Choose Hope
Calm Within the Storm

Choose Hope

Psychology instructor Robyne Hanley-Dafoe offers a compassionate, uplifting guide for dealing with life’s challenges.

To help you cope with life’s inevitable hard times, psychology instructor Robyne Hanley-Dafoe offers a compassionate guide to resiliency. She emphasizes that recovery from setbacks and personal growth are always possible. Hanley-Dafoe discusses real-life challenges, and offers compassion, insight and hope to anyone struggling with grief and adversity.

Barriers to Resiliency    

The word “resilience” comes from the Latin word resiliens – to rebound. Resilience means having the strength, flexibility and capacity for restoration. At your most resilient, you can push through adversity, decision by decision, to create new life paths.

Resiliency is the capacity to bounce back and rally from adversity. And, more important, it is how we see ourselves as capable of doing hard things.Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

The lower people’s self-esteem, the more they compare themselves to those who appear successful. Feeling like a failure makes self-worth decrease even more. Hopelessness sets in and resiliency suffers. Compassion and empathy lessen. To realign your thinking, Hanley-Dafoe urges you to bravely face the barriers to resiliency – stress, fear and stigma. 


Stress can act as a performance enhancer. High levels of stress, however, cause performance to suffer and make people experience exhaustion and confusion. This decreases their resiliency.

To ease the tension that comes from stress, the author suggests, take deep breaths. As you breathe, think, “stress in, distress out.”


People experience fear when they sense an impending threat, real or imagined. Stress joins fear, and the two can paralyze you.

Often, we let fear prevent us from moving forward, but the real adventure is feeling the fear and choosing to do it anyway.Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Hanley-Dafoe suggests confronting your terrors head-on to strengthen resiliency and nurture growth. Think of an activity you want to do but don’t take on because of fear. Define what it is about this activity that evokes that fear. Ask how you could prevent your feared outcome from happening. Then, consider what you can do if your fears come true. What will you lose if you choose inaction, and what will you gain if you act despite your fear?


A stigma is a mark of disgrace that causes psychological harm. Structural, social and self-stigmatization all create shame: the feeling that arises when the outside world has branded you negatively, and you start believing that something must be wrong with you on the inside.

The world teaches us from an early age what is expected of us. When there is any deviation from the norm, we learn shame.Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

To combat shame, Hanley-Dafoe advises, adopt a daily practice of authenticity. Be emotionally honest, have compassion for others’ struggles, embrace who you are and let go of who you think you’re supposed to be​​. Live and love wholeheartedly.


One of resilience’s pillars is belonging. Being part of a community nurtures longevity. Whether it’s your family, friends or co-workers, relish your bonds with your tribes. 

To foster a sense of belonging, the author advises you to connect with yourself and ask yourself what makes you strong. Where do you find your joy? Who do you want to be? Identify different types of support in your social networks. Who can you depend on in any given situation?​​​​

Join new communities to expand and replace your connections. Start slowly and modestly. Instead of taking the hardest yoga class, for example, sign up for a beginner’s course. Through small, mindful steps, build sustainable connection and growth.


Perspective determines your attitude or mind-set, and emotions. How you view a problem and its causality determines how you act on it. You achieve more positive outcomes when you frame a problem with a hopeful, optimistic mind-set.

The greatest distance in the world sometimes is the delta between your head and your heart.Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Gaining perspective, Hanley-Dafoe explains, requires an alignment between attitude and emotion. Positive emotions support a positive mind-set. Embrace positivity to align your heart with your head. 

Look inward to determine your emotional baseline and what matters most to you. Build gratitude into your daily routine. Every night, remind yourself of what in your life inspires your gratitude.


When people face life-altering challenges, many ask themselves, “Why is this happening to me?” or, “Why would he do that to me?” The author makes clear that these unanswerable questions trap you and prevent you from progressing. Resiliency requires you to move on from “why” questions to acceptance – to go from brooding about a situation to acting on it.

Sometimes the greatest barrier to acceptance is not from the outside world at all – it is ourselves!Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Careful self-examination, which leads to self-appreciation and self-forgiveness, fuels acceptance. This takes time, intention and, in the case of serious trauma, space for healing. Daily journaling helps you drill down to core issues, as does talking things out with others or seeking therapy. 

Choose Hope

Hope is the heart of resiliency. It is not an innate trait, guaranteed to some people but not others. Hope is a choice. The author is convinced that when you choose hope, you protect yourself against despair.

Self-reflection, mindful habits, sustainable commitment and living your values nourish hope. So Hanley-Dafoe urges you to pay attention to the conversations you have with yourself and do some course correction if they become too harsh or bleak. Work out what is important to you and live those values daily.


Humor is resilience’s crucial pillar, defending against despair and stress. Laughter is a natural painkiller and immune system booster. Play improves brain function, increases creativity and problem-solving abilities and reduces stress.  

Joy is your personal mosaic that reflects your truest sense of yourself.Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

Make time to do your favorite things. Appreciate the wonder of daily life.

Resiliency Trajectory Model

Hanley-Dafoe offers the “Resiliency Trajectory Model” to show how resiliency unfolds in four phases: In the Decline Phase, adversity strikes. During this phase, allow time to understand what happened, and then make a decision to move forward, one step at a time. In the Adapt Phase, you learn, recalibrate and adjust.

Through the act of conquering or healing our dragons, there is death and rebirth.Robyne Hanley-Dafoe

In the Reclaim Phase, you reclaim power and do not let the event define you. Decide whether to persist on the same path, pivot to a new course or punt the event away. In the Rise Phase, you move forward as you balance lingering hurts and living in the present. 

To triumph over adversity, Hanley-Dafoe urges you to believe you are worthy of good outcomes. Make sure your inner dialogue reflects reality and aligns with your authentic self.


Hanley-Dafoe’s methods of generating and sustaining self-reassurance will be familiar to readers of Brené Brown, a pioneer in the now-burgeoning field of research-based, intelligent self-help. Like Brown, Hanley-Dafoe advocates for compassion above all, especially self-compassion. And, like Brown, she weaves her personal traumas into her guidance. Hanley-Dafoe switches between writing like an academic and writing like your soulful best friend. She’s an effective communicator in either mode, and provides worthy, truly helpful advice.

Robyne Hanley-Dafoe also wrote Stress Wisely.

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