​When Coping Mechanisms Start Harming Your Life

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by Ellie Goode

Whenever you go through a stressful situation in life, the intensity of it can cause you to look to other things for a break.




Online dating.

Scrolling through 52,913 TikTok videos.

Reading a book.

Going for a walk.

Playing with your cat while she walks all over your keyboard and accidentally closes your 47 Chrome tabs.

Having tonnes of wild sex with random people.

Watching porn.

Going to the gym.

Or …

Eating some delicious brioche French toast topped with caramelised pecans, mascarpone, and candied raspberries.


All of these things are called resources.

Resources help you when the going gets tough.

Some of them are external (i.e. outside of you).

​And some of them are internal (i.e. inside of you).

Now, it’s super helpful (and important) to have some time away from whatever you’re feeling / thinking / ruminating on.

Otherwise – it can become overwhelming.

And if you’re always “doing the work” on yourself, it can cause your nervous system to go into the freeze response (i.e. it shuts down because the sensations in your body are too much, all the f*cking time).

But — the flip side is — spending too much time resourcing can turn these things into coping mechanisms.

As my mum used to say:

“Everything in moderation” – Ellie’s super wise mum

I’ll add one side-note: “everything in moderation”, except moderation.

Because you need to go hard-core when it comes to moderation 😎

​I like to live life in the fast lane of moderation.​

A coping mechanism is a resource that starts to have negative impacts on your life. 

Coping mechanisms distract you or make you feel numb so that you don’t feel those big, intense emotions or sensations.

Coping mechanisms help you avoid your present mood.

Whereas resources help you while you’re feeling a certain emotion.

For example, watching a Netflix episode or two might help ease that intense fear you’ve been feeling (resourcing).

But if you watch Netflix 7 days a week, it could start harming your work, relationships, and physical health (coping mechanism).

Having a glass of wine once a week might help you relax (resourcing).

But if you drink every night and become dependent on it — it can have harmful effects on your body, sleep, health, and relationships (coping mechanism).

Now – let me say it’s 100% ok to have coping mechanisms.

They have an important role: they help you survive.​
​However, the more coping mechanisms you use, the worse you’re going to feel in the long run (again, moderation is your friend here).

Because you’re avoiding your present emotions – which means they’re staying stuck inside your body on a physiological level.

The fight-flight-freeze energy wants to be discharged from your body.

And while it may feel good in the moment (hello four hours of porn every day / “did I just eat 16 donuts?” / staying up till 2am every night reading just one more chapter) … negative coping mechanisms can leave you feeling more empty, hopeless, and exhausted.

All of which impacts your physical and mental health.

The good news?

There are TONNES of healthy resources that will help improve your life, be present with your emotions, and make you feel more in control. For example:

External resources:

  • Hanging out with good friends
  • Going to the gym
  • Hot water bottles (one of my favourites)
  • A cup of herbal tea
  • Psychedelics / plant medicine
  • Lying naked in the sun (in moderation … we don’t want you turning into a beetroot, as healthy as that may be)
  • Reading your favourite book
  • Listening to music
  • Going for a walk in nature
  • Playing the guitar or painting (full permission to go crazy with some macaroni art)

Internal resources:

  • Feeling your feet on the ground
  • Looking around at your environment and noticing what’s there (ooh I see a giant red cushion, some photo frames, and a few multi-coloured Peruvian hanging decorations)
  • Noticing your breath go in and out (not forcing it or slowing it down, just noticing it)
  • Positive and soothing self-talk
  • Hi-fiving yourself in the mirror (thank you Mel Robbins)
  • Clear boundaries and communicating them to other people
  • Feeling your emotions in a physical way (asking yourself: “where do I feel this ‘fear’ in my body?”)

Any resource can become a negative coping mechanism if you use it too much or become dependent on it (oh hello again moderation, didn’t see you there).

👉 Make a list of your resources / coping mechanisms.

Are they internal or external?

Healthy or unhealthy?

Do they make you feel good or leave you feeling depleted?

Again – it’s totally ok to have coping mechanisms.

You might need them right now.

That’s ok.

Just be aware of them.

Resources are incredible tools that help us survive.

Because feeling your emotions in your body, and working with your nervous system to release the stored survival stress (fight-flight-freeze) – is hard work.

And your body will need a break.

So after reading this super long email (clearly brevity is not my strong suit) … I encourage you to leave behind your electronic devices, step outside, and smell some god damn roses.

At least five of them.






Then do some star jumps.

Run around in a circle.

And have a seven-person orgy at an underground sex dungeon 🍑🍆​

*totally kidding*, unless that’s your jam…

Then go and lay on the grass, staring at the fluffy, white clouds in the sky.

And if you want to know more about resourcing, coping mechanisms, and releasing all that stored survival stress from your body and nervous system – check out Rageheart.

​It will teach you how unleash the beast inside of you 💪

This is an excerpt from one of my free daily emails. Want to join the list? Sign-up here.

Ellie McIntyre - sex money and rage podcast

Ellie Goode Host of the Provocative “Sex, Money & Rage Podcast, Nervous System Junkie, and Plant Psychonaut 🌿

I created Sex, Money & Rage to talk about everything that’s taboo. BDSM. Plant medicine. Healthy Rage. Kink. Emotions. Boundaries. Money issues. Less thinking, more feeling. How to get into your body and silence your overactive mind.

Sex, Money & Rage provides straight-up, powerful nervous system tools to help you dominate life’s toughest moments.

There are affiliate links throughout this website which I may earn commissions on. These links help to keep the Sex, Money & Rage podcast alive 🔥 Thank you for your support! 🤗

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