Toxic Coping Mechanisms

As people, we all have times in our lives where we struggle to get by. At these points, even getting through the next moment can be gruelling, and you may even feel like you can’t cope with your situation, or emotions attached to it. Finding ways to deal with these challenges is imperative to being able to live a wholesome life, but not all coping mechanisms are created equally.

I, for one, struggled with self harm for many years. While it may have helped me cope in the moment, the scars and hospital stays show that it wasn’t the ideal solution. Another means I used to cope was smoking cigarettes. Even now, I want to kick the habit, but it never seems to feel like the right time. From what Dad used to say, it will probably never feel like the right time. While there may be no outward signs of harm, we are all far too aware of the damage that smoking does to the body.

Others I know of have turned to drugs as a form of regulation and emotional management. I could sit here and spiel about how it is illegal and wrong and bad but, for those individuals, it was the only thing that kept them together during dark times. For those I know who have overcome addiction, I am so so proud.

A coping mechanism isn’t always a bad thing, if it is safe and used correctly. It is important that this mechanism doesn’t become a crutch that is used instead of working through the underlying issues. As an example, a person who goes for a quick jog when they’re angry is using a healthy coping mechanism, that will do their body good and help reduce stress levels. However, if they do this for each emotion but never actually address it, that is still not doing the mind any good. On top of this, some people end up becoming addicted to their means of coping, or even partaking in activities to the point of physical exhaustion, as a means of avoidance.

Consider the coping mechanisms you currently have within your life. How effective are they really? Is there any risk of harm associated with them? Are you actively trying to sort out the problem that led to you needing a mechanism in the first place?

By asking yourself these questions, you can figure out if your current methods are truly working, or if it might be time to find something that is far more beneficial.


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