coping is not a sign of weakness (erin jean warde)
We all experience reasons why we need to cope. And coping can be good; it’s how we care for ourselves.
“Coping is not a sign of weakness. Coping is a sign you are human.”
I sometimes feel like a broken record as I de-stigmatize coping, but I keep talking about it because it keeps being important in my personal life, how I care for my spiritual directees, and in how I offer support as a recovery coach.
It’s important to remember that coping is normal. We all experience reasons why we need to cope. And coping can be good; it’s how we care for ourselves. For those of us who have come out of difficult situations, our coping strategies — no matter what they are — have probably kept us alive against all odds. Often the deep resiliency that we have created was made possible through the ways that we have coped with the inevitabilities of being human. Regardless of what our coping looked like, it kept us alive, and it shouldn’t be something that we are ashamed of.
Again: Coping is not a sign of weakness. Coping is a sign you are human.
And yet, we can also come to the realization that we don’t like how we are coping, and want to change it, which is the work I do in recovery coaching. When we choose to change how we cope, we aren’t beating ourselves up for needing to cope, nor are we choosing to never cope again, because that is impossible! No, when we seek healing in this way, we are just trying to cope differently.
Today, I want to share a simple but powerful tool I have used in my journey to cope differently. It’s something you may have heard of before, but I was new to it when I learned of it for the first time, and it is a practice I use to this day. It’s called HALT.
HALT stands for:
This check-in is often my first line of defense. If I begin to feel off, jittery, triggered, flustered, frustrated, I try to pause and go through the HALT inventory.
Hungry — You’d be surprised how often I realize it is 3p.m. and I have not had lunch. I try to get something to eat, preferably something with a little protein (chocolate covered almonds!) but eating something is better than nothing, so I’m not strict with myself.
Angry — When I stop to think about it, I can sometimes realize I’m angry, and I pause to write it out. Or literally talk about it, out loud, to myself or a friend.
Lonely — It only takes a few seconds for me to text a friend a meme to give me a little boost from my loneliness. Or I sometimes just check in with people on Twitter.
Tired — Instead of pushing myself harder, when I realize I need rest I try to make it possible. And, when I’m having a really low night (lonely and tired!), sometimes I just accept that I’m tired and put myself to bed.
This doesn’t cover all the reasons why I may be struggling, but it is a great first tool to use when I need to bring some awareness to my trigger, rather than letting it drive the bus.
I hope this gives you a way to check-in with yourself when you are struggling and understandably need to cope. I hope you can be gracious with yourself when you feel those feelings of being jittery, triggered, or frustrated, because these are the inevitabilities of being alive. You are not weak, you are human, and you can heal.
Instead of waiting until you are in a moment of struggling, do the HALT inventory more generally. Bring mindfulness into your relationship with hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness. Think about how you might respond to each of these realities, so that if you feel triggered by them, you already have an idea of how you might cope differently.
programs & offerings
〰 You are more than welcome to sign up for 1:1 coaching, but please note: any appointments made now are for September or later! You can read more below.
out of office
Friends, I will be out of the office without access to computer and email August 19-September 4. There will be no paid or free posts during this time, as I unplug and reset! This means my next availability for all appointments — spiritual direction or recovery coaching — is in September. Thanks for being patient with me right now!
My work tends to attract some who are looking for spirituality, some who are looking for sobriety, and some are looking for both! This Substack certainly mentions my sobriety, and today I offered some practical coping skills, but it does not really dig into sobriety content, as it tends to focus mostly on spirituality. I can’t ever truly differentiate the two, because of who I am, but I’ve been thinking lately about how to honor the different reasons why you think this is worth getting another e-mail in your inbox (which means a lot to me).
I am pondering this question — how to best represent sobriety, spirituality, and the different other topics I explore here — but in the meantime, when I get back in September, I will be creating resources to be shared on my Instagram in hopes it can become a hub to support people with sobriety, spirituality, and more. So check that out if you are interested! (And if you don’t want to join Instagram, I’ll probably start sharing some of them in these newsletters.)
As we wrap up our current book for book club (only 11 more days! but all reflections are available in the archive) please note that I am already thinking about our next book! I will decide before August 19th, so I can announce, and the study itself will begin in September!
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