Do Coping Mechanisms Always Come Back to Bite Us?

Posted on by John Olesnavage


Coping mechanisms are attitudes and behaviors we rely on to deal with stress and mediate life’s circumstances. They will always cause us more problems than they started out helping to the extent that they are efforts to deny or avoid real issues.  Why?  Because denial and avoidance only work for periods of time, then the fear grows stronger and the coping mechanisms themselves bring unwanted  consequences.

Think about the times you tried to “wait” for things to get better, and refused to take action even though the issue persisted.  Like the toothache that surfaces “once in awhile,” when you finally get to the point of taking action, you now have two problems not one.  You have the original problem, and you also have new problems brought on by the coping strategy.  How many people ignore real relationship problems until their better half walks out on them?  I have lost count of the number of clients who been forced to face that reality and lament “I know I can change, but she said it is just too late.”

It is difficult to admit when our strategies are not working.  At times we purposefully cling to things we know are not working rather than change.  We rationalize that staying stuck is better than the possibility of losing face and stepping up to real change.

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