Having worked in crisis intervention for over 30 years, I can assure you that no matter how simple or convoluted the problem is, we are managing by using one of three coping mechanisms.
- Adaptation and blending into the situation is a common option for people who fear conflict. Depending on the person’s resources, this may be the right one for now. When we decide to let things cool down, we are in this mode. It is generally not meant to be used as a permanent solution. At some point, to protect our well-being we need to move to:
- Changing the situation. We can do this by changing something such as reframing our perceptions or altering our behaviors. We can also force a change in the environment by introducing an outside consequence. If we are brainwashing ourselves to believe that “this is OK”, we are not changing our mindset as much as accepting the other’s behavior which puts us in the preceding option. To be in a change state, we are adjusting ourselves or influencing changes outside of ourselves. At some point, to protect our physical and mental wellness, we may need to:
- Leave the situation. This happens when people realize that the situation cannot change and it has become unacceptable or physically or emotionally dangerous to remain. Some people need assistance seeing that this is a possible choice but the decision is always theirs.
All three have their place, all three can be appropriate or inappropriate to use. From time to time, we need to be reviewing if this is still the right coping skill for the situation or if we are ready to experiment with something else. Things can change quickly so taking stock regularly is a valuable and important habit.
Every situation is different. What every person desires and needs is also different. Only the person facing the situation can discern this for themselves. When someone is feeling a little overwhelmed, knowing these options can help them take action or consciously feel good about where they are right now.
As a counsellor, my clients appreciated when I would clarify what their options were in a difficult situation. Educating people on the three options is easy. Deciding whether it is the right place to be and what to do differently might need education, other resources and support.
So here is an infographic for you breaking down the three healthy coping options when facing a difficult person and the one that is purely delusional.