But, before I cover some of these major coping mechanisms, I want to add right now, that if you identify yourself as using a coping mechanism, or even a few, please remove all judgment on yourself around it.
A coping mechanism is often the best solution we come up with, in order to survive something that would be otherwise completely overwhelming, mentally, emotionally, or physically.
In the dearth of true healing, coping mechanisms can be the "crutch" that gets you to the metaphorical hospital.
And, based on other things that are occurring in your life, choosing or using a coping mechanism to "get by" may be EXACTLY what is needed, until a better opportunity presents itself to go into deeper healing.
It's what we use before we're ready to move BEYOND THE WOUND.
So please, once again, remove judgment that you are "right or wrong", "good or bad" for using a coping mechanism.
Accept yourself exactly where you are right now, as that is one of the first foundations for true healing.
Similarly, if you identify someone you love using coping mechanisms, try and release judgment on them as well.
Often they are "doing the best they can", with the limited resources they have, too.
The most significant indicator of a coping mechanism is that there is some element of CONTROL in how it operates, because its primary function is to keep CHARGE at bay - suppressed, locked, frozen, unconscious, untouched.
When I describe a coping mechanism as "positive or negative", I am basing that on how generally it's perceived by society, or culturally.
"NEGATIVE" COPING MECHANISMS
These are the more obvious "Bad Guys" of behaviour.
The destructive outcomes for "negative" coping mechanisms, tend to show up more easily, because the behavior is illegal, or not socially acceptable, or the experience itself is painful, and suffering based.
A "negative" coping mechanism might send someone into a healing "crisis" more quickly than a "positive" coping mechanism which can be managed longer because of their "rightness".
"Negative" addictions and "entertainments"
Drugs (hard and habitual), alcoholism, smoking, sex/porn, gambling.
Dangerous, or illegal, thrill seeking (eg shoplifting, breaking and entering)
Destructiveness (breaking things, setting fires, vandalism, anti-social criminality)
Stress, worry, anxiety, depression, overthinking, hyper vigilance, mood swings, phobias, paranoia, delusion, escapism, reactiveness, unhealthy fantasy and projection, suicidal ideation.
Anorexia/bulimia, OCD, cutting, masochism.
Plastic surgery, and body modification, addiction.
Manipulation, blocked empathy, narcissism, sadism.
Isolating, pushing friends and loved ones away, being a "lock in".
Relationship sabotage, cheating, intriguing, volatility.
Mental, emotional, physical, verbal, sexual, abuse cycles (victim or perpetrator).
Blockages to mental, emotional and sexual intimacy.
Spacing out, fidgeting, avoidance, checking out.
Ghosting, abandonment cycles.
Racism, xenophobia, bullying, violence.
Moodiness, sulking, being anti-social.
Chronic pain, disease, physical stress and tension.
Intentionally, or unconsciously, bringing physical harm to self.
Accident prone, lack of coordination, clumsiness.
We don't usually think of such "negative" behaviors as a coping mechanism, but many of these behaviors are "designed" to avoid deeply painful, scorching, emotions that feel like they will "destroy or kill us" if experienced.
As uncomfortable and undesirable as they are, they are often still the best option at the time of adoption.
"POSITIVE" COPING MECHANISMS
In and of themselves, there is no issue with many of these activities or behaviors, and some of them are very positive.
But when they are used with compulsion, they may be keeping CHARGE in a suppressed state, and preventing true "recovery" from a wound.
With "positive" coping mechanisms, there is often a "have to" about it i.e. it MUST be done, as opposed to it being included in balance with other elements of life.
"Positive" addictions and "entertainments"
Workaholism, exercise, travel, gaming, watching sport, television, reading, shopping, extreme sports.
"Chasing the likes" on social media.
Constant socializing, continuous dating.
"Keeping busy" ALL THE TIME!
Activism, charity work, fighting for causes.
Obsessive cleaning, dieting, training, supplement and food "management", face and body modification.
Obsessive with hair and makeup, clothing, and presentation.
A-type over achieving.
Enforcement of rules and codes of behavior on self, and others.
Being the "best me" AT ALL TIMES.
Unforgiving self discipline in any pursuit.
Setting unrealistically high standards for self, and others.
Being "good all the time".
Being right ALL THE TIME
Thought policing, and controlling, self, and others, for "good", "right", "moral", "spiritual" and other "righteous" reasons.
Always "taking charge" to make sure "everything works out for everyone".
Mind-based "strategies" to get desired responses, and reactions.
Over planning, and controlling, all details of anything, and everything.
Constant mental "future predicting", or "obsessing over the past", instead of staying in the moment.
Inflexibility, intolerance, single mindedness.
Doing everything, for everyone, ALL THE TIME.
Generosity, and giving, with attachment, or motivations.
Creating hard boundaries for the purpose of controlling emotional impact, or to prevent triggering.
Distancing, taking space.
Ending relationships that challenge belief structures, or "the way things should be".
Limiting input from others.
Never expressing opinions.
Being polite, but not truthful.
Talking to others about someone, instead of addressing them directly, venting, letting off steam, gossiping.
Never being alone, requiring constant attention.
Needing to get your way ALL THE TIME.
Joking/laughing things off.
Never "rocking the boat".
Using subtle physical tension to prevent reactions, and responses, in the body being felt.
Smiling, or acting neutral, when upset.
Shrugging it all off.
Prescription drugs for mental, emotional, and physical pain relief.
"Fixing" of a chronic physical issue using ONLY physical, Western-based, medicine level like surgery, or medication.
Self help, or therapies, that are "strategy" or "control" based.
Spirituality, or religion, that bypasses deep personal healing and reflection.
Creative outlets that help express thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Positive thinking, and behavior, ALL THE TIME
Psychic and tarot readings when in a crisis, and focused solely on future outcomes, and predictions.
Ultimately, "positive" coping mechanisms can be reframed as "pitstops". Temporary, and often helpful solutions, to "handle things".
Sometimes they even help us "let go" a bit, or disperse some of the charge we're holding onto.
However, compulsive use, and attachment to them, can become debilitating, or bring about other areas of imbalance.
Or you may be left feeling, one part of yourself is always at war with another, in order "to be good".
Mostly they are a distraction from accessing, and FULLY DISPERSING CHARGE, and their focus tends to be external.
I HAVE A LOT OF COPING MECHANISMS. WHAT NOW?
As you went through the lists were you able identify coping mechanisms you habitually use?
If you did, again, please don't judge yourself.
Many of these coping mechanisms are the "best solutions" you had at the time you developed them, even the "bad ones".
And if you feel these behaviors are just a "part of life", you are right. Almost everyone is coping with something challenging, or difficult, in their lives.
We are a world constructed of "coping", rather than "thriving" in psychologically, physically, and spiritually free states.
The questions you want to ask yourself now are -
Am I ready to explore a new possibility for my life?
One that is BEYOND THE WOUND, and the coping mechanisms I've created to deal with it.
What would life be like without the "expense" of my coping mechanisms?
Many coping mechanisms are costly, in either time, money, mental, emotional and physical energy.
What other experience might fill that space?
Often we don't even know what reality would look like without these compulsive behaviors, because they have been with us for so long, and are so deeply embedded in the sense of self.
Who am I without my coping mechanisms?
The possibilities can be quite exciting and intimidating at the same time.
To the Mind that created it, developing a "coping mechanism" is often a "matter of survival".
Our deep programming about them can make us, very reluctant, and even extremely fearful, about letting them go.
Even when they don't serve us, or bring us more harm.
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