Coping strategies are crutches
The proper definition of a coping strategy is: Any thought, feeling or behaviour that allows us to remain in an uncomfortable situation without being aware of how uncomfortable we are.
When we consider this definition of a coping strategy it becomes clear that if we are using coping strategies something else is going on underneath that is really not feeling good to us.
So often we have been raised to discount and dismiss our feelings; to ignore that we are even having a feeling; and to feel embarrassed and ashamed should we inadvertently express some sadness or anger or irritation to another human being. This training has led to us automatically shutting down our conscious awareness to any emotional sensation we might be having until it gets too powerful for us to ignore. Thus we can believe, even more strongly, that feelings are bad, overwhelming, uncontrollable things and we should work harder to ignore them – and that’s where the coping strategies come in.
If I’m feeling overwhelmed by feelings of tension, stress, loneliness or frustration, say, when I get in the door from work – which is a natural occurrence as all the feelings we don’t have time to feel or are distracted from during the day naturally come up when things are more mellow and there are fewer distractions – if I’ve been trained to judge my feelings and to judge myself for having them I am naturally going to feel compelled to do whatever I need to do to distance myself from my feelings.
It isn’t going to occur to me to examine my thoughts and see what’s triggering the feeling, instead I’m heading for the carbs and sugars and alcohol and t.v. and internet and maybe all of those at once to help myself self-medicate and numb and soothe.
Coping strategies are crutches but they don’t aid us to get better as real crutches do – they keep us stuck and often make things worse through the side effects they trigger such as binge eating, eating disorders, alcoholism, debt, isolation and more.
It is truly quite simple to learn how to respond appropriately to your feelings and so often very simple to solve the problems that truly exist in your life – you just need good support and simple tools and that’s what I’m here for.
If you’d like to stop existing in coping strategy land and instead, feel confident and secure, and happy in your life, let me know. I’ll show you a simple way through.