The Coping Kete

Tag Archives: Self-talk

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 117: Allowing Myself Room to Hope for the Best

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

…I will practice hoping for the best, rather than fearing the worst, by doing exercises where I imagine things go well. This week, I leave room for the possibility that the best outcome might happen. I will keep my hopes realistic so they don’t become expectations (For example, winning lotto and becoming a millionaire by the end of the day is perhaps unlikely but doing my job well today and having some pleasant interactions with other people is much more achievable).

As I move through my day, I will pause at the start of each task I do and I will take a moment to imagine it turning out how I would like it to. I will remind myself “it is possible for things to go well for me.” I will do this even for small ordinary tasks that I have no doubt about doing well. In this way I will start to build up my sense of things turning out okay sometimes, so it slowly becomes easier to let myself hope for the best, especially when I get to the big things.

When I am familiar with reminding myself of the positive possibilities in the course of an ordinary day, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of balancing fearful, anxious or pessimistic thoughts and feelings when they crop up. Sometimes it is too easy to be overcome by thoughts that predict the worst. I can cope by allowing room for the possibility that things will be okay for me in the end.

No. 115: Noticing My Small Contributions to Others

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

… I will actively recall times I have been kind, giving or friendly towards other people and practice noticing the good bits about myself. Each morning or the night before I will jot down a few times I can remember myself being good to others, they could be recent, historical or a mix of both. Then I will practice reminding myself of these small contributions to others throughout the day.

As I move through the day during the week,  I will take moments to pause and mentally run through my list of past examples as a reminder of my good intentions and value to those around me. This week, I will practice noticing the positive effects I have on others and in so doing, I will practice building my sense of self-worth and valuing even my smallest contributions.

If I notice my mind wandering onto times when I have not had a positive effect on others, I will notice those thoughts and compassionately bring my mind back to the exercise of recalling interactions in which I have been kind, caring, friendly, supportive or helpful to another person. I am more than my mistakes. 

Once I am familiar with the task of remembering and noticing my past and current positive contributions on a daily basis, I will add this to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing strategy for times of distress when I notice I am devaluing myself and my place in my community.

No. 112: Build My Willpower Muscles

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

…I will practice changing my automatic responses by working on doing small, unimportant things differently on a daily basis.

I will first choose something really basic like doing something different from my norm when I arrive home each day or trying to always lift my coffee mug with the opposite hand. Then as I move through my week, I will practice checking myself and switching my cup to the other hand. I will practice being understanding with my self-talk when I forget to do the small thing differently or find it uncomfortable or difficult.

In this way I will slowly get used to seeing myself as someone who can do small things differently and use my willpower to resist a habit. This might help me to feel better about attempting to change something bigger and more important to me, such as reducing alcohol intake or changing my daily routine.

Once I am comfortable with interrupting a small habit and replacing it with something different, I will add ‘Use my Willpower Muscles’ to my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for shifting my attention and energies to small habits and automatic responses that I am able to change. I might need to think a bit about what my automatic responses have been before I am able to choose one small thing to work on changing. I will remind myself of my previous experience with changing something small and how I was able to do it in the end.

No. 102: Remembering I am not my Thoughts

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

… I will practice reminding myself that automatic thoughts are ideas not facts. This week I will remember that I am not my thoughts.

We all have automatic thoughts constantly throughout the day as our minds try to figure out what is happening around us. We can have automatic thoughts about anything that we have ever seen or heard. We can have automatic thoughts that we disagree with and that are the opposite of what we want, so my automatic thoughts do not really say anything about me or who I am. They really are just ideas.

This week, as I move through my day, I will practice observing my thoughts and reminding myself that “these are ideas I have had, but they are not me.”

Once I am comfortable thinking about my thoughts as ideas not facts about who I am, I will add this to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of soothing distress with my self-talk. When I notice I am distressed, I will observe my thoughts and remind myself these are ideas. I will look at which of these ideas I want to hold onto and which ones I don’t really agree with. When I have thoughts I do not want to have, I will remember that it is normal to have thoughts I don’t agree with. It doesn’t mean anything bad about me.

No. 100: Use Energy Lifting Words

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

… I will practice using positive, inspiring words in my self-talk and my communications with others to help shift the mood of things. This week, I will become aware of the kinds of words I am using with myself and with others. Each time I notice what I am thinking, I will find a way to reframe it that allows me to use more positive words. Each time I notice the kinds of words I am using/want to use when talking to others, I will think of a way of inserting more positive words.

It might help to first make a list of the kinds of energy-raising words I could use, such as inspired, peaceful, harmonious, content and enjoyment. So for example, instead of thinking or saying ‘I feel awful right now,’ I might reframe things so I think or say ‘I want to do something to inspire me’ instead.

Sometimes just thinking about the positive concept can lift our energy. Using these words in our communication can help lift the energy of those around us and make the way we communicate our problems more effective.

Once I am comfortable doing this as part of my regular day, I will add ‘Reframe to use positively charged words’ into my Personal Coping Kete as a strategy for self-soothing and/or expressing myself when I am stressed or distressed.

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. 97: ABC Thought Catching

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

… I will practice engaging with my thoughts and how they are affecting my mood by practicing thought-catching. Being able to catch my thoughts and follow their connection to my moods is a key step towards being able to reason myself out of stress and distress when I need to. Taking a moment to be aware of the core components of my experience will help me be able to respond with awareness.

This week, whenever I notice a slight drop in my mood, I will take a moment to ask myself what just happened (A), what it did to my mood (C) and what I might have been telling myself about whatever happened to cause that mood change (B).  It is not easy to notice our own thoughts, which is why I will start out by trying to catch thoughts associated with minor changes in mood. Once I’m comfortable with that, I will move on to using thought-catching as an engagement strategy in times of stress and distress.

It is often helpful at first to use a pen and paper to note these things down in three columns.

(A) Activating event: What just happened?

(B) Thoughts / Self Talk: What might I have told myself about that?

(C) Mood Change: What happened to my mood?

In this way, I will start to build up a picture of the kinds of thoughts that make my moods swing, and the kinds of situations that trigger those thoughts. This will prepare me to be able to recognise and catch those thoughts later when they are fueling my distress.

Once I have gotten good at making myself aware of what my thoughts are, I will add thought-catching to my Personal Coping Kete. In times of stress and distress, I will be able to practice catching my thoughts and observing to myself what triggered them and how the thoughts made me feel. By engaging with my thoughts and emotions before I respond, I will be better prepared to soothe, express, distract myself from or get support with them.

No. 93: Embracing My Interdependence

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

…I will live in an awareness of how we are designed to be interdependent, to need other people. We each have a mix of strengths and limitations; those things that I can’t do or struggle with, someone else can do or finds easier. Together we are able to accomplish all of the things we need to do. I do not need to feel ashamed of my limitations, because we all have them. I was never meant to be able to do everything on my own.

When I am in social situations I will identify what limitations the people around me might need help with and as far as I am able to, I will offer my support to them with that. I might say something like “Hey I notice you are finding x hard, is there any way I can help you out right now?” or simply encourage them in the way I think will be most helpful. I will also identify what limitations I need help with in this moment and let the people around me know. This might be something they know how to help me with or relate to. In this way, this week, I will practice talking about what I find hard and accessing support with it at the same time as offering my support to others.

I will start first by practicing identifying these things to myself with my self-talk. I will practice seeing other people’s behaviour and responses as being related to their own mixture of strengths and limitations, rather than being personal reactions to me or failings on their part. I will also practice accepting my own limitations rather than see them as something I have to be ashamed of, hide or overcome on my own.

Once I am familiar with doing this, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing strategy to use when I am stressed or distressed by other people.

I will then move on to practice the next step: to express myself, then seek and give support for the limitations we all have.  Once I am comfortable doing this in low-key situations I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as an Expression and Support strategy for coping with difficult social situations and other things that I find tricky.

“We are not stand alone objects.” – Miriam Barr

“We are like birds with one wing. We can only fly by embracing each other.” – Anonymous. 

No. 90: Picturing my Supporters at my Back

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

…when I am stressed, pressed or distressed, I will self-soothe by imagining my various support people standing encouragingly at my back, boosting me up. This might include my parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, therapist, key-worker or someone else, just all the people in my life who want me to do well and want me to feel better when I don’t.

I will make a list of some of these people before I try to practice imagining them standing supportively at my back, so I’m not having to remember from scratch in the middle of a moment of distress. Some of the people might be in my daily life, but some might be more distant or less available, but they are still people in the world who want good things for me. It doesn’t matter if I see them everyday or once every two years – they care for me and if they were here they would give me comfort.

I will picture them sending me good vibes, saying comforting things and believing in me. No matter what is happening now, these people want good things for me. With them at my back, I know I don’t need to cope with whatever life throws at me by myself. I will breathe and imagine my people are there quietly supporting me.

If I find it particularly hard to think of people who fit the bill as supporters or I think I don’t have ‘enough’ of them, it might be that I need to spend some time finding some supporters for myself. But we don’t need a huge number of supporters to get through, we really just need one or two people we can rely on when things get rough.

Once I’ve worked out how to get this strategy working for me, I will write it on a card and add it to my Personal Coping Kete, for future use.