Emotional first aid

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When there is a physical pain is the body, it is an indication that something is wrong. The same applies for emotional pain as well.

If you experienced a rejection, failure or some other life tribulation that you just can't get over, then you need to pay attention to that emotional injury. It will never go away if you simply ignore it. Psychological wounds often manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches and illnesses. Reach out to others for support and find additional ways to relieve this pain. Try journaling to help get out all those nasty feelings.

These are the common psychological injuries that might require emotional first aid:

1. Rejection: We get rejected all the time, by dating partners, employers, friends, and spouses. Rejections are the emotional cuts and scrapes of daily life.

2. Failure: We frequently fail to attain our goals, to pass tests in school, or to complete tasks we set for ourselves. Failures are like emotional colds that when left untreated, can turn into psychological pneumonias.

3. Loneliness: We all have periods in which we feel lonely, as though our existing relationships are not fulfilling our emotional needs. The problem is that the longer we feel lonely and disconnected, the weaker our 'relationship muscles' become.

4. Loss: We regularly experience losses in life; when relatives pass away, a friend moves out of town, our kids leave home, or our favorite pet dies. How we rebuild our lives after a loss can determine whether we emerge emotionally stronger from the ordeal, or psychologically weaker.

5. Brooding and Rumination: It is easy to get caught in cycles of brooding and ruminating in which we feel a compelling urge to stew on sad or angry feelings and find it difficult to think of anything else. But doing so is like picking on our emotional scabs--it doesn't allow them to heal.

6. Guilt: We spend several hours a week experiencing mild to moderate guilt which when excessive, can hijack our attention and make it difficult for us to concentrate on our work and responsibilities. Lingering guilt can poison our most cherished relationships and sometimes, impact entire families too.

7. Low Self-Esteem: We often experience bouts of low self-esteem-days in which we feel incredibly low and self-critical about ourselves and our capacities. Having low self-esteem is like having a weakened emotional immune system--it makes us more vulnerable and more likely to sustain further psychological injury.

How One Psychological Injury Causes Another

Each of these psychological 'injuries' can impact our emotional well-being and even our physical health, especially if the injury is prolonged.

Untreated rejection can cause damage to our self-esteem, which can make us behave defensively and push people away, which can makes us become more socially isolated, at which point we find ourselves feeling lonely and brooding about how our friends have stopped caring, which can lead to a full blown depression.

Treating our psychological injuries as soon as they occur when they are in their nascent stage can prevent them from becoming bigger ones.

The first step in treating psychological injuries is developing the awareness or the recognition that we need to do so. The most common form of 'treatment' we usually apply when we feel emotional pain is to talk to a friend or loved one about our feelings. Sometimes, that person is truly a great listener who expresses empathy and support, who tells you exactly what you need to hear in that moment, and who knows you well enough to restore your confidence and feelings of self-worth.

However, it is most important that we take charge of our own self, try dressing our own wounds and find ways to feel strong and sooth our emotional pain. It is necessary that we start taking action ourselves; rebuilding feelings of self-worth.

Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Change what you tell yourself by substituting a negative remark with a positive one. Try writing or texting yourself supportive things to help build your self-compassion.

Distract yourself from brooding or rumination. The best way to disrupt unhealthy brooding is to distract yourself by doing something positive. One thing you can do is to engage in something that requires concentration, such as completing a puzzle, reading your favourite book or playing a game on an electronic device. Physical exercise is another way to distract yourself from brooding. Take a walk or a run to help clear out that cluttered mind. Even just a few minutes of distraction will reduce your negative focus.

Believe that everything happens for good. Loss often is seen as the passing away of a loved one, but it can also be a loss of something else significant to us (such as a job or a relationship). Loss can leave deep scars and keep us from moving forward in our lives. One of the most important things you can do to ease this pain is to find meaning in the loss and reframe your thinking about it. Think about what you've gained from the experience and what you could change to add more purpose and meaning to your life. Supporting and helping others who may have experienced a similar loss may also lessen this pain..

Ref- Emotional first aid by Dr Guy Winch

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