Why Emotional First Aid Is An Essential Life Skill

Psychological wounds also need TLC

“Got a broken leg? Oh, just walk it off. It’s just your leg.” Yeah? Not even the world’s top athletes can shake an injury off. But for a statement that makes absolutely no sense, so many of us are quick to say the equivalent when someone hints they’re feeling depressed. “Just shake it off. It’s all in your head,” some would even quip.

“We sustain psychological injuries even more often than we do physical ones. Injuries like failure, or rejection, or loneliness,” explains psychologist Guy Winch in this TED talk. “And yet even though there are scientifically proven techniques we could use to treat these kinds of psychological injuries, we don’t. It doesn’t even occur to us that we should.” Instead, most of us just shake off these feelings-related woes.

It’s high time we recognize psychological wounds before they start hurting us for the long haul. Begin by recognizing the top three feelings-related injuries and how best to deliver emotional first aid.

The Psychological Wound: Loneliness

Ever felt alone, empty, or detached even when you’re surrounded by so many people? Loneliness could be creeping up on you. “It distorts our perceptions and scrambles our thinking, [making us] believe that those around us care much less than they actually do,” says Winch.

The Fix: No More Lonely Nights

Fighting it requires recognizing the impact loneliness has on your overall functioning, and the conscious choice to make changes. “Open yourself to others in spite of how you feel,” suggests Susan Grace Rivera, W.E.L.L. Coach at Talent, Leadership and Change Consulting. “Change your environment and modify your activities –especially the routines that can reinforce hopelessness or the lack of a sense of progress in your life.”

The Psychological Wound: Failure

The mind is a very powerful thing, especially when it comes to the way it reacts to failure. Winch says, “If your mind tries to convince you you’re incapable of something and you believe it, you’ll begin to feel helpless and you’ll stop trying too soon — or you won’t even try at all.”

The Fix: Don’t Sulk

Once you start feeling like you’ve failed, it’s to time reinvent your mindset. You can do this by asking yourself the right questions during your introspection. Try this three-question self-reflection technique. “First ask:What is going on that I feel I am failing or have failed? This requires actual facts. Second: So what does this mean to me? How does this impact my life or an aspect of my life? Finally: Now what can I do about it? How can I change my situation?” Rivera shares. Clearly breaking down your situation allows you to better address your feelings — helping spark your personal turnaround.

The Psychological Wound: Rejection

When we are rejected, we begin to fixate on all of our faults and shortcomings. “It’s interesting that we do [that], because our self-esteem is already hurting. Why would we want to go and damage it even further?” Winch points out. “We wouldn’t make a physical injury worse on purpose. You wouldn’t get a cut on your arm and decide, ‘Oh, I know! I’m going to take a knife and see how much deeper I can make it.’”

The Fix: Go for Positive Pursuits

To boost your self-esteem, focus on the positive. Be it working out more or pursuing your passions with gusto — whatever gets you to focus on the things that matter, go for it. “It helps to have a clear view of who you are beyond what you have and don’t have in your life,” Rivera advises, “We always have the power to choose our thoughts and ultimately our behavior, which in the end influence the fruits or outcomes in our lives.”