If you're like a lot of people, everything seemed fine until it wasn't. Sudden events or transitions can set off an avalanche of problems and stress. A change in seasons, a new school year, family problems, work stress, packing and moving, shocking events, health issues, relationships, parenting, or an unexpected phone call, can turn a good day into bad one, quickly!…
Any of these can cause strong feelings and negative beliefs about yourself and others; you have to cope with those somehow. The problem is that the ways of coping aren't working anymore. In fact, they're making things worse. These old tools are now creating repetitive cycles of pain; the very thing they were trying to fix.
Unfortunately for you and your loved ones, these cycles tend to get more sensitive to stress over time. It's getting worse. What used to take a lot to knock you down, now only takes a cross look, an angry tone, bad traffic, or just the weather. These cycles of pain are getting more regular, they're taking longer to come back from, and they're getting more intense. You're exhausted, especially when it lasts for days (or weeks, or months, or years). You don't know what else to try but something has to change. You feel powerless and out of control.
A Few Questions
Are you stuck in a cycle of conflict or pain?
Have you become disconnected from the important people in your life?
Do you ever feel confused, wondering who you really are deep inside?
Many people who answer “yes” have core feelings of being unloved and unsafe. In a situation like this, it’s hard to be “yourself.” It’s often easier to wear a social-survival mask as you navigate life. However, problems don’t simply disappear. If you try to sweep them under the rug, they grow in the shadows and become barriers to mental, relational, spiritual, and even physical health. Many issues that don’t seem big at the time will come back larger and stronger. Eventually, they get so big that mishandling them one more time will result in a serious situation. If that’s not bad enough, these matters don’t usually seek reckoning when things are great and you feel strong—but at the worst times when you feel tired, stressed, or in a current crisis.
Neglected or poorly handled issues can grow to monstrous proportions and overwhelm the capacities of any individual, couple, or family system. The unintended consequences of poor coping is that even small issues can eventually become disastrous to yourself and the people you care about the most.
Common Forms of Problematic Coping:
Blaming Others: grudges, rage, aggression, retaliation, sarcasm, arrogance, withdrawing to punish
Shaming Self: depression, negativity, anxiousness, catastrophizing, whiny/needy, manipulative, self-harm, withdrawing to sulk
Controlling Others: perfectionism, performance driven, defensive, judging, critical, demanding, intellectualizing, nagging, lecturing, withdrawing to defend self
Escaping: numbing out, selfishness, substance or activity addiction, irresponsibility, impulsive, dramatic, avoidant, secretive, minimizing issues, withdrawing to avoid others/ situations
The truth is that the ways you coped helped you survive in the past. But it’s no longer working, and you are meant for more than mere “survival.” The things that once soothed the pain or protected you from hurt have become the obstacles to living the life you desire.
In essence, the “solution” has become the “problem.”
At the Self Discovery Clinic, we’re committed to providing a safe and comfortable space for you and your family. We’ll help you identify and replace the cycles of pain with practical, specific, unique, and adaptive solutions. We’ll help you develop more intimate and authentic connection with yourself and the people you love. When you’re ready to discard the Survival-Self and all of it’s problematic masks, we’ll go deeper and help you discover and live from your True-Self. We’ll offer a step-by-step process to identify and let go of your Survival-Self and live in the peace and power of becoming the person you have always been.
Life's challenges will knock you down and keep you on the ground if you let them. Round after round of punishing blows can lead to bitterness and hopelessness. Please don't stop getting up. Things can get better. Healing can happen. We’re here to help you in this next part of your journey.
You can be connected while being yourself!
Robert Dunn, MMFT