By T. Franklin Murphy | September 20, 2022
Coping mechanisms are the thought and behavioral strategies people use to manage stress, trauma and painful emotions. Life is challenging. Experience often creates stress. Healthy coping skills assists with adjustment to the demands, helping us maintain emotional well-being in harsh circumstances.
Effective coping mechanisms enhance our skills of tolerating frustrations, minimizing the impact so we can continue to progress. Coping should manage stress, relieving the weight of physical and psychological strain, allowing for healthy behaviors.
Not all coping mechanisms are productive. Some coping mechanisms are immature relics from childhood and adolescence. These mechanisms manage stress at the cost of future growth. Many coping mechanisms are attractive but costly, providing quick relief but creating weightier challenges later.
List of Common Coping Mechanisms
Coping Mechanisms vs. Defense Mechanisms
Coping mechanisms typically refer to conscious and voluntary acts intended to reduce stress. Defense mechanisms are subconscious or unconscious adaptive responses. The difference between the two is that "coping strategies tend to be viewed as being conscious, intentional, and mostly adaptive, whereas defense mechanisms are seen as being unconscious, unintentional, and potentially maladaptive" (Diehl et al., 2014).
Many of the mature defense mechanisms have qualities resembling coping mechanisms. the line between a mature defense and a healthy coping mechanism is somewhat blurred.
A healthy approach is to identify defense mechanisms that hinder growth and replace them with healthy coping mechanisms. Often this requires professional guidance.
Please support Flourishing Life Society with a share or by visiting a link:
Diehl, M., Chui, H., Hay, E., Lumley, M., Grühn, D., & Labouvie-Vief, G. (2014). Change in Coping and Defense Mechanisms Across Adulthood: Longitudinal Findings in a European American Sample. Developmental Psychology, 50(2), 634-648.