Difference Between Overcoming Difficulties and Overcoming Emotions

When dealing with excessive stress, there is no one right way to deal with the problem. Different situations require different responses, primarily depending on whether the problem is under your control. How do you know if you’re overly emotional or that the only thing you can do is focus on your own feelings?

This will help split your arsenal of coping strategies into two different approaches: problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. Understanding what these approaches mean will allow you to determine which one is right for your particular situation.

What is the difference between overcoming problems and emotions?

According to VeryWell Mind , problem-based coping skills focus on changing the situation, while emotion-based coping skills focus on changing how you feel. One strategy is not better than another; different challenges require different answers. For example, if you’re dealing with poor performance at work, it might make sense to focus on the problem rather than the emotions. This means working with your boss to create a problem-focused improvement action plan, rather than just focusing on your own emotional response to the situation.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with grief or loss, coping skills should come to the fore. It can be tempting to focus on problem-focused methods, which can actually be a kind of denial since you have little control over the tragedy that is occurring. Taking care of your emotions is a priority here.

Most situations require a bit of both types of coping skills. For example, in response to a poor performance review, you may also use emotion-focused strategies, journaling, or exercise to deal with your frustration.

Examples of Healthy Coping Strategies

As we have already mentioned, there is not always one best way to cope. Here are some examples of coping strategies that can be applied to a wide range of problems:

  • Establishing and maintaining boundaries.
  • Meditation or mindfulness.
  • Journaling .
  • Physical exercises.
  • Ending unhealthy relationships.
  • Take time for yourself before overreacting or lashing out at someone.
  • Distract yourself with hobbies or friends.
  • Making to-do lists and setting goals.
  • Meeting with your boss, partner, or anyone else who can help you solve the problem.
  • Ask a friend or professional for support.

Understanding the difference between problem-focused and emotion-focused coping skills is a useful foundation for dealing with the source of your stress. Often you will use both sets of skills. Be honest with yourself about how much control you really have in the situation so that you can resolve the issue accurately and also take care of your emotions.


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