Bad coping mechanism is a common mental health term, but what does it actually mean?
If you’re like me, mechanism is a term that feels like it’s something out of the middle ages, reminiscent more of catapults and crossbows than anxiety and depression.
A bad coping mechanism is anything that you do to relieve yourself of pain in a way that actually continues the pain over the long-term.
Here’s what I mean by coping in a bad way.
You’re frustrated with a family member. He’s been bugging you about how you’re not doing enough with your life. He’s telling you that you’ll never amount to anything. The whole situation is really bringing you down.
Now, you have a few options here. Option one would be to address it with the family member a number of times, all the while maintaining good boundaries and politely holding your ground no matter what your family member does.
Who does that?
At first, that scenario seems far from realistic. It seems impossible.
What’s more realistic is option two: parking yourself in front of the TV with comfort food or beverage of choice (probably alcohol) and letting yourself relax for an hour or two.
But is that really relaxing? The reason that is a bad coping mechanism is that it doesn’t address the root issue–the family member that is making your life miserable. It shoves off the issue for another day. But in the background, your brain keeps working on the issue, and all the things that the family member has ever said continue to percolate like a never-ending, rancid coffee machine of doom.
There’s another way.