Dr Martin Luther King Jnr and Coping Strategies

In the week that we celebrate the work of Dr King I remembered hearing his speech “Proud to be Maladjusted “.

I work as a trauma informed art therapist working with people who are impacted by discrimination, through racism, ableism, homophobia, sexism, trans-phobia and the intersections of these oppression’s.

I wanted to share some reflections and the words of Dr King to consider what we might be asking people to cope with when we offer some suggestions for ‘coping strategies’?

Today I am reflecting on the term ‘coping strategies’ and what this means within the profession of psychology. It’s not a phrase I am comfortable with so I googled the term. This is the first thing that came up.

What are some common coping strategies?

Some common coping mechanisms may challenge you to:

  • Lower your expectations.
  • Ask others to help or assist you.
  • Take responsibility for the situation.
  • Engage in problem solving.
  • Maintain emotionally supportive relationships.
  • Maintain emotional composure or, alternatively, expressing distressing emotions.
  • Challenge previously held beliefs that are no longer adaptive.
  • Directly attempt to change the source of stress.
  • Distance yourself from the source of stress.
  • View the problem through a religious perspective.

“But I say to you, my friends … there are certain things in our nation and in the world (about) which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leave millions of G-d’s children smothering in an air tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence.

I’m … convinced … that there is need for a new organization in our world”. Dr King Jnr 1963

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