Coping vs. Authentic Change

Everyone wants to be happy.  Everyone wants to feel good.  These are not bad things.  Have you ever heard the principle or the story of the wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing? Sometimes feeling good can be just this; it feels good in the short term but in the long run it is doing you more harm than good.  What I see on a regular basis are people that in an attempt to feel good or be happy use ‘coping skills’ to avoid issues in their lives.  They seek the short term reward as opposed to the longer term greater good.  I do realize that coping strategies are important and can be used in a good way; I just want to say that I often see them as a way of avoidance as opposed to a way of helping us address the core issues we are dealing with.
When something bad happens in our lives, when crisis hits or when things simply don’t go our way our knee jerk reaction is to get out of that situation as fast as possible.  Our immediate comfort or perceived comfort becomes our first priority.  We oftentimes forget everything around us, drop whatever it is we are doing and seek to get out of the uncomfortable situation.  We don’t think about the long term sustainable impact, we don’t think about the process of how we handle stress and anxiety we just try to escape the situation.
If there is one thing I have learned in working with people it is that crisis happens.  It is all around us.  It occurs on a micro scale in our daily lives, it balloons out into our families, our communities our nation and the broader world that we live in.  Challenging situations are not going away and some would say that they seem to be coming more frequently at least from a global perspective.  When I work with someone I am concerned with their current crisis but along with that I am probably more concerned with how the individual or the family has learned to walk through crisis.  What internal systems do they have that inform how they navigate crisis in their lives?  We all have internal systems whether we realize it or not.  They have been learned from parents, teachers, peers, the media or any number of other influences.
It takes great insight and courage to authentically look at your internal systems.  I find that some people are better at it than others and some it seems to come natural to and others never seem to ‘see’ their internal systems and simply navigate life reacting to what life throws at them.  I feel that in order to move past simply coping with crisis and stress it is important to begin to look at our internal systems that guide us through them.  This takes an open mind, courage, hard work, humility and a long term perspective.    It is not easy, but if an individual will stick with the process the payoff is worth it.  When an individual or family sets their mind on authentically changing and not just coping what you see come out the other side is always stronger, happier and more capable.
I often find that a good place to start is a person’s view on problems.  Some questions you can begin to ask yourself are:

Do I take full responsibility for the problems in my life?
Do see them as an opportunity to change and grow or do I see the problem and want to hide?
Am I very rigid in how I see the problem?
Am I allowing feedback from others into my life?

These questions are just a beginning and hopefully will help you crack open the door to discover the power of your internal systems and changing them can help you change your life.

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