On the last track, we discussed Mind Reading. This included calibrated communication and parataxic distortion.
On this track, we will discuss the Cognitive Behavior Therapy technique of Coping Through Healthy Self-Talk. Coping Through Healthy Self-Talk will include: preparing for confrontation, coping with confrontation and coping in retrospect.
Melanie, age 30, worked for a large utility where she acted as a union representative. In this job, Melanie was forced to deal with conflict. Melanie had strong beliefs about the right and just course of action. Often enough, people violated these convictions, and Melanie found herself embroiled in escalating arguments. Melanie asked me, "Is there any way I can do my job without feeling like people are making personal attacks on me all the time?"
#1 Preparing for Confrontation
First, let’s discuss preparing for confrontation. I stated to Melanie, "When preparing for confrontation, you need to do several important things.
a. First, you have to reassure yourself that you have the skills to handle it.
b. Second, you need to neutralize any potential anger-triggering thoughts.
c. Third, you need to realize any buildup of physiological tension.
d. Finally, you should focus on the task ahead."
CBT Technique: Statements for Preparing for Confrontation
There are four parts to preparing for a confrontation. These include reassurance, stopping trigger thoughts, physiological coping and sticking to the task. You will need a statement for each one to say to yourself when preparing for a confrontation.
-- Step #1 - For reassurance, examples of statements might include, "I can manage the situation, I know how to handle my anger," "I can find a way to say what I want," or "This could be a testy situation, but I trust my coping skills. I believe in myself."
-- Step #2 - For stopping trigger thoughts, statements might include techniques from track 5, ("stand in their shoes" technique" and "Pros and cons" technique) for dealing with the four fallacies of should. These statements might include, "I’m responsible for doing something about my pain," "I can’t expect people to act the way I want them to," or, "When they disappoint me, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care."
-- Step #3- Physiological coping statements might include, "When my muscles get tight, it’s time to relax and slow things down" or "Take a deep breath and visualize my special place."
-- Step #4 - Sticking to the task statements might include, "I’ll state my needs clearly and simply. What do I want here?" "Try to understand his or her needs and concerns here," or, "Conflict is escalating. Time to try another strategy."
#2 Coping with Confrontation
Second, let’s discuss regarding coping with confrontation, I stated to Melanie, "When the provocation actually begins, when you start to feel the first physiological signs of anger, it’s again time to remind yourself to relax and focus on the task. You’ll also need coping thoughts to help as you get more aroused and the offender gets more angry."
Technique: Statements for Coping with Confrontation
There are four parts to coping with confrontation. Like preparing for a confrontation, these include physiological coping and sticking to the task. They also include coping with arousal and coping with an angry person.
-- Statements for coping with arousal might include, "Getting mad will cost me ____blank_____." (insert the negative consequences of anger in the situation), "Easy does it, remember to keep a sense of humor" or "If I’m stuck in a bad situation, I’ll think about how to handle this in the future."
-- Statements for coping with an angry person might include, "He’d probably like me to get real angry. Well, I’m going to disappoint him," "I don’t have to take shit, I’ll simply withdraw from the conversation" or "What needs or beliefs or values influence him to act this way?"
#3 Coping in Retrospect
Third, in addition to preparing for confrontation and coping with confrontation, let’s discuss coping in retrospect.
I stated to Melanie, "An important part of coping is knowing how to handle the aftermath; how to cool off and leave it alone. A conflict will end one of two ways—either it will be unresolved or it will be successfully resolved. When a conflict is successfully resolved, however, don’t forget to celebrate!"
CBT Technique: Statements for Coping in Retrospect
You will need a coping mantra for when a problem is unresolved and also when a conflict is resolved successfully. When a problem is unresolved, coping statements might include, "Try to shake it off. Don’t let it interfere," "I’ll get better at this as I get more practice" or "Can I laugh about it? It’s probably not so serious."
Coping statements for when a problem is resolved successfully might include, "It could have been a lot worse," "I actually got through that without getting angry" or "My pride can sure get me in trouble, but when I don’t take things too seriously, I’m better off."
Do you have a Melanie who has difficulty coping with confrontation? Could he or she benefit from hearing this track?
On this track, we discussed Coping Through Healthy Self-Talk. This included preparing for confrontation, coping with confrontation and coping in retrospect.
On the next track, we will discuss Active Responses to Anger. These include expressing a specific need and negotiating.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Compton, R. J., Arnstein, D., Freedman, G., Dainer-Best, J., Liss, A., & Robinson, M. D. (2011). Neural and behavioral measures of error-related cognitive control predict daily coping with stress. Emotion, 11(2), 379–390.
Friedman-Wheeler, D. G., Litovsky, A. R., Prince, K. R., Webbert, J., Werkheiser, A., Carlson, E., Hoffmann, C., Levy, K., Scherer, A., & Gunthert, K. C. (2019). Do mood-regulation expectancies for coping strategies predict their use? A daily diary study. International Journal of Stress Management, 26(3), 287–296.
Sugarman, D. E., Nich, C., & Carroll, K. M. (2010). Coping strategy use following computerized cognitive-behavioral therapy for substance use disorders. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24(4), 689–695.
What are the Three Methods of Coping Through Healthy Self-Talk? To select and enter your answer go to .