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

  • 2220
    Posted at 15:30h, 08 March Reply

    I sort of got into an argument with my friends about something and it didn’t end well. I shouldn’t have acted so angry and should have let the whole situation go but I acted in the moment and regret it. We are not friends anymore.

  • WLKHS2213
    Posted at 15:26h, 08 March Reply

    A maladaptive response I’ve recently had was being a little rude to friends when I would be in a bad mood.

  • WLKHS2219
    Posted at 15:24h, 08 March Reply

    A maladaptive response I had recently was like Franco I felt like I was never good enough during my practices I would give everything I had and my stunts would not hit at times and I felt my other people in my group were getting mad at me and then I would get mad at myself.

  • WLKHS2218
    Posted at 15:23h, 08 March Reply

    I can’t really think of any right now. I guess one is that I’ve felt really down and stressed about some things in my life and a maladaptive response I’ve had recently is eating a lot of sweets to help myself feel better.

  • wlkhs2207
    Posted at 15:23h, 08 March Reply

    A maladaptive response I have had recently was holding in what I have thought on a recent situation. This was bad because instead of explaining how I felt in the first place, I held it in and when people would ask me what was wrong I said nothing. I then realized that you have to talk about how you feel, rather than hold it in because by holding it in you are only stressing yourself out.

  • WLKHS2216
    Posted at 15:22h, 08 March Reply

    No, I am usually pretty on task.

  • WLKHS 2208
    Posted at 15:18h, 08 March Reply

    Recently, a maladaptive response I’ve had would be seeing one of my class grades struggling and not go seek extra help. In the end, this is not going to aid me, it can only degrade the situation. If anything, going to the teacher to at least explain my discontent with my grade would have shown some initiative, but alas, I did not.

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