then don’t miss this episode.

Press Play above to listen to the episode while you read along with my takeaways, or listen on Apple or Spotify.

Reneau Peurifoy was in private practice for twenty years as a marriage and family therapist specializing in anxiety disorders before becoming a teacher at a local college. He has written four books. The most recent that has just been released is “Why You Feel the Way You Do.”

Connect with Reneau at his website, Facebook, or LinkedIn.


Brain Circuitry is the Key to Being a Happy Writer

You and I both know the writer’s life is nothing short of an emotional journey. Every high and every low directly impacts the ink that hits the page, from those bursts of inspiration to the dreaded blocks that seem to sap our creativity.

But what if the key to a happier writing life lies deeper than just perfecting our routines or pushing through another word count goal?

In my conversation with Reneau, I learned what I think might be a game-changer for us writers!

Brain circuitry—and our 7 core emotional circuits—are the key drivers to personal happiness and, of course, being a happy writer. We love to see it!

Uncover the 7 Emotional Circuits Powering Your Creative Flow

Reneau explained that modern neuroscience has identified 7 core “emotional circuits” that we share with our pets and all the other mammals out there. These hardwired circuits — including fear, anger, lust, and caregiving — form the foundation for the full spectrum of human emotions.

“The emotions are designed to help us get good stuff and avoid bad stuff,” Reneau said. “They generate energy in the body through the fight-or-flight mechanism, and they give you that desire to take action.”

Reneau shared some eye-opening insights into these core emotional circuits that we share with our mammalian cousins. These are like the internal wiring that stirs up our whole spectrum of emotions.

The 7 Core Emotional Circuits

  1. Fear: This is all about threat response—our classic fight or flight.
  2. Anger: Ever felt that fiery urge to react sharply to obstacles? That’s this circuit doing its job.
  3. Lust: Sparks more than just romantic dinners; it’s about deep-seated desires and attractions.
  4. Caregiving: This one tugs at your heartstrings, pushing you to nurture and protect.
  5. Seeking: It’s the root of our curiosity, pushing us to explore and learn.
  6. Play: Not just for kids or kittens, this circuit is about joy and connection.
  7. Panic/Grief: This one hits hard, dealing with loss and the profound need for connection.

Reneau made a powerful point about these emotions: they’re designed to help us snag the good stuff and dodge the bad. So, as writers and creators, when we understand these circuits, we can better navigate our own creative challenges and emotional landscapes.

As a happy writer, recognizing these primal emotional drivers can be a game-changer. When you understand the neurological roots of feelings like anxiety, creative inspiration, or even writer’s block, you can learn to work with your emotions rather than letting them hijack your writing process.

For example, Reneau explained that the “seeking” circuit – our innate drive to explore our environment – is a key source of the curiosity and wonder that fuels the creative mind. Tapping into this circuit consciously can help you cultivate a sense of playful discovery in your writing, even on the most challenging days.


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Develop Strategies to Manage Anxiety and Negative Thought Patterns

Of course, being a writer also means navigating the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with the territory. Reneau’s insights into managing anxiety and negative thought patterns were particularly illuminating for me as a lifelong sufferer of anxiety.

Understanding “What If” Thinking

Reneau points out that a big part of anxiety comes from “what if” thinking. You know, that endless loop of negative anticipation. It’s like your brain tries to prepare for every possible disaster, however unlikely. He explains that this often leads to emotional reasoning, where your feelings dictate your reality, rather than logical thought.

Creating Coping Self-Statements

To combat these spirals, Reneau suggests crafting “coping self-statements.” These are your mental tools to challenge catastrophic thinking and put things into perspective. For instance, instead of fretting endlessly about the possibility of fainting in public, you remind yourself, “The odds of that happening are slim, and hey, even if it did, it’s not the end of the world.”

The Power of Desensitization

Reneau also emphasizes the importance of desensitization—gradually exposing yourself to anxiety-inducing situations in a controlled, safe manner. This approach is similar to how writers face their fears and self-doubt about their work.

By arming yourself with practical strategies like these, navigating the emotional terrain of a writer’s life becomes more doable. It’s about showing up for yourself, managing the downs so you can enjoy the ups, and moving forward in your writing with a bit more peace and a lot less panic.

Cultivate Meaningful Relationships and a Sense of Purpose

But Reneau’s insights went even deeper than just taming anxiety and negative thought patterns. He also highlighted the 3 key factors that research has shown contribute most to human happiness and wellbeing. And let me tell you, as a fellow happy writer, these are the pillars I’ve come to see as essential for nurturing our creativity and joy.

The first and biggest one, according to Reneau? Relationships. Here’s what he had to say:

“The big one is relationship. Having two or three people in your life that you can be transparent with, you can talk to about good things and bad things, they’re not going to stab you in the back or laugh at you, and that you just have a good relationship with.”

You see, fostering these kinds of deep, meaningful connections can provide an invaluable wellspring of support, inspiration, and accountability for us writers. Whether it’s:

  • A trusted writing group that becomes like family
  • An empathetic critique partner who “gets” you
  • A close-knit community of fellow authors

Tapping into the power of healthy relationships can truly sustain you through even the most challenging creative slumps.

Reneau also highlighted the importance of finding a sense of purpose and meaning in your life. Now, for many of us writers, this may come from the deeper themes or messages we feel called to explore through our work. But it can also stem from:

  • A commitment to service and making a positive impact
  • A deep reverence for the creative process itself
  • A desire to live in alignment with your core values

“People who deal with anxiety and things like COVID tend to have a belief system, an existential or spiritual belief system that helps them cope with adversity and put it in a context that makes sense to them,” Reneau explained. “And one of the things that is very weak in our culture today is people don’t have a very good sense of meaning when you ask them those types of questions.”

By clarifying your own sense of purpose and meaning, you can cultivate the resilience and inner resources to weather the emotional storms that come with the writing life. This, in turn, will nourish your creativity and allow you to show up more fully and joyfully as a happy writer.

Your Unique Emotional Landscape

Ultimately, Reneau’s insights taught me that the path to becoming a happy writer lies not just in perfecting your craft, but in embracing the full depth and complexity of your emotional experience.

“A lot of times people with anxiety disorders understand that that’s your best quality. It’s the thing about you that your kids, your mate, your friends like, because you’re very empathetic, you tune in well to people, you’re a great listener… it’s just you get overloaded easily, and that’s all it is.”

Reneau Peurifoy

In other words, the very traits that may sometimes feel like burdens – your sensitivity, your tendency towards anxiety, your deep well of emotion – are also the wellsprings of your greatest gifts as a writer. By learning to work with your emotions rather than against them, you can unlock new levels of creativity, resilience, and joy in your writing life.

So embrace your unique emotional landscape, my fellow happy writers!

Tune in to the rhythms of your heart and mind, and let that profound self-knowledge settle into your everyday life. Your writing routine will thank you.

My Top 3 Takeaways for this Conversation

The 3 things I loved most about my chat with Reneau were:

  1. Reneau’s insightful perspective on how our emotions and emotional responses are deeply rooted in our underlying brain circuitry. His explanation of the 7 core emotional circuits was fascinating and gave me a whole new way to think about my own feelings.
  2. The practical strategies Reneau shared for managing anxiety and negative thought patterns, like challenging catastrophic thinking and developing coping statements. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I found these tips incredibly helpful and empowering.
  3. Reneau’s emphasis on the importance of meaningful relationships and finding a sense of purpose or deeper meaning in life as keys to overall happiness and wellbeing. His holistic view on mental health really resonated with me.

Let’s change some lives,

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Holly

PS — 🩵 When it feels right, here are 3 ways I can help you turn the page:

  1. The Book Map. Imagine having a GPS for your book-writing journey, guiding you from “I think I have an idea!” all the way to “OMG, I did it! I wrote a book!” That’s what the Book Map can do for you. It’s a supercharged roadmap for your writing journey. It’s not just about outlining chapters; it’s about diving deep into what you want to say and the best way to say it, ensuring every word pulls its weight. You’re not just writing a book; you’re crafting a masterpiece that feels as if it almost writes itself. Ready to make your book dream a reality? Let’s Book Map it!
  2. One-to-One Book Coaching. I have a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching world-changers to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey. I see a future where we build trust in our words, worlds, and work with our books, and where the world becomes a better place because of the books we write. My commitment is to bring to life books—fiction and nonfiction—founded on integrity. I’ll bring the map, and you’ll take us on the journey. If you’re ready to change the world with your book, your quest awaits. Apply for a free discovery call here. It takes 3 minutes.
  3. Listen to the Podcast. The Book Coach Chronicles: A podcast for writers of books, people who want to be writers of books, and y’all in the back who’ve been thinking about it but don’t yet consider yourself a writer. Listen on AppleSpotify, or Everywhere Else.

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Holly Ostrout is a book coach with a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching big-idea entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, and authors to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey.
Holly Ostrout

Hi I’m Holly. If you’re going to change the world with your book, fiction or nonfiction, I can help you do it.

I'm a book coach for high-achieving, creative coaches, consultants, service providers, speakers, and authors who want to build a sustainable business around their book—whether that’s fiction or nonfiction.

I help you share your wisdom, ideas, and gifts by writing & publishing a life-changing book that helps you streamline your business, bring in more money, and change more lives.

I believe books are the most important human invention. And yours can change the world.

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Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

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Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours

Writing Ritual Tracker from Books & Alchemy

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout
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If You Want to Change the World with Your Book, You've Got to Write It.

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Creator & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.