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Are You Coping Too Well?

by bevbarnes on February 22, 2012

Are you coping too well with a bad situation, a job you hate, a bad relationship?

Have you mastered ways to make things positive, reframe the situation, change your thoughts, focus on what’s working?

Do you believe deep down that he who endures the most suffering without falling apart will be rewarded in the end?

I did and so do most of the people that I coach.

If you share this trait, then you are what Martha Beck refers to in her book Steering By Starlight, as a fire fleer.  A fire fleer is a pain avoider.  We ignore, avoid or repress our suffering and keep it to ourselves.  Super successful fire fleers manage to hide their pain even from themselves.  The opposite of the fire fleer is the story fondler – those people who recount their tales of woe endlessly.  You can spot the story fondlers by looking for the glazed eyes of those poor people that are forced to listen to them.

We fire fleers desperately don’t want to be story-fondlers or inflict our pain on anyone else.  We get so adept at coping of looking like we are coping that we even hide how bad we feel from ourselves.  Here’s the problem:

When you flee from your pain, you don’t receive the message that your emotion is trying to send you.

Your emotions are your sophisticated signalling apparatus.  Like the lights on a car dashboard, each emotion signals that you need to check something.

When you are miserable and trying to avoid, ignore or repress your misery you actually hold on to those feelings longer than you would if you stopped trying to ignore them – and you don’t get information that could really help you.

 Karla McLaren in The Language of Emotions talks about the message of different emotions.  Here are a few emotions that most firefleers try not to feel and their messages:

Anger:  a boundary is being violated;

Sadness:  something needs to be released or rejuvenated;

Grief:  something needs to be mourned.

If you have a habit of fleeing the feelings that feel bad here is a simple, safe way that you can start feeling them and figuring out what they mean for you:

Create a Misery Board.

You’ve probably heard of a Vision Board – where you select pictures from magazines that appeal to your heart, cut them out and paste them on a Bristol board.  The Misery Board is similar to the Vision Board, but you select pictures from magazines that resonate with the misery and discontent that you are feeling.

Doing a Misery Board leads to surprising results. 

I first did a Misery Board when I moved to the small Northern town that I live in.  I had been unwilling to admit that I hated living in the town.  I couldn’t find anything to appreciate about my town.  I was scared of being a Debbie Downer.  After repressing my emotions for far too long, I did a Misery Board.

I acknowledged that I really missed the city, that I really missed speaking English (my town is a unilingual French speaking town), that I felt like an outsider and that I feared that no one would ever appreciate the real me.  Doing the misery board allowed me to feel my grief and release my attachment to the past.

Then I did a Vision Board.

As a direct result of that Misery Board/Vision Board combo, I started an on-line business where I work almost 100% in English.  Now with clients all over the world, I don’t miss not living in a big city.  I appreciate the open spaces and nature, and I travel to large cities regularly.  It’s a pretty miraculous shift.  And I really credit the Misery Board!

By permitting myself to feel what I was trying to avoid, I found the space and energy to create my own new beginning.

And you can too.

You can download a 5 minute recording on how to do the Misery Board and Vision Board here.    If you are a firefleer, do a Misery Board first then do a vision board.  It’ll help you to find your freedom and stumble upon your passions!


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

karin February 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm

What a great idea! Wanting to gloss over all those yucky feelings really doesn’t help. they’ll surface anyway. This allows you to look at them, bring them to light, accept them and move on. I’m going to give it a go this weekend! thank you


Bev Barnes February 24, 2012 at 12:23 am

Try it out Karin. Sometimes facing what you have been trying to avoid helps you to let it go. And sometimes it helps you to get clear on a new direction. I’m really glad this helped!


Janelle February 24, 2012 at 12:07 am

OMG. This is the best idea ever! I’m so excited about creating a misery board it’s making me laugh out loud. I’m actually much less miserable just thinking about it (how funny is that)? I’ve done a lot of vision boards, and I haven’t done one for six months and because of this post I realized why. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself with those vision boards. Start manifesting, now! And when I didn’t then I thought there was something wrong with me. Bev, you are truly wonderful. Thank you so much!


Bev Barnes February 24, 2012 at 12:25 am

It is hysterical creating a misery board Janelle. It feels like turning everything you thought you were supposed to do upside down! I think that part of the reason it works is because it feels like you are jumping right out of the self-help box and just trying something counter-intuitive. Let me know how it works for you Janelle!


Mylene Deveau February 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Hello Bev, I so understand what you mean… I lived many years in Montreal, and bought a small house in a little town close to Drummondville 5 years ago. I love it, but at the same time, I miss the city, I miss speaking English, and I feel like no one around me could understand my love of coaching, self-help… That’s not something very common around here.

I didn’t do a misery board, but I had to stop because of a depression (actually reading Karla’s book!) and I dig really down into what was going on in my life, the good and the really bad. I saw what needed to be changed, and decided to signed up for Brooke’s Weight Loss Coach training in June. I am terrify of failing because I’m still working so much on myself, and my English is not perfect, but I’m starting to work on it by preparing myself with books and everything. I know that’s my calling.

Like you, I’ll try to start an online business, and if there is no interest in the French world…i’ll work on creating an English clientèle ! I think you’ll be able to help me one day, I’d love to coach with you!


Bev Barnes February 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Hi Mylene. Great to hear from you! It is great that you realized that you needed to stop and start taking care of yourself. Karla McLaren’s book is amazing and very helpful. There is a market for coaches in Quebec. The great news is that because it is relatively new, you have many opportunities. Keep in touch. I’d love to connect one day. Prends soins de toi et passes une super de belle journée!


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