Coping When the “You-Know-What” Hits the Fan
Life being life, there will be unpleasantries. There are just those things either stressful or upsetting or aggravating that come our way. What do we do? How do we cope? There will of course be some things, so overwhelming, we either shut down or want to run away. But is that helpful? Typically, no.
Running from that which we might be better off facing means it will likely still be there when we get back. Indeed, upon return, it may be even bigger, worse. That running from the source of distress we refer to as “avoidant coping”. Truth is, that is the primary coping style of some folks and with that, they are forever dogged by unresolved issues. Therein is the problem. Those things we don’t address, they remain, loom and may worsen.
So if not running, then what? “Active coping.” Active coping is about making choices. It is about addressing the source of distress such that there is some resolution. That resolution may be emotional, in that we somehow adjust to matters affecting us or it may be about affecting some sort of change to limit the effect or impact of the issue.
Here’s the thing. If you are inclined towards avoidant coping, the thought of addressing the source of distress, either emotionally or through some sort of action, may be difficult to swallow. It may be scary. Then what? That is when one moves towards some sort of coping strategy to minimize the desire to run.
To do that:
- Start by realizing when you are even triggered to avoid. Just recognize the urge. With that little piece of recognition, then seek to soothe yourself before taking off. Just try to find your calm.
- To find your calm, you may rely on meditation or simply thinking about pleasant memories, even though faced with something scary. The including and then replacing of scary thoughts with those that are pleasant, helps counteract the urge to take flight. Want to know if that really works? Give it a go right now… think about that peaceful time when…. You may already find yourself a little more at ease!
- Once in a calmer state, then think about your emotional response and/or any action you wish to take to address the issue. The secret to this stage is first finding that calmer place. Our brain simply works better when not concentrating on mere survival.
Active coping then is all about remaining in the moment, monitoring our response, calming ourselves and from there making better choices coming from a better place. Active Coping vs Avoidant coping. One has you mired in ongoing distress. The other may lead to a sense of freedom.
Have you been avoidant? Well then. Give this a try!
Need more help with this, that is when therapy may be of assistance. Your therapist can help with this process.