Coping Skills

Coping Skills


Coping skills are those skills that we use to offset disadvantages in day to day life. Coping skills can be seen as a sort of adaptation, such as the finely tuned hearing that many visually impaired people develop.

Coping skills can be positive or negative. Positive coping skills help us get through situations at nearly the same level as those who do not have the disadvantage. Negative coping skills, however, may provide short-term relief or distraction, but ultimately worsen our disadvantage.

In many cases the same coping skills and techniques may be either adaptive or maladaptive, this is dependent on how they are used.



Here is a list of coping skills and techniques which will help to make the subject clearer.



Defence mechanism

Defence mechanisms are the unconscious coping strategies which people use to protect or defended ego by reducing anxiety that generated from unacceptable or negative impulses.

  • Repression: The automatic inhibition of a threaten impulse is called repression. It is an unconscious forgetting or blocking from consciousness of internal impulses, feeling or thoughts which are unacceptable to the conscious self. For example a woman is unable to recall that she was raped.


  • Displacement: The expression of an unwanted feeling or thought is redirected from a threatening, powerful person to a weaker one. For example a clerk, being maltreated by his boss, may displaced his anger towards the peon or his wife or children.


  • Rationalization: It is a defence mechanism in which a person tries to justify his unacceptable social behaviour or act by giving socially acceptable reasons for it and thus attempts to deceive others and him by giving good reasons to explain his conduct. For example a person who is passed over for an award says she didn’t really want it in the first place.


  • Projection: People attribute unwanted impulses and feelings to someone else. For example a man who is angry at his father acts lovingly to his father but complains that his father is angry with him.


  • Sublimation: People divert unwanted impulses into socially approved thoughts, feelings or behaviour. For example a person with strong feeling of aggression becomes a soldier.


  • Reaction Formation: Unconscious impulses are expressed as their opposite in conscious ness. For example a mother who unconsciously resents her child acts in an overly loving way to the child.


  • Acting out: Expressing an unconscious wish or impulse through action to avoid being conscious of an accompanying effect. For example a person who is angry with someone may punch on the wall instead of saying that he is angry’


  • Dissociation: Temporarily but drastically modifying a person’s character or one’s sense of personal identity to avoid emotional distress.


  • Intellectualization: Using intellectual processes to avoid unacceptable emotions. For example focusing on the details of a funeral as opposed to sadness and grief.


  • Suppression: Consciously or semi consciously avoid anxiety provoking incidents and pushing into the unconscious. For example trying to forget some memories that induces anxiety and depression.


  • Superiority Complex: It is a defence mechanism in which people express superiority to cover-up his shortcomings.


  • Introjection: Internalizing the quality of an object.


  • Fantasy:  Tendency to retreat into fantasy  in order to resolve inner and outer conflicts and to obtain gratification.


  • Passive Aggression: Passively expression of aggression towards other. For example negativism, stubbornness or acting of illness that affects others more than one self.


  • Somatization: Converting negative feelings into negative bodily symptoms such as pain, illness or anxiety and tending to react with somatic manifestation.


  • Hypocondriasis: Excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness.


  •   Denial: People refuse to accept or acknowledge an anxiety producing piece of information. For example a student refuses to believe that he has flunked a course.


  • Isolation: Separation of feelings from ideas and events. Social isolation refers to absence of object relationships.


  • Withdrawal: Removing oneself from events or interactions under the threat of being reminded of painful thoughts and events


  • Anticipation: Realistic anticipation or planning for future discomfort.


  •   Regression: Regression means going backward or returning to the past. People behave as if they were at an earlier stage of development. For example an older boy may act as a child when his new brother is born and he feels neglected or deprived.


  • Altruism: Using constructive and gratifying service to other that bring pleasure and self satisfaction.


  • Humour: Using comedy to express feelings and thoughts that gives pleasure to others.


  • Identification: Unconscious modelling of oneself upon another person’s character and behaviour.


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