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Your Personality and Coping

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Coping is a word thrown around in everyday use, but there's a lot more to the science of coping than most people think. The word "coping" refers to a behavioral and neurological response to a stressor. It is safe to assume that most teenagers have experienced a degree of stress at some point in their lives, and every person manages and regards both traumatic and everyday stress differently. Therefore, it can be challenging to find an effective coping method that efficiently manages a stressor. Not all methods and mechanisms are tailored to fit each individual personality, which is why it is important to find a method that works for you. In order to do this, it is important to know your own personality and how you react to stressful or traumatic stimuli.

Personality is an important factor to consider in coping. For example, an individual with a higher level of neuroticism, essentially a tendency towards negative feelings like anxiety, depression, or self-consciousness, will have a harder time mentally and physically dealing with stressful situations. Every person's capacity to handle stressors is different depending on his or her environment, upbringing, mental health, and countless other factors. The most common fallacy of teenage coping is the usage of maladaptive coping mechanisms, or "non-coping" mechanisms, which only serve to avoid, deny, or exacerbate the situation. Maladaptive behaviors can stem from abuse, trauma, or simply a low capacity for dealing with and managing stress. As a high school student, interacting with others affected by stress is notably commonplace, as are the non-coping behaviors such as substance abuse, intrusive thoughts, self-harming, blaming/ self-blaming, sensitization, and rumination (thinking obsessively about the same problem or situation).

In order to effectively manage stressors and adopt an appropriate behavioral response, it is extremely important to be able to acknowledge any maladaptive behaviors or tendencies you may have. Knowing your own personality plays a great role in this considering different maladaptive behaviors are associated with different personalities. For example, practicing safety behaviors and rumination or overthinking would most likely be associated with a more anxious personality. Substance abuse as well as self-harm are behaviors that are associated with a personality more prone to depression. Knowing more about your personality will give you a heads up on what kinds of maladaptive behaviors you are more likely to partake in. You can take a personality test to learn more about your "Big 5" traits with this link!

With this information it is important to remember that there is no "normal" way to deal with any kind of stress or trauma and the most important part of learning about yourself and coping is maintaining mental well-being as well as your capacity to deal with taxing and stressful stimuli in general.

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