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The Problem with Coping Skills

https://nickwignall.com/against-coping-skills/

nickwignall.com

The Problem with Coping Skills

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Opting For Quick Emotional Fixes

Opting For Quick Emotional Fixes

When people are dealing with a problem, they usually opt for a quick solution, an instant relief that can help them cope up with their anxiety, depression or anger.

Many people follow the pill-popping school of thought, focusing on quick-fix methods and do not look at the long-term implications of the short cuts taken to suppress the mental struggles. But eradicating the problem from the root requires a different approach than these ‘relief’ based techniques.

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Going To The Root Of Emotional Problems

Many people take the outward symptoms as the actual problem and think that by fixing the symptom they are fixing the underlying problem too, which is entirely false. Example: Popping pain medication in case of a headache is not the right thing to do if the headaches are increasingly common and severe, as it may be due to some other stress-related problem.

Suppressing or window-dressing the problem will only make it worse. A holistic approach is to dig into the root cause of the problem, which initially may require us to feel worse before we can feel any better.

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Behavioural Activation

This is a method that makes us forcibly do pleasurable and meaningful activities to deliberately feel better, something that can help with depression.

Initially, the person who is suffering may feel worse about the activity he is being forced to do, but once the initial resistance is overcome the person feels better.

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Avoiding The Addiction To Quick Emotional Fixes

Coping skills or ‘band-aid’ quick-relief methods do have their place as they are effective in the ‘now’, something that most people seem to want.

What makes us feel instantly better now, more often than not is addictive and eventually makes us feel far worse in the future. Much like the car emergency brake, coping skills should be used sparingly.

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Grumpiness

Grumpiness

Grumpiness can be defined as a bad mood that tends to last from several hours to a few days.

What we can not really explain is why we are grumpy: there is usually no reason which we ca...

What causes grumpiness

Grumpiness can be caused by many factors, among which:

  • An unfulfilled psychological need: one way to avoid this is by clearly expressing your needs and, eventually, taking some actions in order to accomplish them.
  • An unrealistic high expectation: make sure you check your expectations on a regular basis, so you can always have realistic and achievable ones.
  • The lack of self-compassion: if you have a negative attitude towards yourself, you are most likely going to feel at least grumpy.

Meta-grumpiness

Meta-grumpiness can be explained as the fact of being grumpy because you are grumpy.

Once you have noticed that you are feeling grumpy, this makes you feel even more grumpy, as you tend to become critical of yourself being grumpy.

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Experiencing Panic Attacks

Experiencing Panic Attacks
  • Around 15 to 30 percent of us experience a panic attack at least once in our lives, which is essentially our body’s emergency response system.
  • Sym...

Understanding The Panic Cycle

There are three reactions that the body produces when in the grip of a panic attack:

  1. Catastrophic or danger-oriented thoughts, which fuel the feeling of fear.
  2. Physical symptoms, like sudden racing of the heart.
  3. An urge to escape.

Panic And The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) region of the brain is activated during a panic attack, and two opposing components get to work as needed:

  1. The Sympathetic Nervous System: Releases adrenaline and other hormones to help with the ‘fight or flight’ response.
  2. The Parasympathetic system: Calms the body and is mostly activated when one is relaxed.

Disturbing Thoughts

We all have thoughts going on in our heads all the time, stories, reimagining of the past, beliefs and ideas. Many of these thoughts are not in our direct control and can show up in our consciousne...

Suppressing Our Thoughts: The Pink Elephant

Many studies show that thought suppression leads to the mind paying extra and frequent attention to the particular thought that is being suppressed, causing it to ‘rebound’ and become the dominant thought.

Example: Telling the brain to not think of a pink elephant conjures up the image of a pink elephant automatically for most people.

Disturbing Thoughts: The Limits Of Therapy

Many psychotherapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) only touch the surface of the problem, not the origin of the disturbing thought.

Though simply having those unwanted intrusive thoughts does not automatically mean that those will be acted upon, as most people are simply terrified of having such thoughts.