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People facing overwhelming emotions often try to cope with their pain in unhealthy, doomed to fail ways because they don’t know what else they can do. However, some coping strategies only make our problems worse.


Check to see if the following strategies are in your arsenal:

– I spend too much time thinking about past pain, mistakes, and problems.

– I am nervous and worried about possible future pain, mistakes, and problems.

– I isolate myself from other people to avoid stressful situations.

– I try to numb my emotions with alcohol or drugs.

– I take out my feelings on other people by being excessively angry with them or trying to control them.

– I engage in potentially dangerous behaviors such as cutting, hitting, scratching, pinching, burning, or pulling my hair.

– I engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, such as having sex with strangers or frequent unprotected sex.

– I do not deal with the causes of my problems, such as abusive or unhealthy relationships.

– I use food as punishment or self-control, such as eating too much, not eating at all, or vomiting up everything I eat.

– I constantly put myself at risk, such as driving dangerously or abusing alcohol and drugs, maybe even thinking about suicide.

– I avoid enjoyable activities, such as meeting people and playing sports, because I don’t think I deserve to feel better.

– I give in to my pain and condemn myself to a miserable and purposeless existence.


All these strategies lead only to the multiplication of emotional pain because even those that give temporary relief will only cause more suffering in the future. Remember:

Sometimes pain cannot be avoided, but often suffering can be avoided.

To avoid long-term suffering, you need to learn skills that will help you tolerate pain and cope with it in a new, healthier way.


Based on the book “Emotional Balance”