DEC 30 2020 | 3 MINS                                           

Written By Brandie Janay Sanders

Maladaptive behaviors inhibit your ability to adjust healthily to particular situations. In essence, they prevent you from adapting or coping well. Lesson two from my mental mirror is called maladaptive due to the several times I failed to EFFECTIVELY cope with my trauma. We all like to feel “healed” and active when working to process negative events. I think this lesson was the most important for me in understanding who I am, and how I process things. I found it incredibly important to ask myself: Is this helping me or simply distracting me? For me, the things I thought were helping me “cope” were essentially just distracting me and when faced with the opportunities to respond differently to things and people who triggered me, I often responded the same. The reflection I saw when looking into my mental mirror was literally screaming at me, “You are not healed if you are still triggered by the same things.” You know that moment a friend makes a small joke that you may laugh at but has totally destabilized you for the rest of the day? Suddenly, you find yourself feeling incredibly uneasy and thrust into a mode of panic and anxiety. When it comes to triggers, it’s important to understand what they mean and why they are there. Why is it that this person’s comments or behavior have made me this incredibly uncomfortable?

A trigger is an unhealed emotional wound. Let our triggers be our teachers for how to find healing. If you continue to struggle with the same trigger, you have not properly healed the wound. So yes, as busy as I was with work and with striving to move forward both personally and professionally. This was maladaptive to actually cope with my emotional wounds. While weeks and months passed, and I seemed to be doing quite well at moving on and making peace… the second an individual touched my emotional wound, I was quick to respond impulsively and irrationally because my wound while bandaged, was simply covered… not healed. Ouch. It was quite a humbling experience to be very adamant about self-help and healing and come to the realization I, myself had been doing it all wrong. Some of the behaviors I thought were helping me that were actually a distraction were:

  • Overworking myself, picking up extra shifts, and staying busy.
  • Being an overachiever, perfectionist, and control freak.
  • Overthinking, and ineffectively trying to prepare for the worst.
  • Too much social media.
  • Too much socializing, because isolation was uncomfortable.

It is important to understand maladaptive coping is a trauma response. It's normal to cope with things the wrong way. It is normal to think these things are helping when they are not. That’s how the mind attempts to provide relief. The problem is that temporary relief does not provide permanent solutions. So what did my triggers and maladaptive coping skills teach me about healing? It taught me that triggers are not people. It was not the person that hurt me or the person that I needed to heal from. It was their behaviors that disturbed something in me that was present long before the individual came into my life.​

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