Three years ago, it was September 2020. I was a mess of stress between being overworked in burned out at my broadcast journalism job and (poorly) handling the fear state of living in a pandemic. I was still feeding the fears back then as I was working in a mainstream media newsroom producing TV news shows that reported on both a dreadful election and a global pandemic.
Then, it hit close to home: my friends got sick.
(This would get so much worse before it got better. I lost a few, got sick myself to the point of being temporarily disabled and unable to work… And a friend died unexpectedly on Christmas Day.)
But prior to all THAT getting worse—I hit my maximum stress load in September of 2020. Three days before a friend violently took his life, I wrote down the following coping statements in my journal. I didn’t recite them like poems and they weren’t the magical panacea.
But these were a step in the right direction for someone who was struggling with situational anxiety and stress. I leaned on what I knew, which was recovery from addiction. I’d worked in the addiction field for 4.5 years, so I knew I could return to what I’d learned from Smart Recovery.
These were statements I had taught many times. It was time to use them myself. At this time, I found a new therapist and started seeing her weekly. I also signed up for yoga teacher training to deepen my practice. Somehow, I cobbled together tools to help me find comfort, direction, and meaning as friends began to pass one by one.
Filled with grief, I knew I needed to work on myself rather than get dragged down into an abyss. These Smart Recovery rational coping statements helped me and I hope they help you too. Please use these as yet another tool in your toolbox.
If you’re struggling with mental health, please get professional help—this is no replacement for being seen by a professional. If you are in the U.S. and thinking of causing yourself harm, please call 988.
Smart Recovery Rational Coping Statements (Edited for clarity):
- Things are rarely as bad, awful, or catastrophic as I imagine them to be.
- The anxiety I experience may be bad, but I’m not bad.
- It isn’t necessary to be in perfect control of my anxious moments. To demand that I be in control multiplies my symptoms.
- I can bear with anxiety; it will not kill me.
- I don’t always have to feel comfortable and it’s not awful when I don’t.
- Anxiety is a part of life; it’s not bigger than life.
- Controlling the anxiety I experience is important but hardly urgent.
- I am happiest when I get involved in long-term, challenging work that requires me to work against inertia and take risks.
- My life doesn’t have to be easy.
- All the pain you feel for others doesn’t relieve them of the slightest pain.
💡 If you compare these to the Smart Recovery version, you may notice that I rewrote them to edit out the phrase “my anxiety.”
I personally don’t like to take ownership of and identify with a dis-ease being “mine.”
That is not a mindset I choose to have. I changed the wording to a more empowering way of saying that it’s something I experience (or may experience) rather than making it bigger than I am.
I’m a coach—I know how vital a great mindset is to healing. How we think and speak affects our mindset. Statement #1 above is supported by the yoga sutras, at least in my experience. I find that we often tend to see things through a certain (personal) lens. We therefore create a story about it.
The story may be neither true nor accurate. Stop playing a game of “telephone line” with yourself.
We are constantly creating a story. We are constantly manifesting. Do you want to create a life of anxiety and stress? Or do you want to be free? Carefully choosing thoughts each day helps us create a reality of our choosing.