The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Acceptance

No. 24: Future predicting

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

I will practice noticing when I am predicting the future negatively and get used to balancing those thoughts out. This week, when I notice slight shifts in my mood, I will ask myself whether I am concerned with something that is happening right now or whether I am concerned with something I think will happen later. If it is hard to do in the moment, I will do think about it in hindsight at the end of each day.

If I find that my thoughts are mainly focused on future events, I will remind myself that ‘no matter how much I think I know, I cannot truly predict what is yet to come’. I will tell myself “I make the choice to have an open mind, to wait and see what happens”.  I will open myself to the new and unknown, instead of jumping ahead to the future and acting/reacting as if that future were present now. I will focus on what is actually present now in the current moment rather than anticipating what could be present in the future or playing out old responses to things I do not want to revisit from the past.

By remaining in the present and acting with awareness of it, instead of allowing my thoughts to move to the future, the future becomes much more fruitful.

I will reduce the negative power of future-predicting thoughts by allowing for the possibility of different outcomes and ensuring the ‘language’ of my thoughts includes words like ‘maybe’, ‘might’ and ‘could’ rather than using any absolute terms like ‘will’, ‘must’ or ‘always’. This week I leave room for the possibility that things will work out in a way that I can handle.

Once I am comfortable with noticing when I am future predicting and holding an open mind, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of self-soothing negative thoughts about the future when I am distressed and finding things tough.

[Note: Holding future-predicting thoughts with conviction is especially common in anxiety and depression. They distort perception and work to shape what happens later in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that contributes to getting us stuck in a certain emotion and type of experience. We often do this when we think we know how others will react to us or predict that our performance or coping ability will be poor.]

No. 19: Normal is Just a Setting on The Washing Machine

This week, in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness…

I will practice giving myself compassion by countering my self-critic with normalising self-talk.  This week, when I notice critical self-talk, I will use silent self-talk to explain to myself what it is that I am dealing with at the moment. I will remind myself that I am human and that many people in my situation, with my history and my barriers would probably feel a similar way right now.  I will explain to myself what barriers or additional challenges I am faced with at the current time (e.g. being hungry, tired or new to a situation). I might start and finish my bit of self-talk with a self-soothing statement like ‘it’ll be okay,‘ or something similar.  I will make sure my breathing is deep and slow during this exercise.

I will then turn to another thought-balancing, distraction and/or problem-solving strategy as needed.

For example, if I was feeling upset at something someone had said to me, I might silently say to myself: “When they made that comment before, it seemed like they were making a dig at you and so you’re feeling hurt, like anyone would. It’s a been a long day and you haven’t eaten since breakfast. We’re all a bit short fused and more easily offended when we are tired and hungry.”

Once I am comfortable with recognising my critical self-talk and counteracting it with normalising statements, I will add the strategy to my Personal Coping Kete for moments of distress. When I find myself upset I can reflect on any critical self-talk and turn it around with normalising, compassionate self-talk.

No. 14 – A Letter to The Past

This week in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness

I will use letter-writing as a means of private expression.  If I find myself thinking over and over a past negative experience, I will write a letter to one of the people in the situation or my past self explaining how it was for me and airing any unfinished business.  I will finish the letter by writing what I need now and what I can do for myself now.

When I have written down everything I wanted to say but didn’t have the chance to, I will screw the letter up and throw it away as a symbolic gesture of moving on from things I cannot change.

I will then turn my attention to one small thing I have been needing or wanting to get done.

Whenever my thoughts turn back to the experience, I will remember what was at the heart of my letter and give myself empathy and compassion for what has distressed me.  I will then remember that moment of releasing it and bring my thoughts back to the current moment by describing the immediate situation to myself.

Often we need to let go more than once. If I find this engagement strategy helpful, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of expressing feelings about the past again later.

No. 11 – Float for a Moment

This week, in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellness…

I will practice using visualisations to shift my moment. Each day I will take a minute to pay attention to taking deep, slow breaths while I briefly visualise myself floating on my back down a calm river.  The sun is shining, but not too hotly.  I am mindful of the way the sun feels on my closed eyelids and how the buoyant water feels flowing beneath me. I allow the river to take me where it will, sometimes moving faster and other times meandering slowly; I cannot push the water.

I will spend just a minute holding this image, and the sensations it brings, in my mind. If my attention drifts onto other things, I will mentally drop the worries in the river and watch them flow away.

I will then return to the situation at hand, with my centred and more accepting state of awareness. I will observe how I feel afterwards.

Once I am familiar with doing this visualisation to shift my attention, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of soothing or distracting myself from anxiety, anger or low moods.

No. 10 – Permission to be Fully Human

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

I will have realistic expectations of myself and give myself permission to be average.   By giving myself permission to be average this week, I free myself from the pressures of trying to be perfect or trying to appear like I’ve got everything together.  I will tell myself things like “Today I only need to do what I can do.  What I can do is enough.”

This week it will be okay to make mistakes and say silly things occasionally, to not know what is happening, to need to ask questions and to feel distressing emotions. If I notice I am worrying about those things, I will remind myself “I only need to do what I can do.  What I can do is enough.”

Often times it is our negative judgement of our own experiences and the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve our high expectations that creates and/or intensifies our experiences of stress and distress.

This week, I give myself permission to be fully human, rather than an idealised version of myself. My mistakes are learning experiences that will strengthen me, not distressing experiences to regret and avoid.

Once I have experienced a whole week of being average and nothing terrible happening as I consequence, I will add ‘Give Myself Permission to Be Human’ to my Personal Coping Kete. When I notice that I am feeling stressed, pressed or distressed, I will remind myself that all I need to do is survive the current moment.

No. 8 – Supportive Self-Talk

This week in order to attain, maintain or regain wellness…

I will practice giving myself encouragement when I notice shifts in my mood or energy level, as I would encourage a dearly loved friend, who I truly believed in, “it’ll be okay, you can handle this.

By speaking to myself with respect, support and reassurance, I will practice valuing and nurturing myself.

In the moment, I will be providing myself with the possibility that things could turn out as I would like and reminding myself of the probability that whatever happens, I will be able to get through it.

Once I am comfortable with encouraging myself through smaller moments of pressure, I will add ‘Supportive Self-Talk’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing strategy in times of stress and distress as a reminder to talk myself through the tough stuff too.

No. 7 – Letting My Surroundings In

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

I will practice using mindful awareness to silently observe and describe my surroundings to myself in neutral and accepting terms.

I will start out by describing the elements of the situation or my thoughts that I find distressing.

Then I will observe and describe other elements of my immediate environment to yourself.

I will try to ensure my body posture and eye gaze allow for me to take in my surroundings – I will sit/stand up straight and open my posture, look around me and widen my focus. We so often turn ourselves into closed systems when we are distressed.

I will simply observe and describe, but try not to make judgements about my observations.

When I notice that I have made a judgement, I will observe and describe it to myself and then turn my attention back to something around me.

When I am comfortable observing my surroundings and bringing my thoughts back to that task, I will add ‘Mindfully Observing my Surroundings’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a distraction strategy for moments of distress.

No. 5 – Regular Self-Checks

This week, to attain, maintain or retain my sense of wellness …

I will practice being mindful of what I am feeling and what I need.  Once every hour or two, I will check in by mentally asking myself ’what do I feel right now?’ and then ‘what do I need to do for myself right now?’

I will give myself those things that I am capable of giving (or getting).  Do I need food? Sleep? A breath or two? Reassurance? A kind thought? A glass of water? A chat? A distraction? Assistance? By creating small moments in my day, I will become practiced in the art of responding to my needs as well as privately connecting with and expressing my feelings.

Once I am comfortable with creating moments in my days, I will add ‘Do a Self-Check’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for moments of stress and distress.

No. 2 – Small Moments of Expression

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

…I will practice letting the people around me know what I am feeling in the moment.  This could be a proper chat if I need it and it’s possible at the time, or it could be a simple, throw-away comment – not all expression needs to be in-depth and serious, even if what I am communicating is serious.  Sometimes, just saying it out loud and having it heard without judgement is all I need.  This week, I will practice starting small if the idea of expressing myself makes me nervous, by practicing sharing small moments of stress and distress – “e.g. man this is full on!”

Once I am comfortable doing this, I will add ‘Small Moment of Expression’ to my Personal Coping Kete for use during times of stress and distress.

Once I have practiced small moments of expression, I will be better able to give myself the chance to be supported when I am distressed. I can express myself to a friend, family member, help-line, key-worker, doctor, therapist, peer support worker, teacher, colleague, boss, class-mate, facebook friend, whoever is present at the time. If there is no-one around at the time I am stressed or distressed, I will call someone.