An inability to cope is not caused by an inherent internal personal weakness. It is the circumstances in life that cause us to learn to cope poorly with emotions.
Fortunately, this inability to cope with emotions does not have to be sticky. it is helpful that we realize that this inability was something we learnt as a result of circumstances in life. It is not something inherent in our nature. It is not something we are stuck with.
The belief that we are somehow doomed to the negative effects of distressing emotions on its own is enough to cripple anybody. This belief drives the relationship we have with negative emotions.
Our beliefs about negative emotions can either makes us fight with emotions almost as though we are being drowned or make us give up coping with emotions because we believe we have no chance of surviving them.
The irony is that everybody can learn to cope with emotions given the opportunity to learn how. Really, this is no different from how we learn other skills like riding a bike, learning to fry an egg, or driving a car.
A major difficulty though is that emotions tend to be abstract in nature and do not tend to follow similar rules as physical things. This can be a source of confusion for many and is often why people get stuck in revolving negative cycles.
Once these rules are understood, it becomes easy for us to recognise what we need to do to work better with our emotions. This helps us to develop a sense of hope for our future.
Another difficulty is that, In order to learn how to cope with emotions, we all need to learn some basic coping skills from other people around us. So if those around us don’t know how to cope properly themselves, or if they have a tendency to be hostile towards us when we need to learn to cope, we don’t stand a good chance of learning effectively.
1. Here are some situations that may lead to a feeling of not being able to cope. (This is not an exhaustive list)
2. Growing up in environments where no one comforts us when we are distressed.
3. Growing up in an enviroments where comforting gestures from other's have been used to abuse us or take advantage of us.
4. An I cannot cope any more feeling may result from parents, loved ones or school mates punishing us, or ridiculing us for showing any sign of distress.
5. Parent, loved ones or friends rushing immediately to our aid whenever we experience any distress no matter how small the distress is. (causes us to lose confidence in our own selves)
6. An I cannot cope any more feeling may result from being criticized by others all the time. We end up becoming experts at self-criticism in order to avoid criticism from others.
7. Parent’s or loved ones making all decisions for us. (Leads to loss of self-confidence and an anxious personality)
8. Parents have an anxious personality themselves.
Having all these experiences can act as an opening to experiencing more stress related problems, hense the conclusion I can't cope anymore.
To begin the process of learning how to cope with stress and emotions, we need to be able to acknowledge where our inability to cope came from. Doing this allows us to give ourselves the permission to learn what we need to learn in order to become better at coping.
Ready to learn some techniques for improving your ability to cope?
Click here to learn about coping with anxiety.
Click here to learn about coping with depression.
Click here to learn about coping with anger difficulties.