Coping as a Tool of Enchantment
Many of my readers write to me about the tensions of everyday life. Not only do people wonder how to relax, but people often ask, "How do I learn to better cope with what faces me? Can THE ENCHANTED SELF help with the overwhelming frenzy of everyday life? Can it help when I am really down or something really goes wrong?" Absolutely!
In my newsletter, I often talk about the power of our positive memories. I emphasize this power because so often people focus on their negative and unpleasant memories. However, THE ENCHANTED SELF is much more than the retrieval of positive memories. It is the recognition of what works to make us thrive as human beings, and the courage to live fully. One of the marvelous ways we can use our enchanted memory banks is to look backwards in time to recognize our coping skills. For example, perhaps
you came from a dysfunctional family, where one or both parents were alcoholics. You were the oldest child and you developed a multitude of skills, including organizational skills, running a household, and abilities to negotiate, calm and quiet others. These skills, although they had their origin in dysfunction, are precious gifts as an adult. Perhaps you are already using them in a career or in your personal life.
At times using a coping skill from childhood may mean giving yourself permission to do something as an adult that felt good as a child. For example, Marsha used to love to blow bubbles as a child. Now as a busy business woman, when she feels stressed out she will often take out a bottle of bubbles and let herself go back in time to that fun feeling of blowing bubbles, watching those magical spheres of light fill her office, creating miniature rainbows of delight.
Setting aside some time for myself, I recently experienced a way to cope with the hustle and bustle of my life. It is an activity which Peter Eno, our Tai Chi instructor calls a meditative walk. A group of people walk in a circle very slowly, taking their time and letting themselves experience open space in their thinking at the same time keeping pace in unison with each other. In a sense, one becomes a member of a very slow circular parade. This walk offers me a sense of connection with others and at the same time it gives me a chance for my mind to settle down in a peacefulness and comfort.
Random thoughts pop in and out as I walk around the room, but I also experience pleasurable feelings of comfort, relaxation and a warm sensation that goes way back to my grandmother's apartment in Brookline. Fresh air is coming in through the window as I wake contentedly to the bustle of sparrows on the windowsill. The birds chirp in a space that feels timeless yet totally safe. As I walk, I go back and forth in time from Grandma's spare bedroom to Peter's studio. At times I become aware of the sensation of being one with the weather, the noise of a lawn mower, the wail of a train's horn. After the meditative walk I feel refreshed. I feel ready to cope with everyday life. The meditative walk not only helped me get in touch with long ago Enchanted Moments at my grandmother's house, but it has replenished me so that I have coping skills to handle my life now.
If we can't cope, how can we find enchantment? If we don't learn to recognize enchantment, how can we have the energy to cope?
I have used walking as a coping skill since childhood. Ever since walking back and forth to school twice a day, I have been able to use walking to calm me down--giving me time to think and process what was on my mind. So actually a meditative walk gives me a time for enchanted memories, using a coping skill that began as a childhood routine.
Make a list of five coping skills you have. Examples are: determination, a sense of humor, running, cooking up a storm, reading romantic novels. Now look at your list and pick one or two of your coping skills. Play with them in your mind for the next week in two ways:
1. At least once a day, congratulate yourself on your wonderful survivor capacities.
2. Play with new ways you could use these skills to bring you pleasure. Perhaps it is time to take a gourmet-cooking course, time to write a romantic novel, or maybe time to send jokes via e-mail on the computer. Don t get discouraged. Just have fun! Hang in there. Remember you have an ENCHANTED SELF.
You are capable of achieving positive states again and again, and you have coping capacities to find personal enchantment, again and again.
About The Author
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein , originator of THE ENCHANTED SELF®, a method of bringing delight and meaning into everyday living, invites you to view her new line of ENCHANTED WOMAN products, downloadable e-books, and free gifts at www.enchantedself.com" target="_new">http://www.enchantedself.com. Chat with others in Dr. Holstein's e-group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/encself/join, and sign up for her free e-group at www.enchantedself.com" target="_new">www.enchantedself.com. Order her book, THE ENCHANTED SELF: A Positive Therapy, or the CD-rom or tape version and her book RECIPES FOR ENCHANTMENT: The Secret Ingredient is YOU!, or the ED-rom version, at www.enchantedself.com/ordering/ordering.htm" target="_new">http://www.enchantedself.com/ordering/ordering.htm.