Coping Mechanisms

Dealing with Negative Emotion

Range of Negative Emotions we all experience
Range of negative emotions we all experience

In Ireland many of us certainly have little understanding or got the manual on how to process our emotions.  There is little doubt this is why alcohol has played such a big role in our evolution. Imagine how many lives would be different if hurt people didn’t hurt others – or themselves.

This post is the second of three posts that explains how we get in our own way and how we can overcome our emotional blocks. Check out the first post What’s Stopping You? Why Us Humans Need To Process Our Emotions

There are typically 5 coping mechanisms, which one is yours?

  1. Numbing – excesses in the following areas – so over-…eating, drinking, sex, working, drugs, social media, spending money, exercising.  These are numbing techniques to avoid feeling something uncomfortable.  This is where addictions are created.  The issue you try to avoid does not go away but waits for you on the other side…now you have 2 problems instead of the one you started with!
    For example: if you reach for the goodies each time you feel sad, for comfort or to obey that negative voice in your head now you have a potential weight/health problem to add to your woes.
  2. Be Strong – my own personal favourite, at an early age I realised I could only rely on myself for emotional support. This involves pushing through the emotion, suppressing it to be able to keep going, not acknowledging your needs, feelings and putting on a mask.  The problem with this is it doesn’t enable self-expression.  The more you ‘be strong’ the less practice you get at being authentic, speaking your truth and being vulnerable. Being strong requires a lot of energy which could be better spent letting those closest to you be closer.
  3. Distraction is an exercise in avoiding discomfort.  Resulting in getting busy, refocusing your attention and energy on a holiday, project, painting the shed. Something else so you don’t have to feel and deal with the pain.
  4. Self-Imposed Positivity – not allowing oneself space to acknowledge disappointment and uncomfortable emotion by side-lining it with affirmations and positive thinking. No acknowledging, no processing, no awareness so no healing.
  5. Spirituality – Similar to the above and can involve dispelling one’s emotion by channeling energy into meditation, prayer, skipping to the lesson learned rather than acknowledging how we feel. Skipping over the opportunity to uncover our truth, expansion and the rewarding growth.

Triggers / Coping Mechanisms
When we find ourselves in emotionally difficult times and/or are triggered and don’t understand why – we reach for our coping mechanism of choice to help us avoid the emotional discomfort. This can result in unhealthy and sometimes addictive behaviour that only parks the emotion for a later time. And the cycle continues, round and round, holding on to the past and unable to free yourself.

People come to coaching to achieve a goal and/or for change.  Some of those things that hold us back from achieving our goals are our conscious/subconscious thoughts, outdated belief systems, cultural influences, negative self-talk, stories we tell ourselves, a lack of boundaries. It is part of the coach’s remit to help the client with their clarity to see what is happening and perspective to enable them to get past it, which, with some awareness and attention they always can. Life is full of ups and downs and there is little we can do about that but we can control how we respond to it and our own thoughts.

In Post 3 I will give you 10 x Ways To Process Your Negative Emotions. If this and my previous post on Emotions made you think, do yourself a favour and check the last post in this series. We are responsible for our own happiness and being aware of how you process your emotions is one step closer to your best life and one of your own design.

Choose coaching, it will change your life.

Tracy O’Keeffe
not a writer, just passionate about coaching

Accredited Executive & Life Coach
Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience
QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice & Ethics

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