You have coping skills and tools already. Yes, you there reading this.
You may not think of yourself as skillful. But you are. I promise you.
I know that because you’re reading this. You’ve made it to this moment in time. You’ve studied everything that life has thrown at you so far.
You might be a little, or a lot, worse for wear. You might be at a point where the skills and tools that have gotten you this far hands outlived their usefulness, or have started to create more problems than they solve.
But the fact remains that you are a survivor.
I’m not playing a semantic game here. There are people reading this who have literally survived situations that have tried to kill them, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
If you’re reading this, you are NOT learning how to cope or survive from scratch.
You are, in all likelihood, more resourceful, more clever, more persistent and consistent than you’ve given yourself credit for.
Survivors often develop distorted ideas about themselves.
Strong people— people who have endured things that would shatter other people— come to believe that they are weak or fragile.
Smart people— people who found ways to survive and even thrive under circumstances many people wouldn’t even believe EXIST— come to believe they are stupid or naive’.
Kind people— people who would happily sacrifice everything they have to ensure the happiness or safety of someone else— come to believe they are selfish.
We often come to become these things because we are programmed to believe these things— by people who do not want us to fully realize how powerful and independent we truly are.
People who have a realistic sense of their own agency in the world are tough to control and manipulate— and they are notoriously hard to silence. Hence why you— yes, you reading this— may have had people in your life trying to downplay how capable and worthy you are.
There really are people reading this who think they don’t have skills, or don’t have the RIGHT skills.
The “right” skill is the skill that gets you through a tough moment.
If you’re reading this, I guarantee you have, and have had, an entire menagerie of the “right” skills.
Successful day to day, minute by minute coping begins with reminding ourselves that we CAN and HAVE made it through rough times.
Successful coping does NOT require us to reinvent the wheel.
It asks to to draw upon skills and abilities that we KNOW we already possess— but we may have forgotten about in the squeeze of a painful moment.
The most useful coping skills and tools in YOUR toolbox will build upon who you fundamentally are, how you learn and process information, and how you, specifically, are advantaged or limited in the situation you’re trying to manage.
(Singing is a skill that makes me feel better, but it’s not exactly something I can bust out when I’m triggered in a meeting in a hospital staff room.)
Because somebody else’s favorite or most effective coping strategies don’t happen to fit you doesn’t mean that you’re not cut out for coping.
It means that the skills and tools that WILL work for you are going to flow from who YOU are, what helps YOU feel I’m control, what helps YOU remember your deal in the midst of the hurricane around (or inside) you.
Where it all starts— and continues, every day of your recovery from depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, an eating disorder, or whatever— is REMEMBERING and REINFORCING the basic TRUTH that you are a SURVIVOR (by definition!) and you are SKILLFUL.
There IS a way to successfully, non-harmfully cope with the EXACT thing that is triggering you.
And you’re gonna find it.