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Emotional First Aid

Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts

By Guy Winch, Ph.D.
13-minute read
Audio available
Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch, Ph.D.

Emotional First Aid (2012) is an easy-to-follow manual for addressing the everyday emotional hurts we all experience. From rejection to loss to low self-esteem, Emotional First Aid provides effective strategies for ensuring that treatable emotional pains don’t become deep wounds with lasting psychological effects.

  • People struggling to let go of past hurts 
  • Psychology enthusiasts
  • Parents wanting to raise resilient kids

Guy Winch, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with over 20 years of experience. He’s considered a leading advocate for incorporating the science of emotions into day-to-day life. He’s written for PsychologyToday.com and is the author of The Squeaky Wheel and How to Fix a Broken Heart. His 2015 TED Talk, Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid is ranked the fifth most inspirational TED Talk of all time. 

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Emotional First Aid

Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts

By Guy Winch, Ph.D.
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch, Ph.D.
Synopsis

Emotional First Aid (2012) is an easy-to-follow manual for addressing the everyday emotional hurts we all experience. From rejection to loss to low self-esteem, Emotional First Aid provides effective strategies for ensuring that treatable emotional pains don’t become deep wounds with lasting psychological effects.

Key idea 1 of 8

Reaffirm yourself to prevent minor rejections from doing serious harm.

Do you remember the first time you were rejected? Perhaps you weren’t picked for a team at school or didn’t get invited to a party. Whatever your first experience of rejection was, one thing’s for sure, it wasn’t your last. 

Rejection happens throughout life. The kid who didn’t pick you for her team becomes a stranger who ignores your polite hello, or a company that won’t hire you.

But even though it’s so common, rejection still hurts. Hearing “No” or feeling left out triggers emotional pain and anger, and affects our self-esteem and sense of belonging. And just like a scratch can lead to an infection if it’s not treated, minor rejections can lead to more serious psychological issues.

The key message here is: Reaffirm yourself to prevent minor rejections from doing serious harm.

One of the effects of rejection is that it dents your self-esteem. In an attempt to understand why you were rejected, it’s easy to fall into the trap of self-criticism and believe that you’re somehow lacking. To avoid this, it’s important to remind yourself of your own positive traits and boost your sense of self-worth.

Start by throwing counterarguments at any negative thoughts that pop up. Make sure that your counterpoint is not only kinder, but also relevant to the situation. So rather than thinking you messed up a job interview, tell yourself that the company just needed someone with a very specific background.

Once you’ve wrestled with your negative thoughts, give your self-worth a boost by remembering your valuable traits. Think of five positive traits that are relevant to the rejection – for instance, if you don’t get the dream job that you interviewed for, list five qualities that make you a great employee. Then, write a few short paragraphs explaining why each trait matters to you, the role it plays in your life, and why it’s crucial to your self-image.

Lastly, soothe the hurt of rejection by reaching out to the people around you. 

Humans have a fundamental need to feel like they belong, and this is one of the reasons rejection can be so difficult. To restore your sense of belonging, spend time with loved ones, this will help you feel more connected. If it’s not possible to be around friends and family, taking in reminders like photos, messages, or mementos will also do the trick.

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