Why We Need To Practice Emotional First Aid: Review

Posted by Amber Adams | Oct 15, 2017 | Reviews | 0 |

After a full week emotional breakdown, I found myself searching for mental health tools online. THANK GOD I found Guy Winch’s epic Ted Talk. It’s called “Why We Need To Practice Emotional First Aid.” And it was like heaven opened up and dropped this into my lap.

Guy Winch explained that a 5 year-old knows to brush his teeth, or to cover a wound with a Bandaid, but he could go his whole life without being taught emotional hygiene. So how do we expect people to grow up with the tools for psychological wounds, like rejection or loneliness? Or how to support friends and family without comparing (“It could always be worse”) or discounting (“I’ve/you’ve been through worse”). No wonder why people keep things to themselves in the current landscape.

When I was diagnosed as Bi-Polar I remember dreading what people would say more than the symptoms themselves. The first time I recognized the need for emotional first aid was when I was 21. I lived with my grandparents after a stint of couch surfing, since being kicked out by my parents at the age of sixteen. Soon after, my grandpa was suddenly diagnosed with cancer and died within three months. I didn’t know I was battling bipolar yet and I was in a very dark and unmedicated clinical depression. Life seemed and was hopeless to me.

Sadly, depression won and I became debilitated. My mom, in an attempt to reach out again, paid for me to go to Landmark (a forum that discusses psychological tools). $600 later- I learned what I SHOULD have learned in school. To love and be loved, the language of empathy, and to compartmentalize past, present and future. This saved my life. (FYI, I’m not endorsing Landmark. It worked for me. However, I don’t condone their recruiting process.)

In the Ted Talk, Guy Winch explains how loneliness distorts thinking. It makes you afraid to reach out due to fear of rejection. I couldn’t handle the thought of being rejected by family again, even when I really needed help. Once my self esteem was hurt, I made it worse with self talk such as “you always do this” “how could they love you” and “no one will, you’re so hard to love.” Winch points out that I wouldn’t have done these things with a physical injury because I had been taught how to protect it.

Winch points out that when we ruminate over our problems, it can cause clinical depression, eating disorders, cardiovascular disease and alcoholism. We need to be able to pivot our thinking. He recommends doing SOMETHING! ANYTHING! For 2 minutes to battle negative thinking, build emotional resilience and thrive. Low self esteem makes you more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, and the right tools can help to fight feelings of helplessness. 

The most helpful part for me, was when Winch discussed how we all have default beliefs that get triggered when we encounter set backs. Your self talk, tools, and self esteem will determine how you overcome, so you have to build up your toolkit (support system, self talk, etc) . Just because you can’t do something now, doesn’t mean you can’t learn through practice, which is why some people function below their actual potential. With that being said, I’m signing back up for therapy and boxing to refine my tools for self esteem and learning 🙂

Here’s the Ted Talk for you to watch and I know you’ll love it as much as I did.

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