General Articles

Sometimes resilience means letting go: The last post at Bounce Back!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

shutterstock_147905000One of the important components of resilience that I am learning to practice more and more is that of acceptance. Taking in my experiences as they come and allowing them to happen. Sometimes things need to change and I take action and other times things are out of my control and I have learned to sit with the experience – whether it’s comfortable or uncomfortable – and keep moving on.

My experience at this point in my life is that I have many wonderful things on my plate but, in fact, there are too many for me to give each its proper due. So, after much consideration and sitting with discomfort for awhile, I have decided that I am going to let Bounce Back! Develop Your Resiliency! go.

I have enjoyed being a part of the wonderful PsychCentral community and I hope to be a part of it again at some point in the future. But for now, I want to thank both the folks behind PsychCentral and you, the reader, for making this an exceptional part of my personal journey.

I hope that you’ve learned some helpful ways to bounce back in life and I invite you to continue following me on my personal blog, BounceYou’re welcome to join my community there and receive the free ebook, Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs by clicking here.

Thanks again to John Grohol, Victoria Gigante, and all of the helpful people here at PsychCentral.

May you lead resilient, meaningful lives.

Balls image available from Shutterstock.

Let Go of Self-Esteem: 4 Ideas to Truly Feel Better About Yourself

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

People come to me in my private practice and request that I help them build their self-esteem so they can be more resilient in life.self-esteem tightrope

I think they’re on the wrong track.

While having a healthy amount of self-esteem can be helpful, there are aspects of self-esteem – and the pursuit of self-esteem – that can be harmful and hinder your ability to bounce back in life.

Researchers call this “contingent self-esteem.”

When we base our worth on something in particular such as physical appearance, work/school achievements or sports, the way we feel about ourselves is contingent on how we do in those endeavors.

If we do well, we feel great! But if we fail – and we’re human so there is no doubt we will fail sometimes – we feel awful about ourselves.

So, what are our options?

We can work so hard in our chosen contingency that we won’t fail and feel bad. (But we’ve already discussed the nature of humanness and failure above.)

Or we can avoid putting ourselves at risk of failure by not trying something new or self-sabotaging so we can say things like, “It’s not that I failed – it’s just that I didn’t really try very hard.”

People who come to me seeking more self-esteem are inevitably walking this tightrope of fear-of-failure/success-sabotaging and assuming that what they need is more self-esteem to help them hold their balance.

Not so much.

4 Ideas That Self-Esteem Doesn’t Like

1. Take on an “others first” attitude.

Self-esteem, of course, is very “me” centered.

It turns out the best way to feel good about ourselves is to be more “you” centered.

Goals directed at being constructive, supportive, and responsive to others lead to feelings of connectedness, closeness to others, social support, and trust, as well as reduced feelings of conflict, loneliness, fear, and confusion. Compassionate goals appear to engender a sense of worth and connectedness without the devastating drops that come after feedback suggestive of failure. ~ Scientific American Mind magazine

Instead of working until midnight at your job to help yourself be successful so you’ll feel good, why not work hard to help the other members …

Need to Bounce Back RIGHT NOW? Try these 4 things

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

If you’re in a spot where you feel like you need to bounce back right now, here’s what I want you to do:woman "help"

 1. Take a deep breath.

Now, before you roll your eyes, let’s look at why this is important.

Taking a deep breath does a couple of very vital things for you.

– It stimulates your vagus nerve by expanding your diaphragm. The vagus nerve is that long, winding nerve that starts in your brain and winds down among just about every organ in your body. When it gets triggered, it prompts your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, calming your body.

It’s pretty hard to feel anxious and upset when your body is calm.

– Your deep breath can serve as a reminder for you to slow down and return to the present moment rather than fretting about the past or worrying about the future.


2. Decide if there is any action you can take.

I giggle a bit at us self-help providers because we sometimes advise people to see the forest of their problem rather than the individual trees.

But occasionally all that’s really needed to get you back on your path is to knock a few of those trees down!

Now that you’ve taken a deep breath (see #1,) take a step back from the situation and do some quick problem-solving: What is the real problem? Is there any action you can take now that will help? What have you done in the past that has worked for you?

If there is something you can do, then do it!

If not, see #3.


3. See the forest instead of the trees.

As much as I teased about people like me giving this exact advice, it really is helpful if there is no action that can be taken.

Again, engage in #1.

Realize that you’ve been in other situations throughout your life where you’ve felt stressed and like you really need to bounce back right now AND you’ve made it through those times. They weren’t pleasant, but they do pass.

Everything does.


4. Read these 14 quick, handy tips.

Someone sent me the link to this cool little article on …

Infographic – 30 Things To Start Doing For Yourself

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
I love this infographic. Each of these little tidbits will help you develop your ability to bounce back and make your life more meaningful. Post it on your fridge or a wall somewhere and practice one of them each day. You’ll be happy you started doing healthy, positive things for yourself!
(You can click on the infographic to see it full-size.)

30 Things to start doing yourself

by shadeed9.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

For more details about how to bounce back in life, download my FREE ebookBounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.

Want to Feel Better? 11 Free Resources to Get You On Your Way

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

floorSome of the best and brightest researchers who study how to increase your well-being have loads of free, practical, helpful information just waiting for you out there in cyberspace.

To make things a little easier for you, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites. These are people and research that have rocked my world and I know they’ll do the same for you. Look for the free stuff!

Struggling with shame? Brene Brown’s got your back.

Must see: Brene Brown’s free first Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability (20 minutes.)

Also good: Her free second Ted Talk, Listening to Shame (20 minutes.)

Excellent free article: 4 (Totally Surprising) Life Lessons We All Need to Learn

Must read book: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are


Too hard on yourself? Kristen Neff can help you with that.

 Must read free article: Why Self-Compassion Trumps Self-Esteem

Must read book: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Wonderful, free guided meditations about self-compassion: website


Need more positivity in your life? (Or just want to know what that is?) Barbara Frederickson’s all over it.

Science-y, but really informative free article that includes video clips: Are You Getting Enough Positivity In Your Diet?

Good book: Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life


Want a go-to resource on how to set and reach your goals? Heidi Grant Halvorson’s got it for you.

Must read free article: 9 Things Successful People Do Differently


Looking for more happiness? Sonja Lyubomirsky has the place to look.

 Must read free article: Is It Possible to Become Lastingly Happier?

Also good: …

29 Quick Tips to Bounce Back in Life

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

1. Realize that change is always going to be in your life. Expect it.

“I always thought things would calm down and get easier. I’m beginning to think that’s not going to happen.” Phoebe Howard, age 99.

2. Be nice to yourself. Treat yourself as you would your best friend. Read Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.

3. Practice mindfulness by noticing your thoughts and feelings, but have no judgment about them. Try this 12-minute ‘taster’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Chinese Finger Trap 2


4. Resistance is like a Chinese Finger Trap. The more you struggle, the tighter you’re held in the trap.

5. Be flexible and open in your way of thinking. It will allow you to problem-solve more effectively and accept your reality more easily. Read Roger von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

6. Find your taproot.

7. See if there is a gift hidden within your troubles. The sand that irritates the oyster eventually becomes a pearl.

8. Develop post-traumatic growth. The basics are being optimistic and framing your struggles as meaningful (finding the gifts and opportunities in them.)

9. Gain perspective: See how many different angles you can view the same problem from.

10. More perspective: Remember that you’ve made it through tough times before. And you’re still here to talk about it.

“I like to see a cloud in the blue sky. How else can you appreciate the blue without a cloud in it?” - my 100-year-old grandmother, Mary Gustason

11. Think about kaleidoscopes. The pattern is beautiful, but when it gets shaken up, a wonderful new pattern can emerge.

12. Take a break.
 Really. It’s okay.

13. Find something that makes you laugh so hard your stomach hurts.

14. Remember that your thoughts aren’t always true.

15. Remember that it’s okay to have fun, smile, and laugh sometimes even when you …

Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

I am a happiness grump.happiness grump

Perhaps I come by it honestly as my parents often referred to me as “Little Chief Thundercloud” when I was a small child.

Nonetheless, I enjoy a bit of happiness as much as the next person. But the aspect of happiness that has me particularly grumpy is the popular social notion that one should always be happy.

You Must Be Happy Now

If you don’t believe me, visit one of the few remaining bookstores in your area and go to the Self-Help section. Your neck will get a kink in it as you keep your head cocked to one side to read the endless list of ways to be happy, stay happy, reasons why you’re not happy, why you suck because you can’t maintain happiness, etc.

Searching for the word “happy” in the book section on Amazon is frightening. (Not to worry, I did it for you.) My search returned 63,499 results.

Of course, we need to take this with a fairly good-sized grain of salt since the top book right now is, Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander, which is an autobiography by someone from the A&E series, Duck Dynasty. Be sure to pick up your copy today.

Still, in the top 25 books are titles such as:

  • Happy This Year! The Secret to Getting Happy Once and For All
  • 10 Things To Do Today To Be Happy Now – 10 Simple Steps For Finding Joy In Your Everyday Life
  • Instant Happy: 10-Second Attitude Makeovers
  • Happy For No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy From the Inside Out
  • Overcoming SAD: The Happy Hippie Yoga Chick’s Guide to Beating Winter Flip-Out.

Actually, that last one might be worth taking a look at . . .

The Antidote

Overall, though, you receive my point: You can and should be happy once and for all, happy now, and instantly happy. As the duck man might say, “Happy, happy, happy. What a quack.”

Imagine my relief, then, when I spied this title: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

Infographic – The Science of Happiness

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
I saw this very interesting infographic about The Science of Happiness and I just had to share it with you.


I’m interested to hear what jumps out at you. Here’s what I noticed right away.


1. Being outside is a necessary thing.
Looks like even 20 minutes can be helpful. And, similar to Barbara Frederickson’s work on positivity, it seems that soaking up some sun can help broaden your ability to be creative and problem-solve. 20 minutes a day. I think we can manage that!


2. Should we move to Mexico?
Mexico has the most satisfied people, the most optimistic people, and the happiest kids. Who knew?


3. I need more bananas.
Who couldn’t use a bit more dopamine? And we can get it from really healthy stuff. Including bananas!


4. It takes a village.
I love, love, love the snippet about the two biggest factors that contribute to happiness around the world: a sense of community and community celebrations. Resilience research also shows that a sense of community and having social support are essential to bouncing back in life. And the ritual of celebrations is a wonderful way to welcome each other and generate belonging and happiness.


5. Abraham Maslow was right.
Leading a meaningful, purposeful life is just bound to help us be happier. You might want to check out my post here about the journey toward living a rich, meaningful life.


What jumps out at you about the infographic? Let me know in the comments section.


Science of Happiness
Graphic by WebpageFX


Looking for more information about bouncing back into a happier place? Download my FREE ebookBounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.

Break Your Resolutions

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

You heard me.break your resolutions

Break those resolutions.

They’re not doing you any good.


Resolutions inevitably set you up for failure.

Think about it: Resolutions are usually created around something you have difficulty with, anyway, like exercising more or eating less. When you create a resolution, you take something that is already hard for you to do and pile on more expectations and more weight (so to speak) on the outcome.

Now what happens if you’re not able to keep your resolution?

You really suck.

In actuality, you don’t suck at all, but resolutions can make you think you do.

Guess what percentage of people who make resolutions actually achieve them?

Go ahead and guess. I’ll wait.

Ready for the answer?

8%. That’s eight percent, not a typo that’s supposed to be 80%. That means 92% fail at completely accomplishing our resolutions.

Break It Down

If you absolutely, positively have to create a resolution, at least do it in the best way possible.

Did you know that the origin of the word resolution is this?

Early 15c., “a breaking into parts,” from L. resolutionem (nom. resolutio) “process of reducing things into simpler forms”.

So, resolution actually means to break things down to make them simpler. The definition of resolution meaning “to hold firmly” didn’t appear until more than a hundred years later.

Rather than saying, “My resolution is to go to the gym more,” create something more specific, measurable, and smaller. Say, “I would like to go to the gym two times per week for the first 3 months and then bump it up to three times per week for the next 3 months.”

Instead of saying, “I’m going to cut out all carbs from my diet,” say, “I’m going to eat only 45 grams of carbs three days per week for one month.”

Reduce your breaking into parts to its simplest form.

The Healthiest Way to Enter the New Year

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, why not set an intention for the new year?

An intention is about having an aim, a direction, a purpose – it’s not about a fixed goal. It can serve the same function as a goal, that is it can get you moving in a new direction.

But holding an intention is not as do-or-die …

3 Things to Ask Yourself When You’re Just Not Bouncing Back

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Do you ever wonder why you’re not bouncing back from things as fast as you usually do?questioning

Maybe you’re facing a big stressor or perhaps it’s something so small that it usually wouldn’t bother you, but in either case, somehow you just aren’t as resilient as you have been in the past.

The tendency is to think, “I must be a real wimp; I usually am fine with this type of stress.”

You might be a wimp (although I seriously doubt it) or there might be something else going on.

We humans have a penchant for glossing over the most obvious things, so here’s a reminder to ask yourself about these three commonly overlooked factors that make it difficult to bounce back:

1. Am I tired?

Being tired saps us of any reserves we might have in the resiliency arena so it makes sense that bouncing back wouldn’t come as easily.

If being tired is due to lack of sleep, our ability to problem-solve and manage even the smallest issues may be severely challenged. We need our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep – the deepest stage of sleep – in order to be able to process memories and emotions most efficiently.

If lack of sleep is a problem for you, check out this helpful article from the American Psychological Association.

Tired from physical exertion? Make sure to get enough rest to get your wits about you again before making any decisions or trying to accurately gauge your ability to bounce back.

2. Am I sick?

Obviously, being seriously ill is going to make it difficult for you to have any energy at all to manage your emotions.

But did you know that even something as simple as the common cold can affect your bounce-back-ability?

Think about it: not only are you tired (see #1 above) from being sick, every bit of extra energy in your body – and most of the regular-strength energy – is going toward fighting off the invasive critters that are making you sick.

That doesn’t leave a lot left over for emotional resilience.

Take care of your body to help restore your energy and bounciness.

3. …


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