Managing or Coping?

to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit.                                          Ephesians 4:23 (The Voice)

I was talking with a client recently and she talked about “coping” with certain situations. I asked if I could help her see that another word might work better. I suggested that she talk about “managing” those issues rather than coping with them. Why is that important? Well, I think words matter, and even nuances like the difference between “coping” and “managing” can mean a lot.   

The word coping tends to be a passive word, like “enduring”. While coping with problems or chronic situations can be considered a good thing, I think that it implies a certain passivity or maybe even a sense of helplessness.

Managing a situation, however, implies a sense of control. It says “There are things that I can do or that I am now doing that can help me in this situation.” Managing does not mean alleviating necessarily. It does however give a sense of power and control, even if we cannot completely change the outcome.

One does not think about saying “I am coping with my diabetes” (at least I hope not). One does say “I am managing my diabetes to keep it under better control.” The same is true with anxiety and depression. Yes, there is a sense of making peace with the idea that we need help with these conditions, but then we do the things we need to do. We manage them through therapy, medication, exercise, spiritual and social connections, and developing a support team.

The words we use to explain our situation may indicate some hidden feelings about what is happening. Thinking in terms of behaviors that we can do to better take control of the things that are causing us pain is a more helpful way to look at those things.

Prayer: Lord, give us the discernment to see that we can change the way we look at problems, Amen.

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