Action 69

I stay calm even under pressure. I can think before I act out and not be impulsive, keep my cool and use my positive coping self-statements. I can use a variety of additional relaxation procedures including working out, breathing and safe imagery exercises, mindfulness skills, letting go in a nonjudgmental fashion, meditation, yoga, doing pleasurable things, distraction procedures and taking a “time out.” I find healthy and safe ways to blow off steam.

Useful Information

The relaxation response is the body’s innate antidote to the stress response. One cannot be both stressed out and relaxed at the same time. Relaxation is a skill, like any other skill, and requires deliberate practice. Not just any kind of practice, but consistent effort (See Action #41 and #9).

Quotable Quotes

“I learned that anger can be a stand in emotion for fear, or feeling hurt, humiliated, abandoned. Anger can be a signal that tells me something else is bothering me.”

 “I learned to be an emotional detective and not act out.”

“I learned I had to calm myself down and take a ‘time out’ and regulate down my emotional arousal and just listen to what my wife was saying about the events in her day. I have learned to edit what I say.”

“I learned how to control my self-talk and use ‘positive coping self-statements’ before, during and after stressful situations.”

How To: Use Positive Coping Self-Statements

Following are some sample self-statements you can say to yourself in place of negative “automatic thoughts” that may occur in stressful situations. Try them out.

Before—in preparation of stressful situations:

  • “What is my game plan and what is my back-up plan?”
  • “I have handled situations like this in the past.”
  • “I have a lot of coping skills I can use.”
  • “I can talk to others who have dealt with such stressful situations, beforehand.”
  • Other positive self-statements I can use before are:

During the course of stressful situations:

  • “I can manage this situation, if I take it one step at a time.”
  • “I can notice if I am getting uptight and catch myself.”
  • “I can view this situation as a challenge and as an opportunity to improve, rather than as a personal threat.”
  • “Just use my tactical breathing skills and lower my heart rate by 6 to 10 beats per minute. Take a slow deep breath.”
  • “I do not have to work myself up.”
  • “Relax. Calm down. I am in control.”
  • “Keep focused on the present. What do I have to do?”
  • “I have gotten through tougher situations than this before. This will not overwhelm me. It just feels that way sometimes.”
  • “These feelings are a signal to use my coping skills.”
  • Other positive self-statements I can use during are:

After the stressful situation is over:

  • “I have to figure out how things went. What worked? What did not work? Debrief myself.”
  • “I need to pat myself on the back and give myself credit for making a good effort and for any improvement, large or small.”
  • “I am learning how to deal with these situations more effectively. Next time I can do even better.”
  • “It did not go as bad as I expected.”
  • “I am making progress.”
  • “I handled it pretty well. Wait until I share this with others.”
  • Other positive self-statements I can use after are:

Action 70