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We’ve become so committed to avoiding and suppressing our feelings that we develop all kinds of unhealthy compulsions and defense mechanisms as our misguided, self-destructive attempts of protecting ourselves from more pain. We suppress our feelings and avoid our thoughts. We use denial, secrecy, manipulation, and control as coping mechanisms. We aren’t open and honest with ourselves and others. Our addictive patterns are often the most visibly destructive coping mechanisms we turn to. We use addictive substances and behaviors to numb our feelings and distract ourselves from them. We get high to escape our pain and to create a false sense of safety for ourselves. Where do these coping mechanisms come from?

When we aren’t mindful of our coping mechanisms and how we’ve been using them in our daily lives, we also often aren’t conscious of where they might have originated in the first place. For many of us, they emerged out of the fears we developed because of our traumatic experiences. For example, the shock, grief, and fear we felt from having been abused or neglected can cause us to be easily triggered in similar situations down the line, making us avoid certain people, places, events and situations that remind us of our trauma. Our coping mechanisms are in direct response to our fears. They grow out of our fears and reflect them. Rather than helping us heal our fears, though, they tend to compound them. The longer we go without facing our fears, the stronger and more overpowering they become. They begin to exert more control over us and our daily lives. They wreak havoc on our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. The emotions we’ve been resisting repeatedly come back to haunt us, causing us worsened depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. We feel tormented by our emotions, and eventually, not even our coping mechanisms can dull the pain.

Recovering from our addictions and mental illnesses means taking inventory of all our patterns, the patterns of our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and choices. This entails practicing mindfulness so that we can become more honest with ourselves in our self-reflection and introspection. We’ve grown so accustomed to living mindlessly, to acting compulsively without giving thought to why and how our pain has been fueling our addictions and directing our lives for so long. When we are committed to our healing and transformation, we make the conscious choice to begin to question our coping mechanisms and where they may have come from. We also make the choice to start working on shedding them, so that we can implement healthier coping skills that serve us in our lives rather than detracting from them. 

Riverside Recovery believes in the importance of holistic healing and education, mindfulness and mind-body-spirit wellness. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our treatment programs.