Tuesday, March 7, 2017

New Class for High School & College Students:Coping Skills 101

Coping Skills is something that seems to be drastically missing in the younger generation and in some of us older ones as well. Recently there have been threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country and acts of vandalism at two Jewish cemeteries. Friday, March 3rd the news broke that an arrest has been made in connection to some of the threats.

According to CNN the individual arrested is a 31 year old former reporter named Juan Thompson. His former employer fired him for creating fraudulent sources for stories. Mr. Thompson (and I use the title Mister lightly) made some of the threats in his ex-girlfriend's name and some were made in his own name. But he hadn't only made threats to Jewish Community Centers, he had also been harassing his ex-girlfriend after their break up last year.

Yeah, this guy has been harassing this woman and terrorizing his community for a few months. The day after the relationship ended, he allegedly sent an email that contained a fake news story to the ex's employer saying she had been arrested for drunk driving the night before. Yeah.

When and where and how did we lose, as humans, the ability to deal with disappointment? What happened to teaching at home and at school that if something doesn't go your way to suck it up? Teach our young people to look at a situation and assess it. Is there something I can do differently? (study harder, apologize, ask for help from a coach) Does this really affect me that much? (My team lost the championship but it doesn't mean I am a loser for life.) What can I learn from this? (Words do matter. Not everyone can come in first place.)

Over the past few years I have had seemingly back to back injuries and recoveries from surgeries. During one particular difficult time I was having anxiety attacks. The kind where i would get an overwhelming sense of  AAAHHHHHHHH, heart racing, breathing affected, feeling like something terrible was going to happen to me any moment. Fortunately, that period of time was brief for me, and I know there are millions of people who deal with it every single day. One thing my therapist taught me to say to myself to help me through those moments. I still use it today if I am facing a difficult situation: I have felt this way before and I survived it. I will survive this too.

For me it is a quick self-check and to assess the situation. Do I need to ask someone for help? Is there something to talk through? Do I need my medicine? I take deep breaths and say those two statements to myself and often I pray as well.

We all need to remind ourselves and each other that this terrible moment (a break up, job loss, injury) will indeed pass. Everything is temporary. I am not suggesting you minimize anyone's circumstance, but we need to help each other navigate the turbulent waters of life.

This guy could be facing felony charges. Threatening a religious center is a very serious crime. Harassment is a serious crime. Where was his self-check? I am sure he had heartbreak or disappoint before. How did he deal with that then? Where was his conscience to say "Dude, we've been here before. It's going to hurt like hell, but it will be okay."

Illegal immigrants don't scare me. ISIS or any other terrorist group doesn't scare me. Young people who have zero coping skills or self-awareness scare the hell out of me. We need to help each other navigate the turbulent waters of life. We need to offer a hand and remind each other, "You have felt this way before and survived. You will survive this too."

What are some of your tried and true coping tricks? I would love to hear them.

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