How to Switch from Coping to Caring


This post is adapted from Chapter 2 of “From Coping to Thriving: How to Turn Self-care into a Way of Life", which is available now for Kindle and as a PDF. Here is a series of questions you can ask yourself to evaluate whether an activity counts as self-care or coping strategy:1. What need am I trying to meet with this activity?2. Does it involve some kind of potentially addictive substance?3. Will I regret it afterwards?4. What is the true intention behind this activity? (Am I looking to escape what’s currently happening in my life, or am I looking to process it? Do I want to engage with this particular activity to numb my emotions and get rid of my discomfort, or do I want to take care of the need underneath?)5. What will the effects of this activity be if I continue engaging in it over the long-term? Will they be helpful or harmful?6. What does my gut tell me about this activity? Is there a part of me that is saying this is not what I need right now?

How to switch from coping to caring

The most effective way I’ve found to switch from coping strategies to self-care is to replace one with the other, rather than to simply give up or quit coping strategies. As you’ll see in parts three, four, and five, I’ve organized the self-care suggestions in this book according to which needs they meet. The most effective way to be the best version of yourself is to identify which coping mechanisms you’re using, identify which needs we're trying to meet through using these mechanisms, and replace the coping mechanisms with genuine self-care activities that will truly meet that need, not just slap a Band-Aid on it.Here is a brief step-by-step overview of how the transition works:1. Identify the coping mechanisms you are currently using (the purpose of this isn’t to judge, simply to notice what’s happening in your life right now).2. Identify the needs underneath. You might find the Needs Inventory on the Nonviolent Communication Website helpful for this.3. Match the needs to a self-care activity that is likely to meet them.4. Rinse and repeat.It sounds simple (and it is), but this is where self-knowledge is crucial and gaining that self-knowledge takes time. To switch from coping to caring, you need to be willing to look at reality as it is right now, how you’re spending your time, what you’re needing, and how you can meet those needs. Coping can be a comfortable and familiar place to be in the short-term, so you also need to be willing to be uncomfortable for a while. It won’t be easy; you might be thinking that this is going somewhere you hadn’t bargained for. As someone who has been there, I can put my hand on my heart and tell you that the rewards of doing the work, examining the hard stuff and making that switch are more than worth it.Are you ready to make the switch from coping to caring? Check out the book and From Coping to Thriving: The Live Coursewhere we’ll be putting theory into practice this October.Photo Credit: babbagecabbage