Coping with limb loss is challenging. It’s not easy to go through any of these thoughts: anxiety, decreased self-esteem, denial, depression, distorted body image, increased dependency, and significant social isolation levels, which can often lead to loss of career or relationships.
Although many of these psychological reactions are said to be temporary and even constructive, a few may require further actions, like a psychiatric assessment in case of psychosis. But for most people, cultivating or boosting their emotional intelligence is enough to help them learn how to deal with intense emotions.
These emotions aren’t inherently wrong, and some can help spur you forward if you know how to handle them. However, if these emotions are allowed to get out of control, they may send an individual on a downward spiral.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and the ability to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. However, emotional intelligence is not about removing emotions from your healing process. Instead, it’s about understanding and managing those emotions and finding a way to make them work for you, not against you.
For example, it’s one thing to understand what life is like after amputation intellectually. However, emotionally adapting to that fact is an entirely different thing. And it’s the latter that most people fail to take into account.
Improve your outcome
When you’re battling with negative emotions, there are two ways to respond. One, you can choose to wallow in those feelings. In the second scenario, you use those negative emotions as motivation to get better and find a situation that you have control over.
When you choose the second scenario, you understand that you have a role to play in improving, for example, your prosthetic outcome, so you take steps to make the most out of your amputee training sessions and slowly adapt to a supervised workout routine.
Improve your relationships
An amputation doesn’t only affect the individual who goes through amputation; it also affects the people around the individual, such as family members and close friends. They also need time and open communication to adapt to their loved ones’ new amputee life.
When you cultivate emotional intelligence, you inevitably improve your relationship with others. Empathy generates empathy. When you carefully listen to the people who matter to you, they will feel understood. And when someone feels understood and seen, they’re far more likely to repay your efforts and strive to understand more.
In the event of limb loss, both the new amputee and their family members and close friends benefit from cultivating emotional intelligence. Both parties need to adjust to "amputee life", and both need a little kindness and understanding. When a new amputee and their loved ones choose to manage their emotions, a stronger, better relationship will inevitably emerge.
The bottom line is cultivating emotional intelligence means understanding that while you can’t always control how you feel, you can control how you react and process those feelings. And being able to do so can help you, as well as the people around you, get through challenging times.