Letting Go of the Struggle

Letting Go of the Struggle

We learn patterns of coping from a young age and often these same ways of coping that helped us survive in childhood become cumbersome later in life.

Life can be hard.

The ways we learn to cope with life’s pain can be learned in childhood or during a tough season of adulthood. We learn patterns of coping from a young age and often these same ways of coping that helped us survive in childhood become cumbersome later in life.

Sometimes, after a season of hardship or struggle, we can forget what it feels like to be in a healthy cycle of rest, times with a healthy amount of stress that is followed by another time of rest. Some common coping behaviors are drinking, worrying when there’s no clear benefit, getting used to chaos and struggling to enjoy good times when things get easier.  

A good example of this is the usefulness of snow chains on a tire when it’s snowing outside. When the weather is bad, those snow chains are essential, you couldn’t get anywhere without them!

But what about when it’s summer and the roads are dry and dusty? I am not a mechanic, but I do know that in that scenario, snow chains would be harmful, not helpful.

We can think of our own learned coping mechanisms in the same way. When we were in childhood or going through a hard time following a death in the family as an adult for example, we needed those coping mechanisms to keep us afloat. When the sun comes back out and life is good again, how do we take off the snow chains from our proverbial tires? Well, one way to start examining those things that have helped us cope in the past, but may not be as helpful now, is to just start observing when you do that behavior.

An article on the Good Therapy website describes this struggle in these words:

“Oddly enough, painful feelings can be comfortable, especially if they’re all you know. Some people have trouble letting go of their pain or other unpleasant emotions about their past because they think those feelings are part of their identity. In some ways, they may not know who they are without their pain.”   

So, who would you be without your pain and negative coping mechanisms?

Some good ways to start learning this about yourself is through these three options:

  1. Beginning therapy
  2. Finding your trigger points. When do you feel a spike in those anxious and painful feelings?
  3. Observe them, but don’t judge. Simply start becoming aware when and how often you engage in that behavior.

If you’d like to begin therapy and explore these topics, give us a call at 615-591-5262.

Cohen, I. S. (2017, Aug 7). Important Tips on How to Let Go and Free Yourself.

Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/coping-mechanisms

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-emotional-meter/201708/important-tips-how-let-go-and-free-yourself

Written by Refuge Center Masters Level Counseling Intern Tiffany Miller.

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Five Tips for Relieving Stress

Five Tips for Relieving Stress

Before we find the solution to the problems we experience, we can carry a lot of stress. Here are a few tips to help manage the stress before the solution is found.

Life can be unpredictable and painful, and sometimes even when things are good, day to day life can feel overwhelming and stressful. Learning what you need to help release that negative stress can go a long way in gaining energy and health. In a 2018 Time magazine article, stress is described as “an imbalance between a challenge and the resources they have to deal with it…” Before we find the solution to the problems we experience, we can carry a lot of stress. Here are a few tips to help manage the stress before the solution is found.

  1. Stop and acknowledge: When you feel pressure mounting at work, or home, a good first step is to stop and acknowledge to yourself that you are feeling stress. Simply stating that you are stressed out loud to yourself or someone else can help take the edge off.
  2. Body Scan: Try and identify what that stress feels like in your body. A simple way to do this is to close your eyes, start at your toes and scan your body for where you feel any tightness, shortness of breath, tingling or warmth. You may feel something that isn’t listed here, and if you notice that, that’s great! You are making great strides in getting to know your own body and how you experience stress. Once you identify where your body most feels your stress, try to soften it and send some love to it.
  3. Deep breaths: Calm, deep breaths can help send the signal to your physical body that everything is ok. Try to make the exhale twice as long as your inhale breath to help your body kick back into a resting state.
  4. Remind: Remind yourself that all stress is not negative, and that it can be incredibly useful! In small amounts on a daily basis, it can help you be a better problem-solver and gain new skill sets which then boosts self-confidence. The key is to view it as a friend, not an enemy.
  5. Assess: Assess the activities and obligations in your life to see if anything could be reduced, cut out or altered in any way. Don’t do this step until you are in a calm state as it will be difficult to problem solve when in an anxious state.

If you’d like to explore how stress is impacting your life and daily activities and relationships, counseling is a great way to make that step. Give us a call at 615-591-5262.

Selna, E. (2018, November). How some stress can actually be good for you. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/5434826/stress-good-health/.

Written by Refuge Center Masters Level Counseling Intern Tiffany Miller.

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