Coping Resource and Social Support

Psychological Coping Strategies: Confucianism Endurance and Taoism “Take It Easy”

Focusing on the coping strategies that Chinese students use when encountering difficulties, Yue (1993) studied how students’ understanding of Confucianism and Taoism influences their behavior in handling the stresses they encounter in their social life and academic studies. He noted the strategies students employed that reflected Confucianism included self-reflection and endurance. Self-reflection involves examining and critiquing oneself in situations where one may be responsible for what has happened. The goal is to bring about internal harmony.

Endurance involves tolerating stress with “civility and restraint for one’s sake and to preserve harmonious relationships with others” (p. 20). Frank’s (2000) findings echoed Yue’s study. In the study at the University of Denver, Frank found Chinese female students believe that challenges or difficulties were a natural part of life and that, if they endured them patiently, they would survive. Their cultural concept of ren or endurance contributed to their ability to persevere during periods of intense challenge and difficulty. According to Frank, each of Chinese participants was confronted by many challenges and changes during her sojourn in America, and they each practiced ren or endurance with courage, patience, and hard work.

In addition to using strategies that are based on Confucianism to cope with difficulties, Yue pointed out that Chinese students also use methods grounded in Taoism. Taoism is another important school of philosophy in Chinese history. The word Tao means “way.” In Taoism, the goal of life is to develop a relationship with the Tao. To cultivate the relationship, an individual seeks to free him- or herself from earthly distractions. These distractions include the influence of social norms, moral precepts, and worldly goals. This freedom enables an individual to be free of anxiety (Honderich 1995). The goal is for the individual to be at peace with whatever life brings. Strategies used by Chinese students that reflected Taoism included practicing attitudes of taking it easy and letting it happen. Taking it easy involves taking life as it comes and not fighting against what life brings. Yue (1993) noted that nonaction in Taoism does not mean to take a passive stance in addressing problems. Instead, nonaction means avoiding actions which are impulsive or contrary to one’s best interests. An attitude of letting it happen submits all matters of life to fate and Tao. In the study at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Xu (2002) found quite a lot of Chinese students recommended employing a take it easy attitude toward English language difficulties.

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