Not all coping skills are healthy ones. Over time, we can develop ways of dealing with something unpleasant that appear to help us in the moment, but in fact may contribute to our overall feelings of defeat.
Two coping skills we may want to avoid include:
- Pretending you don’t care. We have all done it or heard someone say it. When we feel as though we don’t have control over a situation, or feel exasperated, we can exclaim “I don’t care anymore.” When in fact, we do. Pretending that you don’t care is an attempt to convince yourself or others that it doesn’t matter to you what the outcome is. When in fact, it does. Pretending that you don’t care is often an underhanded attempt to get the other person to change their behaviour. It’s results are always temporary.
- Blaming other people. When something doesn’t work out the way we wanted it to, or we are feeling crummy about a particular situation, we can often blame someone else for our misfortune. When we blame others, we are able to divert our attention to an external cause, completely bypassing our own culpability; and therefore; our own solution. “It’s never my fault” can be a slippery slope into the poor me cycle – a place we don’t want to call home.
Both of these coping skills are ones meant to protect our vulnerability. It is an attempt to build a wall quickly; to guard ourselves from feeling the pain and futility of a challenging moment. By using either of these methods, we run the risk of them becoming habitual. We want, instead, to be able to process our emotions and to communicate clearly with others how we are feeling. We can aim to take responsibility for ourselves by first acknowledging how this situation is upsetting to us, and what we can do about it to help alleviate the discomfort. We may not be able to change the situation completely, but we can manage our own choices within it.
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