If we could take a child’s logic and apply it to the arena of psychological injury we may be better equipped to deal with the emotional pain and suffering that is an inescapable part of being human.
None of us is immune to heart ache. We are relational beings and cannot help but be touched by the emotional connections and disconnections we have with others. We have clear methods and maps for understanding and navigating physical pain and disease. Physical injury is generally quite easy to identify. It is harder for us to acknowledge psychological dis- ease, even when ignoring it can drastically impact our lives.
Loneliness and self esteem
Loneliness is a case in hand. Research indicates a detrimental impact on health in the experience of chronic loneliness. It can elevate blood pressure and suppress immunity rendering people more vulnerable to disease. Indeed it has been estimated that that the likelihood of premature death may be increased by as much as 14% for those in the grip of chronic loneliness.
The experience of loneliness is subjective. We can feel lonely in the midst of a crowd, lonely in the context of our marriages and our families. When we feel lonely, we feel emotionally or socially disconnected from those around us. More often in this age of technological connectivity we may even feel a certain taboo about admitting our experience.
The disconnection we feel serves to alter our perceptions and our thinking about ourselves and those around us. It may lead us to believe that others care less about us than they actually do. When we think this way we are less likely to reach out. The stakes in so doing can seem high and we risk the additional pain of rejection. When our self- esteem is low, we are more vulnerable to stress and anxiety and when this is the case we are more likely to experience rejection, failure and loneliness as evidence of our inadequacies and shortcomings.
When we ruminate we chew over, again and again, replaying upsetting or unpleasant events, we become slaves to our thoughts and our feelings and feel powerless to change. When trapped in this negative cycle we put ourselves at risk of developing depression and anxiety or of developing other unhealthy habits with food and alcohol for example. We harm ourselves.
Our thoughts and feelings are not always the reliable arbiters of reality we imagine them to be. More often the critic within will speak with the voice of an absolute authority whilst delivering the worst kind of propaganda. Rarely does our critical voice have something genuinely new to tell us.
Confusion and suffering may indeed be our birthright, but wisdom and well-being may also be available. When we recognise and attend to emotional injury and struggle, (by reaching out and finding out) we become pro-active, as opposed to reactive. Catching our unhealthy and unhelpful psychological habits puts us in with a chance of changing them.
Psychological health and resilience is the reward.