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Coping Skills: Reality and Expectations

How many times has a client walked into a therapists office, only to be disappointed by the conversation of coping skills. We have it all the time and sooooooooo many of my clients tell me they don’t work or that they can use them for a while but slip back into behaviors.

Why? Why does this happen? It’s a big cycle of failure and frustration.

First, let’s talk about expectations. We often want the coping skills we are using to have the same effect as the behavior we are trying to stop, like binging, purging, using, etc. Well, let me be the one to burst your bubble. Coping skills will not give you the same feeling that doing heroin and B&P does. They just won’t. If you are expecting to disappear for a while, like you do with a behavior, then you are doomed to disappointment.

Coping skills do, however, give you the ability do deal with and effectively address the trigger that made you want to use a behavior in the first place. In that way, coping skills actually address the problem at hand. They do not give you the vacation that you are looking for but they will help you solve the problem.

You have to have the correct expectations of coping skills.

 

And, second, you have to practice coping skills. As the name implies, they are skills. You have to learn them and get good at them. No one, anywhere, has ever just been a professional. It doesn’t just happen. You have to learn them and then practice them. It will take time, patience, motivation and all of those other things that allow you to learn.

 

Coping skills are not the magic trick we all hope for but they will allow you to live life on life’s terms. You will learn to let go of things you cannot control and manage the things you can. In doing so, you can find out your real strengths and purpose. It’s hard, but worth it.

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