Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts

(taken from Amazon.com)

  1. Rejection – The emotional cuts and scrapes of daily life
    Rejections can inflict four distinct emotional wounds, each of which might require some from of emotional first aid: lingering visceral pain, anger and aggressive urges, harm to self-esteem, and damage to feeling that we belong. (p. 17)
    • Argue with self-criticism
    • Revive your self-worth
    • Replenish feelings of social connection
    • Desensitize yourself
  2. Loneliness – Relationship muscle weakens
    Loneliness makes us constantly on guard, prepared for the disappointment and rejection we are sure will come. As a result, we miss opportunities to make social connections and behave in ways that push others away. (p. 53)
    • Remove your negatively tinted glasses
    • Identify your self-defeating behaviors
    • Take on the other person’s perspective
    • Deepen your emotional bonds
    • Create opportunities for social connection
    • Adopt a best friend
  3. Loss and Trauma – Walking on broken bones
    Loss and trauma create four psychological wounds. They cause overwhelming emotional pain, they undermine our basic sense of identity and the roles we play in life, they destabilize our belief systems and our understanding of the world, and they challenge our ability to remain present and engaged in our most important relationships. (p. 85)
    • Soothe your emotional pain your way
    • Recover lost aspects of your self
    • Find meaning in tragedy
  4. Guilt – The poison in our system
    Guilt usually serves an important function by alerting us to when we might have harmed another person or when any actions we’re considering might do so. However, if our offense is serious or if we’ve already made significant efforts to apologize to a person we harmed or atone for our actions in other ways and our guilt remains excessive, or if we suffer from substantial survivor guilt, or separation and disloyalty guilt, emotional first aid is indeed necessary. (p. 119)
    • Learn the recipe for an effective apology
    • Forgive yourself
    • Reengage in life
  5. Rumination – Picking at emotional scabs
    In order to break the self-reinforcing nature of ruminative thoughts and allow our wounds to heal, we must interrupt the cycle of rumination once it gets triggered, and we should weaken the urge to ruminate at the source by diminishing the intensity of the feelings that fuel it. We must also make efforts to monitor our relationships and to ease the emotional burden we might be placing on loved ones. (p. 154)
    • Change your perspective
    • Reframe the anger
    • Go easy on your friends
  6. Failure – Emotional chest colds become psychological pneumonias
    When we fail repeatedly or when we respond to failures in ways that set back our confidence, our self-esteem, and our chances of future success, we run the risk of allowing our emotional chest cold to turn into psychological pneumonia. Because much of the anxiety associated with failures can build upon itself, it is best to be prudent and apply psychological first aid treatment as soon as possible after meaningful or bothersome failures occur. (p. 189)
    • Get support and get real
    • Focus on factors in your control
    • Take responsibility and own the fear
    • Distract yourself from performance pressure distractions
  7. Low Self-Esteem – Weak emotional immune systems
    Having low self-esteem weakens our emotional immune systems and inflicts three kinds of psychological wounds: it makes us more vulnerable to psychological injuries, it makes us dismissive of positive feedback and resistant to emotional nutrients, and it makes us feel unassertive and disempowered. (p. 232)
    • Adopt self-compassion and silence the critical voices in your head
    • Identify your strengths and affirm them
    • Increase your tolerance for compliments
    • Increase your personal empowerment
    • Improve your self-control

“The most frequent reasons we get turned down as romantic prospects (or as job applicants) are because of a lack of general chemistry, because we don’t match the person’s or company’s specific needs at that time, or because we don’t fit the narrow definition of who they’re looking for—not because of any critical missteps we might have made nor because we have any fatal character flaws.”

― Guy Winch, Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries