20 Powerful TED Talks on Relationships & Communication
1. Four Habits of ALL Successful Relationships | Dr. Andrea & Jonathan Taylor-Cummings (2019)
All relationships take work. Dr. Andrea & Jon Taylor-Cummings share their observations of the four fundamental habits of healthy relationships: BE CURIOUS, not critical; BE CAREFUL, not crushing; ASK, don’t assume; and CONNECT, before you correct.
2. Ten Ways to Have a Better Conversation | Celeste Headlee (2016)
Journalist, author, and public speaker Celeste Headlee reveals the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity, and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 rules for having better conversations.
3. The Brain in Love | Helen Fisher (2008)
Helen Fisher – anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author – talks about romantic love in this video clip. She shares what neuroscience tells us about the brain in love.
Bonus video: The Science of Love with Dr. Helen Fisher
4. Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome? | Debi Silber (2020)
Dr. Debi Silber – psychologist and founder of the PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute – talks about being blindsided by betrayal. She explains how we heal (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from betrayal by turning trauma into transformation.
Take a free quiz to find out if you have post betrayal syndrome.
5. The Dreaded Drama Triangle | Lucy Barnes (2018)
There are three roles we take on in unhealthy relationships. Are you the victim, the rescuer, or the persecutor? Lucy Barnes talks about the dreaded drama triangle in this TED Talk.
6. How to Fix a Broken Heart | Guy Winch (2018)
Psychologist Guy Winch talks about heartbreak and the intense emotional pain it brings. To recover from a broken heart, we must be willing to let the relationship go; hope can be incredibly destructive when we’re heartbroken. In one of the most viewed TED Talks on relationships and breakups, Winch shares practical suggestions for moving on after a relationship ends.
7. How to Speak So That People Want to Listen | Julian Treasure (2014)
According to Julian Treasure, the seven deadly sins of speaking are gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, blaming, lying, and conflating fact with opinion. He talks about the four cornerstones of effective speech as well as tools for speaking so that people want to listen.
Bonus TED-Ed Video: How Miscommunication Happens and How to Avoid It
8. How to Spot a Liar | Pamela Meyer (2011)
We’re all liars, according to Pamela Meyer – and we’re lied to between 10 and 200 times on any given day. In one of the most highly viewed TED Talks on relationships and deception, Meyer talks about how to spot lies by recognizing the telltale signs of a liar.
9. How Your Brain Falls In Love | Dawn Maslar (2016)
Biologist Dawn Maslar explains the neuroscience of falling in love. Romantic love is associated with chemical and hormonal changes that differ for men and women.
10. Infidelity: To Stay or Go…? | Lucy Beresford (2018)
Psychotherapist and relationship expert Lucy Beresford argues against the assumption that ending a relationship after infidelity is the best course of action. She suggests that it’s more courageous to stay and rebuild. In this TED Talk, Beresford explains how a couple can repair their relationship and rebuild trust after a betrayal.
Bonus TED-Ed Video: A Brief History of Divorce
11. Is Casual Sex Bad for You? | Dr. Zhana Vrangalova (2015)
Renowned sex researcher and psychologist Zhana Vrangalova discusses casual sex, long portrayed as a societal sin. She explains how “hookup” sex satisfies some of our most basic human needs.
12. Is It Lust or Is It Love? | Terri Orbuch (2014)
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka, The Love Doctor®) is a professor of sociology at Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan) and a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at University of Michigan. In this TED Talk she explains how to differentiate between lust and love by recognizing distinctive features.
13. Overcoming the Fear of Love | Trillion Small (2018)
Dr. Trillion Small, licensed marriage and family therapist, examines why we fear love and how to overcome this in order to have healthy relationships.
14. The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown (2011)
Brené Brown shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
15. Relationships Are Hard, but Why? | Stan Tatkin (2016)
Stan Tatkin – relationship expert, clinician, teacher, and researcher – explores why we fight in relationships from a neuroscience perspective.
16. Rethinking Infidelity… A Talk for Anyone Who Has Ever Loved | Esther Perel (2015)
Relationship therapist Esther Perel discusses adultery and infidelity in this TED Talk. She explains that monogamy has nothing to do with love and talks about the three ways infidelity hurts us differently today.
17. The Science of Love | John Gottman (2018)
Can science help find the magic of love? Relationship expert discusses the science of love and how to make love work.
18. Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships | Joanne Davila (2015)
Psychologist and researcher Joanne Davila describes how you can create the things that lead to healthy relationships and reduce the things that lead to unhealthy ones using three evidence-based skills – insight, mutuality, and emotion regulation.
19. What a Sex Worker Can Teach Us About Human Connection | Nicole Emma (2018)
Nicole Emma explains that sex is how men feel loved and worthy. She shares what she learned about human connection through sex work. She also touches on the impact of harmful male messages in society.
Leslie Morgan Steiner shares what it’s like to be in “crazy love” with an abusive partner. For years she stayed with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. In this TED Talk, Steiner explains why domestic violence victims don’t leave abusive relationships; she also corrects common misconceptions about intimate partner violence.
1. Anger Is Your Ally: A Mindful Approach to Anger | Juna Mustad (2019)
You wouldn’t let a young child drive a car, nor would you lock them in the trunk. Treat your anger in the same manner; don’t let it drive you, but don’t be a “stuffer.” Juna Mustad explains how neuroscience and mindfulness can help us to better understand and manage anger.
2. Don’t Neglect Your Emotions. Express Them – Constructively! | Artūrs Miksons (2019)
Medical doctor and psychotherapist Artūrs Miksons talks about how we learn to suppress or reject emotional responses that are deemed unacceptable by society. In reality, emotions should not be labeled as “good” or “bad”; they just are. A better way to manage difficult emotions is to not only recognize and accept them, but to speak them aloud and share with another.
3. Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings | Dr. Joan Rosenberg (2016)
Psychologist Joan Rosenberg explains how poor management of unpleasant feelings blocks us from feeling capable in life and achieving success. She reveals a simple formula (1 choice, 8 feelings, 90 seconds) for navigating these challenging feelings in one of the most popular TED Talks on emotions.
4. Emotions Monsters and the Way We Treat Them | Melissa Gallagher (2020)
Melissa Gallagher – trauma survivor, parent, and mental health advocate – explains that we need to recognize and connect with our “emotions monsters” in order to heal from suffering. Hiding from our pain only makes it worse.
5. Feelings: Handle Them Before They Handle You | Mandy Saligari (2017)
Recovering addict and addictions therapist Mandy Saligari explains that we must handle our emotions or they will handle us. She discusses emotional coping mechanisms for managing feelings and the role of healthy boundaries.
6. The Mood-Boosting Power of Crying | Kathy Mendias (2020)
In this video clip, Kathy Mendias explores the science behind the mood-boosting power of tears (which the average human produces 15-30 gallons of per year!) She explains how crying can improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
Did you know that the chemical composition of emotional tears differs from that of the tears that form in response to an irritant? Click here for a 4-minute bonus video that explains the chemistry of tears and why we cry.
7. The Power of Women’s Anger | Soraya Chemaly (2019)
Author Soraya Chemaly talks about how girls and women across the world are taught that anger, “the moral property of boys and men,” is better left unvoiced. In reality, anger is a powerful signal that warns us of threat, insult, indignity, and harm; feminine rage is justified, healthy, and a potential catalyst for change.
8. Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful | David Steindl-Rast (2013)
Monk and interfaith scholar David Steindl-Rast talks about how gratefulness is the secret to true happiness. He encourages everyone to “live gratefully” by not taking life for granted. Every moment is a gift and we have a new opportunity in every moment.
9. Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals | Tim Ferriss (2017)
In this TED Talks, Tim Ferriss – entrepreneur, investor, author, podcaster, and lifestyle guru – talks about overcoming self-paralysis through “fear-setting.” By envisioning our fears and then focusing on what we have control over (define, prevent, impair), we are better equipped to face them.
10. You Aren’t at the Mercy of Your Emotions – Your Brain Creates Them | Lisa Feldman Barrett (2018)
Neuroscientist and psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains, and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies for the past 25 years to better understand human emotions. Through exhaustive research she discovered how emotions are created in the brain. As one of the top-viewed TED Talks on emotions, this video shows that we have more control over our emotions than we think we do.
Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion
1. Compassion and the True Meaning of Empathy | Joan Halifax (2011)
In this inspiring TED Talk, Joan Halifax shares about what she’s learned about compassion and true empathy. She has a deep insight into the nature of compassion, gained through her work with people in the end stages of their lives.
2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth (2013)
In this popular TED Talk, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth explains how grit and determination, not IQ, are the biggest predictors of success.
3. How Do You Define Yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez (2014)
Lizzie Velasquez, once labeled the world’s ugliest woman, explores the ways in which we define ourselves. As one of the most powerful TED Talks on true beauty, this video empowers viewers to challenge society’s definitions of beauty, happiness, and success – and to decide for themselves how they’ll allow themselves to be defined.
4. How to Succeed in Every Moment Even When You’re Failing | Dr. Jill Stoddard (2020)
Dr. Jill Stoddard – clinical psychologist and author – challenges the notion that goal achievement is a measure of success. She explores alternative ways of thinking about failures in life.
5. Listening to Shame | Brené Brown (2012)
Brené Brown – researcher, professor, and author – explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. In this TED Talk she explains how shame is an epidemic and how it plays a major role in “broken” behaviors in our lives.
6. The Magic of Not Giving a F*** | Sarah Knight (2017)
Bestselling author Sarah Knight outlines her method for “not giving a fuck,” thereby putting a stop to spending time she doesn’t have, doing things she doesn’t want to do. One of the most powerful TED Talks on self-determination, Sarah Knight’s speech will leave you rethinking your own priorities (and fucks to give – or not to give) in life.
7. The Price of Shame | Monica Lewinsky (2015)
Monica Lewinsky delivers a compelling talk on public shaming and the “culture of humiliation” that exists today. From a woman who lost her personal reputation on a global scale back in 1998 – and who was able to survive by taking back her narrative – this video clip is one of the most powerful TED Talks out there on countering public humiliation with empathy and compassion.
8. The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong | Amy Morin (2015)
What bad mental habits are holding you up? In this TED Talk, Amy Morin – psychotherapist and author – explains how to become “mentally strong” by challenging our negative beliefs and giving up unhealthy habits. This strategy builds resiliency and allows us to become unstuck in life, thus reaching our full potential.
9. The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion | Kristin Neff (2013)
Kristin Neff – university professor and published author – explores the relationship between self-esteem and self-compassion in this video clip. She asks viewers to be kind to themselves as she discusses what research tells us about self-compassion.
10. The Three Secrets of Resilient People | Lucy Hone (2019)
In this TED Talk, Dr. Lucy Hone – resilience expert, acclaimed researcher, and published author – discusses three strategies for rising up from adversity in the face of suffering. She shares about her personal experience with painful loss – and how she was able to get through an unimaginable tragedy. As one of the most inspiring and powerful TED Talks on resiliency, this video clip provides viewers with not only insight, but hope.
Nancy Berns, a sociologist at Drake University, discusses grief and closure in this 18-minute TED Talk. She explains that closure is a fabricated concept, and that it is doing us more harm than good. This is one of the best TED Talks on grief and loss for counseling students, use with grieving clients, or for self-help.
2. Getting Cozy with Grief | Stacy Smith (2020)
Stacy Smith is a therapist, college professor, and the founder of Club Forget Me Not, a nonprofit that helps grieving children. In this 10-minute clip, she talks about death, grieving, and “being present in grief.”
3. We Don’t “Move On” from Grief. We Move Forward with It | Nora McInerny (2019)
Nora McInerny, writer and podcaster, talks about life and death in this 15-minute talk. She shares her personal experience with loss, and encourages viewers to rethink our approach to grief. This is one of the most powerful TED Talks on grief.
I developed this workbook in response to a personal loss as I processed it, learned to cope, and found a way to move forward.
This free, original work may be reproduced and distributed for personal, therapeutic, and/or educational purposes with appropriate citation. Please link to Mind ReMake Project when sharing electronic copies.
For more grief resources from Mind ReMake Project, click here.
“An award-winning app developed for teenage mental health by Dr. Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, using the basic principles of an evidence-based therapy called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT).”
5 and 15 minute activities to comfort, distract, express, and release. You can also use this app to practice guided breathing, to log your activities (and self-monitor), and to journal.
Apple StoreRating: 4.4 stars (556 ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.3 stars (1,982 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.00 (credibility) and 4.28 (user experience)
“The ground-breaking Healthy Minds Program uses neuroscience, contemplative traditions, and skill-based learning methods to help you develop the skills for a healthy mind, now in the palm of your hand. Translating pioneering neuroscience into tools for everyday life, our unique framework guides you through the four pillars of the science of training the mind.”
Guided meditations for awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.
Apple Store Rating: 4.9 stars (672 ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.7 stars (1,032 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.67 (credibility) and 4.38 (user experience)
Subscription: No, but you must sign up for a free account
“We offer the largest free library of guided meditations on earth and the world’s most loved meditation Timer, for free.”
95,000 guided meditations, stories, and soundscapes for sleep, recovery and healing, stress and anxiety, performance, health and happiness, relationships, and spirituality. You can also access live events, discussion groups, and classes.
Apple Store Rating: 4.9 stars (305K ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.9 stars (125,993 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.33 (credibility) and 4.38 (user experience)
Subscription: No. You have the option of creating a free account.
“Mantras are phrases we repeat to ourselves that highlight our strengths & values and can motivate us to do and feel good. A mantra helps you become your best possible self and My Mantra is designed to help you get there. As part of the IntelliCare suite of apps, My Mantra lets you create these motivating mantras and construct virtual photo albums to serve as encouragement and reminders of these mantras in your life.”
A simple top free app for developing personal mantras to inspire and uplift.
Apple Store Rating: 5 stars (2 ratings)
Google Play Rating: N/A
Psyberguide Rating: 3.67 (credibility) and 2.78 (user experience)
“Practicing mindfulness means grounding yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness has been shown to be helpful for reducing stress and coping with unpleasant thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness Coach will help you practice mindfulness meditation.”
Mindfulness training and practices. You can also use this app to set goals and log your progress.
Apple Store Rating: 4.7 stars (4K ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.8 stars (5,230 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.00 (credibility) and 3.30 (user experience)
“Oak helps you decompress by transforming your meditation practice from an experiment into a habit. We support you from your first session to your 500th, with mindful, loving-kindness, and sleep meditations as well as unguided sessions and breathing exercises. Individualize your meditations by duration, and customize with silence or calming background sounds. Oak tracks your progress and encourages you to continue building a healthy meditation practice.”
Meditations and breathing exercises for relaxation and sleep. You can also access a mantra meditation course with this top free app.
“Lower your stress levels, reduce anxiety, overcome fears, relieve pain, get better sleep, and so much more. All made possible with access to hundreds of meditations in the Tapping Solution App. You’ll learn how to use Tapping (also known as EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques), to lead a happier and healthier life.”
Tapping meditations and audiobooks.
Apple Store Rating: 4.8 stars (7.4K ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.6 stars (6,098 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: N/A
Subscription: $94.99 yearly (some content available without a subscription, account sign-up is free)
“With this easy-to-use app, you can practice mindfulness meditation anywhere, anytime with the guidance of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Scientific research shows mindfulness can help manage stress-related physical conditions, reduce anxiety and depression, cultivate positive emotions, and help improve overall physical health and well-being.”
Basic and wellness meditations, as well as videos and podcasts.
25 Top Therapist-Recommended Books for Self-Improvement
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13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success (2017)
By Amy Morin
Amazon Description: “Everyone knows that regular exercise and weight training lead to physical strength. But how do we strengthen ourselves mentally for the truly tough times? And what should we do when we face these challenges? Or as psychotherapist Amy Morin asks, what should we avoid when we encounter adversity? Through her years counseling others and her own experiences navigating personal loss, Morin realized it is often the habits we cannot break that are holding us back from true success and happiness. Indulging in self-pity, agonizing over things beyond our control, obsessing over past events, resenting the achievements of others, or expecting immediate positive results holds us back. This list of things mentally strong people don’t do resonated so much with readers that when it was picked up by Forbes.com it received ten million views.
Now, for the first time, Morin expands upon the thirteen things from her viral post and shares her tried-and-true practices for increasing mental strength. Morin writes with searing honesty, incorporating anecdotes from her work as a college psychology instructor and psychotherapist as well as personal stories about how she bolstered her own mental strength when tragedy threatened to consume her.
Increasing your mental strength can change your entire attitude. It takes practice and hard work, but with Morin’s specific tips, exercises, and troubleshooting advice, it is possible to not only fortify your mental muscle but also drastically improve the quality of your life.”
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (2018)
By James Clear
Amazon Description: “No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving-every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.
Learn how to:
make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
design your environment to make success easier;
get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.
Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits-whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.”
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love (2012)
By Amir Levine & Rachel Heller
Amazon Description: “We already rely on science to tell us what to eat, when to exercise, and how long to sleep. Why not use science to help us improve our relationships? In this revolutionary book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller scientifically explain why why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle.
Discover how an understanding of adult attachment—the most advanced relationship science in existence today—can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:
Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back
Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
Attached guides readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mate) follow, offering a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections with the people they love.”
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2015)
By Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
Amazon Description: “Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.”
The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have (2020)
By Mark Nepo
Amazon Description: “Philosopher-poet and cancer survivor Mark Nepo opens a new season of freedom and joy―an escape from deadening, asleep-at-the wheel sameness―that is both profound and clarifying.
His spiritual daybook is a summons to reclaim aliveness, liberate the self, take each day one at a time, and savor the beauty offered by life’s unfolding. Reading his poetic prose is like being given second sight, exposing the reader to life’s multiple dimensions, each one drawn with awe and affection.
The Book of Awakening is the result of Nepo’s journey of the soul and will inspire others to embark on their own. He speaks of spirit and friendship, urging readers to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships. Encompassing many traditions and voices, Nepo’s words offer insight on pain, wonder, and love. Each entry is accompanied by an exercise that will surprise and delight the reader in its mind-waking ability.”
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016)
By Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, & Douglas Abrams
Amazon Description: “Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.
In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?
They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.
This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecendented week together, from the first embrace to the final good-bye.
We get to listen as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.
The Archbishop has never claimed sainthood, and the Dalai Lama considers himself a simple monk. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.”
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There (2020)
By Tara Schuster
Amazon Description: “By the time she was in her late twenties, Tara Schuster was a rising TV executive who had worked for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and helped launch Key & Peele to viral superstardom. By all appearances, she had mastered being a grown-up. But beneath that veneer of success, she was a chronically anxious, self-medicating mess. No one knew that her road to adulthood had been paved with depression, anxiety, and shame, owing in large part to her minimally parented upbringing. She realized she’d hit rock bottom when she drunk-dialed her therapist pleading for help.
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies is the story of Tara’s path to re-parenting herself and becoming a ‘ninja of self-love.’ Through simple, daily rituals, Tara transformed her mind, body, and relationships, and shows how to
fake gratitude until you actually feel gratitude
excavate your emotional wounds and heal them with kindness
identify your self-limiting beliefs, kick them to the curb, and start living a life you choose
silence your inner frenemy and shield yourself from self-criticism
carve out time each morning to start your day empowered, inspired, and ready to rule
create a life you truly, totally f*cking LOVE
This is the book Tara wished someone had given her and it is the book many of us desperately need: a candid, hysterical, addictively readable, practical guide to growing up (no matter where you are in life) and learning to love yourself in a non-throw-up-in-your-mouth-it’s-so-cheesy way.”
Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind (How to Stop the Cycle of the Anxiety, Fear, and Worry) (2017)
By Jennifer Shannon
Amazon Description: “The very things we do to control anxiety can make anxiety worse. This unique guide offers a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based approach to help you recognize the constant chatter of your anxious ‘monkey mind,’ stop feeding anxious thoughts, and find the personal peace you crave.
Ancient sages compared the human mind to a monkey: constantly chattering, hopping from branch to branch—endlessly moving from fear to safety. If you are one of the millions of people whose life is affected by anxiety, you are familiar with this process. Unfortunately, you can’t switch off the ‘monkey mind,’ but you can stop feeding the monkey—or stop rewarding it by avoiding the things you fear.
Written by psychotherapist Jennifer Shannon, this book shows you how to stop anxious thoughts from taking over using proven-effective cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness techniques, as well as fun illustrations. By following the exercises in this book, you’ll learn to identify your own anxious thoughts, question those thoughts, and uncover the core fears at play.
Once you stop feeding the monkey, there are no limits to how expansive your life can feel. This book will show you how anxiety can only continue as long as you try to avoid it. And, paradoxically, only by seeking out and confronting the things that make you anxious can you reverse the cycle that keeps your fears alive.”
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (1997)
By Don Miguel Ruiz
Amazon Description: “In The Four Agreements, bestselling author Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.”
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (2017)
By Jenny Lawson
Amazon Description: “In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:
‘I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.’
Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family―and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy―and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?”
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (2010)
By Brené Brown
Amazon Description: “Brené Brown’s game-changing New York Times bestseller, The Gifts of Imperfection, has sold more than 2 million copies in more than 30 different languages and is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in print. Forbes magazine named Gifts one of the ‘Five Books That Will Actually Change Your Outlook On Life.’ Through this self-help classic we find courage to overcome paralyzing fear and self-consciousness, strengthening our connection to the world and helping us to believe we are worthy of self-discovery, personal growth, and boundless love.
A motivational and inspiring guide to wholehearted living, rather than just the average self-help book, with this groundbreaking work Brené Brown, Ph.D., bolsters the self-esteem and personal development process through her characteristic heartfelt, honest storytelling. With original research and plenty of encouragement, she explores the psychology of releasing our definitions of an ‘imperfect’ life and embracing living authentically. Brown’s “ten guideposts” are benchmarks for authenticity that can help anyone establish a practice for a life of honest beauty—a perfectly imperfect life.
Now more than ever, we all need to cultivate feelings of self-worth, as well as acceptance and love for ourselves. In a world where insults, criticisms, and fears are spread too generously alongside messages of unrealistic beauty, attainment, and expectation, we look for ways to ‘dig deep’ and find truth and gratitude in our lives. A new way forward means we can’t hold on too tightly to our own self-defeating thoughts or the displaced pain in our world. Instead, we can embrace the imperfection.”
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living (2008)
By Russ Harris
Amazon Description: “Build a more satisfying and meaningful life with this best-selling guide to freeing yourself from depression, anxiety, and insecurity through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Are you, like millions of Americans, caught in the happiness trap? Russ Harris explains that the way most of us go about trying to find happiness ends up making us miserable, driving the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression. This empowering book presents the insights and techniques of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) a revolutionary new psychotherapy based on cutting-edge research in behavioral psychology. By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness (a technique for living fully in the present moment), ACT helps you escape the happiness trap and find true satisfaction in life.
The techniques presented in The Happiness Trap will help readers to:
• Reduce stress and worry • Handle painful feelings and thoughts more effectively • Break self-defeating habits • Overcome insecurity and self-doubt • Create a rich, full, and meaningful life”
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (2016)
By Rick Hanson
Amazon Description: “With New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Hanson’s four steps, you can counterbalance your brain’s negativity bias and learn to hardwire happiness in only a few minutes each day.
Why is it easier to ruminate over hurt feelings than it is to bask in the warmth of being appreciated? Because your brain evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences and slowly from good ones, but you can change this.
Life isn’t easy, and having a brain wired to take in the bad and ignore the good makes us worried, irritated, and stressed, instead of confident, secure, and happy. But each day is filled with opportunities to build inner strengths and Dr. Rick Hanson, an acclaimed clinical psychologist, shows what you can do to override the brain’s default pessimism.
Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures full of happiness, love, confidence, and peace. You’ll learn to see through the lies your brain tells you. Dr. Hanson’s four steps build strengths into your brain to make contentment and a powerful sense of resilience the new normal. In just minutes a day, you can transform your brain into a refuge and power center of calm and happiness.”
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction (2010)
By Gabor Maté
Amazon Description: “From bestselling author Gabor Maté, the essential resource for understanding the roots and behaviors of addiction-now with an added introduction by the author.
Based on Gabor Maté’s two decades of experience as a medical doctor and his groundbreaking work with the severely addicted on Vancouver’s skid row, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts radically re-envisions this much misunderstood field by taking a holistic approach. Dr. Maté presents addiction not as a discrete phenomenon confined to an unfortunate or weak-willed few, but as a continuum that runs throughout (and perhaps underpins) our society; not a medical ‘condition’ distinct from the lives it affects, rather the result of a complex interplay among personal history, emotional, and neurological development, brain chemistry, and the drugs (and behaviors) of addiction. Simplifying a wide array of brain and addiction research findings from around the globe, the book avoids glib self-help remedies, instead promoting a thorough and compassionate self-understanding as the first key to healing and wellness.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts argues persuasively against contemporary health, social, and criminal justice policies toward addiction and those impacted by it. The mix of personal stories—including the author’s candid discussion of his own ‘high-status’ addictive tendencies—and science with positive solutions makes the book equally useful for lay readers and professionals.”
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed (2019)
By Lori Gottlieb
Amazon Description: “From a New York Times best-selling author, psychotherapist, and national advice columnist, a hilarious, thought-provoking, and surprising new book that takes us behind the scenes of a therapist’s world-where her patients are looking for answers (and so is she).
One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.
As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives – a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys – she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, offering a deeply personal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.”
Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It (2019)
By Shad Helmstetter
Amazon Description: “Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It is an immediately helpful, life-changing handbook of how to deal with negative self-talk – for yourself, or anyone in your life. Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., the best-selling author of more than twenty books, is the leading authority in the field of self-talk today. In this 60-Minute’ Book written for today’s reader, Dr. Helmstetter gives you all of the important information you need to change negative self-talk forever, in a short, easy-to-read, and condensed format. Also included is a special ‘Guide to Changing Your Self-Talk’ from The Self-Talk Institute.”
No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism (2019)
By Chris Niebauer
Amazon Description: “While in grad school in the early 1990s, Chris Niebauer began to notice striking parallels between the latest discoveries in psychology, neuroscience, and the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and other schools of Eastern thought. When he presented his findings to a professor, his ideas were quickly dismissed as ‘pure coincidence, nothing more.’
Fast-forward 20 years later and Niebauer is a Ph.D. and a tenured professor, and the Buddhist-neuroscience connection he found as a student is practically its own genre in the bookstore. But according to Niebauer, we are just beginning to understand the link between Eastern philosophy and the latest findings in psychology and neuroscience and what these assimilated ideas mean for the human experience.
In this groundbreaking book, Niebauer writes that the latest research in neuropsychology is now confirming a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, what is called Anatta, or the doctrine of ‘no self.’ Niebauer writes that our sense of self, or what we commonly refer to as the ego, is an illusion created entirely by the left side of the brain. Niebauer is quick to point out that this doesn’t mean that the self doesn’t exist but rather that it does so in the same way that a mirage in the middle of the desert exists, as a thought rather than a thing. His conclusions have significant ramifications for much of modern psychological modalities, which he says are spending much of their time trying to fix something that isn’t there.
What makes this book unique is that Niebauer offers a series of exercises to allow the reader to experience this truth for him- or herself, as well as additional tools and practices to use after reading the book, all of which are designed to change the way we experience the world―a way that is based on being rather than thinking.”
The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) (2019)
By David Emerald Womeldorff
Amazon Description: “The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) is a fable on self-leadership, because how you lead your own life has everything to do with how you lead in other areas. It is a tool for both individuals and organizations who want to create more effective communication and relationships. Learning how to transform everyday drama and opt for more growth-oriented solutions, is the priceless gift it teaches. As you walk with David, the main character, he shares how he is feeling victimized by life. Through serendipity he meets some wise guides, Ted and Sophia, who show David how he can move from feeling like a Victim to being a Creator of his own life. The Power of TED* offers a powerful alternative to the Karpman Drama Triangle with its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) provides the antidote roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach and a more positive approach to life’s challenges. The teaching story provides a guide for learning and growing through the challenges we all face in our lives. Its message resonates with everyone who, at some time in their lives, feel victimized by their situation. Having helped thousands of people and scores of organizations over the past decade, The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) is being published in this 10th Anniversary Edition to convey a very timely message of hope that all of life, whether at home or work, can be transformed to create satisfying and fulfilling relationships.”
The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success: How to Use Your Brain’s Executive Skills to Keep Up, Stay Calm, and Get Organized at Work and at Home (2016)
By Peg Dawson & Richard Guare
Amazon Description: “Are you smart, scattered, and struggling? You’re not alone. Cutting-edge research shows that today’s 24/7 wired world and the growing demands of work and family life may simply max out the part of the brain that manages complex tasks. That’s especially true for those lacking strong executive skills-the core brain-based abilities needed to maintain focus, meet deadlines, and stay cool under pressure. In this essential guide, leading experts Peg Dawson and Richard Guare help you map your own executive skills profile and take effective steps to boost your organizational skills, time management, emotional control, and nine other essential capacities. The book is packed with science-based strategies and concrete examples, plus downloadable practical tools for creating your own personalized action plan. Whether on the job or at home, you can get more done with less stress.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016)
By Mark Manson
Amazon Description: “In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be ‘positive’ all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. ‘F**k positivity,’ Mark Manson says. ‘Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.’ In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—’not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.’ Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.
There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.”
Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way (2003)
By Richard David Carson
Amazon Description: “This is a completely updated edition of the 1983 classic that introduced a powerful method for gaining freedom from self-defeating behaviors and beliefs. Rick Carson, creator of the renowned Gremlin-Taming Method, has revised the book to include fresh interactive activities, real-life vignettes we can all identify with, and new loathsome gremlins ripe for taming. Carson blends his laid-back style, Taoist wisdom, the Zen Theory of Change, and sound psychology in an easy-to-understand, unique, and practical system for banishing the nemesis within. Among the things you will learn are:
Techniques for getting a sliver of light between the natural you and the monster of your mind.
The extraordinary power of simply noticing and playing with options.
Six keys to maintaining emotional balance amid upheaval.”
Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (2015)
By Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen
Amazon Description: “Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen have spent the past fifteen years working with corporations, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. In Thanks for the Feedback, they explain why receiving feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, offering a simple framework and powerful tools to help us take on life’s blizzard of offhand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited input with curiosity and grace. They blend the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. Thanks for the Feedback is destined to become a classic in the fields of leadership, organizational behavior, and education.”
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself (2007)
By Michael Alan Singer
Amazon Description: “What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity? The Untethered Soul offers simple yet profound answers to these questions.
Whether this is your first exploration of inner space, or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you. You’ll discover what you can do to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that limit your consciousness. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, author and spiritual teacher Michael A. Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.
Co-published with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness. Finally, with perfect clarity, this book opens the door to a life lived in the freedom of your innermost being.”
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (2004)
By Robert Sapolsky
Amazon Description: “Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky’s acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress.
As Sapolsky explains, most of us do not lie awake at night worrying about whether we have leprosy or malaria. Instead, the diseases we fear-and the ones that plague us now-are illnesses brought on by the slow accumulation of damage, such as heart disease and cancer. When we worry or experience stress, our body turns on the same physiological responses that an animal’s does, but we do not resolve conflict in the same way-through fighting or fleeing. Over time, this activation of a stress response makes us literally sick.
Combining cutting-edge research with a healthy dose of good humor and practical advice, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers explains how prolonged stress causes or intensifies a range of physical and mental afflictions, including depression, ulcers, colitis, heart disease, and more. It also provides essential guidance to controlling our stress responses. This new edition promises to be the most comprehensive and engaging one yet.”
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (2013)
By Jen Sincero
Amazon Description: “In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before.
By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.”
Collaborates with Harvard Health Publications to provide a wide range of unbiased, motivating resources and self-help tools for mental, social, and emotional. 100% nonprofit; dedicated to Morgan Leslie Segal, who died by suicide when she was 29.
An extensive, completely free collection of articles on social skills and getting past social awkwardness. It’s written by someone who’s struggled socially himself, and who has degrees in psychology and counseling.
(Updated 5/20/20) A list of movies about mental health and substance abuse – includes PDF printable discussion questions
The following is a list of movies about addiction and mental disorders that are appropriate to show in treatment settings. This post includes movie summaries and downloadable PDF handouts with questions for discussion.
Please note that some of the films on this list are graphic and may not be appropriate for children or adolescents.
Hint: The handouts contain spoilers; do not provide until after the movie ends.
Movies About Addiction & Mental Illness
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes), R-rating for language and drug use
Summary: Julia Roberts plays a mother, Holly, whose 19-year old son, Ben, surprises her by returning home for Christmas. Ben is newly in recovery; his addiction has placed a tremendous strain on the family in the past. Ben’s younger siblings are happy to see him, but Holly, fearing that he is not ready, is apprehensive.
That evening, the family attends church. When they return, they find their home burglarized and the dog missing. Ben blames himself, believing someone from his past took the dog to get his attention; he leaves to look for the dog. Holly goes with him, but they’re later separated, and Holly attempts to track Ben. Eventually, she ends up at an abandoned barn where she finds her son on the floor, unresponsive. The movie ends with her administering Narcan to Ben.
127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes), R-rating for strong language and content relating to drugs, sexuality, and suicide
Summary: Winona Ryder plays Susanna, a young woman with borderline personality disorder, who is sent to a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt in the late 1960s. She befriends Lisa (Angelia Jolie), who carries a diagnosis of sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder). Initially, Susanna is in denial about her mental condition and is not open to treatment. However, she reaches a turning point after a tragedy.
123 minutes (2 hours, 3 minutes), PG-13 rating for mature thematic elements including substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations, language, and brief violence
Summary: Trevor (Haley Joel Osment) starts a chain reaction of goodness for a social studies project with a plan to change the world for the better. In this film, Trevor is a high school student whose mother, Arlene (Helen Hunt), struggles with alcoholism and whose father is abusive. He rises above unfortunate circumstances with the kindhearted idea to do a good deed, but instead of requesting payback, asking the receiver to “pay it forward” to at least three people – and on and on. While the movie has a bittersweet end, the message is uplifting and powerful.
Summary: Charlie is an unpopular high school freshman, a “wallflower,” who is befriended by two seniors, Patrick and Sam (Emma Watson). The movie is about their friendship and Charlie’s personal struggles with the recent suicide of his friend and his own mental illness. Throughout the film, Charlie has flashbacks of his aunt, who died in a car accident when he was 7. It’s eventually revealed that Charlie’s aunt molested him; a sexual encounter with Sam triggers Charlie’s repressed memories. Charlie has a mental breakdown.
Other great resources for using clinical films as therapeutic interventions include the book Movies & Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathy, 4th ed. (by Danny Wedding and Ryan M. Niemiec) and the site Teach With Movies.