Coping statements are things that we can say to ourselves to combat unkind/unsupportive things that we say to ourselves, to interrupt obsessive thoughts, to help us cope with disturbing memories or to deal with mean/cruel things others say to us. They can be used for different kinds of situations or circumstances, some of which follow. I encourage my clients to pick out 3-4 coping statements that they relate to, write these on 3-5 index cards, and put these index cards in places you frequent, such as: your bedside table, your wallet/purse, your back pocket, your car, your computer and, if you are comfortable, on your refrigerator. In short, you should always have your coping statements with you. Some people like to record their coping statements using the “voice memo” feature on their phones (if you don’t have this, you can download it), so they can listen to them vs. reading them.
Coping Statements to Deal with Overwhelming Emotions:
- I can be anxious and still deal with the situation
- I’m strong enough to handle what’s happening to me right now
- I can ride this out and not let it get to me
- I can take all the time I need right now to let go and relax
- I’ve survived similar situations before, and I’ll survive this time, too
- My anxiety/fear/sadness won’t kill me; it just doesn’t feel good right now
- It’s OK to feel sad/anxious/afraid sometimes
- This situation sucks, but it’s only temporary
- This feeling isn’t comfortable and pleasant, but I can accept it
- This isn’t an emergency. It’s OK to think slowly about what I need to do
- This isn’t the worst thing that could happen
- These are just thoughts — not reality
Coping Statements to Deal with Bad Memories
- I can’t change what’s already happened
- There’s no use fighting the past
- Fighting the past only blinds me to my present
- The present moment is the only moment I have control over
- It’s a waste of time to fight what has already occurred.
These coping statements were taken from the following very excellent resource books: The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook; The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook.