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Coming Out of the Mire

I focus my attention not on various aspects of this issue as if to solve a problem, but rather on the feeling this issue creates in my body. I let my soul come up with a word, phrase or image that matches this feeling in my body. I get the image of a big ceramic vase, red and blue, but very brittle, showing signs of cracking. I go back and forth between the word, phrase or image and the feeling, testing to see if they are really a match. If they are not, I let that image go and choose another until I am really comfortable with the match. This time the brittle vase seems to fit. I spend a few moments, whatever feels right, going back and forth between the word, phrase or image and the feeling in my body. In that process I notice a change in the way my body feels —a shift. I linger with this new feeling for a few moments. It feels better, like a release.

Then I ask myself if I need to go further, or if this is a good place to stop. This time I continue, asking myself some simple question like:

  • “What is it about the problem that makes me feel so (word or image)?”
  • “What is the worst of this feeling?”
  • “What’s really so bad about this?”
  • “What does it need?”
  • “What should happen?”
  • “What would it feel like if it was all OK?”
  • “What is in the way of feeling that?”

I relax and let the answers come to me, just being with the answers that come from my soul, always remembering to leave my analytical and critical brain out of it. Then I spend some time with the answers that came, particularly noticing the changes in my feelings. Bit by bit I unravel the pieces of my life that may be causing or worsening this feeling of depression.

If it feels right, I may do another round of focusing, or resume my hectic life with a new sense of well-being, that lump in my chest perhaps gone, or almost gone. If it’s still there, I repeat all of the above until it is gone for good—keeping my bag of tricks ready for the next time.

Mary Ellen Copeland is the author of:

The Depression Workbook: A Guide to Living with Depression and Manic Depression

Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D. is an author, educator and mental health recovery advocate, as well as the developer of WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). To learn more about her books, such as the popular The Depression Workbook and Wellness Recovery Action Plan, her other writings, and WRAP, please visit her website, Mental Health Recovery and WRAP. Reprinted here with permission.

Coming Out of the Mire

Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.

APA Reference
Copeland, M. (2020). Coming Out of the Mire. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.