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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Emotional Concussions

Monday, February 24, 2014

Emotional Concussions

"A concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury that may occur when the head hits an object, or a moving object strikes the head. It can affect how the brain works for a while. A concussion can lead to a bad headache, changes in alertness, or loss of consciousness." ~ Google

I've been thinking lately about how emotional pain can be like a concussion.  And there are so many moving parts in the world that bump into our heart, our ego, our sense of self.  Some of us are more easily injured than others, depending on our makeup, our history, the circumstances of our lives.  But when we get hurt emotionally it does effect our brain. It effects our functioning.  It can lead to physical pain, changes in our ability to act calmly or rationally.  We can even lose consciousness emotionally.  Sometimes that looks like depression, anger, overwhelm or feeling "out of it." 

There is wide range to what we call trauma.  There is of course, the big stuff, violence, abuse, natural disaster, tragedy.   And then there are all kinds of relational hurts that are not so obvious, but that still effect us and can effect our ability to function and certainly effect our moods and feelings.

So how do we take care of an emotional concussion?  Assess the injury - how severe is it?  (Does it need immediate professional help?)  And then: take a break, rest, know that your brain and your heart need time to heal.  Unpack what happened. Take a look at the events around the injury.  Study them a bit, over time, so that if possible the danger does not repeat itself.  Look for symptoms - see how you might have been effected.  Talk, of course, when you can, about the injury, the events that lead up to it, the aftermath.  Do soothing things that calm and relax the brain and rest the mind. 

Yes, with an emotional concussion we most likely do have to sit with the pain and feel it as part of treating it, but we don't have to do it quickly or harshly.  We can know that it's a process and that sometimes we are knocked off our normal functioning and we have to respect that and treat ourselves accordingly.  Otherwise just like with a physical concussion, if you don't heal well enough you may be more susceptible to further injury.

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