As parents, doesn’t it seems like every day presents itself with some reason to use some coping strategy?
Dr. Shefali Tsabari has said, “You have to see the beauty of what your children are doing for you. They’re here to lambast your ego into smithereens.”
Just today — the day I’m writing this — I spent two and a half hours at Costco with my four children trying to convince my 3-year old to pick out some glasses. She still refused, and let the whole store know she was not interested. We left the store with two of my children screaming because they did not get something they wanted.
Coping with stress, disappointment, failure, sorrow, pain, and suffering are skills that involve conscientiousness, patience, and knowledge. It is just as important for us to learn how to cope with stress and disappointment as it is for our kids to learn! In fact, we model the type of coping behaviors our kids will pick up. But, it requires that we learn what skills are available for us to use in situations when we would normally want to shut down, or have an anxiety attack. The resilience to cope with the struggles of life are like a muscle that need to be strengthened.
Over the last ten years, Michael and I have had to use a lot of different coping strategies — some more healthy than others. Between financial woes, underemployment, growing our family, loneliness, depression, schooling; you name it, we might have been dealing with it! Though, thankfully, we didn’t endure a major tragedy, we had some very low lows, and many deep wounds and sorrows.
Our go-to coping mechanism is eating out! Not so good for the cholesterol, or the budget. We have totally become fast-food snobs, and are kind of particular! HA!
We also like to distract ourselves with some dramedy (or just comedy) shows: Psych is our favorite, and Avatar: The Last Airbender (no kidding)! We have watched both series multiple times over the years!
When we were new parents, we tried every silly trick to get our daughter to stay asleep. We bounced, we paced, we soothed. We put her in the swing, and then her carseat, and then we had to pick up the carseat and rock it. Then we found ourselves driving around at 1:00 AM to get her to fall asleep. She became so dependent on us soothing her to sleep that if I was not holding her, she would scream! We were not using effecting coping strategies for her.
Over these past ten years, I’ve learned a lot about real coping strategies because I know that as soothing as it is to escape, or be dependent on something to console us, it doesn’t always cut it. Plus, we can’t self-medicate for forever. There are really just two ways of dealing with the discomfort of stress, pain, frustration, and trial:
destructively, or constructively.
Coping by numbing, distraction, self-medication, binging, or lashing out is destructive. Yet, don’t we all try coping by using stimulants, or depressants, social media browsing, food, media, or retail therapy? Eventually, these things will not only NOT solve the problem, but begin to create a whole NEW problem to cope with!
While some distraction (used in moderation) is probably good, most of us have taken our unhealthy coping mechanism to an addictive level. Addiction carries with it a myriad of problems. I cannot say whether the constructive strategies I’m going to suggest can or will cure an addiction, but they are hopefully a step in the right direction.
Once I started realizing that I was going to need to figure out some real ways to cope, I started doing my research. I started reading a lot of personal development books, and parenting books, in search of answers. I have read a lot of inspiring books that I have added to my repertoire over the years. I have learned about many ways to cope with the suffering life brings.
For a while, I turned to exercise and taking better care of my body, and actually lost 50 pounds. I learned about the power of meditation, and setting personal boundaries. I learned how to help my children self-soothe to get to sleep that did not involve “crying it out.” And, I’m learning about the power of letting go of judgement and loving myself, and my kids for who they are.
Starting the “Home and Family Culture” podcast was also a way for me to do research, and cope with stress and loneliness. I have learned so much from my guests, and talking with them about something so important has been inspiring, and empowering.
Ultimately, it’s a choice. We have the freedom to act upon our lives, rather than sit back and allow life to walk all over us. We have the ability to choose our responses, even when it is difficult. Most of our choices or responses are simply based on habit. If we can change our habits, we can change the outcome of our behaviors and beliefs.
Believe it or not, I have come up with 30 powerful resources to add to your toolbox of constructive coping strategies, and I want to make a challenge of it! For 30 days, I want to explore, and discuss these 30 different constructive coping strategies. The challenge will be begin August 5, 2018, and end on Labor Day. I will be posting updates on Instagram.
My posts will have some detail in the captions, and more detail in IGTV, but if you subscribe to the email challenge, there will be a ton of detail, and links for more resources on each skill.
When one of the strategies does inspire you, post about it in your stories, and tag me @familyculturepodcast, so I can reshare it, and inspire more people. You can also use the hashtag #familycopingskills to connect with other families who are learning to cope with life’s obstacles!