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Who Are High-Copers?

Their upsides and downsides will surprise you.

In contrast to low-copers, whom I discussed in a previous post, high-copers enjoy grappling with problems and wrestling with dilemmas. They relish finding solutions, like a dog enjoys gnawing on a bone. They develop strategies well. High-copers make choices and put ideas into actions. They follow through and do not leave problems hanging or unsolved. The high-coping style is also a personality style, as is the low-coping style.

Examples of High-Copers

  • A 5-year-old notices his 18-month-old sibling’s diaper needs changing and tells his parent he’ll do it.
  • A 12-year-old sees the laundry pile up and knows his single parent has been working until 10 every night for two weeks. He does the family laundry without being asked.
  • A 20-year-old, whose family cannot pay tuition for her last year in college or take out loans, assumes two part-time jobs and lays out an ambitious schedule for herself so she can juggle jobs and college classes.
  • A 42-year-old woman's boss tells her he needs a difficult research paper done over the weekend. She agrees to do it.
  • A 77-year-old man, whose wife recently died, is confronted with having more financial expenses than resources. With vigor, he starts cleaning out the house and prepares to downsize so he can move to a smaller home and make ends meet financially.

Upsides for High-Copers

One upside is that high-copers are resourceful and tackle difficult and complex life issues on their own — work demands, divorce, death of family, personal illness. They display an exaggerated “do-or-die” attitude. Another upside is their tenacity. They will try another avenue to manage if their first, second, or third attempts fail.

High-copers enjoy making other people happy with their problem-solving abilities and “take-charge” attitude. Their self-esteem surges when they do a job well.

Downsides for High-Copers

The biggest downside for high-copers is exhaustion from being overwhelmed, overburdened, and overextended. When exhausted, they make errors, become disgruntled, frustrated, and angry, and suffer from emotional problems and substance abuse. They take on too much when they wrestle with problems, expecting to face them solo without help. Another downside is that high-copers are reluctant to give up contending with a problem, even when a situation is unsolvable.

Another downside is that high-copers prefer coping with others’ problems, even problems that others do not want them to solve. They forget to ask what others want or don’t want before jumping into action. High-copers often neglect their own difficulties in favor of solving someone else’s.

Lastly, high-copers suffer what I call “backlash.” This happens when they cope well in a time of crisis, only to fall apart emotionally after the crisis is resolved. I have discovered this happens, because the high-coper berates himself or herself for not doing quite a good enough job during the crisis struggle. In other words, high-copers critique harshly their high level of coping.

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