Conscious Coping – Let Yourself Have It
People use the word “coping” in different ways, but I mean the habitual or “default” behaviors that we know aren’t healthy or generative, but they help us manage our emotional experience when we are not able or ready to process our feelings in a healthy way.
Usually, coping behaviors are accompanied with a lot of self-criticism about how we ought not to be doing the coping thing.
I don’t think that’s necessary or productive.
Guilt and self-criticism do not improve your behavior.
Self-love and support and changing negative thinking patterns are what improve your behavior. Guilt and self-criticism actually just add more layers of stress and negative emotions. So, I advocate for “conscious coping”, meaning you consciously acknowledge and appreciate and celebrate your coping behaviors.
I know that probably sounds nuts to some people, but ask yourself which feels better:
- “Oh god, why am I doing this? What is wrong with me? I shouldn’t be doing this.” (and then you do it anyway)
- “Yay, I’m so glad I have this option to help my body and mind cope with this stress that is overwhelming me today! I’m going to thoroughly enjoy this.”
Feeling guilt and resisting your experience isn’t going to make it any more “healthy”. It’s the same activity either way, and enjoying it relieves stress rather than adding to it.
Note: I’m not talking about indulging more, or using this as an excuse for having no self-control. I’m talking about doing whatever you would normally do, but with an attitude of self-love, gratitude, and luxury. Indulge with the feeling of indulgence. Recognize what you are doing as an act of self-protection and self-regulation.
This sends the message to your subconscious that it’s OK to not be perfect, and it’s OK to need a break or relief sometimes, and that you are committed to having compassion for yourself at all times.
Just try it. Experiment with letting yourself have it, and see how it feels.