According to famous psychologist, Tobin (1984, 2001), people cope with situations in myriad ways. One set of these coping mechanisms is understood as ‘engagement coping’ which requires the active involvement of the individual to reduce the cause of his/ her stress while the other is described as ‘disengagement coping’.
Tobin regards mental and behavioural methods employed to solve the problem, relooking of the situation from a different perspective, seeking guidance from significant others and expressing one’s emotions as engagement coping practices. Disengagement coping includes avoiding the problem, wishful thinking, criticizing one’s self for the difficult situation one is in and withdrawing from significant others. Research suggests that engagement coping strategies are productive in nature while disengagement coping methods are maladaptive or deconstructive in nature.
While many people are able to effectively cope with the problem at hand sooner or later, some are unable to do so and resort to dysfunctional practices such as self-harm and substance abuse. Such people may also show depressive and anxiety symptoms. If not taken seriously and dealt with properly, these symptoms may take the form of clinical anxiety and depression.
Coping with the Situation
Below are enumerated some simple strategies to cope with a situation effectively:
- Put yourself in challenging situations:
We learn to adapt and cope when we challenge our abilities and move out of our comfort zone. To achieve big one has to think big and try big.
- Cherish the journey:
It’s important to understand that it’s the journey of having a purpose in life and making efforts in the right direction which carries value and not the result as there are multiple factors that determine one’s success. Success is not certain, however, it’s a known fact that those who did succeed decided not to give up and continued their journey despite all obstacles.
- Give your best in everything:
Give your best in all the tasks you do. Always mentally prepare for the worst, recognizing that not everything is within your control.
- Accept failures:
Accept failures and the notion that it is normal to fail. One failure in no way determines another failure. Failure and success are the two sides of the same coin. No one fails all the time and no one succeeds in all situations. If Plan A doesn’t work try one always has the option of trying Plan B. Unrealistic expectations of winning always lead to constant pressure and stress.
- Ignore social media content:
Social media content is what people want to show to the public which need not necessarily always be the reality. People discuss their successes on the social media platform to satisfy their need for recognition and refrain from opening up about their failures. This practice leads other people to engage in social comparison and underestimate their abilities.
Read stories of famous people who failed several times before they finally succeeded. This makes one realize the universality of experiencing failures. Failing is common to all irrespective of one’s socioeconomic status, religion, caste and race.
- Talk openly about your failures:
Humans hesitate to talk about their failures. Talking comfortably about one’s mistakes and blunders in public and discussing one’s learnings from them shows the correct mindset to live in life.
- Every day is an opportunity:
Life is an opportunity and each single day is an opportunity of its kind. In the Mughal era, when the Mughals failed any battle, they thanked God for being still alive to be able to fight another battle. This kind of mindset can never let anyone lose one’s confidence in himself/herself.
- Correct parenting:
Parents reinforce and motivate children when they succeed. Failures of children are rarely discussed in a healthy constructive way amongst social circles. It’s important to share with children one’s failures equally as one’s successes so that children understand that their primary caregivers and role models too failed and constructively converted their failures into successes.
- Remind yourself of your successes:
It is a human tendency to do selective attention and selective retention of failures and to forget one’s successes. The right attitude is to focus on your successes and trivialize one’s failures.
- Correct thinking:
Dichotomous thinking is irrational in nature as in reality there exists shades of grey. It’s a choice to regard the candidate who came second as a runner-up or a failure who could not win the race.
Be mindful that more than being prepared for one’s success, one needs to be able to deal effectively with one’s failures. Children must be prepared by parents and teachers to handle their failures and learn from them.