Healing vs. Coping // Breaking the Cycles
A vast number of us live in a state of coping. You may think that once you have been through trauma or have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or any number of different conditions, your goal is just to manage them for the rest of your life. Living this way puts you in a constant mindset of coping.
Coping skills are not bad. In fact, they are very necessary in any mental health journey. However, a cornerstone belief for one of our purposeful partners, The Sanctuary, is that we do not have to live in a continual state of coping with issues; in many cases we can live freely in a state of healing. Many of the issues and patterns we experience can be healed, not merely coped with. This certainly takes work, sometimes more work than if we settle with living in a state of coping. In counseling, we often discover patterns of thought, patterns of relating to others, and patterns of reacting to certain situations. Recognizing those negative patterns in our lives, acknowledging our feelings, and discovering the roots of how we would typically think, relate, or respond is step one. Then, instead of choosing old patterns we choose to think, relate, or respond in a healthy way.
Let’s look at a silly, but very real example. Our best friend or significant other doesn’t respond quickly to a funny video we sent and as a result we have all of these negative thoughts caused by abandonment wounds and anxious attachment styles. In this situation our pattern may be to overthink and get anxious because, “What if they don’t like me anymore?” “What if that upset them?” “What if I did something to make them mad at me?” Although we know these thoughts aren’t logical, the wounds in our past have created this pattern of overthinking and relational anxiety. Instead of giving into this pattern we can choose, although difficult at first, to breathe and think “They must be busy,” “I wonder if they are having a rough day,” or “I should really go do the dishes.” When you choose a different way of thinking, it literally rewires your brain, forming new pathways. This allows you to begin practicing new, healthier patterns. It isn’t a quick fix, but over time, transformation and healing is possible.
A pastor once said "start looking for the One Day W-I-N.” He defined this as “What’s Important Now.” When we are fighting to change harmful patterns that have developed, sometimes over years and years, we have to look at the “One Day WIN.” How can you pull out a win today? Is choosing to hold to a boundary even if it means losing a relationship? Is it pausing your brain and changing a thought? Is it checking your intention before you do something to avoid people pleasing? Is it choosing to notice and acknowledge a red flag in your new boyfriend that you have seen in your past 3 narcissistic and abusive partners? These wins may seem small, but they can be giant steps on your healing journey, bringing you one step closer to experiencing the one day when you don’t overthink as much, the one day when depression doesn’t grip you, the one day when you have a healthy relationship, or the one day when your anxiety isn’t crippling.