Coping vs. Healing

Understanding the difference between coping and healing is important for those of us on the holistic path. We don’t often see folks modeling a balanced, integrated approach to dealing with challenges. Coping is very popular in our culture- just turn on the TV for a few minutes and you’re sure to see an example. Or ten.

In my experience, coping comes in a variety of flavors, all of which lean towards checking out of difficult or unpleasant situations. Numbing, distracting, and suppressing are all members of the coping family. If you’re anything like me, you have a wide array of options to choose from, many of which have been perfected over the years.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and place for coping. If you’re in over your head and need a break from overwhelming emotions, sensations, or circumstances, checking out might be the healthiest option available to you in that moment. Sometimes our sanity or survival relies on our ability to put our heads down and slog through whatever crisis lies ahead. There’s absolutely no shame in doing what you need to do to get through the day.

And… coping doesn’t address the source of the problem, so its effects are, at best, temporary and unsatisfying, and often come with undesirable consequences. Reserve coping strategies for the times when there are no other options. Do what you need to do and let’s talk about a plan for treating the root of the problem when the resources to do so become available.  

Healing, or treating a symptom, disease, disorder, malady, or pattern means correcting any imbalance that contributes to its existence. This means looking at belief systems, thought patterns, unexpressed emotions, habits, repetitive movements, and energy flow to see what can be adjusted to support the healing process.

Not nearly as much fun as frozen margaritas and brownies, I know! But immensely more effective and with no queasy regrets the next morning.

OK, great. But now what? How do we actually go about it? I have a lot of ideas, some of which will resonate and others that will likely evoke a … meh… reaction. Depending on your personality and constitution, you’ll either be drawn to the deep end or the gently sloping end of the pool. There is no wrong way to approach healing. The right way is the one that works for you.

Becoming more mindful of what’s actually going on under the surface is a crucial step on the journey. For those of us with unprocessed trauma in our systems, this can stir up some messy, sometimes overwhelming feelings. It is wise to enlist the support of a professional before poking around in your darkest corners if you have difficult, violent, or upsetting experiences in your past that have not been assimilated. Get yourself some guidance before you begin exploring the inner labyrinth.

Efforts that can be applied to healing include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-compassion
  • Prioritize your needs and desires in order to make space for them
  • Set boundaries
  • Honor those boundaries!
  • Regulate the nervous system
  • Make space for your emotions and the accompanying energy
  • Move your body in a way that feels good
  • Slow down/do less
  • Practice being present with yourself no matter what
  • Minimize multitasking
  • Explore and inventory your limiting beliefs and decide which are keepers and which need to be released.
  • Meet every seeming obstacle as an opportunity to heal what lies beneath it.
  • Get lots of support

Reiki is an amazing tool that can help with all of the above activities. It regulates the nervous system and provides an infusion of healing life-force energy, giving us the motivation and capacity to face whatever comes up and deal with it accordingly.

If that sounds like something you’d like to have available at you very fingertips, I’d be delighted to have you in my upcoming beginners Reiki class: Reiki 1, Healing Yourself and Your Loved Ones. We gather online for four sessions, starting on May 4.


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