The Coping Kete

Monthly Archives: September 2010

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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. 13 – Building a Room for Possibility

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

I will practice focusing my thoughts on the inevitability of change to help shift bad moods.  To start with, I will practice this strategy for minor mood changes. When I notice a slight shift in mood or a bit of stress, I will take a breath and say things to myself like, “everything changes and so will this,” or “this too shall pass.”

I will leave space in my thoughts for the possibility of things being different. I will remind myself that nothing stays the same forever.  In this way, I will make sure that my thoughts are not promoting a hopeless way of looking at my situation or experiences.

I will then turn my attention to something else altogether in order to shift the moment. Sometimes it is a sense that we will feel this way or be dealing with the same problems forever that makes things so unbearable or overwhelming.

Once I am comfortable thinking this way to get through the smaller moments, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a self-soothing strategy for moments of heightened distress, when perspective might be lost. I will be able to remind myself of all the smaller instances in which I told myself it would pass, and it did.

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. 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.