Imagine someone coming away from a serious car crash with a major leg injury. The car crash may have only lasted a few seconds, but the person won't get over their leg injury instantly. After the initial emergency has been dealt with, a physiotherapist will likely be enlisted to help with rehabilitation over the long term.
We have no problem accepting that getting back to a place of full functionality after a physical injury takes time, effort, and support. However, we tend to expect much more of ourselves when it comes to emotional injuries. We can be incredibly hard on ourselves, thinking we should be able to recover quickly and easily, all on our own. Or, perhaps we open up and share with someone in hopes of receiving support and empathy, but instead we're told we should "just get over it" and move on. We're left feeling dismissed and diminished as a result.
The bottom line is, "just get over it" just doesn't work. Emotional injuries are just as real as any physical injury we might experience. The damage they inflict can be severe and far-reaching, with the potential to impact every area of our lives. Our self-esteem and sense of self-worth, our ability to navigate relationships, and our decision-making can all be compromised when our emotional state is injured and not operating with full functionality. And just as with a physical injury, it's to be expected that healing and recovery will take time, work, and support, likely with some challenges and setbacks along the way.
"Just Get Over It" Leads to Unhealthy Defense Mechanisms
One of the big dangers with the "just get over it" attitude, whether it's self-directed or coming from someone else, is that we may actually try to adopt this stance. That is, we make a genuine effort to simply push our emotional problems aside, and we stop acknowledging what's really there and what's really going on. But that doesn't mean the problems have gone away or been resolved. On the contrary, we can wind up compounding our issues by resorting to unhealthy defense mechanisms.
Defense mechanisms are mental strategies for avoiding unpleasant thoughts and emotions, such as denial, repression, rationalization. Left unchecked, these strategies can become extremely unhealthy, particularly when we rely on them to such an extent that we start to get a skewed view of reality.
Not surprisingly, unhealthy defense mechanisms often have a negative impact on our relationships, Consider displacement, for instance – the diversion of an emotion from the original target or source to another. Someone might direct their displaced anger or suspicion towards their partner, even when their partner has done nothing to warrant such treatment.
How Do You Heal Emotional Injuries?
So how exactly should you go about addressing and healing emotional injuries? There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this; it depends on the person, the nature of their problems, and their comfort level with various approaches.
Individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy all have their strengths, and many people benefit from these approaches. For those who feel equipped to tackle things independently, books and courses that you work through at your own pace can be helpful and effective. Other people benefit from the practice of journal writing, which allows for the uncensored exploration of thoughts, feelings, and events. Journal writing is also for providing the writer with an opportunity to revisit and reframe past difficulties in an emotionally safe manner.
However you choose to address your emotional injuries, the key takeaway is this: don't bully yourself (or allow anyone else to bully you) into thinking that your issues are trivial or irrelevant and that you should "just get over them" in the blink of an eye. Life is complex, people are complex, and the issues we face are often complex as well. Is healing possible? Absolutely. The human spirit is a wonder, and people are able to recover from the most extreme and traumatic of circumstances. But dismissive comments like "just get over it" are not the solution. Healing is a process that takes time, work, and the right support.
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