Do You Practice Emotional First Aid? No – Well You Should
Renowned psychologist Guy Winch gave an eye-opening lecture on the importance of maintaining our emotional health, just as we would maintain our physical health in top condition.
Psychologist Guy Winch, Ph.D., and the author of “Emotional First Aid”, states that if you have a medical problem – like if your leg hurts, or if you have a fever, you go to the doctor to have it checked, right? But what if you have emotional pains, like stress, sorrow, guilt, or loneliness, do you go to a medical professional then? Most of us don’t, but we have to ask ourselves why this is so. Pain is pain, be it emotional or physical. It seems that there is favoritism towards body health in comparison to emotional health. Too many of us deal with emotional issues on our own, but we shouldn’t and needn’t to. When we feel depressed we shouldn’t just ‘shake it off’ – we should practice good emotional hygiene, just like we practice good body hygiene, states psychologist Guy Winch. Here is what emotional pain can do to your health and how can you cope with it.
Guy Winch continues by claiming that loneliness is a profound emotional injury – it changes our perception of the people we love. Because of loneliness we start thinking that our loved ones don’t care about us at all. It makes us afraid, so we close ourselves as we don’t want to make ourselves open to rejection. And it’s a completely subjective feeling as it depends on what you feel emotionally about the people around you. There have been many studies about loneliness and the results were always just awful as they claim that it can even kill you, and we kid you not – chronic loneliness can increase the chances of an early death by 15% – it causes high blood pressure, weakens your immune system and is a risk for your overall health just like smoking. And on cigarette packs there is a message that warns you that smoking kills, while with loneliness there is no such warning. This is why it is so important that practicing emotional first aid becomes your habit – if you don’t nip it in the bud it can kill you. But, loneliness isn’t the only emotional problem that changes our perception of us, and the people around us.
Failure has the same effect as loneliness, according to the author of “Emotional First Aid”. If we see someone else fail at doing what we have planned to do we start questioning ourselves, “He wasn’t able to succeed, will I?” We start to fear of failure, and that is when our minds trick us into believing that we can’t. Just think about it and you will see that this happens to you all the time. Whenever we encounter a seatback we trigger an inborn group of feelings, and fear of failure is one of them.
Do you know how your brain reacts when failure occurs? – You should. Your brain forces you to believe that you are not able to do something and when you really believe in this, it’s over. You start feeling helpless and you stop even before trying as you are completely convinced that you can’t succeed. Because of this you might not be reaching your full potential, and you are not alone in this. People all around the world are convinced by a single failure that they couldn’t succeed, so they just stop trying. It can be said to be natural to feel down when you fail, but you have to fight that feeling of helplessness, you have to control your emotions and you have to break this negative circle.
How to maintain your emotional health?
In his lecture, renowned psychologist Guy Winch advises that when you are in emotional pain, the first thing you should do is regain your self-confidence. You should treat yourself in the same manner you would expect a good friend would. Cheer yourself up any way possible – for some people a good movie will do the trick, for others it’s shopping, and in the end it really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it works.
Another thing you should do is identify your unhealthy emotional habits and change them as soon as possible. And don’t think this is something that you do once in 10 years, you should do it at least once or twice a year. The most common unhealthy emotional habit is rumination. This is when your experience an unpleasant situation during the day and then you can’t stop replaying the scene in your mind. This easily becomes a habit, and a very upsetting one. By putting so much focus on negative thoughts you are putting yourself at risk of developing depression, drug and alcohol addictions, and even cardiovascular issues.
So as you can see, by dealing with your responses to failure and loneliness, by expelling negative thoughts and protecting your self-esteem you are not just healing your emotional wounds, but also protecting your physical health. We should all come to a conclusion that the quality of life will rise dramatically if we start practicing emotional hygiene.
If you are interested to find out more about emotional first aid, check out the lecture given by Guy Winch, Ph.D., on TED Talks or get your hands on a copy of his book “Emotional First Aid”.