My Coping Skills aren’t Working: Now what do I do?

There are going to be times when existing coping or self-management skills are not going to help or remedy a particular situation. This article is designed to help readers create new strategies to cope with new symptoms in their mental health or situations in their interpersonal life. As always, be sure to discuss the skills learned here with your psychiatrist or therapist before implementing them in your living environment.

So, your feeling “bad” and all your go-to coping skills aren’t helping you to feel better? Or, you’ve had a bad experience with a friend or coworker and cant figure out why it went wrong?

There are a few things you might want to try before throwing in the towel….

1) Problem-solving why existing coping skills aren’t effective anymore & 2) Discovering how to adapt/revise existing skills to your new situation or symptom & 3) Practice and trouble-shoot your revised skill to maximize its effectiveness

There are many reasons why existing skills aren’t going to be effective anymore when a new symptom surfaces or new interpersonal situation becomes unmanageable. I would only recommend asking the why? (something isn’t working anymore) until the act of discovery becomes perseveration. This is usually when our inner-voice goes from a positive place of self-exploration to a place to a more negative voice questioning our very capacity to do anything right for our mental health.

Revising existing skills is important and in general, a life skill. There will be times when we met someone or get into an interpersonal space where we feel more helpless or vulnerable than before. This may not be YOUR fault or anyone’s FAULT. It may simply be a perfect storm of where your journey in life intersects the life of another person. Whatever the reason, people need to constantly adapt. Understanding your situation or symptom as less of an unexplainable phenomena and more so an instinct to survive may just be the re-framing you need to put your problem in a more manageable perspective.

As always, planning and practice are essential. Remembering that set-backs in executing these skills are learning moments. Problem solve what works, what doesn’t, and move forward in your life, ALL(ways).

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Max E. Guttman LCSW

Max Guttman is the owner of Recovery Now in New York. Max provides psychotherapy, complex case management, community consultation, and self-management skill-building groups. His approach is based on evidenced-based practices (EBP). Max earned a master’s degree in Social Work from Binghamton University. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a field instructor for both postgraduate and undergraduate students at Lehman College. He is also a social work supervisor and psychotherapist at Courtlandt Avenue Clinic in the South Bronx where he teaches students social work praxis in New York City. In addition to this responsibilities, he manages Mental Health Affairs, a mental health blog.

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