First Psychology book
Winch’s idea of applying first aid to the mind is unique and effective. I like the parallels he draws to physical injuries. If we apply first aid right away to a physical injury, not only do we minimize the risk of it festering until it requires professional medical intervention, we also accelerate healing. In the same way, when we render first aid to everyday emotional injuries, we’re taking care of them before they increase in intensity and become so deeply imbedded in our psyche that they may be too difficult for us to handle on our own.
Most of us are in the habit of washing and bandaging a cut knee right away but, according to Winch, we often don’t recognize that we’ve been wounded emotionally. And, even if we do, we may underestimate the potential impact of the mental bruise, so we don’t take immediate steps to minimize its effect on our lives. Winch, a psychologist in private practice, offers steps we can take immediately in the face of rejection, loneliness, loss and trauma, guilt, rumination, failure, and low self-esteem.
I’ll use the chapter on rejection to illustrate how I’ve benefitted personally from reading Emotional First Aid. Reading the chapter brought into sharp focus a fresh emotional wound of my own. I’d recently posed an article at Psychology Today that was part lighthearted, part serious. It was titled “More Confessions of a Sick Person.” A reader left this anonymous comment: “…a lot of people are irritated by your whole marketing schtick, don't want to read about your scuffs or your nightshirts (first world privilege complaints?), and don't believe you gained all that buddhist wisdom lying in bed.” Even though this comment sat in the middle of dozens of other comments from people who loved the article, this was the one that stuck in my mind…stuck and stung.
It wasn’t until I got to the chapter on rejection in Emotional First Aid that I understood why this person’s comment was upsetting me so much: I felt rejected. Even though I don’t know the person who left the comment, even though I knew that it was an unwarranted attack on my intentions in writing for Psychology Today, and even though the comment reflected a misunderstanding of the relationship between chronic illness and Buddhism in my life…I still felt rejected.