Healing Emotional Pain

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If I could share 500 words to inspire, this is the important wisdom I'd want to pass along to others...

  • Do not ignore the emotional wounds you sustain in daily life. Do not believe that ignoring emotional pain is a sign of strength. Do not believe that feeling emotional pain is a sign of weakness or psychological frailty. Do not believe that being in touch with your feelings, knowing you hurt, and wishing you didn’t diminishes you in any way.

    Do not think of yourself as weak when you experience the pain of rejection. Do not consider yourself undesirable when you know the ache of loneliness. Do not punish yourself when you carry the burden of guilt. Do not lose faith in yourself when you encounter the bitter disappointment of failure. Do not lose yourself in the anguish of loss. Do not become crushed within the churning of brooding and rumination. Do not belittle yourself further when your self-esteem is already under assault.

    Know that what makes you human is your capacity to feel emotional pain. Know that what makes you wise is your capacity to recognize you are not weak. Know that what makes you strong is your ability to recover from emotional wounds and to become more resilient by doing so. Know that such wisdom, like all wisdom, must be learned and can be learned.

    Know that your brain is wired to experience rejection as physical pain, and that there are ways to ease that pain and revive your self-worth in its aftermath.

    Know that loneliness is a trap of self-protective but self-defeating behaviors that can push others away, but that it is one from which you can escape.

    Know that you can elicit authentic forgiveness from others, as well as from yourself, and that once you do, your burden of guilt will lift.

    Know that failure will cause you to perceive yourself and your goals in distorted ways, and that you must ignore these ‘gut’ feelings and focus on the many factors that are in your control.

    Know that loss can devastate your life but that eventually finding meaning in your experience will give you a renewed and powerful sense of purpose and life satisfaction.

    Know that brooding and ruminating is an emotional hamster wheel that only deepens your anger and sadness and that stepping out of the wheel by refusing to repeatedly pursue the same painful thought is the only way to free yourself from it.

    Know that your self-esteem is the emotional immune system that protects you from life stresses, and that indulging negative self-talk when it is low will only weaken it further when instead you can and should rebuild it.

    You know how to treat physical injuries like cuts and sprains when you sustain them, so do learn how to treat your emotional wounds as well. Do teach your children to heed their emotions and to treat their emotional injuries as soon as they occur. Do show them how to go forward in life with confidence, knowing your emotional pain will inevitably knock you down, but knowing as well that you can pick yourself up, recover, and become stronger for your future.

    Guy Winch

    Guy Winch Ph.D. is a psychologist, keynote speaker, and author whose book, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts (Plume, 2014) has been translated into 24 languages. He suggests a simple but revolutionary idea—that applying emotional first aid to common psychological injuries when we first sustain them can dramatically improve our mental and physical health. He uses cutting edge psychological science to illustrate the surprising ways common psychological injuries impact our behavior, mood, cognitive functioning, and physical health and provides practical tools for treating them. His TED Talk, Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid has been viewed over 5 million times and is rated as the #5 most inspiring talk on ted.com. His first book, The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem (Walker and Company, 2011) is a science-based look at the psychology of complaining. His new book is, How to Fix a Broken Heart (TED Books/Simon & Schuster, 2018). Dr. Winch blogs for Psychology Today and his writings have been featured in CNN.com, Salon.com, and other national media outlets. As a Keynote speaker, Dr. Winch uses his background in stand-up comedy to deliver extremely entertaining, informative, and compelling addresses that audiences find both highly practical and immediately applicable to their work and lives. He maintains a private practice in New York City.

    For more information, please visit guywinch.com.

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    1. Gabrielle Tessler
      Gabrielle Tessler says:

      So true, well put & very inspiring. Being a mom of a teenage daughter who endures middle school’s daily dramas, it’s an especially great reminder to be a better model for my daughter. As it happens, I am often the one who learns from her, as she’s wired differently & possesses the inherent confidence I lack, so she is incredibly resilient in the face disappointment & rejection. Reading your words are helpful & reinforce tools that don’t come naturally to many of us, but can be learned & should be used.

    2. Emily Epstein White
      Emily Epstein White says:

      Sometimes you need to be reminded that taking care of your emotional health is as important as your physical and that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Thanks for your inspiring words!

    3. Louise Shimron
      Louise Shimron says:

      This was indeed most inspiring. Encompasses a dozen or so emotional hardships one combats throughout life. Very acute especially at the forthcoming Holiday Season.

    4. Elizabeth
      Elizabeth says:

      I will be printing this out and keeping it in my journal. Reading and then rereading these words will definitely help me in my journey forward.
      Thank you

    5. Rev Vernon Diannah Porter
      Rev Vernon Diannah Porter says:

      Guy, May I have your permission to reprint this article. I have a client whom I feel would benefit a great deal from reading this article. Many thanks and the best to you for the Holidays and much success in 2014. Rev. Vernon Diannah Porter, Provincetown, MA CPC, CRC

      • Inspire Me Today
        Inspire Me Today says:

        Hi Rev. Porter,

        You are welcome to print out Guy’s wisdom to share with your client! If you’d like to repost this article on a blog or website, we ask that you follow our sharing guidelines, detailed at inspiremetoday.com/contact. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.


        The Inspire Me Today Team

    6. Del
      Del says:

      Wow just the advise I needed in my life right now. I have been wondering when the hurt of a broken relationship would leave me. Emotional pain is terrible. People tell me to forget and move on but it is so hard. I will keep this article forever and read it often. Thank You so much for your great words.

    7. Martha
      Martha says:

      Thank you Guy, just what I needed to hear. Yes, rejection is very painful. As I am healing my emotional wounds, I am reminding myself, to accept them and be grateful to be able to feel and live with an open heart.
      A closed heart will not feel, as I have learned the hard way.
      Very inspiring post.

    8. Joanne
      Joanne says:

      Just in time. I have ended a relationship that was unhealthy but still couldn’t get off the emotional hamster wheel. Now I realized that I must commit to love myself unconditionally. I quit my job to heal myself and travel.


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