Developing Healthy Adjustment Patterns

Most of us developed adjustment patterns in childhood. Some of these coping skills are healthy and some are unhealthy. For example, perhaps you woke up one morning and suddenly remembered you had in test in school that day and you hadn’t studied. Your stomach turned over and you felt a lot of anxiety as you contemplated the outcome of your procrastination. So you told your mother you didn’t feel well and didn’t want to go to school that day. Your mother looked at you and believed you. Your problem was solved. You learned you could get out of difficult situations by being sick. So the next time something stressful comes along, you get sick. This pattern continues into adulthood, and before long you’re not even aware you’re doing it.

There is hope. Unhealthy patterns of adjustment can be acknowledged and changed into healthy coping skills. For example, one woman told me she used to make her husband listen to long lists of his character flaws. Her husband responded by defending himself. She had learned to deal with troubling emotions and relationship issues when she was a child by watching her parents berate each other. She knew no other way. Now as an adult, she felt chronically frustrated with her husband because he never listened attentively or attempted any significant change.

One day just after she finished another verbal beating, her husband responded by saying, “Honey, did it occur to you that I could come up with a list of your faults, too?”

This woman told me she was dumbfounded because she had never considered her husband’s point of view. The next time she felt like reading her husband a long list of his faults, she tried seeing matters from his perspective. She consciously took a good look at herself and what she was doing that contributed to the friction in their relationship. When she did this, her mind was filled with positive actions she could take to improve their relationship. This woman has successfully changed a negative pattern of adjustment into a positive coping skill that continues to serve her well.

1 comment:

April said...

love your perspective mom. You're amazing. (I'm so lucky I get YOU)