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This morning I found myself wondering what topic to pick for this blog. I had plenty of ideas and views but none I felt were worthy of your attention or I felt willing to share for their politically incorrect nature (stressed in slow traffic).  Why was I being reticent about sharing my views? Could I really hurt or anger someone – or worse, make a fool of myself? As a result I keep much to myself – or at the very least private. Nothing wrong with that – wish more people would.

However, if remaining silent keeps me from speaking my mind when it counts, I am hurting myself.


Coping everyday

Each person develops strategies throughout their life to cope with specific situations. Babies will cry for attention and food and older children will display the behavior that has proven most effective to getting their parents’ attention.

We develop coping strategies or actions to suppress, diminish or control negative thoughts and feelings. Behavior patterns are developed to get what we want or need to feel safe, loved, or accepted.  They can be born from traumatic experiences or simply to escape unpleasant bodily sensations.

At some point in our lives, the strategies we have perfected will have fulfilled their purpose and may no longer be functional. Yet, they persist in our current behavior and may feel like part of our unique personality.

Unwittingly, we apply coping strategies in our daily lives and some could be keeping us from leading the life we want or the career we aspire to.


Circumstances count

As a young expat child living in Indonesia, I was repeatedly instructed to choose my words and actions carefully, be mindful of other people’s sensitivities, convictions and beliefs, and never to display inappropriate emotions. An incident could result in my father’s employment being terminated and our family being banned from the country, as happened to another family at the time.

Keeping my thoughts to myself, considering others became a coping strategy under specific circumstances.


You could always work harder

If the situation you find yourself in work – or indeed in other areas of your life – becomes increasingly demanding, you may have a natural tendency to maintain control by starting earlier, taking work home, working harder, putting in more effort as best you can. That could feel like a strategy that works for the short-term. In the long run it will exacerbate the problem, lead to chronic stress or worse and is therefore not effective.

Even if you feel the pressure you are under comes from without, the way you deal with it determines your stress or success. Does your perfectionist attitude get in the way of your performance or do you consider yourself an accomplished control freak? These traits may have served you in the past and they could be costing you now!


Time for a different strategy!

Imagine achieving the same results without working harder. Instead of working over the entire weekend, imagine spending time doing what (else) you love or simply doing nothing at all.

In other words, what if you could alter your usual approach to a recurring situation? Just once.

What could you gain?


If you commit to transforming one non-functional strategy into one that serves your well-being – today. Right now.

Which would it be?


Maybe you cannot find one single non-functioning strategy. Congratulations, you have perfected them to a fault! Don’t be fooled. There is sure to be one hiding out really well and may need to be coaxed a little to reveal itself.

Even taking an aspirin to fight off regular headaches is a coping strategy. You are doing something regularly and automatically to avoid something unpleasant.


Discover your coping strategy

1. Take a Moment

Answer the following questions :

  1. What drags me down every time (costs energy, depresses, saddens etc.)
  2. What do you do to cope with that event, thought, feeling or emotion? That is your coping strategy
  3. How effective does your coping strategy prove the short term? long term

Chances are just doing this exercise will make you feel and think everything you would prefer to avoid.


2. Out of the Woods

So now you have a list of things you wish were not there. If you have come to the conclusion that your coping strategies have not proven effective in the long run, then what?

What is the answer?

Has anyone ever given you the riddling advice to “sit with it” or dismissed your distress with a flippant “just let it go”? I assure you I am not being disinterested when I tell you that letting go is precisely what will alleviate your suffering. Letting go is not easy but it can be learned. Step by step, it is possible to apply what I will call acceptance for now, succesfully in your daily life.


Give it some thought.


Let me know what causes you stress now and find out what you can do. I would love to hear from you!


Warm regards,

Arabella Seegers


~ Big changes start with baby steps ~