Do You (Figuratively) Lick Your Wounds? Should You?

Posted on July 23, 2016

For humans, the essence of wound-licking involves not a lapping tongue but a rationalizing mind. And perhaps more than anything else, a mind that is engaged in feeling sorry for itself. At its worst, it might even be seen as a pity party for one.

Certainly, in the face of disappointment, ridicule, failure, humiliation, or defeat, licking one’s wounds is completely understandable. Basically a reaction to hurt feelings, it frequently involves not only self-soothing but also a certain amount of righteous self-pity. And, as I’ll describe below, it can entail quite a bit more than this.

But just how helpful is it? How effectively can it heal not physical but psychological wounds? And—going forward—how likely is it to lead to a more positive outcome?

First, the pros:

We all need some time to recover when we’ve been antagonized or had our feelings hurt. So to exit from the precipitating event to afford ourselves that “downtime” can be understood as an essential aspect of self-soothing. In a sense the withdrawal is a fundamental aspect of self-care or self-compassion.

And now for the cons:

Licking our wounds can lead us, self-indulgently, to luxuriate in feelings of tender self-pity, and so interfere with our getting over our upset, or responding effectively to an issue that needs to be confronted. (And it might be noted here that it’s hard to think of a more scathing expression than to speak of someone as “wallowing in self-pity.”)

... So, ask yourself: If you’ve gone off to lick your wounds in the past, did it serve you in realizing the pro’s suggested above? Or did it tilt in the other direction?


Category(s):Emotional Intelligence

Source material from Psychology Today


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