262. Hope and Values in Dark Times with Us

The world is chock full of bad news right now, and many are feeling the impacts. From war to revocation of rights, the world around us can easily (and not unreasonably) feel hopeless. On this week’s episode of POTC, Debbie, Yael, Jill, and Michael come together to discuss the  psychological impact of the socio-political climate as well as practical advice for navigating these difficult times. Join us in this episode to learn expert-approved strategies for fostering hope and compassion in times of anger, using anger in values-oriented ways, distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy avoidance, and much more today. 

Listen and Learn:

  • The psychological impact of the socio-political climate
  • Practical advice for living consistently with your values during hard times
  • The validity in feeling numb, detaching, and isolating
  • Important distinctions in healthy and unhealthy avoidance
  • Expert-approved strategies for using anger in healthy ways
  • The cognitive load of uncertainty and practical advice for tolerating it
  • Evidence-based methods for fostering hope and taking action
  • Role-models who endured hopelessness with bravery and compassion
  • The strategies the POTC team uses to foster hope in their personal lives
  • How to balance feelings of guilt and shame
  • Practical advice for deciding when it’s time for self-care and when it’s time for taking action
  • Expert-approved strategies for staying informed without burning out or doom scrolling
  • How to have difficult conversations about heavy socio-political topics with even the most difficult of people
  • Clarifying your values by finding the grains of sugar in life


About our team:

Debbie Sorensen, PhD, (she/her) is a psychologist in private practice in Denver, Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University. She is co-author, along with Diana Hill, of ACT Daily Journal: Get Unstuck and Live Fully with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She loves living in Colorado, her home state, with her husband, two daughters, and dog. When she’s not busy working or podcasting, she enjoys reading fiction, cooking, traveling, and getting outdoors in the beautiful Rocky Mountains! You can learn more about Debbie, read her blog, and find out about upcoming presentations and training events at her webpage,

Yael Schonbrun, PhD, (she/her) is a licensed clinical psychologist who wears a number of professional hats: she a small private practice specializing in evidence-based relationship therapy, she’s an assistant professor at Brown University, and she writes for nonacademic audiences about working parenthood. She has a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and completed her postgraduate training at Brown University. In all areas of her work, she draws on scientific research, her clinical experience, ancient wisdom (with an emphasis on Taoism), and real life experiences with her three little boys. You can find out more about Yael’s writing, including her forthcoming book on work and family, and about her research by clicking the links, and can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook where she posts about the science and practice of work and family. Yael’s book, Work, Parent, Thrive comes out in November and is available for pre-order now!

Jill Stoddard, PhD, (she/her) is the director of The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management in San Diego. She got her PhD in clinical psychology from Boston University where she trained at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders; it was there that her passion for treating anxiety using evidence based methods took root. She also loves to write, speak, and now podcast! She’s written two books based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance. When she’s not writing, counseling her fierce clients, speaking, or podcasting, she’s spending time with her amazing family, friends, and dogs, and feeling grateful for her mighty life.

Michael Herold (he/him) is the head coach at The Art of Charm, an L.A. based company where he is using evidence-based psychotherapy to help clients overcome their social anxiety through playful exercises. Michael is also a public speaker and speaker coach. He has spoken at TEDx, in front of members of parliament, universities, and once in a cinema full of 500 kids high on sugary popcorn. Clients he has coached for presentations have been featured on NBC, Fast Company, Forbes, and the Oprah Winfrey Network.In a previous life, he was a character animator working on award-winning movies and TV shows like “The Penguins of Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda”. That was before he realized that helping people live a meaningful life is much more rewarding than working in the film business – even though the long nights in the studio allowed him to brew his own beer in the office closet, an activity he highly recommends to everyone.

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Episode 262