I;'m not completely sure how I have reached that point, and I also believe that each person's story is a little different. There are also things which I don't wish to write about here. But I wonder if it might help to look at how I cam to see coping as a plus and what it means for my life now.
The first thing that brought me into line with the idea of learning to cope was hitting the end of my resources. When the masks and pretend facades of "I'm fine" were stripped away and I had to face my life as it really was, I saw that I needed to learn to cope. It wasn't a choice, it was pure survival. I literally had nothing to lose. It's a terrible place to be in, that spiritual desert, that dark dark night, but it's also a place which can, if you let it, and if you are put into contact with the right resources, allow for incredible growth. For me, it's the part of life which pointed the way toward seeing coping as a positive set of skills and a way of life that can be seen as victorious, rather than a defeat.
At church, I hear this described as coming to the end of yourself. That is pretty true. For me, I came to the end of myself, my judgments of what would work and my pre-conceived notioned and instead I started to rely more on God, my friends and my family. I'm even slowly learning in stops and starts, to trust and rely on myself.
As I said earlier, even if you come to the end of yourself, or hit bottom, you aren't guaranteed a free ride to coping. There are still many steps along life's journey, and really coping is a journey in itself. Anyway, you also need to be put into contact with the right resources. You need, somehow, to be put into contact with someone who can explain coping skills in a way in which you'll understand them and accept them. This could be a doctor, a pastor, a friend, a family member, a stranger, a support group member or a piece of technology. I know There are tons of people out there who can help you and tons of resources online to learn about various types of coping skills.
In my case, I have had excellent mentors, medical professionals, friends, family members and technology which have helped me to learn about the coping skills I need to succeed. It took me a while to find the right matches and the right people and circumstances where I was in a position to learn these skills but I am able to get the support I need. In other words, I have a team. I highly recommend having a team, by the way. That right there is a coping skill.
Once you learn about coping skills, it's time to customize and utilize them. I always think of the toolbox anology because it works so well for me. I need to have a toolbox ready, full of tools I can use if a problem arises or if I want to work to prevent a problem or better myself or my situation in some way. Different people would have different tools in their toolbox, but here's my list just off the top of my head:
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Chamomile tea
- A soft blanket
- My iPod packed with
- Guided imagery
- Humorous albums both spoken and musical
- Lots of music I love
- Tons of affirmations
- A grattitude journal
- A prayer journal
- Applications to remind me of coping skills for depression, anxiety and trauma symptoms
- Uplifting music
- Inspiring Books
- Bibles and Bible study tools
- The ability to connect to the internet if I need other resources
- Phone numbers of people I can call if I need to talk
- Applications to help me stay organized.
- Chocolate, for when I need something to taste to help re-ground myself
- My biofeedback skills
- Positive self-talk
- This Blog
- Modified dancing
You get the picture. So what's in your coping toolbox today?