I began 2023 by updating my list of Coping Statements.
After 4 years, it seemed time to make sure my list was up to date. I wanted to see what I am using and what coping statements I have passed over. With a collection of 101 coping statements, I can use for my depression and anxiety, knowing which ones seem to help is important.
And I have probably added a few that I am not aware of it.
Some of my favorites and most helpful coping statements include:
I have done this before, and I can do it again.
It amazes me how many things I have done before.
And sadly, having episodes of depression that cripple my thinking and cause me to become secretive, are things I have done before. Now I use this coping statement for good, not evil, but this is another way to view it.
When I use this statement for a good purpose, I remind myself that I know what to expect.
Even if I have not been through exactly this situation, I have many transferrable skills that will help me cope with this issue. I have done many things very well. My depression doesn’t always come out on top, even though it likes to think it does.
I’m stronger than I think.
I am so glad I came across this one.
This is a glass-half-full moment for me. Hearing that I am stronger than I think is good. But it gives me an aww shucks, kind of feeling. And feeling it inside is harder because then I am required to feel as if I deserve it. I know I am strong if I don’t say I am strong.
When people at work catch me doing something above and beyond, I am quick to say, “Don’t tell anybody.”
Is this a way of undervaluing the extra effort I put into almost every action? For me, there is always something else I could have done. The perfectionist comes out. And then it is I controlling the event so that I can get the result anticipated.
Fighting this doesn’t help – so I’ll just relax and breathe deeply and let it float away.
More on this in another coping statement, but I get a lot of use out of this one.
Acknowledging that I have a thought and then letting it go gives it no energy or power over me. I do not need to get involved with it. And I am not jousting with it to kill it or to make it go away. And I stay much more relaxed and in the moment as a result.
Plus, I do not bring this home and feel the need to suppress it, as I used to do, for example, with road rage.
I’ll just do the best I can.
This one has helped, but as my confidence grows, just doing the best I can seems like it’s not enough.
Now the concept of performing at your peak is noble. But for me, I challenge myself to do more, to do what is needed, not just what I can. Now thinking about this, it makes me a perfectionist. I am mostly not this way.
What I really think I am is a control freak. (Can I use that word?)
This is the problem for me of just doing what I can. If I can just control the weather, then I can have the perfect outdoor barbeque with friends and family. Now in addition to wanting to control the weather, I am using unhelpful thinking.
Suddenly I am doing If-Then thinking.
And my depression is jumping up and down in excitement. It knows that one little slide toward the drain, can lead to a slip and slide right into the middle of the drain. From there, it is only a matter of time before I am cascading into the abyss.
I think I hit a nerve with this one.
Once I label my stress from 1 to 10, I can watch it go down.
OK, it is 10 and I count down to 1. Examining where the stress is coming from can help me get past it. I have used this technique to address all kinds of negative thoughts. When they pop into my mind, I envision them on a leaf passing me in a stream. Very quickly, the leaf, with my negative thought on it is swept downstream and around the bend in the creek.
Then they are gone.
When I try to force negative thoughts to leave my head, they immediately call in reinforcements. Instead of the thought passing by it presents itself front and center, taking up much valuable real estate. Instead of getting my stress to go down, it climbs to even greater heights.
Not engaging the thought in the first place always gets me relief from stress.
I need to stay focused on the positives.
This is easy, as I am a glass-half-full kind of guy.
Yet some situations are easier than others. Knowing that I always look for a way to say yes. In my life, this can sometimes be a detriment as occasionally the answer is really no. But I am getting better at saying no. The word No often protects me from overextending myself. It gives me the confidence to stop and eat a jelly sandwich without feeling guilty.
Not doing something is often the best thing to do.
Oh, I am talking about coping statements. Recharging my internal batteries is one way I can come out positive. I am more confident when I feel positive about a situation. It might be helpful to repeat this often, but I try to live it, instead.
I won’t take this personally.
This one only took me 60 years to understand. And it is still sometimes very hard. When I have a customer explain her understanding of a policy, then she points out that she is right, and I am wrong. I can see clearly that she has shaped her understanding of the policy to achieve her objective. And no amount of explaining will change that.
And as I counseled another manager, you shouldn’t take it personally.
But there I go doing exactly what I told another manager not to do. However, I do very quickly file the incident away and get on with my day. This is important in my position, as these types of situations I encounter almost every day. Mostly I am able to understand the customer’s real problem, and then fix it. Remaining calm and diffusing the situation is the first step to solving their problem.
Not taking any challenge personally mostly means it is not about you.
I have depression, depression does not have me.
This one I say almost every day.
It is an offshoot of something I heard in a SMART RECOVERY meeting. I am not my depression. This is often hard to believe when I think back to some of the ventures my depression has cooked up. The very sad part to me is that I bought into the scheme. Eventually, with depression’s help, it became my scheme.
So, reminding myself that I am not my depression is important.
My goal, since my time on 5 East, is to keep my depression out in the open. If I can see it, I can address things before they become overblown. For instance, I will make better decisions about my next retirement. Having a well-thought-out plan is a place to start. Depression made sure that I was secretive about my decision. This just complicated my efforts and gave depression an open ticket to shove me into the abyss.
When depression and anxiety show up, having coping statements I can repeat to myself, help.
After all, while I cannot change the event, I can 100% control my attitude toward it. Remembering this is one of the best ways I know to regain my composure and stay relaxed and focused. There are many people who exhibited this and have emerged strong and committed to their ideas. And I am humbled to occasionally walk beside them.