With the help of the group, we looked at ways that we have used up to now to cope with the distress that came with the abuse. Some of these methods may have helped us in the short-term but we may find they no longer serve us. Some of our ways of coping may be self-destructive, sabotaging our chances of recovery. We may have needed to use them as a crutch to get this far but with the help of the program we can let the harmful coping skills go.
Some examples of destructive patterns may be excessive use of alcohol, drugs, unsafe sex, overeating, self harm or attempts of suicide. Other examples may be entering other abusive relationships, non-compliance of medication, overspending or acting reckless. In this step we identify times and habits that are unique to our journey where we may receive short-term relief but hurt ourselves in the longer term.
We recognise that if we have used these methods of coping for a long time then it will be difficult to change our ways. They may have become our default way of coping with struggle. The group will however help us to address these and if necessary we will reach for outside help eg with addiction.
We deserve to free ourselves from the solutions that we found which have turned out to just cause us additional problems. We know that there are other ways that can relieve our pain and not cause the same destruction in our lives. We have the courage to see that some of our unhealthy coping mechanisms cause hurt to the ones we love and this is not what we want. When we have admitted and addressed our unhealthy skills then we move onto step 5 to replace them with healthy strategies. We may not have known better before but we do now, and we choose to do the right thing in spite of any dependancies.
“ if we keep doing what we have always done we will keep getting what we have always got“ Batemen
Step 4: We made a list of the unhealthy coping mechanisms and destructive patterns that we have used to cope with the abuse.