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Editor's Note:  "Borderlines," BAMHS' periodic column, provides ideas and suggestions for healthy living, better family life and successful strategies for coping with life's challenges. Our newsletter is updated frequently! Check back often.
Build your coping skills
Posted: May 19, 2010
Last Updated: May 19, 2010

Do you face the same unresolved issue everyday: a clash with your boss or continual conflict with a family member or trouble speaking with your teenager? No matter what you say or do, inevitably, miscommunication is the result. But you can transform negative situations by learning positive coping skills—different ways to deal with exasperating circumstances.

Coping skills are positive or negative tactics you use to deal with frustrating situations that tend to reoccur in your life. You employ coping skills everyday, some with conscious thought, some unconsciously. These are emotional and social skills that can break the exasperating cycle you find yourself experiencing over and over again. Counselors can teach you positive coping skills to resolve or, at least lessen, the conflict in your life.

Counselors can guide you to find a resolution by helping you assess the situation, view it from different perspectives, and find new ways to respond. Most people never realize the extent counseling to transform their daily lives. People tend to think of counseling as limited to those with serious mental health issues, but counseling has broader use in daily life. Counselors can teach you to communicate better with others and adapt to situations that can seem insurmountable at first glance.

Coping skills aren’t a ‘quick fix’ to any given situation, but they offer ways to deal with the situation you might have never contemplated before.  Counselors can help you tailor a response to the situation that breaks the continual cycle of negativity, and, hopefully, transform it into a positive outcome.

Some ways counselors can help you create new positive coping skills are by:

  • Identify stressors: What causes you to feel stress?
  • Determine how you cope: What do you do in response to the stresses?
  • Rate how effective is your coping: Are you able to accomplish what you want?
  • Study how do others cope: What are some coping skills others use that you would like to use in your life?
  • Select coping responses: How would you like to respond to the stressor?
  • Reality testing: Could you easily employ the coping techniques you have selected?
  • Adopt new skills: Plan to use new effective coping skills in situations.

Instead of being frustrated with your boss, you can learn a new tactic that will better handle his or her personality type, or maybe a positive response that won’t instigate more turmoil. You can learn to better understand the internal conflict with a family member and tactics to break out of that continued negativity—maybe even ways to confront the underlying issue that sparks the conflict. Coping skills can offer positive, non-violent ways to discipline a child or make them aware the choices they make in life have consequences on their future.  

To learn more about coping skills call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.

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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.