A coffee shop date: Finding a gentle respite amidst the chaos of daily life

Carolyn Rubenstein, PhD

Licensed psychologist and wellness consultant

In this week’s letter, I’m taking a different route. Instead of delving into our usual thought-provoking discussions, I want to welcome you into a soothing space of serenity and warmth. My aim is for these words to be a beacon of comfort, a gentle respite as you traverse the often turbulent waters of daily life.

Imagine us in a quaint, cozy coffee shop, tucked away from the hustle of life. Picture a round table, nestled in a warmly lit corner, the soft murmur of conversations blending with the gentle clinks of coffee cups. The decor is charmingly eclectic, reminiscent of a scene from a Nancy Meyers film — perfectly imperfect, comfortable yet distinctly lived-in. Through the windows, the world goes by, but inside, time seems to pause, just for us.

As you take a seat across from me, the familiar scent of roasted coffee beans and the subtle sweetness of pastries fill the air, creating an atmosphere of comforting familiarity. This isn’t just any coffee shop; it’s our little haven, a space where we can be ourselves, unburdened and free.

Now, take a moment to settle into the chair beside me. Feel its support as you lean back, letting your body sink gently into its embrace. Close your eyes for a second, if you wish, and take a deep, soothing breath. Let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders, if only for this moment. With each breath, feel more relaxed, more present. This is our time to unwind, a brief respite from the constant rush of life. As you open your eyes, there’s a warm beverage waiting for you — your favorite, prepared just as you like it.

In front of you, there’s a large, slightly crumpled napkin. I’ve jotted down a few phrases on it, simple yet profound words that have often been my anchors. As you take a sip of your drink, I invite you to read them, letting each one linger in your mind:

“I am enough as I am.”

Imagine embracing yourself, flaws and all, in this very moment.

“I don’t need to earn rest.”

Consider the freedom in allowing yourself to pause without justification.

“I am worthy of love.”

Reflect on the unconditional acceptance that you deserve.

“I am struggling and I am strong.”

Acknowledge your resilience in the face of challenges.

“I am here because I deserve to be.”

Feel the rightfulness of your place in this world.

“I can make mistakes.”

Permit yourself the grace of imperfection.

“It’s not my job to make everyone happy.”

Contemplate the liberation in releasing the burden of others’ happiness.

“I’m allowed to change directions.”

Ponder the possibilities that open up with change.

“It’s not too late for me.”

Embrace the hope and opportunities that lie ahead.

As you read these phrases, I lean in, curious. “Did any of these resonate with you?” I ask gently. “Is there one that brings a quiet calm, a sense of clarity or relief?” It’s a moment for introspection, for finding that one line that echoes in your heart.

Perhaps one phrase stands out, tugging at the corners of your mind, or maybe several speak to you in a chorus of comfort. It’s okay if it’s just a whisper, a subtle nod to your inner self. Share with me the phrase that lingers with you, the one that feels like a personal reminder. You jot these words down onto your own napkin.

As our time in this cozy shop winds down, I notice you pocket the napkin with the phrase you chose. It’s more than just a piece of paper now; it’s a small but significant reminder of self-compassion and understanding.

Remember, the power of these phrases lies in their ability to ground us in moments of doubt or stress. They are not just words, but affirmations that can help realign our thoughts and emotions. Keep them close, and turn to them whenever you need a moment of peace or a reminder of your strength and worth.

And as you step out of our coffee shop sanctuary and back into the rhythm of your life, let these words be a gentle anchor. Notice how your perspective shifts, even slightly, when you start to believe in them.

Carry this sense of calm with you, and let it infuse your days with a little more serenity and self-kindness.

Caught in anxious patterns like people pleasing or perfectionism?