Difficult situations in life

We are faced with many kinds of situations and phases in our lives. Some of them are positive and bring us joy, while others are challenging, even difficult. How difficult a certain situation is for someone is a subjective experience, which is why many different kinds of things may feel challenging.

People have their own, individual ways of dealing with difficult situations in life. Sometimes the method used depends on the problem: in the case of school bullying, you have to look at adults for help, and financial difficulties usually require rearrangements in your finances. In times of grief, support from loved ones is usually important.

Psychotherapist Ofra Ayalon has listed different types of coping with life crises. People can use several strategies at the same time, for example by using cognitive processing and physical behaviour solutions at the same time. Which coping mechanisms do you use?

Cognitive processing

A person using cognitive processing focuses on thinking about the situation and finding solutions. They collect information on what has happened, evaluate the situation and the problem from various angles and try to find new approaches to it. They prioritise things and consider what could be done next, what can be left undone and what is important right now.

Affective expression

A person using affective expression expresses their feelings by crying and laughing, for example, and tells others about their feelings. They show and share their feelings, possibly utilising also non-verbal methods such as drawing, playing instruments or dancing.

Social support

Some people look for social support in a group, either as a member or in an active role. They may focus on organising things. A person using the social support method accepts support from others, also giving support themselves.


A person may use their imagination either to avoid thoughts that bring the event back to mind or to find a solution to their problems. They often try to think positive, interpret their dreams, trust their intuition and create images to help them cope.

Belief systems

For a person using this coping method, religion, social responsibility, a set of values or an ideology, for example, bring meaning to life.

Physical behaviour

This type of person is physical and active, tries to relax, eats and sleeps a lot. For them, walking in nature is also often important.