Life if filled with opportunities to learn new coping skills. From the simplest adjustments of growing up to the normal transitions of adolescence into young adulthood we begin a very personal process of learning how to deal with life’s challenges and opportunities.
On the anvil of personal and interpersonal stressors we hone our coping skills by learning and adaptation based upon a wide spectrum of circumstances. Factors such as the degree of pain we feel, the double-bind of no-win scenarios, our moods, our personal values and principles, past or present traumas and injustices are just a sample of the possibilities that we are called upon to adjust.
Under pressure, we forge many of our virtues like patience, tenacity, integrity and honesty, compassion, and so forth. Conversely, our choices also include their opposite such as impatience, weakness, deceitfulness, dishonesty, callousness, etc. Across the prism of our own unique makeup and experiences we become both who we are today and who we will become tomorrow by the coping choices we make along the way.
In more relaxed times we have opportunities to reflect upon our past experiences and choices as well as the consequences that have unfolded from those dynamic elements of life. The hope is that our past will provide learning opportunities for our present and future decisions and how we will cope with them.
To the extent we make our choices in advance, clarified by our principles and values, we can anticipate times when decisions have to be made with decisiveness and inner peace. Life presents times when we must navigate our way through surprises, catastrophes, challenges and opportunities where our past and present meet to give us direction based upon those times of reflection and experience. It is at those times that we choose to either react impulsively based upon the emotions we feel or we act proactively based upon who we are combined with the person we have chosen to become.
Marriage and Family Therapists specialize in helping clients clarify their principles and values, weigh interpersonal alternatives and consider the potential consequences in their relational systems. Many times it is the coping systems themselves that require modification to meet new challenges and opportunities. At other times new coping skills must be learned to move people forward towards their potential as family members, working together to overcome obstacles and manage transitions.