Compound Depression, How to Stop Reassurance Seeking


How to Stop Reassurance Seeking

"While it often brings relief in the short-term, the long-term consequences are increased anxiety, diminished confidence, and chronic self-doubt..." Read the essay →

5 Things About Depression Most People Don't Realize — Part 2: Depression About Depression

In part 2 of this series, I look at how one of the biggest maintaining causes of depression is when people fall into depression about their depression and then offer some suggestions for how to steer clear of this "double depression." Read the essay →


7 Ways to Stop Anxiety Before It Starts

"Just like an athlete develops habits in training that help them deal with game-time stressors and uncertainties, you can cultivate healthy mental and emotional habits that help you deal with the inevitable stressors of life before they snowball into overwhelming amounts of worry and anxiety." Read the article →

The Role of Language in Emotional Health and Suffering (Podcast)

In this episode of the podcast, I chatted with psychologist and researcher Yvonne Barnes-Holmes to discuss the role of language in mental health and suffering, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and the state of psychotherapy in the 21st century. Listen to the episode →


Unintentionally Triggering Someone I Love

Ben asks:

What if a lot of what I do unintentionally triggers someone I love? It's almost the opposite of "being triggered" because I feel like being myself triggers someone I love and so I end up shrinking around them, trying to tip-toe, trying to let them know how much I care about them, feeling stressed, anxious, worried…

You are responsible for your actions, not other people’s emotions. Because while your actions are under your control, how people interpret those actions—and consequently feel about them emotionally—is not.

So if you being yourself is somehow hurtful, mean, abusive, or insincere, then you should obviously work on that. However, if you being yourself just happens to be irritating or angering or otherwise upsetting to this other person, that’s their challenge, not yours—and very likely says a lot more about their own issues than it does about you.

Of course, given that you love this person, it’s understandably hard to see them upset. And it’s natural enough to try everything you can to minimize that. But if trying to prevent them from getting upset means acting as if you have done something wrong (tip-toeing, shrinking, etc.), you’re going to increasingly feel as if you have done something wrong—something I call fake guilt.

But that’s your choice. If you insist on taking responsibility for other people’s emotions by being unwilling to tolerate them being upset (through no fault of your own), chronic stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and (fake) guilt will be the natural and likely unavoidable consequences to you.

On the other hand, you could choose to let them feel however they feel and live your life assertively—which means acting in a way that aligns with your values. This would likely require setting some serious boundaries and accepting a lot of sadness and disappointment on your part as you come to terms with the true nature of the relationship. But it would also free you up to start being yourself again.

I’m sorry I don’t have a better solution to offer. But relationships are complex and very often don’t turn out the way we hope.

We all want mutually respectful and loving relationships; but when that doesn’t happen, it’s still important to love and respect yourself.

Got a question you'd like to see me to answer here? Ask me anything →

Why Quitting Is Underrated. And Grit Is Not Always a Virtue.

From the excellent Annie Duke:

In professional poker—my former field—knowing when to quit is a survival skill that separates elite players from the rest of the pack. Yet, despite the obvious virtues of folding a bad hand, in most areas of life human beings tend to extol perseverance, so much so that a quick Google search turns up many other stories of distance runners around the world suffering horrifying injuries mid-race but refusing to give up. We look at these types of stories and think, I wish I had that kind of grit. But is grit a virtue when we stay too long in bad relationships, bad jobs, and bad careers?

It’s not all in your head. Often the best way to heal yourself is to find the courage to quit an unhealthy environment whether that’s romantic, professional, familial, or spiritual. You don’t want to be careless about quitting, of course. But misguided perseverance is just as dangerous to your wellbeing as misguided quitting. Read the article →


The Best Way to Change Negative Beliefs

+ why fairy tales matter for healthy psychology


Have a nice week,


p.s. Thank you so much to all of you who sent in a testimonial about the newsletter last week. It was very inspiring and affirming to read through them all :)