The Heart.  We can love deeply from the bottom of it or experience breath-taking heartache.  We follow our heart. Our home is where the heart is. It beats, it can bleed, it can palpitate, it endures happiness & sadness.  It communicates with our brain via > 40,000 neurons that sense, feel, learn and remember.  But how do we take care of this extraordinary organ, literally?

The CDC predicts an alarming one in four people will die from heart disease this year and estimates that someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds in the US.  Every 90 seconds someone dies from a heart related disease making it the leading cause of death in the world.  It is estimated that over 80 million in the US suffer with some form of heart disease.  Inflammation, infections, poor immunity, obesity, diabetes, over-eating, hypertension, physical & emotional stress are primary contributors to heart disease.  I come with good news, heart disease CAN be prevented with a little love.

One way to love your heart is by finding creative ways to incorporate bitter flavors into meal planning; this flavor strengthens the heart, improves immunity and digestion.  Some suggestions include eating kale, parsley, broccoli, brussel sprouts, arugula, endive, artichoke, rosemary, ginger, pure cocao, citrus fruit or dandelion.  Yes, I’m referring to that pesky super-food weed in our backyard.  If munching on this isn’t appealing, try brewing a cup of dandelion tea.

There are an array of foods that make the heart happy and prevent disease. Garlic lowers blood pressure, reduces LDL & triglycerides and prevents infection. Wild blueberries, pomegranate seeds & cranberries prevent oxidation, improve immune function, ward off built up of plaque & preserve capillaries. Wild salmon reduces clotting & inflammation while improving mood & energy levels.   Ironically, numerous red foods that may even mimic the appearance of the heart play a role in heart health, these include: tart cherries, tomatoes, strawberries, beets, kidney beans, red lentils, red potatoes, apples & watermelon.

Loading the heart up with lots of sugary treats can promote inflammation and decrease immunity so this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to love your own heart and your loved ones in a creative yet healthful way.  Nourish the heart with a scrumptious healthy meal, a little dark chocolate for dessert and indulge in some sweetness by doing things that make you happy, connect with your community, hug people, have a heart to heart conversation,  take a walk in the sunshine, hold hands, forgive, listen with compassion and find gratitude.

Love your heart and it will take good care of you for a long time!


Kelly Lehman

chronic pain

We all grow up with an idea of how life is going to look, imagining our career path, choice of a life partner, whether or not we will be parents, how we will spend our golden years, etc….Rarely does anyone include chronic pain or illness into this view of their potential future. No one wakes up one day and says, “I sure hope I spend the rest of my life feeling sick or being in pain.” However, for many people, this becomes their reality. If you have experienced this in your own life, you know all too well how isolating and lonely it can feel. You know the depression, the anger, the resentment, the jealousy, the guilt, and the fear that frequently accompanies an often unexpected journey. Whether you were born with your condition, developed it after an accident or medical issue, or simply woke up with symptoms one day, it can feel tremendously unfair. Maybe you look “normal” on the outside, and you find yourself confronted with doubting questions or insensitive remarks. Maybe sometimes you find yourself wishing you looked as sick as you felt because then it might actually be validated by those around you.

If you can relate to any of the above, please know you are not alone. Whether you struggle with chronic migraines, a metabolic condition, an autoimmune disorder, cancer, joint pain, a physical limitation, or some other condition, the emotional effects are experienced daily by countless others. Becoming chronically ill can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. The life trajectory you thought you were experiencing has drastically shifted, and it may feel like you have lost your purpose. Maybe you have had to give up a career that gave you meaning or an activity you loved. Maybe you have lost members of your support system because they didn’t understand or couldn’t deal with it all. Maybe you’ve been dismissed as “crazy” by family, friends, or medical professionals. Whatever your experience, it is valid. It can be helpful to develop support from others who are navigating similar paths. Sharing your stories and experiences can help to instill hope and purpose in a life that has seemingly gone off course.

While support from others can be immensely helpful in the journey to acceptance and the creation of a new life purpose, we do have to be careful not to slip into the land of self pity and victimization. While you may have been a victim at one point, you don’t have to remain a victim. This is where a supportive therapy group can be beneficial. You can gain support from others who intimately understand the experience of chronic pain and illness, but in an environment that is guided through a purpose. Whether your pain is a temporary or permanent reality for you, it doesn’t have to define you.

A new group “Purpose through Pain” is designed to provide support, but also direction as you navigate through the developmental process of creating the new you. It will encourage grieving the loss of your former self, addressing physical limitations and challenges, acknowledging the emotional aftermath, and letting go of the fear that often comes with medical uncertainty. It will also touch on becoming your own advocate, maneuvering through social challenges and awkwardness, and ultimately creating a new identity and purpose.

I feel passionately about providing a supportive and educational environment where group members feel safe to be vulnerable as part of the process of gaining their strength. This group is about being validated, while also being encouraged to be an active participant in your medical treatment and life.  We will also address cognitive shifts that can be monumental in coping with pain, as well as behavioral techniques that can be beneficial. Research shows that much of our pain is experienced within the brain. There is more and more work being done that is encouraging in that it gives chronic pain sufferers a little bit of control over their symptoms. While relaxation strategies and neural re-training are not miracles in that they don’t make you the person you were prior to injury or illness, they are showing marked results in peoples’ experiences with pain. Any little bit can help. If learning how to calm down the fear response resulted in your amygdala firing off fewer pain signals, wouldn’t that be a good thing? It’s certainly worth a try! I encourage healthy skepticism, but also an open mind.

chronic pain support group


Change happens when we are willing to ask tough questions, but also when we are open minded to the process of growth. If you have been living in a chronic state of pain or illness, I encourage you to give our office a call. I would love to chat with you about your experience and whether or not this group may be a good option for you. There is also the option of individual counseling in the event that a group setting isn’t something you are comfortable with at this time. Regardless, there is help out there, and you do not have to live in your pain. I look forward to talking with you and assisting you on your journey as you find new purpose through your pain!


Kelly Lehman, M.Ed., LPC is a professional counselor who specializes in helping clients navigate the journey of chronic pain, chronic illness, and medical trauma. If you are interested in this group or scheduling an individual appointment, call our office at (910) 790-9500 or email

November is National Diabetes Month – making it the perfect time to set the record straight about CARBS.

Carb-phobia came in like a wrecking ball replacing the previous diet monster fat-phobia. No wonder this is confusing, modern science can drive you crazy with conflicting messages.

Did you know someone in the world dies from complications associated with diabetes every 10 seconds?  Diabetes is one of the top ten leading causes of U.S. deaths. One out of ten health care dollars is attributed to diabetes. We need to take this seriously. Diabetes is a condition where the body either does not produce, or cannot properly use, insulin.

For thousands of years, grains have been healthfully eaten by much of the world’s populations, including diabetics. Getting healthy is never about deprivation; the secret is not in elimination but quality and moderation.  Traditional whole grains and quality carbs contribute to a good night’s sleep, create a balanced feeling in the body, reduce inflammation, satisfy hunger, improve digestion & promote smooth bowel movements, improve mental clarity & cognitive functioning, support metabolism, and help regulate blood sugar levels. Yes, you heard me, eating high quality carbohydrates in moderation actually helps regulate blood sugar levels.  American eating habits tend to include over-indulging in large portions of highly refined sugar carbs. But, this doesn’t make all carbs bad.

Here are some things you can do to help manage or heal your diabetes:

Limit the amount and frequency of consuming sugary treats (such as cakes, candies and soda).
Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes, whole grains; these foods are rich in fiber which helps regulate blood sugar levels (such as  beans, lentils, carrots, cabbage, parsnip, sweet potato, squash, popcorn, leafy greens, whole grain breads, barley, quinoa, oats, polenta, and wild rice).
Drink primarily water.
Do something active everyday.
Eat fermented foods to help support and rebuild gut health.
Chew your food well, digestion begins in the mouth.
Reduce stress.

Do you want to learn more about the best foods to nourish the body if you have diabetes? Schedule an appointment with one of our dietitians who can help you learn to love and respect your body with real food.


Chaundra Evans, RD, LDN, CEDRD-S is a certified eating disorder registered dietitian and recognized by the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals as an expert dietitian who can supervise other dietitians pursuing the credential. Additionally, Chaundra is certified in adult weight management and a member of the American Society of Metabolic and Baratric Surgery. 

If you are in a helping profession (like a therapist, nurse, teacher, etc.) or have ever cared for someone during an illness or another difficult period, you know how difficult can be to bolster others when you are running on empty. That is why it is so, so important not to let yourself get to that point.

I usually counsel my clients to try to operate at 80% capacity for most of their life so that if there is a crisis or something that will take up energy, you have the reserves to deal with it. But it seems like a lot of people operate at 100% capacity all the time. That is ALL we have to give, and it is obvious why giving everything all the time would lead to burnout. If you want to keep helping others, you have to help yourself.

How do you know if you are burned out? Well, if you are experiencing compassion fatigue, you may notice:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Physical illness (e.g., hypertension, high blood sugar, excess body fat, abnormal cholesterol levels, cardiovascular events, musculoskeletal disorders)
  • Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep, or decline in quality of sleep
  • Low motivation to go to work or get things done at home
  • Increased alcohol, caffeine, or technology use
  • Avoidance
  • A decline in pro-health behaviors such as healthy meals, hydration, and going to the doctor
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or passions we usually enjoy

For caregivers, when these symptoms start cropping up and there is not another clear-cut reason, we need to think of burnout.  Sometimes, the caregiver needs to handle something in their own life differently. Sometimes, we can stave it off with self-care activities. But most of the time, what needs to change is our mindset. We cannot help everyone all of the time. We cannot work harder than the person we are trying to help. And if the help we are giving is not working, we need to try something else.

This is usually the part of the discussion where we talk about different kinds of self-care. I do not want to undermine the importance of self-care, but it is more than a pedicure or mindfulness meditation or time management. We all know the things that we should be doing to manifest the healthiest versions of ourselves. And we all know that we have a duty to take care of ourselves in order to continue to effectively help others. But frequently, the way to do it is not self-care, it is to let go of the idea that everything is within our control.

As a therapist, I know that we only have a few choices in any given situation, which I use the acronym SCAM to describe – we can Solve the problem, Change the parameters of the problem, Accept the situation as it is, or stay Miserable.  When something is beyond out control, we really only have the A or M options. Do we want to accept it or be miserable? I know which one I would pick in any given situation. The “cure” is the idea of Radical Acceptance – that we cannot change the things that have happened in the past, and really have no choice but to accept them or be miserable. Fighting that will only make you suffer more.

But to accept is to admit we do not have control.

Therapists who are the most effective know that you cannot help everyone all of the time. Sometimes, our personality or style are not a good fit for someone. There is nothing wrong with that – sometimes, you cannot solve the problem. Maybe they need a different therapist, or they need to change something they are unwilling to change. Maybe we, as caregivers, need to accept our limitations. Because we certainly do not want to be miserable.

We all need to admit that we do not have control over others’ choices.

Once we wrap our heads around that, our batteries will be easier to recharge, and we will be able to function more effectively, even in crisis situations.

To recharge those batteries, we still need to engage in self-care, not just critical thinking. To make that happen, you need to find the things that engage and stimulate you as well as those that relax and calm you, because every good self-care routine will have elements of both. And eating well, exercising, sleeping, and taking care of your physical body will always be important. Some of my must have self-care activities are walking in my neighborhood with my dogs, doing various creative activities like craft projects, art  & writing, using all five of my senses in meditation & soothing exercises, having social time every week with family or friends, keeping TV and social media to reasonable levels,  and making sure that my home remains as clutter free as is reasonable & possible.

Whatever recharges and soothes you is what you want to do – as long as it is healthy. Abusing any of the things that soothe us in the right amounts can depress or over-stimulate you if you are doing too much of them. Answering some of the following questions might help.

  • What kind of spiritual activities are helpful for me?
  • How much sleep do I need every night to function well the next day?
  • How much alone time do I need? Down time?
  • How many and what type of social engagements are reasonable in a week?
  • How much and what kind of exercise makes me feel positive and energized?
  • How much screen time shifts my attitude to the negative?
  • Is social media helping bring me up or is it bringing me lower?
  • What about my home/office/car/room makes me happy? What about that space annoys or drains me?
  • How often and how much do I need to eat to maintain energy and feel satisfied?
  • How do I work on gratitude and acceptance every day?
  • What boundaries do I need to set (with work, relationships, family, friends) to feel more energy?
  • What do I really enjoy doing?

Answering those questions – and following through on making the answers your reality – will help you stay alert to burnout and remedy the situation more quickly when things start to get out of those bounds.

Caregivers tend to avoid asking for help when they need it but are much better at advocating for others. Sometimes we need to talk through these issues with someone to clarify what changes can or need to be made – family, friends, or someone impartial like a therapist can all be helpful. If you have trouble answering these questions or want to talk through the answers, please reach out.


Kendra Wilson, MSW, LCSW, CEDS-S, DBT-C is a licensed clinical social worker and the Clinical Director for Chrysalis Center’s Intensive Outpatient Program. 

Sarah Snyder

Breast cancer affects one in eight women, and the diagnosis is often life-altering for both patients and their loved ones. In 2012 at the age of 31, I too sat across from my doctor and heard the words I would never forget “you have breast cancer”.  The word “Cancer” carries so much weight in itself that it was hard for me in that moment to see beyond it. But when I could finally process what was happening, I realized I had a choice; I could either curl up in a ball and fall fast in to depression or I could pull myself together and make cancer wish it never knew me.  I chose to pull myself together and fight and that is exactly what I did with my loving family and friends supporting me every step of the way. I can’t tell you that it was always easy, I had many bumps in the road but after countless doctor appointments and eleven surgeries I am here today and cancer free.

Whether you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, or know someone who has, know that there are countless who have been in this situation. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are words of encouragement, wisdom, and hope from some celebrities who’ve beaten breast cancer.


“Having had cancer, one important thing to know is you’re still the same person at the end, you are the same person during it. You’re stripped down to near zero. But it seems that most people come out at the other end feeling more like themselves than ever before.” –Kylie Minogue

 “I made my decision because I love life and I know I’m blessed…My scars? I barely see them. I feel whole; I really do. Because every day, I get to say, “There’s no cancer.” I’m healthy, and that’s beautiful.”  – Wanda Sykes on having a mastectomy

 “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. So, the only thing to really be afraid of is if you don’t get your mammograms.” – Cynthia Nixon

 “When you get diagnosed with cancer, there’s such a sense of loneliness, but we need to know as people going through this is that you’re not alone”. – Christina Applegate

 “The cancer served a real purpose, making me a little bit more conscious of time.” – Gloria Steinem

  “I’ve changed my lifestyle….I have taken what I consider poisonous things out of my life. Out of my food, out of my work, out of my social circle, out of everything. Because I want a clean, cancer-free life. And I believe I can have that.” – Melissa Etheridge

“I think encouragement always goes a long way…It is so scary … but having the positive support of loved ones is invaluable.”– Sheryl Crow

“I feel stronger and more vital than ever. I’ve always thought of myself as a warrior. When you actually have a battle, it’s better than when you don’t know who to fight.” – Carly Simon

“Cancer survivors are blessed with two lives. There is your life before cancer, and your life after. I am here to tell you your second life is going to be so much better than the first.” – Hoda Kotb

 “Yes, I am living with cancer. But don’t go ‘woe is me.’ I don’t want it. Don’t need it. I’m still in the game. I don’t want to say ‘survivor.’ I want to thrive.” – Robin Roberts

Sarah Snyder is the Practice Manager at Chrysalis Center and oversees the administrative and front office functions of our organization. 

Emily Lockamy

The parental loss of a child is devastating and widely considered the most tragic type of loss. But less commonly talked about is the loss of a baby, during or after pregnancy – an incredibly painful experience that can often lead to complicated grief. Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day – a day to honor the lives of those lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and during infancy.

About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and stillbirth occurs in about 1 in 100 pregnancies. Each year in the United States., about 2,500 infants die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (known as SIDS), and in 2017, the rate of infant mortality was 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.


Many factors complicate the grief process for these heartbreaking losses, including:

  • The sudden, unexpected nature of the death, leaving little or no time to mentally prepare
  • The absence of a definite cause in some cases, which often leads to guilt
  • The involvement of the legal system in cases of sudden infant death, which can add significant stress and trauma
  • The impact on siblings (older siblings who resented the arrival of the new baby tend to feel guilt and remorse)
  • Intense strain on a marriage or relationship, often involving tension, communication breakdowns, and anger
  • Fear of having (or trying to have) another child
  • Denial
  • Feeling that the loss is socially-negated (common with miscarriages; a woman may have not announced her pregnancy yet, and she may feel shame and isolation in a society that prioritizes motherhood)
  • Self-blame or blaming the other parent/one’s partner
  • Loss of expectations, hopes, and dreams for the child’s future – “the family grieves as much for what they might have had as for what they’ve lost” (Worden, 2009).

While each situation is different and everyone grieves differently, it’s so important for parents who suffer pregnancy or infant loss to have a space in which to share about their grief, where they can feel heard, held, validated, and supported. Individual grief counseling can be a good place to start, and joining a support group for parents with similar losses can be immensely helpful.

Additionally, finding ways to memorialize one’s child can be therapeutic and healing. This may include:

  • Naming your baby
  • Having a memorial and/or funeral service
  • Lighting a candle or planting a tree in their honor
  • Writing a poem or letter to your baby
  • Establishing rituals to pay remembrance to your baby during holidays and special occasions, such as putting an ornament on the tree each year for them
  • Creating a collection of items related to them, such as pictures, footprints, a lock of hair, sonograms, cards received from friends

What bereaved parents need others to know is that while their babies’ lives were short, they mattered, and they always will. Mothers who suffer miscarriages are mothers. Babies gone too soon have made a forever impact on those who love them and carry out their legacy. Today, let us hold their memories and their parents in our hearts and thoughts.




Worden, J. William. Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: a Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner. Springer Publishing Company, LLC, 2018.

Emily Lockamy, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor at Chrysalis Center who specializes in grief counseling. 

If you are worried about someone and think they may be suicidal, the most important thing is to take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It is a cry for help, and we want more people to talk about it when they are feeling that way. We can all help reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health and getting help, and talking through it is the first step.

There are several other warning signs we need to pay attention to:


  • hopelessness – they may see nothing to look forward to
  • seeking out means of killing themselves
  • talking or writing a lot about death or dying
  • abrupt mood swings
  • extreme personality changes
  • big changes in the way someone eats, sleeps, or takes care of themselves
  • self-loathing or self-hatred
  • making a will, giving away prized possessions, etc.
  • saying goodbye
  • withdrawing from their social support network
  • self-destructive behavior
  • a sudden change to being extremely calm and happy after a period of depression

There are several other complicating factors:

  • depression
  • recent loss or stressful live event
  • previous attempts
  • family history – of suicide attempts, depression, or trauma
  • substance use
  • social isolation and loneliness

If you are worried about yourself or someone you love, speak up – anyone who talks about it needs help, the sooner the better, so don’t wait. It can be very difficult, but the best thing to do is ask if you have any concerns at all. You will NOT make someone suicidal or give them ideas by asking about it. The first step is to talk about it.

Remind them they are not alone, that you care about them, and that their life is important to you. Listening and being there, taking them seriously, can help more than you realize. If you are concerned about them, they will hear that in your voice and see it in your manner and that will make a positive impact.

The next step is to respond to the crisis. Do not promise that you will keep it to yourself, try to fix them, blame yourself, judge them, or argue with them. Just be yourself and express your concern. There are resources links on this page that you can access, but it is important to get them help as soon as possible. Help them make a plan for how they will address the crisis they are in and make the changes that they want to make to improve their mental health.

The third step is to offer your help and support – not only in that moment, but for the foreseeable future. When they commit to getting better, they will need your ongoing assistance. You are part of their support, and you are encouraged to follow up with them to see if they went to the therapist appointment you made together, talked to their family, or made other changes. They will need support for the long haul, and you care about them.

This is just a very brief overview. Suicidal feelings can be very complex and take time to work through. It is always a good idea to get more information and education about the issues that plague you and your loved ones.

For more information and links about suicide prevention and what to do:

Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Kendra Wilson, MSW, LCSW, CEDS-S, DBT-C is a licensed clinical social worker certified as an eating disorder specialist and a DBT specialist. Kendra is the Clinical Director of our Intensive Outpatient Program for eating disorders. 


We’re back to introduce you to another clinician on the team! This week – our newest dietitian, Lizzie Briasco. Lizzie will see clients out of our office and facilitate IOP groups and meals. We’re excited to have her on our team. Find out a little more about Lizzie through this interview and call our office today (910) 790-5000 to schedule your first appointment with her.

Why did you decide to become a dietitian?

I wanted to become a dietitian to teach people how to be empowered by food, not scared of it. As a former competitive athlete, I saw first-hand how proper nutrition positively impacts performance – and how easy it could be for food and exercise to become an unhealthy obsession. I want to help people of all backgrounds and activity levels define and then develop healthy and sustainable relationships with food, movement, and their bodies.

I’ve never seen a dietitian before. What should I expect during my appointments with you?

Contrary to popular belief, dietitians are not the food police! I am interested in your eating patterns, how they are currently impacting you and other areas of your life, and potential changes that will help you reach your goals. I’m here to provide nutrition education, tools, and resources, and then we will work together to implement them into a plan that works for you. While I am an expert in nutrition, I am not necessarily an expert of your body or your lived experiences. I can, however, help you develop those skills!

I know how to eat healthy and there is a lot of information to find online. What will be different with seeing a registered dietitian?

There is indeed a lot of information online, but it is not necessarily accurate. Registered dietitians, especially those with additional training and certifications, have the practical experience and research skills required to decipher actual science from “bro science” propagated by the media or your local juice bar guru. We understand the science of nutrition and how to translate it into daily habits. Seeing a dietitian provides a non-judgmental space to ask questions and explore concerns about all things food-related, and we can provide encouragement and accountability that may be lacking elsewhere.

What book are you reading or podcast are you listening to?

Currently, I’m reading “The Adonis Complex” to learn more about body image issues in boys and men (it’s not really talked about but it’s definitely a thing!). I’m not a huge fan of listening to podcasts because it’s hard for me to pay attention when I can’t see who’s talking, but I do like playing the “Food Heaven” or “Food Psych” podcasts when I’m doing things around the house. Learning never stops!

Fun fact about you…

I almost didn’t become a dietitian! After I completed my undergraduate degree in nutrition, I took a non-traditional path and worked in the Northwoods of Minnesota for a year as a server/bartender at a family resort lodge. I didn’t take an internship or clinician-esque job right away because I disagreed with the many weight-centered approaches and weight-stigmatizing attitudes taught in traditional nutrition education…then I found the dietetic internship through the University of Minnesota -The Emily Program, discovered a whole new approach to nutrition that emphasized compassion and mindfulness instead of shame and deprivation, and the rest is history!


This blog is written by Kelly Broadwater, LPA, LPC, CEDS-S, a psychologist and Clemson alumnae…

Dabo Swinney, head coach of the National Champion Clemson Tiger football team may not know it, but he is an expert in Positive Psychology. I would venture to say that his motivational tactics are responsible for much of the success of the Clemson football program, a program that has played for three–and won two– National Championships in the past four years. He is the inspiration behind the team that achieved a perfect 15-0 season last year, culminating in the underrated Tigers (predicted to lose by 6 points) trouncing the Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16 in the title game.

So what exactly is positive psychology? Defined, it is “the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organizations to thrive”.

The field of positive psychology is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. Sounds exactly like the philosophy that fuels the Tiger football team, who although adored by their fervent fans historically have lacked respect from commentators and the college football community at large. Despite that, thrive they have! Ever the underdogs, they prove time and time again that they have the biggest heart of any team in the nation. After the awe-inspiring win over Alabama for the 2018 National Championship, Coach Swinney had this to say, “When you get a young group of people that believe, are passionate, they love each other, they sacrifice, they’re committed to a single purpose, you better look out. Great things can happen and that’s what you saw tonight.”

Credit: Robert G. Jerus

Positive psychology researches concepts such as grit and resilience. More and more, researchers are proving that inborn talent doesn’t necessarily determine success. Instead, grit, a relatively new concept in psychology, is becoming the key factor in achievement. Positive psychology defines grit as “passion and perseverance in working toward significant long-term goals”. In 2000, Swinney was let go from his coaching position at Alabama when the entire staff was fired, and briefly went into real estate. He was hired at Clemson the following year and by 2009, was an unlikely choice for the head coach position (he’d never even been a coordinator). Unranked nationally by the end of his second season, Swinney’s Tigers started to climb each year to earn the #2 spot in the country by 2015 and to play for Clemson’s first national championship since 1981 the following year. His long-term goals, established when he took over as coach in ’09, were realized thanks to his passion and perseverance.


What researchers are discovering, and what Dabo Swinney already knew, is that what we accomplish often depends more on our passion, resilience, and commitment to our goals, rather than our innate talents. Take Hunter Renfrow as an example. Once mistaken for a water boy, this 5’10 walk on ended up earning a scholarship and making the heroic last second game winning reception during the 2016 National Championship; he is now an NFL player.

So how does one develop grit even if you’re not a Clemson football player? Positive psychology experts recommend the following:

  • Develop a passion. A big component of grit is perseverance. Few people are willing to work tirelessly on something in which they’re completely uninterested. Research has shown that people have much greater work satisfaction and job performance when they do
    something that fits with their personal interests. However, it’s unlikely that people try something and immediately know that it’s what they want to do for the rest of their life. An Interest has to be developed and deepened before it becomes a passion.
  • Practice Deliberately. Practice doesn’t always lead to mastery. What is it that sets apart those who achieve extraordinary levels of mastery in their fields? They don’t just practice; they practice deliberately. Here’s how to do it:
  1. Set a stretch goal (a goal that exceeds your current level of skill)
  2. Practice with full concentration and effort
  3. Look for immediate and informative feedback
  4. Repeat with reflection and refinement
  • Focus on Purpose. At the heart of purpose is the idea that what you do matters, not just to yourself but to others. Purpose has a pro-social focus. In any activity, there are bound to be setbacks and moments of boredom, doubt, anxiety, and disappointment. We’re more likely to push through the hard times if our efforts give us meaning and contribute to something larger than ourselves.

Researchers have found a correlation between grit and purpose. Grittier individuals were more motivated to seek meaning in their lives, and the contribution of their efforts to the lives of others revealed a powerful source of motivation. One way of focusing on your purpose is to seek out the pro-social benefits of whatever it is that you do. Doing so is linked to greater satisfaction at work and in life.


Swinney is known for giving impassioned speeches during post-game interviews, and coming up with catch phrases on the fly that turn into mantras- “Bring your Own Guts” and “All In” being a few that come to mind.

During the 2018 National Championship parade and celebration in Clemson after the Tigers returned home from California, Swinney said the following: “Why not little ole Clemson? Somebody’s going to be 15-0 one days, so why not Clemson?…I challenged these guys with this quote, ‘So what you can vividly imagine and ardently believe and enthusiastically act upon, will inevitably come to be. The 2018 team is the best ever… It’s not that we won- it’s how we won.’”


Challenge yourself to take a page from Swinney’s playbook, focus on what you can “vividly imagine, ardently believe, and enthusiastically act upon”. You may surprise yourself and others, the same way “little ole Clemson” has.


Kelly Broadwater, executive director of Chrysalis, is a second generation Clemson Alumni and die hard Tiger fan. She has been known to use sports analogies in her work with clients and believes Positive Psychology concepts create “wins” in and out of the therapy office.

About Us

At Chrysalis, we believe that a supportive, healing environment is essential in order for change and growth to occur. We seek to offer such an environment to clients and help them create that in their lives and relationships. Read More


Mon: 8AM – 6PM
Tue: 8AM – 6PM
Wed: 8AM – 6PM
Thu: 8AM – 6PM
Fri: 8AM – 4PM

© Chrysalis Center | Design Interventions