Let's Talk About Coping

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           Whether we realize it or not we use coping strategies everyday.  Some maybe as subtle as sleeping in to avoid the traffic, or procrastinating on a project or term paper due (guilty) hoping it will just do it itself.  It is when our unhealthy habits become a problem with our normal daily routine is when we need a change.  Our skills, routine or what we think is working needs to be looked at.  Is this beneficial for me is this getting me where I want to be, am I seeing bad consequences from these decisions?  These are just some of the questions we need to ask ourselves if we aren’t where we want to be. 

            Coping skills, strategies, or techniques have a couple of common threads that can be applied to just about any disorder; anxiety, anger, alcohol abuse or any other issue you may be going through.  These common denominators are physical, emotional and spiritual.  Each of these play an important role in our being, not equally though, and at times we will need one more than another depending on where we are at and what we are experiencing.  Let’s take a look at each of these and how we can improve our understanding of how these play a role in dealing with our issues.



            This to me seems like the simplest of the three.  We can take a greater sense of control as for our outcome.  In this area we can look at exercise, eating healthy, better sleep patterns, staring a hobby, meditation, breathing exercise, muscle relaxation, the list can go on and on.  Some call this creating a diversion or distracting techniques.   Depending on where you are at will depend on what you may need to do to achieve your goal.  This area while it seems so simple it takes time and effort to eventually see the results.  We all make a New Years Eve pledge to lose weight and get healthier and by the time February roles around we are done going to the gym.  Getting out and just doing something even if it is as simple as 15 minute walk each day is the first step in healing.



            Our emotions are based on experiences good and bad, unfortunately it is the bad ones that tend to stick with us longer.  That is why this area takes some time and possible some additional help from others who are trained in the helping industry.  Things we can do to have a better emotional control is to create some social support.  This can be daily like and accountability person you can vent to or a weekly team like Celebrate Recovery.  Crisis support can help when your emotions and feelings get out of hand and this can be in the form of pastoral care, a sponsor, or talking to someone from your inner circle of friends.  .  Our thoughts, feelings and emotions are usually the first step in our own demise.  If we can learn to recognize our thoughts for what they are, where they have originated from and learn to talk through our emotions, we will have taken a big step towards understanding. This can be done through Socratic questioning or keeping a thoughts journal.



            While I would love to preach to here at this stage I know everyone has a different idea as to what his or her god may look like.   The spiritual idea that I would like to get across is that we have some sort of deity to place our hope, our faith and our trust in.  This god is something greater than ourselves that has the power to change, but we have a part in gaining this changing power.  In order for me to receive my God’s mercy and grace I need to do a couple of things.  I will use the acrostic ASK here.  A is for the asking.  I need to ask for God’s strength and discernment for the things I am going through.  S is for seeking.  I need to Seek Him.  This means I need to pray, read my bible, meditate on His word, get to church, and/or attend a small group, whatever it takes to find that hope I need.  K is for knocking.  He is knocking on my front door want to come into my life and all I need to do is have faith in Him and open that door.  Yea ok I preached a little bit but I hope you get the idea.   Find a god or the God to help you with the things you are struggling with.             In conclusion we have to ask ourselves, am what I am doing getting me where I want to be?  Maybe I need to create some healthier habits, maybe I need to examine what, or who is actually affecting me, or do I need help from something bigger than myself?  In the book of John chapter 21 Jesus asks his disciples how they did fishing all night.  They replied, “Our boat is empty teacher”.  Jesus instructs them to throw the nets on the other side of the boat.  They expressed their doubt and grumbled but did as the teacher asked.  Nets ripped from all the fish.  If what you are doing is not working “try the other side of the boat”.  Try something different!

Mark Holloway, LPC