Coping mechanisms

In my last post I talked about back up therapist asking me about the range of coping mechanisms I’ve used throughout my life. Diligent as I am, I did the homework she set.

Here’s my list – things that back up therapist would say are my “strengths” because I couldn’t have got to this point in life without them. The trick, she said, is knowing which ones to draw on and when. And not flogging any single strategy – that’s where we get stuck and where things come undone.

  • Putting my head down and just getting on with the job at hand
  • Using the yoga breathing technique to get through stressful situations (eg, at the dentist)
  • Repeating mantras, like “The anticipation is usually more traumatic than the act itself”
  • Putting things out of my mind (eg, stressful work events that are two weeks away)
  • Planning for events and preparing myself to within an inch of my life (eg, for job interviews)
  • Limiting the time I “have to” do something (eg, social situations, telling myself to go for a couple of hours and then allowing myself an escape route)
  • “Checking out” mentally (eg, at the gynaecologist)
  • Using medication, but in a healthy way (eg, taking valium when I fly)
  • Using natural alternatives, like Rescue Remedy (especially at work – I drink it by the gallon)
  • Talking myself through stressful situations (eg, telling myself that flying is safer than driving; that I’ve done it before and can do it again; that it will be ok)
  • Using humour, usually of the self-deprecating variety
  • “Time contracting” (eg, saying “it’ll be over in two hours” or “this time tomorrow it will be over”)
  • “Time expanding” (eg, saying “stop panicking, it’ll be ok. You’ve got three hours to get those things done”)
  • Panicking and running away (admittedly not exactly productive in most situations)
  • Getting other people to do things for me (eg, I recently bought a birthday gift for a friend and had the shop assistant gift wrap it for me. I was amazed at the amount of pressure this took off me)
  • Drawing support from other people – especially my therapists (both regular and back up), but also friends in the forum and in real life

Of course, I didn’t tell back up therapist about the grossly negative things – self-harming, binge eating, drug use/misuse, alcohol… hey, she’s only the back up therapist; she doesn’t need to know everything, right?

Back up therapist listened and then said, “Where’s the self-soothing in there? I don’t hear anything about self-soothing.”

Hmm. No. There isn’t any, is there?


6 thoughts on “Coping mechanisms

  1. Hi Kerro,

    I would say that the breathing and the remedy drink are both self-soothing. Well they would be for me.

    I think she’s pretty smart. But so are you. Good for you for having a number of skills to use.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  2. Kerro,I really like the changed perspective she gives you. I also think you would benefit from another session before regular T comes back!

  3. Yeah, I think the breathing is self-soothing, too. I wonder what T’s perspective is on that? There must be some reason why she doesn’t put it in a self-soothing category.

    Actually, the time compression thing sounds very self-soothing to me, too.

  4. All the loving self-talk – talking yourself through things – sounds self-soothing to me. And the strategies you didn’t tell her about – some of them are self soothing – okay so there are probably less harmful ways to meet the same needs, but still, probably self-soothing.

  5. Thanks everyone. See today’s post. It might help explain why back up therapist would see these things as “coping mechanisms” rather than self-soothing.

  6. Pingback: On babies and bathwater « Kerro’s Korner

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