don't let your coping become a crutch that cripples you

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

when life gets a little bumpy we all have our ways of coping with stress. sometimes we just need something to help take our minds off of things for a short while, to give us some brief relief. for some, it might be an extra intense workout at the gym, an afternoon of bingeing on Netflix, surfing the internet, or having a night out with the girls. you might cope with stress by immersing yourself in a book while enjoying a few glasses of wine, or eating copious heapings of cake and ice cream, or maybe a trip to the shopping mall for some retail therapy.

whatever your method of coping may be, be careful to not let it become too much of a crutch, for it might end up crippling you all on its own.

if you rely on your distractions too heavily you’ll never properly heal and you’ll be left with a mental limp.

every addiction first begins with the desire to escape pain and pursue pleasure. so we must be careful. we must be aware of our behaviours and actions so they don’t sneak up on us and become a whole new problem all on their own. we must take great care so they don’t become a habit themselves.

this isn’t to say all that forms of coping are a problem, sometimes we just need a mental break to recover from all of the internal work we’ve already done. in fact, it's absolutely necessary and healthy to a certain degree — we all need mental and physical rest to properly process the intricacies of our situations.

it’s in the quiet stillness where the answers to life's riddles appear.

but, it's also a very fine line. we must be careful with the tools of our coping. it's all too easy to become addicted to them because they make things appear so much easier for us. they lessen the pain and distract us from feeling so overwhelmed. soon however, one painkiller becomes four, and two drinks become ten.

aversion from pain is a source of suffering itself.

therein lies the crux however, our methods of coping are only a distraction. they do not cure our pain. they do not solve our problems. they do not enlighten us with new understandings with which we can then improve our lives by. our coping only distracts us, while the source of our suffering thickens and becomes even more potent.

we can never get past our hurt by escaping it, pain must be fully experienced before it’s able to mend.

our pain demands that we see the full spectrum of its colours before it fades. it begs us to understand the reason why it’s there. our pain is there to teach us. it’s there to illuminate our struggles so that we can learn from them. our pain is an aid for our personal growth. we must be brave and confront our suffering head-on. only when we see the true face of our pain will we be able to understand it, process it, deal with it, learn from it and move on.

the greatest tool in our personal development and spiritual growth is our self-inquiry and self-awareness. love yourself. accept your circumstance. be kind and compassionate with your pain. surrender to it.

ask yourself, how are you coping? what are you using to distract you from life’s problems? and, what are you trying to distract yourself from? what are you avoiding? what do you not want to acknowledge or deal with? and, why?

as painful as these questions may be to truthfully answer, they will help you come to terms with the nature of your suffering and unease. be careful to not make matters worse, don’t let your coping become a problem itself.

freedom is found in your search for clarity.