Could You Have an Emotional Sunburn?
Sure, your skin can get sunburned—but did you know your emotions can, too? Here’s how to tell – and how to get emotional SPF.
Yes, it’s summer – time for beaches and bathing suits. Most people love the summer; at best, I tolerate it.
It’s not just the heat (though I do loathe the heat). It’s the sun. You see, I am one of the palest people you will ever meet. I mean – I am white. Like, Conan O’Brien white. So white that sometimes I seem almost pale blue (at least to my own eyes).
So, when summer rolls around and everyone else gets beachy gold and brown, I am…white. Unless I forget previous years and re-attempt sunless tanner. Then I am…orange. And streaky.
Except – there was that one summer when I turned lobster red. I was 16, and in my first bikini since I was two. I went to the beach with my friends (still trying to convince myself I was just like them and could tan if I tried REALLY hard), laid out in true teenage fashion – and promptly fell asleep. In a bikini. At the beach. In the sun. Did I mention I am a whiter shade of pale?
When I woke up a while later, it became evident that my snowy torso was revolting violently to its sunny vacation. And it only got worse. My angry red skin developed first – maybe second? – degree burns, and big, freaky blisters. Even the weight of a cotton bed sheet was excruciating.
Suffice it to say, I learned my lesson – now, I don’t leave the house without sunblock of 50 or greater, mostly because the pain of that burn is something I will never forget.
Today was hot and sunny. Remembering the pain of that burn today, I got to thinking…can we have emotional sunburns too? (Kind of like heartburns, but without the reflux.) But what is emotional sunburn? Pain from hurt feelings, anger and misunderstanding that has rubbed you so raw you’re chafing.
I do believe I have witnessed the emotional sunburn – even suffered from it myself on occasion. What about you? Take my impromptu quiz and see if you are in need of some psychological SPF:
- Is there someone close to you (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, sibling, etc) with whom you have regular conflict?
- Is the conflict seemingly always about the same 2-4 issues?
- Do you feel chronically misunderstood by this person, no matter how many times you try to explain yourself?
- Do you enter interactions with this person with the best of intentions, only to have things usually blow up – though you have no idea why?
- Do the words of this person cut you like a knife?
If you’ve answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, you have an emotional sunburn. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Like actual sunburn, most of us have been badly burned emotionally at least once, and boy does it sting. The good news is that you will heal – if you give yourself these balms.
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