Tip 3: Choose adaptive versus maladaptive responses to situations

When you choose adaptive ways to express yourself, your actions and responses are generally positive and promote communication and peace. Nice.

When you choose maladaptive ways to express yourself, your actions are negative and promote more problems. Ugh, gross, run.

Think of the word adaptive as beneficial or helpful and maladaptive is thus NOT helpful or beneficial.

Let’s look at this example:

Franco and George were talented athletes and best friends in elementary and middle school. They played baseball, soccer and basketball together since kindergarten. When they tried out for varsity in 9th grade, George made it and Franco did not. Although Franco said it was no big deal, George wondered if that was how Franco really felt. That weekend, Franco went to a party and was offered some alcohol. He drank too much. He wanted to forget his feelings about not making the team. He hated that he had let down his parents and wasn’t as good as his best friend anymore. Since the try-outs, he has been mean to his friend and embarrassed to be around his dad because his dad always put so much pressure on him to do well.

That night at the party, Franco went home drunk, got caught, got punished and began a spiral of bad behavior until George intervened, as a good friend would, and helped Franco deal with his issues. Franco had a lot going on. His “button” was that he feels he will never be good enough for his dad. (Confused about the term, “button”? See previous post.) Not making the team activated this button (confirmed to Franco that his feelings might be true) but he wasn’t aware of this and thus acted out his frustration, hurt, and shame instead. He chose maladaptive behaviors (drinking and being mean to his best bud) that ultimately only made him feel worse about the situation.

Can you see where Franco chose maladaptive responses to feeling like he let people down? Drinking is not going to solve the problem. It’s not even going to help anyone feel better. It’s definitely a maladaptive reaction.

What could Franco have done? What can you do when faced with tough situations or emotions that feel overwhelming?  How can you make adaptive choices? Here are some steps to keep in mind:

Become aware of your feelings. Franco felt like a loser and that he let down himself, his best friend and his dad. Sometimes it’s really difficult to come to terms with exactly how you are feeling, but when you are aware of them, you can decide how to express them.

Speak your mind in a way that helps people understand how you feel. Franco told George and his father how badly he felt about the whole thing. Communicate in a way that helps people understand how you are feeling.

If people don’t accept your truth, that is about them, not you: Don’t take it personally. George understood, but Franco’s father was still really upset with him. That’s Franco’s dad’s problem, not Franco’s.

Choose adaptive ways to deal with your emotions. Franco played sports as much as possible and vowed to practice hard enough to make the team next year. Make a list for yourself of things you can do that make you feel better or that release your emotions in a positive, adaptive way.

Post Question:

Care to share a maladaptive response you’ve had recently?

Answer the post question here

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What's being said

  • wlkhs2221
    Posted at 15:17h, 08 March Reply

    A maladaptive response I have had is procrastinating my homework for hours because I am tired from sports and not getting enough sleep. This affects my grades and my own well being.

  • WLKHS2215
    Posted at 15:16h, 08 March Reply

    My mom got mad at me for not helping with dinner. I asked my sister if she could explain to me how to make something and when I kept getting out the wrong pans, she got annoyed with me and yelled at me. I got upset and left, and only caused more trouble with my sister and mom. When I went back into the kitchen I told my sister that I didn’t know what pan I had to use, and that I didn’t enjoy her yelling at me, but I was yelling at her then too.

  • wlkhs2204
    Posted at 15:12h, 08 March Reply

    No not recently, I do not really like it when people feel sorry for me because then it just gets me down… I rather confront the problem head on my myself then be stuck in a limbo between things.

  • sally
    Posted at 14:01h, 08 March Reply

    Not recently but usally when I get upset I say vulgar things and it is a very mad and it is bad but I am trying to work on it to better myself and the people around me.

  • WLKHS 2110
    Posted at 02:27h, 05 March Reply

    living to my parents about being somewhere that I actually wasn’t.

  • WLKHS 2326
    Posted at 23:55h, 04 March Reply

    A maladaptive response I’ve had recently is isolating myself from others when I’m upset about something. When I do badly on a test or don’t achieve a goal, I tend to be more irritable and distant towards others.

  • wlkhs2304
    Posted at 01:00h, 03 March Reply

    that last time i answered with a maladaptive response was when got a bad grade on a test and I kept saying to myself stuff that didn’t make me feel better about it. since i usually get good grades i surprised and upset at the same time. plus i was feeling overwhelm at the same time.

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