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Burns

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I burned my finger this morning. It was nothing major really, just one of those irritating little burns that you get from trying to cram too much into a hurried and harried morning routine.

I was attempting to prepare my son's lunch, the carpool was honking… and the plate in the microwave was very hot. Carelessly, I pulled it out and only belatedly realized just how scorching it had become.

For the next several hours, the area around my finger was red and sensitive. For a while I soaked it in a tub of cold water and the pain was alleviated. But as soon as I removed my finger, the throbbing resumed. Touching anything hot, or even lightly immersing my finger in a lukewarm liquid, resulted in a searing pain. Returning to my normal daily tasks was out of the question. The area was still very tender. It needed special care.


I learned from my burned finger—something more than just to be more careful in the stressed morning rush hour.

Each of us has some part of us that has been "burned"—some point of tenderness, and some area of sensitivity in our lives. It is that wounded part of us that needs delicate care and soothing treatment.

When something or someone touches this raw area, we'll experience a burning sensation of hurt, anger or misery. It may be a mild, innocuous comment, but any contact with that bruised part of our ego causes an intense pain to shoot right through us. It might be a lukewarm action, one that certainly was not meant to cause us any suffering, but handling this sore area creates a stinging discomfort.


The lesson I discovered is that it's not the lukewarm action that is at fault, nor the heated comment that's to blame. It's only our own sensitivity to the issue at hand that has caused us our distress.

So, before retorting in resentment, grief, or rage at the audacity of the individual—before we even let him know exactly what we think of him and his comments—maybe we need to ask ourselves: is our anger justified? Was the comment or action really offensive, or is this just a sore, sensitive point in our life?

And, maybe before making a comment that might be misinterpreted, we should give it a second thought, and refrain. Just in case. Otherwise, we might inadvertently touch a tender "burn" in someone else's life, causing them to experience tremendous discomfort.

Because each and every one of us has some sore spots….

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Artwork by David Brook. David lives in Sydney, Australia, and has been selling his art since he was in high school. He is currently painting and doing web illustrations.
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Brenda Dinuba, CA April 5, 2011

Burn I was intentionally "burned" by another individual...it is really to try to evade the feelings of almost hate and resentment torward this individual, because I truely tried to ignore them and not give into they're highly disrepectful comments, but I responded and things escalated...now i feel anxiety, pressured and stress..I feel horrible i'm really not at peace with what happened.. Reply

Anonymous Overland Park, Ks February 26, 2011

Not really a friend I was in this friendship for several years. We really had a toxic friendship and I didn't realize it until recently.
We both used to gossip about peopel we know and say negative things about them.
She has 3 children and I have 2. My children have different dads. And when we would be talking about other people, she would always mention so and so's kids don't have the same dad. It really hurt me but I stayed friends wiith her, because she was my only friend. Then, I couldn't take the gossip anymore and the negetivity anymore, and started spending less time with her. Then, she became very ill, so I went to the hospital and spent time with her. After she came home, I brought her flowers. I had surgery recently and couldn't drive,she lives 5 minutes away. She doesn't call, visit or send a card. How do you find friends??? I really thought that we were good friends and look how that turned out Reply

Melissa Greenville, SC October 5, 2007

Burns Chana, this article is really lovely. I pray you have no more burns, and that all of our burns become de-sensitized. Reply

Chana Weisberg (author) September 30, 2007

Re: "Healing the Burn" and "Anti-Burn Lotion?" How to heal an emotional burn is a great question, one that I think most of us are always grappling to find an answer to. Let me preface my comments by saying that it is far easier to write a reasoned response to this, than to actually practice this in real life.

I think the first step to a "cure" is realizing and admitting that you are suffering from an emotional burn. This means that it is not the person or the thing/situation that is actually irritating you, but rather it is something internal. That changes the situation from you being the victim, at the mercy of another person, to empowering you to realize it is how you react that determines the outcome or the degree of your hurt.

Next, if you are being honest with yourself, you have to ask yourself, do you really want to be healed (or at least have some of the pain alleviated) from this emotional burn? Be honest with yourself.

If you decide to continue, and to try to alleviate the pain, it will take a lot of effort and courage, make sure you are ready for that!

The next question is to ask yourself, is it a situation or a person that is causing me to feel this way, i.e. is it a particular person who just always irritates me with how he says things, or am I sensitive to a particular subject/topic?

If it is a person that is causing these emotional burns you can decide one of two things. If you think it might help, speak to the person, and explain your position, gently without condescension, berating, or judgementalism. Perhaps he had no idea that you felt as you did when he spoke as he did and once he understand your position, will change the way he relates to you.

Obviously, a positive result in speaking to him will only be achieved if you are putting yourself in the other person's shoes and not judging him or blaming him for the way he is reacting, but just explaining your own personal feelings or reactions to his retorts. "I" messages ("I am feeling hurt when you speak about...") are most effective instead of "you" messages of blame ("you are an extremely insensitive individual...").

This brings us to the second part of dealing with an emotional burn from an individual--your own perception of the person. Whether or not you feel speaking to him will help the situation, you still must judge him favorably.

None of us are identical with the same set of challenges, same personalities or the same family history or background. Perhaps he reacts as he does due to the circumstances and trials of his life, and perhaps if you had the same temperament and challenges, you would be reacting in exactly the same way--or worse. Realizing this, helps soften the blow of his comments. The comment is not about YOU, but rather about his own deficiencies and inadequacies and it is up to you to choose not to be hurt by his statements which really aren't a reflection of YOU at all.

On the other hand, if it is a particular subject/topic that is an area of sensitivity in your life, you can try to honestly explore (alone or with a spiritual mentor) why that area causes you such pain. Do you feel you are not doing your best in that area? Do you feel you are deficient in this and therefore sensitive to any comments about this? If so, ask yourself if you are really trying your best in this area. Every single one of us is not talented in every area of life. There are some that are great at culinary skills, others wonderful in oratory skills, while others who have tremendous intellectual capacities, and so on for the many skills and talents that are helpful in life. We cannot and should not expect ourselves to be perfect in all areas. If you feel you are not doing your best in that particular area of sensitivity, perhaps you should explore whether more effort is justified.
Write for yourself a list of ways you would like to improve in that particular area and try implementing your plan, one small step at a time.

There is no longer a reason to feel sensitive to this, because you are working on a plan to improve yourself.

If, on the other hand, you honestly feel that you are giving it your best effort, accept yourself and love yourself for who and what you are--deficiencies and all. Once you feel confident about yourself, comments on this subject will slip right off you without making you feel inadequate or sensitive.

Wishing us all much success in overcoming these emotional burns and gaining a real respect and love for ourselves as well as for others, Reply

Melissa Greenville, SC September 28, 2007

Burns Thanks, Chana. This article was insightful and very helpful. You are right on target, as always.

May we be very careful of each other's sore spots. Reply

helen fox london, england September 25, 2007

Burn I hope your burnt finger is much better, my Dad used to say count to 7 before you make a hurtful remark, that also helps. Reply

Anonymous arlington, ma September 24, 2007

healing the burn Now I understand why I get so mad at a particular person in my life. His intentions may be good, but it touches my burn. How do we heal these burns? Mine has been burning for 6 years and it seems every minute it only burns deeper. Reply

Anonymous boston, ma September 23, 2007

Yasher Koach The Baal Shem Tov is shepping nachas from you. Reply

NES September 23, 2007

Anti-Burn Lotion? Is there some kind of emotional ointment or lotion which can alleviate the discomfort caused by an emotional burn? Reply

rivka September 23, 2007

good one! Reply

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