Victus Spiritus


Insert your compulsion here

11 Oct 2009

Some Coping Mechanisms Discourage Healthy Change

Everybody has triggered behaviors which are unconscious reactions to stress. I used to smoke clove cigarettes, now I eat yummy food but both of these are coping responses. Other common responses include shouting, pacing, or leaving a tense situation. None of these automatic trigger behaviors aid in resolution, but many can help us calm down (shouting exaggerates our stress level). A great habit we can build is awareness of our stress.

Self Awareness

The key to changing our automatic response to stress is paying careful attention to our emotional or mental states. Buddhism is a philosophy that's heavily focused on developing self awareness. As we practice awareness we nourish a less biased observation of self. Decision making naturally becomes clearer and more rational. Confusion and frustration are replaced by understanding of not only our own emotional response, but the reactions of others.

A wonderful (although easy to practice) example of this in action has been my response to sarcasm or strong criticism to my writing. Just by asking a question of a commenter or explaining my reasoning I usually get such valuable and well posed responses. Powerful disagreement can yield to mutual understanding. In the worst case we can respect our different points of view.

Putting this awareness into practice in more tense situations has been an ongoing challenge of mine. One compulsion that I hope to maintain has been walking. It's a low key form of exercise that allows me to casually read, concentrate and communicate.