Separation Survival Guide / Step 3: Being aware of your actions

During the early days of my separation, I went into a spiral. I was drinking and smoking as if I wanted to die. While this is understandable, I reached a point where I noticed my addictions controlling me. This felt powerless, weak, and empty.

Although I didn’t necessarily want to quit drinking and smoking altogether, I was looking for a way to be more in control. So, I came up with an easy, simple technique to help me be more aware of my actions. It's called "The Escape and Cope buckets".

Every single action you take during separation can be something you do to Escape or something you do to Cope. Imagine you have two buckets. One is labelled "Escape" and the other is labelled "Cope".

Actions that fit into the Escape bucket: Running away. Taking a flight. Having a one-night stand. Smoke. Drink alcohol. Go for a fast drive. These actions are escapes. They are actions taken to suspend thinking, feeling, or dealing with reality. Escape actions focus energy away from yourself.

Actions that fit into the Cope bucket: Seeing your GP. Talking with a friend. Meditating. Spending time with your kid. Running. Attending a men circle. Reading. Listening to music. In the Cope bucket, you can put actions you do to deal with the situation, expand your thinking, talk with others and grow. Cope actions focus energy towards yourself.

Now, think about your day and the action you took. Can you put these actions into one of these buckets?

Sometimes escape is chosen as a way of coping with a difficult situation. This is ok. Escape is not wrong. The difference is in awareness of the intention behind your actions.

Being aware of your actions puts YOU back in control.


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