This post is written by Honey Good Guest Contributor, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. She shares her personal experiences using her strengths as coping skills and shows us how we can incorporate these into our daily practices. Enjoy her post, my dear readers!
Understanding How To Cope
Many write to me about the tensions of everyday life. Not only do people wonder how to relax, but they also ask, “How do I learn to better cope with what faces me?” Can The Enchanted Self help with the overwhelming frenzy of everyday life? Can it help when I am really down or something goes incredibly wrong? Absolutely!
Our Memory Banks
I often talk about the power of our positive memories. I emphasize this power because so often people focus on the negative, unpleasant memories. The Enchanted Self is even more than the retrieval of positive memories. It is the recognition of what works to make us thrive as human beings and the courage to live fully.
One of the marvelous ways we can use our memory banks is by looking back in time to recognize our coping skills. For example, perhaps you came from a dysfunctional family where one or both parents were alcoholics. As the oldest child, you developed a multitude of skills, including organizational skills, running a household and the abilities to negotiate, calm and quiet others. While these skills had their origin in dysfunction, they’re precious gifts as an adult. Perhaps you are already using them in a career or in your personal life.
At times, using coping skills from childhood may mean giving yourself permission to do something as an adult that felt good as a child. For example, Marsha used to love to blow bubbles as a child. Now as a busy businesswoman, when she feels stressed, she will often take out a bottle of bubbles. She lets herself go back in time to that fun feeling of blowing bubbles, watching those magical spheres of light fill her office, creating miniature rainbows of delight.
Calming The Hustle and Bustle of Daily Life
Setting aside some time for myself, I experienced a way to cope with the hustle and bustle of my life. It is an activity which Peter Eno, a Tai Chi instructor calls a meditative walk. A group of people walk in a circle very slowly, taking their time and letting themselves experience open space in their thinking while keeping pace in unison with each other. In a sense, one becomes a member of a very slow circular parade.
This walk provides me with a sense of connection with others and a chance for my mind to settle into peacefulness and comfort. Random thoughts pop in and out as I walk around the room; however, I also experience pleasurable feelings of comfort, relaxation and a warm sensation that goes way back to my grandparent’s apartment in Brookline. Fresh air wafts in as I wake contentedly to the bustle of sparrows chirping on the windowsill. The birds chirp in a space that feels timeless yet totally safe. Soon the chatter of the voices of people that love me will draw me away from the sparrows. A lovely warm feeling surrounds me.
Walking Forwards To Look Backwards
As I walk, I go back and forth in time from my grandparents’ spare bedroom to now. At times, I become aware of the sensation of being one with the weather, the noise of a lawnmower, the wail of a train’s horn. After the meditative walk, I feel refreshed. I am ready to cope with everyday life. The meditative walk not only helps me get in touch with prior Enchanted Moments, but it also has replenished me so that I have coping skills to handle my life now.
If we can’t cope, how can we find enchantment? If we don’t learn to recognize enchantment, how can we have the energy to cope?
My Selected Coping Method
I have used walking as a coping skill since childhood. Ever since walking back and forth to school twice a day, I have used walking to calm me down, giving me time to think and process what was on my mind. A meditative walk provides time for enchanted memories, using a coping skill that began as a childhood routine.
Incorporating Coping Skills Into Your Life
I suggest you make a list of five coping skills you have. Examples could include determination, a sense of humor, running, cooking up a storm or reading romantic novels. Now look at your list and pick one or two of your coping skills. Play with them in your mind for the next week in two ways:
- At least once a day, congratulate yourself on your wonderful survivor capacities.
- Play with new ways you could use these skills to bring you pleasure. Perhaps it is time to take a gourmet-cooking course, time to write a romantic novel or maybe time to send jokes via email on the computer. Don’t get discouraged; just have fun!
Hang in there. Remember you have an Enchanted Self. You are capable of achieving positive states again and again and you similarly have coping capacities to find personal enchantment, again and again.
This post is revised from an article that appeared in The Enchanted Self newsletter. About the author: Guest contributor, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Sometimes friends and colleagues call me ‘The Enchanted Self.’ That’s because as a psychologist in private practice for over 35 years, I’ve developed a form of positive psychology called The Enchanted Self. I’m not enchanted, but I do have many ways and ideas to help all of us feel better through all stages of life. These methods help us recognize our potential, regardless of our age, to grab on to our talents and find again and again the emotional energies needed to be creative, resourceful, resilient and to live joyfully.