When calamity strikes, we all look for an anchor, something to hold on to. We gravitate towards things that give us answers or make us feel safer, stronger. People want some control over the unknown. To that end, we need positive coping skills to prevent us from a descent into destructive habits like addiction, crime, abuse, or depression. It is clear to me that for lasting change to cope better, people need inner healing and to acquire new skills.
Healing and new coping skills create lasting change; From the inside out, part 2.
Having worked with those in distress, I have seen so much need. At first, it seemed like the most pressing needs could be solved with an influx of cash. Obviously, a job, a vehicle, or a money gift can make a big difference for someone. But, money is a temporary fix.
In need or plenty, people have the same issues, especially when addiction or other destructive coping mechanisms are in play. So, beyond our basic needs of food and shelter, money isn’t the key to dignity or self respect.
I cope with knowledge or research. Some cope with accumulation to create a wall of protection against disaster. The way we cope is unique and a product of our past, a learned response.
In fact, how we learn to cope will affect our entire lives.
If you need some basic coping skills or some insight on how to deal with an immediate problem, read part 1 From the inside out, coping in difficult seasons. You can also check out Strong decision making, priorities and partnerships.
In part one, I talked about a basic coping strategy that helps create a plan and work through it instead of fretting over difficulty.
1. Working your way through a plan keeps you busy solving problems instead of worrying.
Gather actual facts.
Take action and put out immediate fires.
Get more information and improve your response.
Make a long term plan.
Keep the conversation going.
Stop the spin.
Work the plan, improving it as you go.
Repeat as needed.
Simple steps give us an orderly response to disorder, disaster, and trauma, something to think about instead of fears or worry.
However, for some people, their old bad habits, failures, weaknesses, or lack of know how keep the same problems returning again and again.
So, how do we affect lasting change for coping with difficulty and avoid unhealthy habits or destruction?
To answer that question, we have to know what people need instead.
What I’ve discovered is that people need these things for lasting change:
Education, problem solving skills, character building, and to learn self discipline. They also need to desire their own heath and safety, and to place themselves in a better environment all around. But, above all, they must want change for themselves.
2. So, we can start there. Lasting change requires the desire for change.
To see people live free of addiction, crime, violence, and depression, lasting change can only happen from the inside out. The person caught in that destructive cycle will have to open the door to help in some way.
3. Then, the person in question needs healing from the wounds that created the destructive coping mechanisms.
Primarily, people need spiritual healing. Our inner man longs for spiritual things, so make it a part of your daily life and that of your family. Because wounds are of the soul, we all need God’s guidance and to know we are loved.
Without question, filling the mind and heart with scripture, prayer, and fellowship demolishes fears and helps prevent returns to unhealthy coping.
Prayer, scripture, and praise are the most effective weapons against destruction.
For more on this better coping skill see “Trade anxiety for scripture and move mountains.”
Deep woundedness affects how we see everything, and healing wounds takes place in both mind and spirit, so our minds need work too. Lasting change is all encompassing.
We must acknowledge the wound, deal with the grief. Then, most importantly, forgive, let the pain go, and move forward. (To understand this process of letting go and moving forward, Read this post on woundedness). Even if someone has to let it go again and again, it is progress.
4. Healing opens us up to the next step: change the lens.
Notably, we react to stress out of experience and our own filters. Remember the adage “children live what they learn.” What we learn as we are growing up becomes our lens and our filter through which we see the rest of the world. That lens affects how we live, our choices, our mistakes, and our coping.
So, teaching children to problem solve, be self sufficient, and have respect for themselves and others is part of the goal. Teaching life skills is how we create a healthy lens for kids.
For an adult, changing our lens requires some humility to allow healing and start moving forward.
5. Next, anyone combating negative coping needs a whole new skill set for lasting change, something to replace bad habits.
Can you remember someone in your life that taught you something with a phrase that actually became a skill? My dad used to say, “Finish what you start.” He mentored me by teaching me this life skill among many others. He modeled them with action and used phrases that stuck with me.
I also learned “If you participate in something, don’t do it halfway. Do your best without complaining.” Nowadays I call that being present and owning it. Another important lesson I learned was “Under promise and over deliver.” Don’t tell someone you will be there Friday if you know you won’t be there until the next week, right?
Being surrounded by a hardworking fun family gave me some skills.
Character, self discipline, and perseverance are part of the key to success. But, these tools can’t be given to someone. They are taught, learned, and practiced.
6. To learn and use better skills, people need healthy friends and mentors.
For instance, none of us need the train wreck celebrity as role models. We need someone to emulate who is living a healthy happy life, someone whose inner man is full of those things that are lovely, true, pure, and trustworthy. Some of us have a healthy group of friends who cause us to be better on the inside. Others, not so much.
7. In addition, it seems to me that some people need a new situation altogether. Geography doesn’t solve problems, but sometimes it removes a big source of trouble.
If someone lives near someone who gets them into trouble or who brings out their worst, then they may need to remove themselves from their influence. A better life is worth the effort.
Loneliness or rejection brings out our worst, so make some connections through a church, a team, social media, clubs, or addiction groups. You/they/we need some support and community.
9. Finally, people need to conquer some battles on their own.
When a person works for something and conquers it, when they climb a mountain or achieve something on their own, it changes them from the inside out.
Fighting our own battles keep us from wondering into the enemy camp again.
Having to save or sacrifice and struggle creates strength. There is nothing wrong with a helping hand or leg up, but if it is a perpetual way of life, it destroys dignity, self respect, and the will to fight for a better life.
To stop the cycles of dysfunction by helping adults heal from old wounds changes their lives, and helps them raise healthier children.
In changing lives from the inside out, we help people break the chains of old coping habits of drowning in drugs, depression, alcohol, gambling, crime, or abuse.
I believe we can help alter the cycles of despair with what we teach our children and how we deal with adults. But, to be part of someone’s inner thought processes, self respect and the drive to succeed require learning and practice. Teaching these things early on will change futures.
After you put out the biggest fires, and have some success in coping better, take some time away from your triggers, and rest your mind.
Like a locomotive out of gas and in need of parts, there are times we need to pull into the station and get repairs. It will take some time to get the train moving. Wounded people need healing, direction, safety, and occasionally, a clean start, a place where they see order and solutions.
You can do it, and you can help someone else do it.
The LORD will always guide you; He will satisfy you in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets of Dwelling.
Barefoot and writing,
for more information, read the post on Healing Inner Wounds.
For further Christian perspective from an outside source: https://biblicalcounselingcenter.org/how-to-overcome-an-addiction/