The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Acceptance

No. 144: Be Aware of My Choices

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice noticing all the different ways I can control my outcomes by paying attention to the choices I make each day and purposefully choosing the option that moves me towards more of what I want.

This week, as I move through each day, I will practice being aware of each of the small choices I make. When I notice that I am making a choice, I will practice pausing to observe what options I am choosing between and what the possible outcomes of each of the options might be. I will then deliberately choose the option that will bring me closer to what I want for my future – whether that is how I want to feel later in the day or what I want to be doing next year.

I’ll start out doing this with the small choices I make, such as what I eat and drink, what I watch on TV, what I work on next, where I sit and everyday things like that.

Noticing how my small choices change the way I experience my daily life, might help me to be make more mindful decisions, that effect me in more positive ways. Slowing down and thinking about our choices is especially hard when we are distressed, which is why we so often do and say things we regret when we feel angry or upset. If I practice slowing down and being aware of my choices in everyday moments, it might be easier to slow myself down and think about my choices when I’m distressed. In this way, I will learn how to hold my own responses and act based on what I want and need, not just on what I feel.

This week, as I notice myself making a choice, I will pause, ask myself what the other options are, think about the possible consequences and what consequences I want, then choose the option that brings me closer the outcome I desire.

When I am comfortable pausing myself and observing my options before I make everyday kinds of choices, I will add ‘Be Aware of my Choices’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping during times of stress and distress. By being aware of the choices I am making and choosing the option that brings me closer to what I want for my future, I will be able to guide myself through the tough moments in a way that has a positive effect on me, rather than getting caught up in my distress and making coping decisions that make things harder in the long-run.  The simple act of stopping to think through the options and make myself aware of what I want and need will help me practice giving myself a delay between feeling and acting, a mini time-out to have a little think. Doing this could be a form of mindful distraction, moving my mind away from how I feel in the moment to what I want in the future and what my choices are.

No. 135: Reward Myself for Surviving

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice injecting enjoyable moments into my daily life and appreciating myself by scheduling reward points into the end of every day. During my scheduled reward points, I will be able to practice being aware of what I deal with each day and responding by rewarding my efforts, whatever they may be, whether I struggled or succeeded.

To get started, I will write a list of things that I find enjoyable and can use as rewards. The list could include things like going to a movie or having a treat food or doing a hobby activity or lying around listening to music or catching up with someone you enjoy or having a massage or anything at all. Rewards can be big or they can be small, but they cannot be harmful. So having a binge-drinking session or taking drugs wouldn’t be the right kind of reward to use.

Once I have my list of rewards, I’ll schedule time to give myself one reward at the end of every day for the next week.

At the scheduled time each afternoon/evening, I will take a quiet moment to reflect on what I have survived that day. When I think of difficult moments in the day, I will observe the thought and say to myself “and that was hard so I can reward myself for getting through.” When I think of positive moments of the day, I will observe the thought and say to myself “and that was good, so I can reward myself for having a part in it.”

Once I have reflected for 2 or 3 minutes, I will go ahead and give myself the reward I had planned.

When I am comfortable with engaging in rewarding behaviour on a usual week, I will add ‘Plan Little Rewards’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy to use during times of distress. When I notice I am upset, I can reflect on what I have been surviving, make myself aware of how much I have to reward myself for by saying the reflection statements and then planning some rewarding activities for the coming week.

No. 127: Give the Future the Benefit of the Doubt

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice coping by experimenting with being at peace with not knowing what the future will bring.

Rather than following any worried thoughts about what might go wrong and getting stuck there, I will give the future the benefit of the doubt by reminding myself that I don’t know what will happen and letting the mystery of my future unfold as it will.

This week, as I move through each day, I will practice catching negative or stressful thoughts about the future and saying to myself ‘I do not know what the future will bring and I am at peace with that, I trust my future to unfold as I need it to.’  I will then simply move forward, doing my best with what I have. This week I will trust myself to do what I need to do, to get through.

Once I am familiar with trusting my future to unfold as I need it to, on an ordinary day in the face of my day-to-day stresses, I will add this strategy to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping during times of distress.

No. 123: Count Ten Breaths

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice counting out ten deep breaths twice a day as a way of sowing the seeds of mindfulness into my daily life.

To do this, I will imagine my thoughts are following my breath as I breathe into my belly and count  ‘in, one’ and then breathe out and count ‘out, one’, then ‘in, two… out, two’ and so on until I get ten. Each time I breathe in, I will see my thoughts moving down into my belly and each time I breathe out, I will see them being released with my breath. I will not hold on to any particular thoughts, but come back to my breath as I count in and out until I get to ten.

In preparation I will schedule in two times a day so I don’t have to rely on my memory to remember to practice counting my ten breaths (such as waking up and going to bed) or set up a daily trigger to remind me to practice (such as waiting for the kettle to boil or sitting down to eat).

When I am comfortable stopping to count ten breaths into my belly and ten breaths out, I will add ‘count ten breaths’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of coping during moments of stress and distress. By stopping to count ten breaths I will feed my body calming signals, mindfully distract my attention and give myself some space before responding to whatever it is that lies before me.

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The Coping Kete is taking a summer holiday and will be back in mid-January 2013 ready for another year of coping strategies. Search the archives for fresh ideas to try in the meantime and have a safe holiday period.

No. 122: Use the Positivity Ratio

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I am going to practice using the Positivity Ratio to help shift my thoughts and feelings. Researchers in the field of Positive Psychology have found that it takes three positive thoughts to shift a negative thought. This week, I am going to practice consciously having positive thoughts, so that when I find my thoughts going dark, I will be able to use my skills to improve the moment.

As I go through each day, I will try to pause whenever I remember to and list three positive things I have recently noticed. I will work to list the smallest things I can, as well as noticing bigger things. This will help me get really used to noticing the elements of things that might bring me some joy. This week, I am going to learn how to notice the things that might give me joy. I will let them exist alongside anything that I find unpleasant or distressing.  As I list my three positive things, I will focus my awareness on each thing and make myself really mindful of all of the good things about it and what it is that makes it positive to me. I will try to do this at least two or three times every day this week, regardless of how I feel. It might help to schedule in to do it in the morning and at night so I remember to practice – remembering to practice can be really hard.

When I am familiar with purposefully thinking of three small positives, I will add ‘Use the Positivity Ratio’ to my Personal Coping Kete. When I notice myself having pessimistic thoughts or feeling really bad, I will use the positivity ratio to make myself mindfully aware of three good things, however small they may be. I will let those three good things, exist side-by-side with whatever else I am experiencing so that the hard things do not stop me from noticing the good things.

No. 120: Reserve Judgement

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I will practice reserving judgement about what the future might bring. Each day, when I find myself moving into a new task or situation, I will take a couple of seconds to say to myself “Lets just see what happens, whatever happens, I’ll handle it. For now I reserve judgement.” Then I will move on to the next part of my day with an open mind.

When I am comfortable saying this to myself in ordinary, everyday situations and moving forward with an open mind, I will add this strategy to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of improving my mood during times of stress and distress. When I find myself stressed or distressed about what I think might happen in the future, I will take a moment to reserve judgement and trust myself to handle whatever comes my way. This might help me balance out my fears and worries, when they seem overwhelming.

No. 118: Declare a Peace Treaty with the Moment

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing …

… I will practice mindful distraction and self-soothing by regularly pausing and declaring a peace treaty with the current moment. When I declare a peace treaty with a moment, that means I am committing to spend a moment in peace before moving on to my next experience of the day. I will surrender whatever is on my mind for a moment and peacefully engage my attention in my surroundings.

This week, when I am in between tasks, I will practice saying to myself either silently or out loud “I declare a peace treaty with this moment.” I will then take a minute or more to ground myself peacefully in the current moment before I move on to the next task before me. Declaring a peace treaty with a moment means that for this moment I will interact with myself and my surroundings in a kind, calm way.

I will take 10 slow, deep breaths while I stop and mindfully observe my current surroundings. As I notice thoughts about the past or the future surfacing, I will remind myself of my peace treaty with this moment and turn my attention back to my peaceful breathing and the space around me in this current moment.

In accordance with my peace treaty, if I notice critical or judgemental thoughts, I will say something kind or accepting to myself to soothe them. I will then bring my attention back to my breathing and observing my current surroundings.

In this way, I will practice giving myself times of relaxation and release from worrying or critical self-talk. By practicing breathing at the same time, I will be able to return to the next task of the day with a clearer mind and calmer mood.

Each time I find myself in between tasks, I will stop and practice declaring a peace treaty with the moment again. Throughout the week I will experiment with different ways of doing it until I find what works well for me. I will keep a record of the things that make it tricky and how to respond to them differently next time, so I can start to build a good list of what a Peace Treaty with the Moment looks like and involves for me.

Once I have become familiar with the practice of declaring a peace treaty with a moment and taking some time to be present and kind to myself in between ordinary, daily tasks, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete for times when I find myself struggling against stress and distress. I will be able to declare a peace treaty with the difficult moment, disengage from feelings of conflict and take some time out to send myself some mindful messages of calm and compassion before I respond.

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Acknowledgement: This mindfulness strategy was inspired by Thich Naht Hanh’s Peace Treaty method for communication during conflict. Thich Naht Hanh is known for creating the Engaged Buddhism movement  and popularising mindfulness in the Western world. 

No. 113: Time to Think

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I will give myself a little while to think each day. I will plan a 15 minute slot of time into each of my days, to allow myself time to simply think. Life can get so busy and the tasks of daily living can become so much the focus that we don’t get time to actively make sense of what we go through each day, whether it is enjoyable or distressing or a mixture of both.

First, I will sit down with my schedule and plan in each of my 15-minute spots – they could be at the same, regular time each day or just whenever I can fit them in.

Then for the rest of the week, no matter how I feel, I will sit down at my scheduled time to think each day. I will consider this my own private “defrag” time – a moment to organise my mental files of the day and figure them out.

I might think things through better when I have a pen and paper to jot things down or I might just think to myself silently. For 15 minutes I will cast my mind over my day and my responses and let the things I need to sort out, rise to the surface. I will think about resolving problems that have arisen, talking to a supporter about things I have found upsetting, giving myself comfort for the things that have been hard and congratulating myself for the things I have survived and done well with. In this way, each day, I will spend a moment in which my automatic thoughts and feelings are able to rise to the surface where I can be aware of them and do something to about them if I wish. This week, I will make sure life slows down for 15-minutes a day to allow me to process my experiences and make sense of where I am at. This could help prevent me from getting overwhelmed by things, especially when life gets really busy.

Once I am comfortable taking 15 minutes to think on a regular basis, I will add ‘Time to Think’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for coping with stress and distress. When I find my thoughts are getting repeatedly stuck on something negative or find myself constantly trying ‘not to think about it’, I will use this strategy to insert a moment in each day when I give myself permission to think about what my daily life is throwing at me lately and how I might shift the unwanted elements of my experience. When I find myself thinking unwanted thoughts during my day, I will mindfully notice the thoughts and remind myself to think about them later when I get my ‘time to think.’ I will then be able to turn my attention to something in my present moment, with the knowledge that I will think about it later.

No. 99: Normalising and Validating My Own Responses

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

… I will practice normalising and validating my own emotional responses and thoughts by regularly tuning my attention into what I am currently thinking and feeling and reassuring myself that these are normal responses, that make sense given my situation. Making sense, doesn’t mean they are accurate or worthwhile hanging on to, but I am human and my thoughts and feelings are acceptable, even when I don’t like them.

“Whatever I am feeling is okay, I am where I need to be, I am still moving forward.”

Sometimes we judge ourselves for our thoughts and feelings and this makes us feel worse and try to hide what is going on for us. Hiding things almost always makes them worse. This week, I do not need to hide my emotions and thoughts because I will remind myself that my emotions and thoughts are acceptable.

I will start out by noticing and normalising only slight moods and negative thoughts. Once I am comfortable with letting myself know my slight moods and negative thoughts are normal and valid, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for comforting more extreme feelings of distress: Remembering I Have Normal, Valid Responses Like Everyone Else.

When I can make sense of my experiences as valid, normal responses, I will be more empowered to express myself and get support.

No. 95: Doing Something Else

This week, to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

…I will practice doing something else to shift my mood when I need to improve the moment. To prepare myself, I will make a list of random activities that I am familiar with. For example things like baking, reading a book, walking around the block, washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, doing a cross-word and making a card for someone are all pretty common activities that many people could do at almost any time.

It is important these are activities I am familiar with as learning something new is incredibly difficult during times of stress and distress.

When I notice myself getting stuck in an unhelpful mood or chain of thinking that I can’t really do much about right now, I will practice doing the items on my list. I will focus my attention on the task at hand, noticing my movements, the space around, various sensations and my desired outcome. If worried or distressed thoughts find their way into my mind, I will notice and observe them there as I carry on with what I am doing. In this way I will practice connecting my attention with the world outside myself when my inner world is getting too intense, without pushing my internal reality away altogether.

This week I remember that no matter how I feel, I can always compel my muscles to move. In this way I always have power over my circumstances. 

Once I have figured out which kinds of familiar activities help me to focus on something else when my emotions are not serving me well, I will add those activities to my Personal Coping Kete.

When I am finding it hard to counter-act unwanted thoughts or express distressing moods, I can use these activities to distract myself until some of the heat has come out of them and I am able to look at the situation more objectively.