How to use – Coping Mechanisms


Are you a little stressed?

Are you a little stressed?

Are you alive? Do you have a problem or two?

You may be using coping mechanisms to overcome some of these problems.

So what are they? Do they work? What can I do?


Please don’t take a pill….


Here are some thoughts from various sources:

Coping mechanisms (

One group of coping skills are coping mechanisms, defined as the skills used to reduce stress. In psychological terms, these are consciously used skills. Defence mechanisms are their unconscious counterpart. Overuse of coping mechanisms (such as avoiding problems or working obsessively) and defence mechanisms (such as denial and projection) may exacerbate one’s problem rather than remedy it.


There are three primary styles of coping with problems such as stress.


  • Action-based coping

    Action-based coping involves dealing with an external problem that is causing stress. Examples can include getting a second job in the face of financial difficulties, or studying to prepare for exams. Examples of action-based coping include planning, suppression of competing activities, confrontation, self-control, and restraint.


  • Emotion-based coping

    Emotion-based coping skills reduce the symptoms of stress by addressing the emotions/feelings associated with them. There are both positive and negative coping methods, including: discussing the stress with a friend, denial, rationalization, repression, wishful thinking, distraction, relaxation, reappraisal, and humour. Although an emotion-based coping skill may not directly address the source of stress, it can calm down the distressed person enough to allow them to use an action-based coping skill more effectively.


  • Harmful coping methods

    Some coping methods are more like habits than skills, and can be harmful. Overused, they may actually worsen one’s condition. Alcohol, smoking, cocaine and other drugs may provide temporary escape from one’s problems, but, with excess use, ultimately result in greater problems. Other less extreme cases involve skin biting, nail biting, and hair pulling.


Coping Mechanisms


We are complex animals living complex lives in which we are not always able to cope with the difficulties that we face. As a result, we are subject to feelings of tension and stress, for example the cognitive dissonance and potential shame of doing something outside our values. To handle this discomfort we use various coping methods.


Here are coping mechanisms by type:


  • Adaptive mechanisms: That offer positive help.
  • Attack mechanisms: To push discomfort onto others.
  • Avoidance mechanisms: To avoid the issue.
  • Behavioural mechanisms: That change what we do.
  • Cognitive mechanisms: That change what we think.
  • Conversion mechanisms: To change one thing into another.
  • Defence mechanisms: Freud‘s original set.
  • Self-harm mechanisms: That hurt ourselves.


Ok so there is help and a lot of stuff out there… But… Where to begin?


Step 1

Identification – Figure out what is the CAUSE.

This can be either very difficult or very easy – If you failed the test; you did not prepare well enough – see simple


You are petrified of horses – your father used to scare you as a child and he has big teeth which you now transposed onto horses – see difficult.


  • Start with the practical things in your life
  • If you think it is a complex problem, seek professional help
  • Prioritise
  • Don’t start with the biggest problem you have… Mild irritant could be the best thing to get you going…
  • Take it seriously


Step 2

Select treatment option – How will you try and fix this?


  • Immediate problem-solving – Time is not your friend, get cracking and solve the problem as soon as you can. This will relieve pressure with immediate effect.
  • Root-cause solving – If you know what caused it, rectify it in a permanent fashion. Ask help, apologize, do whatever it takes for the problem (and its consequences of symptoms) to go away.
  • Benefit-finding – If it is beyond you to repair the damage, change the decision, affect changes to the cause or simply roll back time; learn to find the silver lining… It is there, you just have to search.
  • Spiritual growth – Find the lessons that you can learn, find the “aha” hindsight element, look for the things that can be attributed to “gaining experience” but most of all, do not stagnate.


Step 3

Forgiveness – Opposite to blaming someone, find someone to forgive (this may include you as well). Remember this is a PROCESS not a word…..


  • Uncover – Understand the emotions and feelings that are caused by the problem.
  • Decide – Few things here – Are you going to keep on moping or move on? Who would be the best person or group to forgive?
  • Work at it – Change your thoughts, actions, speech, attitude, perception and accept the pain or suffering (caused by the problem).
  • Smile and Breathe – Sigh of relief, look around and realise that things have irrevocably changed; you have changed – for the better.


WELCOME to your own mountain pond

WELCOME to your own mountain pond


Rest a moment; now let’s tackle the next one…






5 thoughts on “How to use – Coping Mechanisms

  1. Pingback: Daily Leadership Thought #184 – Learn To Let Go « Ed Robinson's Blog

  2. Pingback: Learn To Let Go

  3. I really like our blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website
    yourself or did you hire someone to doo it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking tto design my own blog and would like to find out where u
    got this from. thanks

    • Hi Sherlyn,

      Thank you for the compliment.

      This blog is on the free plan from WordPress and the theme is one of many that are available.

      Most of the pictures that I add I source from the internet.

      Should you require any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me on – antonlvandenberg @ gmail . com

      Hope you have an awesome week.

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