If I've learned anything from working at a prison, it’s the importance of coping skills. Without fail, when I ask an individual, “What are your coping skills,” I’m met with the deer-in-headlights look. Typically I’ll get a response that sounds a little like, “What’s a coping skill?” Another classic answer is, “I don’t have any,” which only further confirms my theory as to why our prison population is bursting at the seams.
So what is a coping skill?
Coping skills are the positive and negative ways you deal with internal and external stressors. They are the activities you engage in to decrease your symptoms, regulate your emotions, and calm yourself down.
I have to ask, how old were you when you first learned about coping skills? Were you today old? After countless conversations over the topic of coping, I’ve come to realize many individuals lack healthy coping skills to deal with big emotions. What I thought was a prison problem, also appears to be a community epidemic. This struggle was especially evident in the DUI classes I taught while interning in the community.
Friends, we are in a toxic coping skills epidemic!
Growing up, no one teaches us how to navigate through the darkness when life implodes. Students aren't given a workbook when they enter grade school, breaking down how to cope with bullying, chaos in the home, abuse, future heartbreak, and disappointment. There are no classes teaching kiddos techniques on how to regulate their emotions. We all learn to cope by modeling other peoples behaviors. For example, a parent comes home after a stressful day at work and cracks open a cold beer in front of their child. Bam! The kiddo has learned a coping skill.
Where most people get in trouble, is when negative coping skills become their go-to for coping. These skills bring temporary relief but end up bringing more problems in the long run. They numb the pain in the immediate moment but often leave you whirling around in a shame storm.
What can I do?
If you’re no stranger to life throwing punches, then you won’t want to miss out on this killer freebie: 75 WAYS TO COPE WITH BIG EMOTIONS.
In it, you’ll find 75 go-to coping skills to help you cope when life throws a right hook or when you feel you're emotionally being pulled out to sea. You’ll also find 25 skills to avoid like the plague, and as a bonus, I’m sharing 3 of my favorite coping techniques to help you effectively regulate your emotions.
It’s time to stop numbing the pain and avoiding life's punches, so step in the ring and take your life back. Lace up your gloves and get ready to swing. This handout is sure to be a knockout!