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Feeling stuck? Here’s something to help you see the forest instead of the trees


You may have had this happen to you.Lost In The Woods

You decide to join the Bounce community – and get a great ebook in the process – so you fill out the little form on the right that asks for your first name and email.

Not only do you receive the ebook, Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs, you inevitably get an email from me asking you to share the biggest struggle you’re facing right now.

I get a variety of responses:

  • Health problems
  • Financial pressures
  • Worry about children and family
  • Indecision about career issues
  • Struggles with mental and emotional health
  • Relationship problems
  • Lack of self-worth, self-confidence, self-compassion
  • Caring for aging parents
  • Dealing with past abuse
  • Grieving the loss of a loved one

I answer all my email and always try to help in whatever small way I can.

Since there are zillions of different struggles that we all face, there are lots of suggestions that I make.

But I find myself asking the writer one question again and again:

Who do you have in your life that can support and guide you right now?


Other people can help us bounce back

Resilience research tells us that social support is a key component of one’s ability to bounce back.

Not only can it help us survive the struggles we face, it can also help us thrive. Having supportive people – or even just one person – around when we’re floundering can actually help us become better and stronger than we were before.


By allowing us to build a framework around our problem as we talk about it. This structure then helps us understand ourselves better as we reflect on the situation. We see where we came from and how we got to this point.

Importantly, having both a framework and a pair of listening ears helps free up our brains to do less worrying and more problem-solving.

As we move through our struggle, the people around us act as mirrors, helping us to see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown.

That forest and those trees

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m the Queen of Tunnel Vision.

I can be right on top of something without seeing it. And this particular characteristic doesn’t stop at only material things.

In the midst of a forest of life problems, I have a habit of focusing squarely on one tree.

Financial problems? The solution (tree) must be to make more money. I must make more money and I must make it quickly.

I spent a lot of time and anxiety trying to make more money when, if I had stepped back a bit and looked at the entire scenario (the forest,) I might have noticed that the path through my financial problems did include making more money, but it also helped to perhaps create a budget, reduce unnecessary spending, and save wisely.

While part of my inability to see the forest for the trees is innate to my personality, there is a larger component that has been able to learn to take in the whole forest.


With help!

Need some help? I’ve got something for you

Once I became aware of my royal position as the Queen of Tunnel Vision, I realized that I was going to need some help to expand my perspective.

I learned to ask others for their ideas and perceptions of the problem I was facing and, because it’s always easier to see someone else’s problem more clearly than your own, they provided me with a view of the whole forest and turned my vision away from the tree I was staring at.

Over time, these friends, family members, therapists, and coaches have widened my perspective so that now I can often see the much broader picture of my problem or situation myself rather than getting stuck on just one aspect of it.

Both life experience and research have taught me the value of leaning on people in my support system for help and perspective. That is why I find myself asking readers, “Who do you have in your life that can support and guide you right now?”

We all need help from time to time broadening our perspectives. That’s why I’m excited to tell you that I’m offering a way for you to get some help directly from me!

My new Personal Guidance Program allows you to talk with me one-to-one to help get you through that stuck place in your life.

I’m really excited about it but can only offer this to a handful of people, so be sure to get on board quickly if you’d like for me to help you see the whole forest of your problem or situation rather than just the tree you’re likely looking at.


If you don’t work with me on personal guidance, be sure you allow yourself to let other people in – to let them teach you how to gain some perspective and to provide you with the emotional support you need when going through a tough time.

Even just one person can help you make your way through that forest.


Need some help right now? In a stuck place?  Check out my Personal Guidance Programs.There’s no risk to you – if you’re not satisfied after the first session, you get your money back. That’s all there is to it.

Click the button below for more information and to reserve your spot.


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Resource: For more information about the research about social support and resiliency (and just about any other research on resiliency!), check out The Handbook of Adult Resilience, by  John W. Reich PhD, Alex J. Zautra PhD and John Stuart Hall PhD, (2102), Guilford Press.


What do you do when you can’t see the forest for the trees?



  1. Support network is everything. You ask a very valuable question. I know I was a mess when I didn’t have a good support network. A different perspective on something is always beneficial. You can’t see the whole forest of your struggles without some outside help. Sometimes that outside person may point you to the sick tree that is hurting all of the other ones and then you can take action to root it out.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted…Dating Tips For People With A Mental Illness Or Who Are Ashamed About Their PastMy Profile

    • Bobbi says:

      Hi Sebastian,

      What an interesting idea – that one of the trees in the forest may need to be rooted out so you can move forward through a healthy forest more easily. Thanks for that!

  2. Lori Irwin says:

    Great article, Bob,

    I feel like I see “the forest” and can’t focus on just one tree. I see the whole forest, feel overwhelmed, and go take a nap. I don’t think I would feel overwhelmed if I could focus on just one “tree.” One thing at a time, is much more manageable than the “whole kit-n-caboodle” at once.

    Maybe just a matter of perspective??

    • Bobbi says:

      Yep, you bring up a good point, Lori. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to look at the whole situation all at once and we need the opposite – someone who can help us become more focused. So it’s the same mechanism – getting support/feedback – but for a different purpose: becoming focused.

  3. gg says:

    This time of trials and tribulations make us try to look at forest , trees , flowers to try to make sense of it and get past the hurdles . A support system makes us feel that we are not alone. This year has been horrendous due to the Malaysia Airlines tragedies and the whole country has been grieving , mourning and somewhat depressed with all the bad news. Nevertheless, despite it all, we have to count whatever blessings we still have in our lives and still try to be positive as life goes on. It’s been relatively helpful to just take one day at a time and feel content in getting through each day alright. On a positive note, the support network has brought me to possibilities for getting a job and if that happens it will bring a new window of opportunities and a breathe of fresh air to smell roses in the forest of life. Yes thankfully, I have a few best friends to do a check and balance on each other often. Inspite of our differences we care enough for each other to understand each other and help each other through support, encouragement, love, affection and work our way through forests and trees. Thanks for this bounce as it really helps to appreciate many aspects about bouncing back getting past any of the issues you have listed that we have to unburden and let go.

  4. Holly says:

    My friends, which are my support network, have saved me on many occasions. I don’t know where I’d be without them. Sometimes they’re just supportive but sometimes they give me feedback which may be hard to hear but usually helps me see things more clearly.
    Holly recently posted…National Friendship Day: Celebrate Fabulous FriendsMy Profile

    • Bobbi says:

      Glad to hear that you use your support system well, Holly! It is kind of hard when feedback isn’t really what you want to hear so good for you for allowing their feedback to be helpful to you!

  5. lynne says:

    Hi, a very enlightening article. the people around you, the ones who care for you, can always be our support system. It makes us feel that we are not alone and can stand up to anything that will hold us back from having a better perspective in life. Thanks for sharing. Great post!
    lynne recently posted…Leveraged Cash Flow Secrets Highlights, Part 5 – My Exclusive Ray Higdon InterviewMy Profile

  6. Becky says:

    Fully agree. The support of my family and friends is what I am most grateful for when I look back in the past. I remember telling Bill that it would either make or break us, and I’m happy to say it made us closer and stronger. Now, as I struggle with my life changes, my monthly WLS support group gets a lot of credit for keeping me on the right path and encouraging me along the way. Another great post, my friend. xoxoB
    Becky recently posted…A Pep Talk.My Profile

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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.