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  • Writer's pictureAcelli Crippen-Kok

Difference Between Coping and Healing

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

When we’re in the thick of a threat, our body and mind are thrown into a tailspin. We do all we can in order to get through the challenging time so we experience minimal damage, or pain as we climb out of the trauma. This is coping. It’s how we’re able to push through, and it can take an extended period of time. However, many people stay in the coping phase and struggle to move into the healing phase. And the truth is you can’t live your entire life coping. You have to transition to healing at some point in order to live a full, happy life.

So what’s healing? If coping gets me through the pain and suffering, isn’t that healing me? Nope. It’s not. The healing is what happens once the threat is gone. Trauma is a beast, and it needs healing so you can come out of it stronger, wiser, and ready to welcome happier times.

coping vs healing from trauma

Coping Mechanisms Help You Through

Many of us learn to slap a bandaid on our pain, and move on. Shake it off. Throw some dirt on it and get back out there. How often have your family and friends said “let’s get a drink and it’ll make you forget all about it”? We have a variety of coping mechanisms and coping strategies. Some are good and can get you through a problem without causing even more damage than the original trauma, and then there are the unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Do Less of These Coping Mechanisms If Possible

I’m not here to tell you to never do these things to get through the pain, but there are better ways to cope until you can get to the healing process.

  • Excessive alcohol or drug use

  • Eating every last drop of ice cream from the gallon container, or entire bags of family-sized chips

  • Buying ALL THE THINGS at your favorite stores, or add to cart and then adding some more online

  • Harmful punishments you inflict on yourself (cutting, for example)

Do More of These Coping Mechanisms When Possible

To move through the pain and set yourself towards a path to a more successful healing process, these coping mechanisms will be most helpful.

  • Feel the urge to grab a bag of chips, divert it with some meditation

  • Overcome with the desire to head to the store to charge your way into debt, go for a walk or find another way to incorporate physical activity into your day (spontaneous dancing is one of my favorites)

  • Find yourself eying the the bottles of alcohol lined up in your kitchen, ask for help by calling a trusted friend you know will listen instead of offer their opinions

  • When you feel like hurting yourself, take a deep breath and reach for something you know brings you joy like your favorite book, or paint brushes

Learning to Heal

Coping allows you to build up your resiliency to all the stress and trauma, which has you feeling like you’re healed. In reality, all you’ve been doing with your coping mechanisms is alleviating the symptoms whilst in the moment of stress or anxiety. Now it’s time to heal.

In order to heal, you have to dig deeper. You must expose that nerve, feel all the pain, express the feelings so you can learn to understand them. You won’t be able to process the pain until you acknowledge it, feel it, understand it, and honestly, marinate in it. After sinking deep into what is hurting you, stressing you, making you anxious, you can resolve them and let them go.

Oh, but there's more. Letting go and moving on from what’s causing you pain and suffering doesn’t solve all of your problems and heal you. Healing requires learning from past experiences so you can find ways to handle similar situations when they arise, making sure they no longer intensely interfere with your quality of life!

Need Help Transitioning from Coping to Healing

Surviving isn’t enough if you want to thrive in this life. You don’t have to struggle as you move from using coping mechanisms into the healing process. Help is here and dedicated to helping you:

  • heal from what hurt you

  • make long-term changes in your life

  • reclaim your power

  • thrive

Let’s move you from the coping phase into healing, together.

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