“The cooperative, loving side of existence goes hand in hand with coping and power, but neither the one nor the other can be neglected if life is to be gratifying.”

— Rollo May

“I choose not to think of my life as surviving, but coping.”

— Lorna Luft

“Humor is many things, but mostly it’s a coping mechanism.”

— Lucy Beaumont

“Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.”

— Virginia Satir

“One of life’s best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem.”

— Robert Fulghum

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

— Winston Churchill

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

— William James

“Coping with the demands of everyday life would be exceedingly trying if one could arrive at solutions to problems only by actually performing possible options and suffering the consequences.”

— Albert Bandura

“Think first of the action that is right to take, think later about coping with one’s fears.”

— Barbara Deming

“We often spend so much time coping with problems along our path that we forget why we are on that path in the first place. The result is that we only have a dim, or even inaccurate, view of what’s really important to us.”

— Peter Senge

I used to think that Ignore/Denial/Smart responses were mutually exclusive endpoints in how we generally address very tough situations. Such as what’s happening today – chaos, power-madness, wars, disease, politics, … – and all proceeding unpredictably. No longer. I now see these as three essential process steps that can help each of us deal effectively – cope – with our own world mess.

Some folks of course do end up in one of these endpoint states, even after much serious thought and struggle. The world today is so hard to know reliably and to understand acceptably. Facts are almost impossible to determine in many cases, and situations change so quickly and unforeseeably as to soon invalidate many conclusions. How can we possibly function in such an uncertain world?

These three coping mechanisms seem to constitute a primary set, usually pursued as separate and mutually-exclusive options:

Since we too often can’t figure out reliably just what might be going on even in our own local world, a natural fallback is simply to ignore as much as possible, and to deal with things only as they appear and forcefully demand our attention. Understanding what’s happening to any significant degree may be either impossible or largely futile. This is a fully reactive coping approach.

We simply refuse to acknowledge or deal directly with difficult events and situations any more than necessary, often on the assumption that nobody truly knows what’s happening. Anyone who claims to know and understand is generally thought to be lying or just clueless. So we might just as well deny whatever anyone else says unless they agree with us. Denial means that it’s not happening. Until it happens. Then we have to cope reactively.

As in “getting smart”. Figuring things out by oneself, often the hard way. Learning by taking positions and assessing results. Often painful and frustrating. Is it even possible to figure things out – to get smart – in so much of our world today?

Each of these seems like a reasonable position to take today, given the incredible mess that our world, personal and global, has become.

Coping seems like what we do when we can’t figure out what else to do.
Coping seems like what we do when we can’t figure out what else to do.

Coping, reactively to situations and events as they unfold

A “coping” approach simply recognizes our general inability to figure out much of anything about what’s going on, or to see more than a short distance ahead. Coping is what we call actions that are mostly reactive.

Exactly what is “coping”? From Wikipedia:

“Coping refers to conscious strategies used to reduce unpleasant emotions. Coping strategies can be cognitions or behaviors and can be individual or social. To cope is to deal with and overcome struggles and difficulties in life. It is a way for people to maintain their mental and emotional well-being.”

“Everybody has ways of handling difficult events that occur in life, and that is what it means to cope. Coping can be healthy and productive, or destructive and unhealthy. It is recommended that an individual cope in ways that will be beneficial and healthy. Managing your stress well can help you feel better physically and psychologically and it can impact your ability to perform your best.”

Umm …

Let’s see if I understand this correctly: Coping is a (mysterious) way of managing (reducing) stress arising from difficult life events (or just living).

Whoa! I not only have to figure out how to respond to my difficult events and situations, but I also have to do so in a way that reduces my stress? Just the thought of this makes my stress level go up even higher.

I am unable to deal with this coping business as outlined by the above vague and so-stressful prescription. Reading further into the Wikipedia article is even scarier.

Simply living is stressful. At least so much of the time, for so many of us. And the level and extent of stress today seems to be increasing. Managing our stress can easily become a fulltime job.

Why should this be so now? Hasn’t life always been rather stressful for most of us?

What is “stress”?

Stress is our body’s physical response to difficult events or situations. Our body produces stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that trigger a fight or flight response and activate our immune system. This helps us respond quickly and often instinctively to dangerous situations. Caveman stuff.

Being chased by a large bear can be very stressful, but this mostly happened to our ancestors. So far, at least.
Being chased by a large bear can be very stressful, but this mostly happened to our ancestors. So far, at least.

Most of our daily stressful events and situations do not require flight or fight responses. They still cause stress hormones to be produced, but our responses are different. We may experience something new or unexpected that threatens our sense of self (but not our physical self in general), or we may simply feel that we have little or no control over the event or situation. So we cope as best we can.

These kinds of stress-generators can cause stress to persist when the situation or event cannot be dealt with – either immediately or within a reasonable period. When we are able to deal with the cause in a timely manner, our stress hormones usually return to normal quickly and without lasting effects.

So many of our stress-generating events and situations today are persistent and frustrating. These may be completely beyond our control, or may require resources or capabilities that we don’t possess. We can become permanently stressed, which may affect our physical and mental health.

Note: “The links between chronic stress and blood pressure are not clear and are still being studied.” Whatever that may mean.

In such cases, we must rely on coping strategies to deal with some level of background, persistent stress. We often can’t tackle the stress sources directly, so we can only deal with our responses to them. We adapt as best we can.

A current example: Many people are terrified of “climate change”. They deeply believe what the fearmongers are predicting. It typically doesn’t matter whether their fears are solidly founded or are simply based on fact-free emotional responses. There is nothing much that any of us can do about the climate crisis threats, apart from supporting actions promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). Doing so – coping in this manner – may make us feel somewhat better and less stressed. Doing what the WHO and WEF tell us to do? Umm …

Climate change (or crisis) as a perceived threat will persist as long as it serves the purposes of powerful people and organizations. Real or not, it is causing enormous stress in so many otherwise normal people.

Climate change – scary stuff for so many people today. Huge stress generator.
Climate change – scary stuff for so many people today. Huge stress generator.

If we can’t do anything about all of this, what can we do? The answer seems to be to cope as best we can with whatever the chaotic world presents to us. But how?

A coping plan for surviving in a chaotic world

First step is to recognize that the vast majority of us normal folks cannot do much of anything about whatever it is that’s going on out there. Whatever is going on will happen regardless of us, although probably not as the instigators might wish. The world system, as I suggested in the prior post, will do its own thing.

This recognition also means that nobody knows what comes next. Nobody. Not the bad guys, nor the mostly well-intentioned good guys. Kind of a black swan world in which much of what happens cannot be foreseen in nature, magnitude, or timing.

So, how might one cope with such a chaotic and unpredictable world?

This is my big question at the moment. If we generally can’t affect or even know reliably whatever may be going on, the best we can do is to manage our personal responses. But, if we can’t know what’s going on, how can we possibly manage our responses effectively?

The answer is coping – whatever this may mean in practice to each of us.

We all deal with stress differently. Our ability to cope can depend on our genetics, early life events, personality, and social and economic circumstances. Among so much else. There is no one-size-fits-all in coping.

And yet, there must be at least a few general approaches that we can use to get us started on something that will work for us personally.

This said, the best that I can suggest here is to explain my approach to the daily events and situations that most seriously impact my world – a perhaps yours as well. An overview:

➧ Recognize that there is virtually nothing happening that I can control or even impact appreciably. The best I can do is to manage my responses.

➧ Reality rules: I am not someone who can deal with events and situations either by ignoring them or by denying that they exist.

➧ My resources, abilities, and time are somewhere between relatively and severely limited. Approaches must be designed with these limitations in mind.

“Reality rules” – in practice

As I have addressed in earlier posts – see here and here for example, there is very little that we can know for sure. “Facts” are most often just beliefs based on whatever evidence and persuasions we may have at each moment. Or they may be simply working assumptions, used as placeholders pending some better information.

As a practical matter, there probably is very little about our big-picture “reality” that we can know from real facts. We know mostly our perceptions and beliefs. These are what we must use as a basis for coping.

This in turn means that it will nearly always be a waste of time and energy to completely “ignore” or “deny” events and situations that are part of my personal reality. But there actually is a role for each of these basic coping approaches …

Ignore? Okay, but selectively. Focus is better.

First item on the Ignore/Denial/Smart coping option list actually makes sense as a first step whatever else you may do. But the key is to ignore selectively, and to focus instead on a very few top priority events and situations. I am a big believer in three’s. Trying to focus on more so often ends up delivering weak or even ineffective outcomes.

Deciding on which of our typically many events and situations to focus is often no small challenge. Of course, you may have one or even two that overwhelm anything else. Serious illness, job loss, death of a loved one. Most of us have at least one that demands our immediate and primary attention.

Note also that what we perceive and believe with respect to our personal events and situations may not reflect what may actually be going on. We can easily misperceive, or simply be wrong in how we understand things. This means that we must maintain our ability to receive new information as it flows in, and to adapt our working understanding of our focus set and related coping actions.

Ignoring selectively to achieve focus may also require maintaining an ability to change our focus set as quickly if necessary. The reality here is that everything changes, and most changes are largely unpredictable. Reality just happens.

Denial? Okay, but selectively, and with research.

By “denial” here is meant pretending, or even believing, that an event or situation does not exist for yourself, or is too unlikely or incomprehensible to think about, let alone address. Denial, as a practical matter, differs from ignoring in that ignoring recognizes the threatening event or situation but chooses not to respond. In denial, you effectively deny the possibility or existence of the threatening event or situation.

Example: I may recognize the threat or reality of WW III, but consciously choose to ignore it. A denial approach would be for me to pretend or believe that WW III in any form can’t and won’t happen.

My approach to coping by “denial” is to deny – refuse to believe – much or even all that others are saying about one or more of my focus events and situations. I may not know what is happening, but I choose not to believe what others are telling me. My denial is in effect a refusal to believe much of what I read and hear – at least as a starting point. Especially from certain sources.

Getting past general denial of a troubling event or situation to a “selective denial” requires some work. You must be willing to avoid general denial – such as … prescribed drugs are never harmful if taken as directed –and to work instead on figuring out for yourself as best you can what may actually be happening. What you could end up denying is much of the input from others, which you now regard as unreliable or wrong.  Our recent COVID experience is a great example here.

My natural tendency to disbelieve anything that strikes me as possibly unfounded, agenda-driven, or mistaken, gave me an “I don’t believe it” COVID denial starting point in early 2020. So much didn’t make sense to me, or appeared to be too-hastily imposed. Masks? Lockdowns? Distancing? My gut response to this extremely important situation was one of great caution. And to do as much research as I could manage and understand. These led to my deciding to resist any mandated action for as long as possible. Subsequent information suggests that this was a very sound coping action, or perhaps just luck.

Smart? Okay, but selectively. Avoiding not-smart is often better.

By “smart” I mean that you base your actions and positions on real evidence and practical considerations as much as possible. Not agenda-driven, nor mostly on emotional bases.

This real trick here, as I have learned over way too many years and hard-way lessons, is to avoid the many pitfalls and potholes that in retrospect should have been evident. It’s the “in retrospect” part that is difficult. Figuring out what to do prospectively makes thinking “in retrospect” more than a bit challenging.

For this reason, my “smart” approach involves trying to identify and avoid “not-smart” actions and positions. A first effort here typically is aimed at finding out what those I consider as “trusted sources” are saying. “Trusted” means credible, objective, rational, and time-tested (more on this below). These sources in turn often point me toward potentially “smart” actions and positions, and to avoiding coping actions that could be not-smart.

Smart to me also means finding some ways to actively respond. Action nearly always makes me feel better, whether or not it actually does anything constructive. Action can be a great stress reliever. I find hesitancy or inaction highly stressful.

What actions? Well, I like to learn as much as I can about events and situations, especially from what I regard as “trusted sources”. Learning is an action, so I have learned. Building up a set of trusted sources also seems vital, since there is far too much going on out there for me to learn about in depth.

Trusted sources, and not

In a recent post on the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations (UN), I looked briefly at “Disease-X”, which has become a hugely popular topic for pandemic worriers and promoters. I relied quite heavily on what  a hugely-credentialed scientist, physician, and inventor – a trusted source – has to say. From this post:

  • Dr. Robert Malone – see [1] below – via The Burning Platform, in what the WEF and WHO would surely regard as both misinformation and disinformation of the first order, tells it like he sees it: “Disease X and the Corrupt Lancet”:

“[1] I am an internationally recognized scientist/physician and the original inventor of mRNA vaccination as a technology, DNA vaccination, and multiple non-viral DNA and RNA/mRNA platform delivery technologies. I hold numerous fundamental domestic and foreign patents in the fields of gene delivery, delivery formulations, and vaccines: including for fundamental DNA and RNA/mRNA vaccine technologies.”

Trusted source for me: Dr. Robert Malone.
Trusted source for me: Dr. Robert Malone.

“I have approximately 100 scientific publications with over 14,000 citations of my work (per Google Scholar with an ‘outstanding’ full-professor impact factor rating). I have been an invited speaker at over 50 conferences, have chaired numerous conferences and I have sat on or served as chairperson on HHS and DoD committees.  I currently sit as a non-voting member on the NIH ACTIV committee, which is tasked with managing clinical research for a variety of drug and antibody treatments for COVID-19.”

“I received my medical degree from the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. I completed the Harvard Medical School fellowship as a global clinical research scholar in 2016 and was scientifically trained at the University of California at Davis, the University of California at San Diego, and at the Salk Institute Molecular Biology and Virology laboratories.  I have served as an assistant and associate professor of pathology and surgery at the University of California at Davis, the University of Maryland, and the Armed Forces University of the Health Sciences.”

Malone will have to do something pretty awful to lose his current trusted-source status with me.

Not-trusted sources of mine:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • The United Nations (UN)
  • The World Economic Forum (WEF)

Putting this another way, I trust them completely – to provide misinformation and disinformation, unfailingly. What they say in fact gives me a pretty good idea of where truth and facts cannot possibly be.

Watch for actions that don’t reflect words

This caution applies particularly to organizations like the WHO and the WEF, but also to certain typically-unreliable sources such as politicians and government agencies. Such highly-visible people and organizations have a hard time concealing or faking their actions.

Their actions in fact may be a far more accurate indicator of their underlying agendas than whatever they may be saying and writing. When words and actions conflict, I’d generally regard the actions as pointing to what’s actually going on.

What’s on my worry-list (stress-generators) today?

Here are my top concerns, all arising from events and situations that I can do absolutely nothing about directly. So why am I even bothering with them? It is because I’m pretty sure that they will figure hugely in our relatively near-term and even immediate future. The only thing that I can do to cope with such bleak big-picture prospects is to develop a personal set of priorities and coping strategies.

#1. WW III

#2. The 2024 elections

#3. Disease-X

#4. Ukraine, Gaza, …

#5. Digital IDs and CBDCs

#6. Economic outlook

#7. Climate crisis

These are very roughly in order of their ability to cause stress for me. No doubt something will occur shortly to change these priorities, so one of my coping strategies has to be to remain agile, adaptable, and resilient:

Agility means to be able to move quickly in response to major impacts or threats. Few or no long-term commitments. Small steps wherever possible. Resources diversely located and varied. 

Adaptability means to be able to respond creatively and in a variety of ways. Situation-dependent ways. Actively avoiding inflexibility.

Resilience means to be able to survive, and even recover from, the most likely kinds and magnitudes of adverse impacts. Know your vulnerabilities and strengthen them as much as possible, routinely.

What follows are some real-world examples and my coping ideas:

Note that I have addressed the “ignore” and “denial” coping options by:

  • ignoring as much as possible the many other serious events and situations occurring daily, and trying to focus my attention on the seven listed above.
  • denying as much as possible whatever the government and organizations like the WHO and WEF are saying, and relying heavily on my relatively few trusted sources for initial direction and ideas.
#1. WW III

World War III, assuming that it is non-big-nuke and is underway today – as I tried to argue in a recent post – is already causing major disruptions and problems. These I believe will get worse, much worse, and soon. I obviously can’t do anything about the situation itself, but only about my response or coping mechanism. What must I cope with (along with so many other folks)?

  • Persistent, substantial inflation in prices of everything
  • Shortages of even basic goods and services
  • Insane levels of government spending, financed by borrowing

My response to these and similar problems is: to simplify and reduce my personal spending; to become as location-flexible as possible; and to avoid anything long-term as much as possible. Actively and aggressively to the extent possible.

WW III is underway.
#2. The 2024 elections

If you care at all about politics, the current election (or selection) season is already a terrifying mess. Candidates, except possibly at local levels, seem at best awful, and at worst beyond civilized description. While many may feel that it would be “smart” not to vote at all, the smart coping approach in my mind is to vote, but selectively.

This means doing the hard work of getting information on down-ticket candidates and choosing the ones that appear to have the potential (or track record) to do what matters to me. Schools? Roads? Unemployment? The poor? I might even want to become active in supporting one or more of my choices.

Resident candidates 2024.
#3. Disease-X

This is a tricky one because it involves dealings at the very top of world rulership. Disease-X, as mysterious as that moniker sounds, appears to be about much more than just globalist machinations around another pandemic. None of us normal folk have any way to affect in the slightest way these sorts of top-level machinations. So, how might I cope in this situation?

While I can’t ignore the WHO, UN, or WEF, I can and do choose not to believe anything that they say. Furthermore, I’ll treat whatever they say as false, as evidence only of what is neither happening nor true. I will continue to exercise great caution, relying on a few trusted sources like Dr. Malone for guidance. Finally, I’ll increase my efforts to remain healthy, physically and mentally. Attitude, diet, exercise (physical and mental).

COVID as Disease-X 1.0.

#4. Ukraine, Gaza, …

Briefly, I’ll treat anything that the US government, the UN, EU, WHO, WEF, and supporters say here as false, agenda-driven, and evidence only of what is neither happening nor true. I will continue to exercise great caution, relying on a few trusted sources for guidance.

#5. Digital IDs and CBDCs

See #4 above.

#6. Economic outlook

See #4 above.

#7. Climate crisis

Much today is being done because of the so-called climate crisis. In the 1970s, it was global cooling and a potential new ice age driving the efforts. More recently, global warming seems to have taken over these climate concerns. As a way to reconcile these two opposing causes, they have been merged into a catchall called climate crisis, or simply climate change. Whatever their current label, these are driving huge efforts to replace fossil fuels, to shift populations into 15-minute cities, and to reduce the amount of land available for growing food.

Despite the fact that over 1,600 scientists including Nobel prize winners have stated strongly that there is no climate crisis, an amazing number of people are on board with climate change prevention projects. Electric vehicles are one of the major results of climate crisis efforts. True believers in EVs are still many.

Sadly, I can see nothing much to do here by way of coping except as outlined in #4 above. As well as continuing to mutter and snarl in blog postings here.

Bottom line:

Coping with a diverse world of serious personal and global situations and events is becoming a full-time job for many people. Living with unrelenting background stress seems unavoidable. While each person will have a personal way of coping with a personal set of focus concerns, there may be some general strategies that might work for some folks.

My own coping mechanics is a combination of: (1) focusing on my top concerns, and ignoring as much as possible anything else; (2) continuing to seek trusted sources, and to (cautiously) follow their guidance; and (3) making every effort to remain agile, adaptable, and resilient.

Note: I’ll concentrate on Disease-X coping approaches here since this seems to me to be a highly likely happening during 2024, one with potentially huge impacts for everyone worldwide.

Keep yourself and others safe:

➧ Get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn and follow local guidance on vaccination.

➧ Keep physical distance of at least 1 metre from others, even if they don’t appear to be sick. Avoid crowds and close contact.

➧ Wear a properly fitted mask when physical distancing is not possible and in poorly ventilated settings.

➧ Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

➧ Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and clean hands regularly.

➧ If you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, self-isolate until you recover.”

“As the winter season brings back a surge in respiratory illness and pandemic-era practices such as mask mandates, global health experts are thinking ahead about how to prepare for the next big outbreak. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a panel of health industry leaders discussed the importance of preplanning for the outbreak of a hypothetical ‘Disease X’.”

“News of the panel sparked conspiracy from right-wing accounts on social media that world leaders are launching the next pandemic or moving to once again ‘restrict’ free speech and reinstate mask mandates. The WHO has said that such preparation is meant to reduce COVID-19-era devastations such as the insufficient capacity of medical systems or the trillions of dollars that were lost in the economy. Here’s what we know about Disease X, and what ‘pandemic preparedness’ means.”

What is Disease X?
Disease X is not a specific disease but is the name given to a potential novel infectious agent. It represents an illness which is currently unknown but could pose a serious microbial threat to humans in the future. It is necessary to be prepared because there is a vast reservoir of viruses circulating among wildlife which could become a source of a new infectious disease to which humans do not have immunity.”

“In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) added Disease X to a list of pathogens that are a top priority for research, alongside known killers like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Ebola. Labelling this potential threat as ‘Disease X’ is meant to prioritize preparations for dealing with a disease that does not yet have vaccines or drug treatments, and could give rise to a severe epidemic.”

How much damage could Disease X cause?
The WHO has warned that Disease X could result in 20 times more fatalities than COVID-19. COVID-19 has killed approximately seven million people around the world. In 2023, healthcare professionals warned that any new pandemic could be even deadlier – killing an estimated 50 million people worldwide.”

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presented a great threat to the physical and mental health of the general population. Patients with chronic disease have always been vulnerable to stressful life conditions. Therefore, determining the perceived stress and coping strategies among chronic disease patients is crucial to minimize the mental health consequences related to the outbreak.”

Table 6 Description of Coping Strategy Types Used by the Study Participants in Southwest Ethiopia, 2020 (N=613)”

Source: Table 6.
Source: Table 6.