Healing Emotional Wounds with Guy Winch
"When we are in emotional distress it’s impacting our ability to think, to process, to think creatively, to function in basic ways."
This week’s podcast is all about healing emotional wounds — and we welcome back special guest Dr. Guy Winch!
Emotional wounds—no matter where they have come from—can linger and affect our ability to function at our best. Learning to heal them is not just about mental intelligence, but mental health as well.
Guy’s books have sold millions of copies and been translated into 26 different languages, and his TED Talks have been seen by people all over the world. Dealing with emotional wounds is a challenge we all face and Guy is here to talk us through it.
If you haven’t already listened to my earlier episode with Guy about healing a broken heart, you can check it out here!
In this conversation, we talk about why you should take emotional wounds seriously, the health implications of loneliness, and how to break out of loneliness. We’ll explain how to avoid becoming helpless in the wake of failure, and move forward from emotional wounds towards a brighter healthier mind.
WHY THINK OF IT AS A WOUND?
- The term “wound” is helpful because whether it arose from rejection, failure, or loneliness, it creates something that hurts, something can get worse if we don’t address it, something that’s impacting us in countless ways
- Unless we think of it as a wound, we’ll brush it off and ignore it—this comes from a bias we have, we wouldn’t ignore a broken leg but we do ignore emotional wound
- There are ways to address them and ensure they don’t impact us in unconscious ways that are detrimental
- We have a finite amount of intellectual and emotional resources, and emotional distress of any kind takes up a significant amount of that, leaving less to use in other areas of life like work and productivity
- Study: asked participants who were not lonely to imagine being lonely in 5 years time, then gave those people an IQ test, and saw massive drops in IQ & functioning, just from this simple thought experiment
- When we are in emotional distress it’s impacting our ability to think, to process, to think creatively, to function in basic ways—so we want to be aware of this, and able to address this
- American Psychological Association put out a press release saying loneliness is a bigger public health risk than smoking and obesity combined
- Loneliness can increase your likelihood of early death by 14-25%, but we do not think of it as dangerous or learn how to address it
- Loneliness is something you can be empowered to help others with: by deepening the relationship, looking out for you
- Hunter-gatherer past, you couldn’t survive outside of a tribe—sharing duties
- The definition of loneliness is subjective: there are people who are loners, more introverted and don’t feel the need for a lot of social connection—it depends on whether you feel emotionally or socially disconnected from the people around you
- People can experience significant loneliness but be unaware of what they are feeling, and loneliness can affect all aspects of your health
- Social media are connecting to different people, but the interactions aren’t sufficiently meaningful
- Using social media can make us feel lonely or depressed, depending on how you use it—if you’re just scrolling through other people’s accounts and not engaging, it can put you at risk, but if you’re engaging and posting, you are less at risk
- Loneliness induces perceptual distortions: we experience the people around us as caring less about us than they actually do, and we unconsciously devalue our relationships e.g. we might say “that relationship wasn’t great, it won’t be worth seeing that person”
- Loneliness can also make us risk-averse—all of these things add up to us not reaching out, and can lead to people becoming trapped and stuck
BREAKING OUT FROM LONELINESS
- Breaking out from loneliness is a leap of faith: you have to take the action, and initiate the contact, even if you feel they’re not interested—the problem is when you feel they’re not interested, you’re more likely to reach out in a way that is too self-deprecating or too hostile e.g. you might say “I haven’t seen you in a month”
- One thing you can try is adding a smiley face at the end of the sentence e.g. adding one to the end “I haven’t seen you in a month” changes the way it will be interpreted to something more like “I want to see you!”
- Consider how your messages might be interpreted when considering how to reach out, you can also try thinking back to the last time you hung out with that person and when there’s a smile on your face, then message them
- We fail all the time—the more meaningful the failure, the more meaningful the consequences
- Some people can begin to feel powerless and helpless after a failure
- Study: gave participants impossible anagrams, then when they gave them easier ones they failed at them—failure teaches us that we are not up to the task
- Failing at a diet, or failing to get a grade—these failures aren’t about the person’s ability, it’s about something unsuccessful in the system or approach they used, not to be taken personally
- Failure can be used to identify where we went wrong and how to fix it
- Trying to fix it becomes difficult when you’re feeling helpless and paralyzed
- What most people do is say: I’m going to try again, and do exactly the same thing again but harder in some kind of way
- Don’t do the same thing again—there was something wrong with how you were going about it, try to think about it like a detective and analyze where the failures
- When analyzing, avoid being self-critical, and remember there is always a way around the hurdles
- To deal with emotional wounds, you are going to have to be emotionally uncomfortable—what’s comfortable is to avoid and not address things
- You have to be able to tolerate the discomfort and say it’s worth it for me to get into that, and the process is where the growth it
- Remember to remain self-compassionate as you go through the healing process
- Do it with the right mindset: just doing something for the sake of it won’t help you, try to go with the right attitude, pump yourself up like you would before a big game e.g. remind yourself of all the good interactions you’ve had with people, remind yourself of all the people that do care about you, the time you told a funny joke
- Better to go and hold it together for 20 minutes and work the room then leave, than to stand for an hour on the side unsuccessfully
- Don’t forget to take a screenshot of this episode, tag us both on social media (@GuyWinch & @jimkwik) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us!
Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy
Episode 51: Fix A Broken Brain with Dr. Hyman (Part 1)
Episode 95: How to Get Out of Your Own Way with Todd Herman
Episode 108: Heal a Broken Heart with Dr. Shefali Tsabary
Episode 120: Healing a Broken Heart with Dr. Guy Winch