The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Private Expression

No. 43: Ten Words

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

I will practice using poetry to express myself. I will use the short ‘Ten Words’ writing exercise to sort out my thoughts, centre myself and express what is going on for me.  By making myself aware of what my current moment is all about, I will be able to move beyond responding in the moment based on my emotions, by getting a better understanding of what they are about. This will help me to better express myself to others if I want to.

After the writing exercise, I will turn to a support, engagement, mindfulness or self-soothing exercise if I am still feeling distressed, pressed or stressed in any way. Understanding things is a great tool, but it does not automatically mean that we will feel better. This writing exercise doesn’t guarantee we form the most accurate or expansive understanding either. To do that, we need to talk to other people.

This week I will do the writing exercise at least one time a day, keeping in mind that it usually takes 90 repetitions of something new before it becomes an automatic, easy way of responding.

Once I’ve gotten used to writing poems, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of expressing myself when I am experiencing stress or distress.

Ten Words Writing Exercise

Step 1: Write down ten words that come into mind when you think about what you are experiencing in the current moment (that’s right now). If you can’t think of ten, just write down however many you can think of.

Step 2: In any order you want to, write one sentence to expand on how each word is relevant. You can simply explain why you wrote the word down or you might like to describe the way the word is experienced or felt or compare it to something that it reminds you of.  If you would like to get creative, this exercise can be used to write a short story or a poem. This is a useful thing to do, because these can be often be read to others.

For example

1. Stress | 2. Stretched | 3. Jittery | 4. Responsibility | 5. Racing | 6. Commitments | 7. Money | 8. Hunger | 9. Love | 10. Value

stress: my stomach holds it, acid-tongued.

Stretched: i am my own god of destruction and creation, i want to reach in all directions like Siva

Jittery: i pull myself these ways, the pulse running to keep time with the mind

Responsibility: so many rocks i’ve got to hold up above my head and balance there

Racing: while i send my brain stem messages of ‘calm. the. hell. down.’ and ‘this. is. not. a. survival. moment’

Commitment: and i have promised things i mean to keep, which also is heavy

Money: and there is never enough of the things that we need

Hunger: and there is so much we want to get out of all this

Love: and i’m still struggling to let you love me and trying to relinquish my controls.

Value: it is still easier for me to trust the dark in a stranger’s eyes than let the light in yours reach me, but i am learning.

If I take out all my ‘inspiration words’ and join up my lines, they become a poem! This is something I could read to a friend or family member to communicate what I am dealing with at the moment.

No. 42: Daily Free-Flow

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

I will keep a daily journal of thoughts, feelings and impressions from the day. This will allow me to ‘sort out’ my thoughts, become aware of what is going on for me and process the things I need to adapt to.

I will need a dedicated notebook to write in and somewhere safe to keep it.

I might need to schedule this in each day in order to get in the habit of doing it and it might take a while to get used to writing.

It doesn’t matter what I write or how I write it, the point is to get in the habit of connecting non-judgmentally with my own inner states and learn ways of expressing them.  Part of accessing support is being able to express our need, and this will be a good way of working on that.  At the same time, writing each day can help to calm racing thoughts and sort out any sense of confusion.  If I am ever finding it difficult to write anything down, I will write down ‘the story of my day’ and finish it off by saying how I feel about that. If I have any further thoughts I can then write those down, in that way start to bring my thoughts and feelings to the surface.

If doing this exercise leads me to think on things that upset or distress me, I will practice self-soothing and mindfulness exercises to comfort myself back to the present, current moment, in which I am safe. I will experiment with different ways of writing about my day until I find a way that allows me to sort out my thoughts without intensifying the distressing aspects of them.

Once I am used to expressing myself in a daily journal, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of expressing my thoughts privately during times of stress and distress.

No. 37: Fears or facts?

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

I will practice distinguishing between thoughts, feelings and responses that are related to fears and those that are related to facts as I move through my daily life. When I notice shifts in mood, I will ask myself what is driving the reaction. It might help to take some time out to jot down what is running through my mind on a piece of paper. If I realise I am responding to something I fear could be true, I will remind myself that this is a natural thing to fear. I will remind myself, there is often a big difference between what is plausible and what is true.  I will then return my thoughts to the facts of the current situation – to the observable pieces of information.

This way I can practice keeping my interpretations of events in perspective.

When I am used to examining the basis of my thoughts and sifting fear from fact in everyday situations, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for times of distress.

No. 33: Moving Into It

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

I will practice coping with the things I don’t want to think about by scheduling short moments in each day when I will deliberately think about them for a few minutes.

This week I will focus on living the lesson behind the saying “I cannot leave until I first allow myself to arrive.” Rather than avoiding or constantly moving away from certain thoughts and feelings, I will move into them, so that I can practice letting them leave.

For a few minutes I will make myself aware of the different memories, thoughts and feelings I have been holding off. I will observe them pass through my mind and body as they come and go, by describing them to myself in my head.  I will practice feeding myself comforting and encouraging self-statements throughout the exercise, ultimately making this an experience of self-compassion and care.

I will then turn to my next task.

Once I am used to deliberately observing the thoughts and memories that distress me and comforting myself, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of working through what is bothering me in moments of distress.

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 17. What Would Goofy Do?

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

I will practice taking some time out with a notebook and doing a writing exercise to cope with stress.  When I think I need a break from the moment, I will sit down with a notebook and choose a cartoon character.  I will imagine that this cartoon character is in my situation instead of me.  I will write for 5 minutes about how this character would view and react to the situation. It will distract me and maybe even give me a different perspective of things.

I will need to keep a notebook and pen or pencil in my bag or pocket for this one.

Once I am used to doing writing exercises when I am not particularly upset, I will add ‘What Would A Cartoon Character Do? Writing Exercise’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a way to shift unwanted moods.

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. 12 – Power Ballads

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

I will spend 5 minutes every day singing along to music.  If I can’t find a CD or set of songs to play, I will sing old songs I know off by heart.  If I have time on my hands and am feeling anxious or stressed, I will pass some of the time by singing.  I can do this alone or with others.

Singing has real physical effects which you can use to your advantage.  Singing changes the way we are breathing and this alters the level of CO2 in our bloodstreams, which triggers the release of neurotransmitters and creates a sense of elation.  Depending on the song you are singing, it can also be a powerful form of  self-expression and sense of connection. Singing is a very good way of changing the moment for ourselves.

Once I’ve gotten used to spending some time singing, I will add ‘Power Ballads’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy to shift my mood when I am feeling distressed.

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.