The Importance of Developing Effective Coping Mechanisms
March 11, 2013
Coping mechanisms are the particular methods a person uses to deal with stresses or unanticipated situations. Some people listen to music, others have rituals or routines that they do to keep their minds off the situation. Some people pray and others will just repeat a particular phrase or saying. These Coping mechanisms can be positive or negative and if negative, need to be stopped.
Self Injury is a common coping mechanism for people whether they realize it or not. Nail biting, hair pulling, pinching, cheek or lip chewing, and cutting or burning yourself are all common forms of self injury. Obviously some are more severe than others, but all can have negative consequences affecting a person’s health and appearance.
Drug use is another common negative coping mechanism. When I say drugs, I include Alcohol. The only difference between the two is one is socially acceptable in this country. People turn to drugs for comfort and escape because they are instantaneous and effective. Not all drug use is for these purposes however. Some people use drugs for fun, others for religious reasons. We aren’t talking about them however, we’re here to talk about the ones who use drugs because they had a bad day. The ones who get high because they can’t handle the stress of their everyday lives. These people have negative coping mechanisms with long term consequences.
Trouble With Coping
One of the major problems with this coping method is that while it is extremely effective at first, eventually it becomes a major problem in its own right. Then, you need a way to cope with the original problems There are others with co occuring disorders such as schizophrenia that face twice the battle, addiction and mental illness. AND the problem that the drug addiction has become, not to mention any problems that may have resulted from the drug abuse, like imprisonment, illness, debt, and so forth. Drug abuse is a temporary negative solution that can have serious consequences down the road.
Another way people negatively cope with their issues is by overeating. I am currently dealing with this and have to learn a new way to relate to food. It’s different than dealing with drug use because I don’t have get high to live, but I do have to eat and therefore cannot completely avoid it, like I can with drug abuse. I am learning that it isn’t just my coping mechanism that needs to change, it is my entire relationship with food. I need to stop seeing food as a reward and attaching significance to it as something other than stored energy.
It is that added significance that is a large part of the problem. I use it to celebrate, to mourn, to fight boredom, to reward, and I have even used it to punish myself. Food is my one remaining vice. I have given up drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. I have restricted my religious practices and rituals to conform with the norms of the people around me and so that I can have a safe place to live and good job. Giving up this last vice is going to be difficult and if I’m not careful, I will replace it with another after giving it up.
The staff at Lifescape Solutions are very effective at removing old coping skills and patterns and replacing them with positive new ones. Mike “the Motivator” Ross teaches and speaks about how to do this almost every day. He engages clients and encourages discussion during his classes and won’t hesitate to let you know if you need to work harder. Mike is like a Coach on a sports team, he teaches strategies and pushes his “players” to work hard and do their best and is always happy to celebrate their success and support them in their struggles.