How to squash morning depression

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When Survival Skills Turn Toxic

The Danger of Unchecked Coping Strategies And What to Do About This

Imagine waking up every morning with a heavy weight on your chest...

You're struggling to breathe as you prepare yourself for the day.

Your mind races with thoughts of all the possible dangers that await you.

It feels like the world is closing in on you, and your emotions are locked behind a fortress, inaccessible even to those who care about you the most.

This is the reality for many people who have been through painful trauma in their life. You develop dysfunctional habits that morph into chains.

Holding you back from truly enjoying life like you want to.

You might recognize these habits in the friend who can never seem to let their guard down or the coworker who is always on high alert, expecting disaster at every turn.

These dysfunctional habits can feel like an invisible prison, holding you captive and preventing you from fully experiencing life's joys and connections.

The constant state of alertness and emotional armor might leave you feeling drained, isolated, and misunderstood. You might wonder why you can't just "let go" and enjoy life like others seem to do so effortlessly.

But what if I told you that these seemingly unbearable habits are not dysfunctional?

What if I told you that they were actually unique and extremely useful superpowers?

Superpowers that have helped you survive and even thrive in the face of adversity...

Yes, you read that right: superpowers.

It may seem counterintuitive to think of these dysfunctional coping habits as something positive.

However, if we take a step back and look at their origins, we can see that they were born out of necessity and resilience.

They helped us navigate difficult situations, protecting us from harm and providing us with a sense of control when our environment was anything but predictable.

For example, take the person who has developed heightened risk awareness due to an unstable childhood.

Their constant vigilance may have been essential for their survival during a time when danger was a very real possibility. Or consider the individual who has built an impenetrable wall of emotional toughness as a result of experiencing emotional neglect or abuse.

This armor may have been the only thing standing between them and complete emotional devastation.

Why you must reframe your dysfunctional coping habits as super powers

While these coping strategies may no longer be serving us in the same way, Reframing these habits as superpowers, helps us appreciate the resilience and resourcefulness that they represent.

Essentially, although these superpowers may have served you well in the past, it's important to recognize that they can become a double-edged sword.

As you grew older and the circumstances of your life changed, these once-adaptive traits may have transformed into restrictive patterns that now hinder your relationships, happiness, and personal growth.

This shift in perspective can empower you to seek a more balanced approach to coping with life's challenges. By integrating healthier strategies and learning to harness the positive aspects of your superpowers, you can break free from the invisible prison that has held you back and begin to live a more fulfilling and connected life.

What hapens if you don't reframe your dysfunctional coping habits as super powers?

If you choose not to reframe your dysfunctional habits as superpowers, you may miss out on some valuable opportunities for growth and self-improvement.

Reframing these habits as superpowers allows you to view them from a different perspective, helping you recognize their potential benefits while also acknowledging their drawbacks.

Without this reframing, you may continue to view your coping strategies solely as negative or dysfunctional, which can reinforce feelings of shame, guilt, or self-criticism. This mindset might make it more challenging for you to work towards finding a healthy balance between the various coping mechanisms at your disposal.

By reframing your habits as superpowers, you can begin to see the strengths and resilience that have developed as a result of your experiences.

This perspective can foster self-compassion, empower you to take ownership of your healing journey, and motivate you to work on balancing your coping strategies for a more fulfilling and emotionally resilient life.

However, it is essential to remember that reframing alone is not enough; it should be accompanied by practical steps to address the dysfunctional aspects of your coping strategies and work towards healthier alternatives.

Regardless of whether you choose to reframe your habits as superpowers, the key to lasting change is a commitment to self-awareness, personal growth, and a balanced approach to coping with life's challenges.

How to recognise which of your coping strategies have become dysfunctional

Recognizing dysfunctional coping strategies can be challenging, as they often develop over time and become deeply ingrained in our behavior. However, with self-awareness, reflection, and patience, you can learn to identify these habits and work towards finding a healthier balance.

Here are some steps to help you recognize your dysfunctional coping strategies:

  1. Self-observation: Pay close attention to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in various situations. This will help you become more aware of your reactions and identify patterns that may be indicative of dysfunctional coping strategies.
  2. Reflect on your past: Consider the circumstances under which you developed these coping strategies. Reflect on your childhood, past relationships, and significant life events to better understand the origins of these behaviors.
  3. Identify triggers: Recognize the situations, people, or emotions that tend to trigger your dysfunctional coping strategies. This will help you become more mindful of when you're likely to rely on these habits and provide opportunities to make conscious choices about your response.
  4. Analyze the consequences: Consider the short-term and long-term effects of your coping strategies on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being, as well as on your relationships and personal growth. This will help you determine whether these strategies are truly serving you or if they have become dysfunctional.
  5. Seek feedback: Talk to trusted friends, family members, or a mental health professional about your behaviors and coping strategies. They can offer valuable insights and perspectives to help you recognize patterns that may be difficult to see on your own.
  6. Educate yourself: Learn more about coping strategies, their functions, and potential drawbacks. Understanding the theory behind coping mechanisms can help you better identify your own habits and their impact on your life.
  7. Practice self-compassion: Recognizing dysfunctional coping strategies can be an emotional and challenging process. Remember to be patient with yourself and practice self-compassion as you work towards increased self-awareness.

How to balance your coping strategies for better mental health

  1. Balancing dysfunctional coping strategies involves recognizing and addressing the habits that have become maladaptive and incorporating healthier alternatives. Here are some steps to help you balance your coping strategies, along with examples to illustrate the process:
  2. Identify the dysfunctional strategy: First, recognize the specific coping strategy that has become dysfunctional. For example, you may notice that you're using emotional withdrawal as a means to protect yourself from potential criticism or rejection.
  3. Understand the root cause: Reflect on the reasons behind this coping strategy. In the case of emotional withdrawal, it might have been a response to past experiences of criticism, rejection, or emotional pain.
  4. Develop alternative coping strategies: Think about healthier ways to cope with the underlying issues. Instead of withdrawing emotionally, you could practice assertive communication and express your feelings openly and honestly. You could also engage in activities that promote self-awareness and self-compassion, such as journaling, meditation, or therapy.
  5. Challenge negative thoughts: Dysfunctional coping strategies are often rooted in negative thought patterns. Work on identifying and challenging these thoughts to shift your mindset. For example, if you tend to withdraw emotionally because you fear criticism, remind yourself that everyone faces criticism at times, and it doesn't define your worth.
  6. Gradually implement new strategies: Start incorporating healthier coping mechanisms into your daily life. For instance, when you feel the urge to withdraw emotionally, consciously choose to communicate your feelings or thoughts instead. This may feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice, it will become more natural.
  7. Seek support: Talk to friends, family, or a mental health professional about your efforts to balance your coping strategies. They can provide guidance, encouragement, and accountability as you work towards change.
  8. Monitor your progress: Regularly assess your progress and adjust your approach as needed. Be patient with yourself and acknowledge that change takes time and effort.
  9. For example, let's say you have a tendency to rely on emotional toughness to avoid feeling vulnerable. To balance this coping strategy, you could:
  10. Engage in activities that promote emotional vulnerability, such as sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or partner, or attending a support group.
  11. Develop a self-compassion practice, including writing positive affirmations, focusing on your strengths, and forgiving yourself for past mistakes.
  12. Set small, achievable goals for gradually increasing your emotional openness, such as discussing a specific concern with your partner or sharing a personal story with a close friend.

Common traps when learning to balance the use of coping strtegies

As you work on balancing your coping strategies, it's essential to be mindful of potential traps and obstacles that could hinder your progress.

One common trap is falling back into old patterns, as change can be uncomfortable and challenging. It's natural to want to return to familiar behaviors, even if they are dysfunctional.

To overcome this tendency, remind yourself of the reasons behind your desire to change and the benefits of adopting healthier coping mechanisms.

Another obstacle you might encounter is self-doubt and negative self-talk.

When you're trying to change deeply ingrained habits, it's not uncommon to experience feelings of frustration or question your ability to succeed.

To address this issue, practice self-compassion, acknowledge the efforts you've made, and focus on small victories as you progress.

Remember that change takes time and patience.

Additionally, it's important to be aware of the role your environment plays in your coping strategies. Certain situations, people, or triggers might make it more challenging to implement healthier alternatives.

To navigate this obstacle, identify these triggers and develop strategies to manage or minimize their impact.

This could involve setting boundaries, seeking support from friends or family, or finding alternative ways to cope with stress when faced with these triggers.

You should also be mindful of the expectations you set for yourself in this journey.

Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and self-criticism, making it difficult to stay motivated and committed to change.

To avoid this pitfall, establish realistic and achievable goals for balancing your coping strategies, and be prepared to make adjustments along the way.

How to Unleash Your Inner Superhero and Embrace A New World Full of Possibilities

As you embark on the transformative journey towards balancing your coping strategies, remember that change is not only possible but essential for personal growth and healing.

The process may be challenging, but with determination, support, and the right resources, you can create a healthier and more balanced approach to managing stress and overcoming past traumas.

Don't let the obstacles hold you back. Now is the time to take the first step towards embracing a more fulfilling and emotionally resilient life.

And remember, you don't have to do it alone. I invite you to join my upcoming Healing Trauma Challenge on Facebook. This group will bring together individuals who are committed to overcoming past traumas, learning healthier coping strategies, and supporting one another through the journey.

To express your interest and stay updated on the progress of the upcoming challenge, head over to our Facebook page and join the group. Once I have enough participants, we will kick off an inspiring and transformative experience that will help you unleash your inner superhero and embrace the power of change.

Take that first step today – join us in the Healing Trauma Challenge, and together, we will embark on a journey towards a more balanced, resilient, and empowered life.

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa


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