These methods typically impede emotional processing, worsen our stress, and hinder efficient problem-solving. Unhealthy coping mechanisms can result in a cycle of adverse feelings, decreased shallowness, ailing well being, and even bodily hurt (Suls & Fletcher, 1985; Zuckerman, 1999).
Components influencing our coping decisions
Our alternative of coping mechanisms is influenced by components similar to character traits, cultural norms, and, most significantly, our previous experiences.
Typically, the roots of our unhealthy coping mechanisms may be present in our childhood, and they’re additionally formed by our early attachment kinds.
We might, for instance, have lacked good coping position fashions, our feelings might have been delegitimized or ridiculed, or we might have grown up in an unstable and even violent atmosphere, the place we had been uncovered to many threatening stressors.
A few of us might resort to unhealthy coping as a consequence of a lack of expertise of more healthy options (Taylor & Brown, 1988). Moreover, social help and entry to assets play essential roles in shaping our particular person coping methods (Thoits, 1995).
Typically, unhealthy coping mechanisms can simply change into dangerous habits – automated, default responses to our stressors, and in these instances we may have to hunt skilled assist to develop extra generative methods to reinforce our emotional resilience.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: A Record
Unhealthy coping mechanisms, outlined as maladaptive methods, used to deal with opposed feelings or irritating conditions, have been the topic of in depth psychological analysis (Smith et al., 2017).
Whereas these mechanisms typically present short-term aid, they often result in long-term psychological, emotional, and even bodily hurt (Jones & Oliver, 2015). In the long term, unhealthy coping perpetuates adverse outcomes.
The most typical maladaptive coping strategies embody the next (Thompson et al., 2010; Enns et al., 2018; Wadsworth, 2015; Tapu, 2016):
1. Substance abuse
Substance abuse, together with alcohol, drug, and ache killer consumption, is a quite common unhealthy coping mechanism (Dawson et al., 2018).
The short-term aid supplied by substances might result in habit, exacerbating our psychological well being points (Hawke et al., 2019).
As with most unhealthy coping mechanisms, extended and extreme substance abuse often turns into essentially the most urgent problem in our life and turns into the best risk to our wellbeing.
2. Avoidance and denial
Avoidance and denial contain ignoring or suppressing distressing feelings or conditions (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014).
Such mechanisms hinder our emotional processing and contribute to heightened stress and anxiousness (Carver & Scheier, 2016).
If we keep away from tackling our issues or deny that they even exist, we can not resolve them. This coping mechanism results in stagnation and paralysis and hinders our emotional development (Smith et al., 2017).
Self-harm, similar to chopping or burning oneself, is a very distressing and a counterproductive coping technique (Klonsky et al., 2018).
This conduct can supply a fleeting sense of management and aid however typically ends in elevated emotional turmoil and may result in harmful bodily accidents (Zetterqvist, 2015).
4. Destructive self-talk
Partaking in adverse self-talk, throughout which we criticize or put ourselves down excessively, is linked to lowered shallowness and heightened melancholy (Brakemeier et al., 2014).
The reinforcement of pessimistic ideas and adverse assumptions about ourselves can perpetuate and enlarge our misery (Beck, 2019).
Destructive self-talk is a quite common coping mechanism, and, once more, it’s a mechanism that begins out as a protecting technique designed to avoid wasting us from hazard that subsequently morphs right into a maladaptive one which holds us again in quite a few areas of our life.
David Burns and different CBT-practitioners have offered extra detailed descriptions of the varied cognitive distortions that often decide our adverse self-talk (Burns, 1999).
The most typical cognitive distortions contain all-or-nothing pondering, overgeneralization, psychological filtering, disqualifying positives, leaping to conclusions within the type of mind-reading and fortune-telling, magnification and minimization, emotional reasoning, ought to statements, labeling and mislabeling, and personalization (Burns, 1999).
5. Emotional consuming or binge consuming
We may interact in emotional consuming or binge consuming to numb our feelings and to deal with overwhelming stressors in our lives.
Like different maladaptive coping methods, this one, too, ends in a traditional vicious circle, in that our unhealthy response to issues quickly turns into the primary problem in our life.
These of us partaking in binge consuming change into trapped in a cycle of guilt, disgrace, and self-hatred which is the direct consequence of this coping mechanism.
One other unhealthy coping mechanism is withdrawing from social interactions. Isolating ourselves from our friends, too, is a detrimental alternative of coping mechanism as a result of avoidance- or fear-driven isolation can result in psychological well being and wellbeing points.
After we minimize ties with different folks, we deprive ourselves of energizing human interactions and nourishing relationships, and thus considerably slim our alternatives for therapeutic and rising.
Procrastination means avoiding essential duties or delaying their completion. Curiously, we regularly procrastinate on exactly the duties which might be most essential to us as a result of we can not bear the considered doing them in a less than excellent approach and even failing at them.
Once more, procrastination might present short-term aid as a result of once we procrastinate, we stay within the sphere of chance the place we are able to take pleasure in fantasies of excellent or near-perfect outcomes.
Nevertheless, procrastination will increase our stress in the long term, for it massively decreases our sense of self-efficacy and can also be associated to emotions of guilt and disgrace.
Many people additionally interact in overworking to deal with emotions of disconnection, vacancy, lack of goal, and alienation. We may self-medicate with work to keep away from addressing issues in different areas of our lives, similar to our household, partnerships, or friendship circles.
But the issue with overworking is that it’s prone to irritate the challenges we don’t handle. And the extra time we spend at work, the emptier our lives change into in different domains.
It turns into more and more tough to cease and face that vacancy. What’s extra, overworking additionally will increase our danger of burnout and results in a lower in general life satisfaction. It might additionally result in numerous stress-related well being issues.
Aggression, too, is usually a maladaptive coping mechanism, which may take the type of expressing anger, frustration, and irritation in dangerous and upsetting methods and inappropriate contexts.
Aggression results in strained relationships and can in the end hurt and push the people who find themselves closest to us away.
In case you need assistance with this unhealthy coping mechanism, head on over to this Anger Administration Information for constructive steering.
10. Extreme display screen time
Lastly, we may take pleasure in extreme display screen time to numb disagreeable emotions and ideas, or to keep away from advanced duties or challenges.
What counts as extreme and unhealthy display screen time is tough to generalize, although. Many people have to make use of screens for work, and screens will also be platforms for significant social interactions, or present us with stimulating concepts, or else assist us loosen up.
Most of us will probably be responsible of losing a while each day on social media or gaming platforms, or else we might have a Netflix binge-watching behavior.
Display screen time as a coping mechanism turns into problematic once we are hooked on gaming or spend a lot time on-line that we can not address our each day duties and neglect our real-life relationships and self-care.
To conclude, in all ten instances, we are able to observe the identical underlying mechanism at work: The conduct or ideas that had been initially designed to assist us cope change into addictive or recurring, and shortly flip into our most urgent major downside. In different phrases: our methods to answer our emotional crises find yourself turning into the disaster.
You may additionally take pleasure in this brief explanatory video on barely totally different choices of unhealthy coping mechanisms.