Developing Positive Coping Statements

By Becky Iverson, UAS Counseling Services

The purpose of coping statements is to replace the negative, undermining self-talk that perpetuates anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and insecurity.  When these positive, rational statements are practiced, your brain begins to listen and believe the new messages.  This is a form of gentle conditioning, meaning that your brain chemistry actually changes as a result of your new thinking habits.  

First, use thought stoppage when you notice the negative thoughts creeping in.  Be gentle but persistent… “These thoughts are not good for me.  They are not healthy or helpful and I know where they lead.  I have decided to move in a better direction and learn to think differently.”  (You are reminding and reinforcing your brain each and every time you make this rational and realistic statement).

Then, pick two or three statements from the list below that seem to help you, and repeat them to yourself OUT LOUD each day.  (You don’t have to believe them fully just yet-that will happen with time).  You might want to write them on a sticky note and put them where you will see them daily.  For example, by the sink or refrigerator! You can even set an alarm on your phone to remind you to practice your coping statements each day.

Here’s some ideas to get you started.  If these work for you-great!  If not, maybe use these as inspiration to develop your own. 

*I’m going to be alright. I can recover by taking small risks at my own pace.  I am getting stronger every day.

*Right now I have some feelings I don’t like.  They will be over soon and I’ll be fine.  For now, I am going to focus on doing something else.

*That image in my head is not a healthy or rational one.  Instead, I am going to focus on something healthy like________________________

*I am going to take some nice, deep breaths and keep on going.

*My feelings are not always rational, I’m just going to relax, calm down and everything will be alright.

*I am gently going to turn away from my old feelings and move in a new, better direction.

*At first, my negative thoughts can be dark and scary, but as time goes by, they don’t have the hold on me that I once thought they had.  I am moving forward slowly but surely.

*I can accept my new feelings of peace and contentment.

*I’m going to talk slowly to myself, focus away from the problem and continue with what I need to do to find greater peace.

*Circumstances are what they are, but I can choose my attitude toward them. 

*Every challenge that comes along, is an opportunity to learn and grow.

*I accept the natural ups and downs of life.

*I am learning to love and accept myself just the way I am.

*I deserve the good things in life as much as anyone else.

*I am open to discovering new meaning in my life.

*If someone doesn’t return my love, I let it go and move on.

*I respect and believe in myself apart from other’s opinions.

* I’m learning to be myself around others.  

*It’s important to take care of my own needs.

*I am working on recovering from _____________________________

*It’s never too late to change.  I am improving one step at a time.

Keep practicing!  Many of our negative thought patterns have become habits and just like we learned them, we can unlearn them and substitute thoughts that are more positive and  growth- promoting.