• S. Dawn Olatokun

Avoiding Is Not Coping

Ahh, avoidance...isn’t it easy? Most of us say we are nonconfrontational and do nothing if someone offends us. If we avoid confrontation, we don’t have to worry about creating an awkward silence or uncomfortable facial expression, or wonder how the interaction could change our relationship with that person. We don’t have to worry about how we will sound while expressing our feelings or thoughts, and we don't have to face our insecurities or be seen as “too sensitive”; our feelings and thoughts are perfectly safe within ourselves. Better yet, we don’t have to face it at all. We trust ourselves, right? We know what happened and what they did! We know their tone was off, and we know that they know they violated us, right? Right? So, within ourselves we come to a resolution.

You know what happens when we continually sweep things under the rug, right? The pile gets higher and higher until we trip over it and one of two things happen: you either lash out or become accustomed to negative treatment. Neither of those responses are effective. Yes, lashing out gives you instant gratification, but the receiver is left confused and ignorant of their offence. Furthermore, what purpose does accepting detrimental treatment serve? Really, think about that for a moment. Allowing someone to treat you according to their level of regard and not according to your inherent worth is an absolute no-no! You are AMAZING and worthy of nothing but great things!

Now that we pretty much know what it means to avoid, I want us to form a very clear definition of the word “cope”. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, cope means to deal with and attempt to overcome problems and difficulties”. I love this definition because it deals with coping in two parts. Whew! To deal with—can we stay here for a minute and talk about why it is so difficult for us to deal with the issues we have? I’m going to make this specific to people. Why is it so hard for us to deal with issues we have with people? A few reasons could be that we were not taught to communicate effectively, our opinions were not valued as children, we are shy and timid from abuse, we are seeking acceptance, or we were not taught how to advocate for ourselves. All of these can leave a person scarred, leaving avoidance as their option to deal with as opposed to actually dealing with the issues. Overcoming problems takes work. I’m not going to make it sound as if it’s easy. At times, our trauma can speak louder than our resilience. But, how can we shift our ingrained behavior from avoiding to coping? I’m so glad you asked!

Here are 7 practical steps that can be used to tackle any problem:

  1. Identify Your Problems. The first step to resolving the problems of your life is to identify what your problems are.

  2. Face Your Problem. After you have identified the problem(s) that is/are keeping you from being happy in your life, the next step is for you to be strong and face them head on.

  3. Resolve Your Problems. Once you have the courage to face your problems, you are now ready to decide on the solution! But remember, anger, worry or misery doesn’t change anything; it will only leave you with negative feelings.

  4. Move On. Once the problem is resolved, move on and let it go! Stop thinking about your problem over and over again. It will do nothing but cause you anxiety and stress.

  5. Remember the Lessons Learned. You may be surprised, but the truth is problems are actually good for us! They are a way for us to learn and grow.

  6. Never Lose Your Value as a Person. It is false to believe that problems are a consequence of your past wrongdoings. Never let problems become a measurement of your value as a person.

  7. Be Ready for Problems. The best way to be ready and prepared for problems is to accept that they are a part of life.

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