If, as a child, you were ordered to shut up when you cried, you’re being conditioned for emotional numbness. While this seems acceptable, emotional numbness can be unhealthy as you grow up.
The sad truth is, this is a silent illness because many of us struggled with it but fail to acknowledge it.
As a result, we grow into adults who appear to maintain a ‘perfect’ facade but deep inside are suffering from varying issues like depression, spiritual emptiness, dysfunctional coping mechanisms, inability to establish healthy relationships, inner disconnection, chronic illnesses, fatigue, and many others.
Emotional numbness takes place when you grow in cultures where emotions showing vulnerability must be repressed, grow in a family that shunned strong emotional expression, went through traumatic experiences during childhood, had been abused as a child, or been punished when showing any form of strong emotions.
The mind employs emotional numbness as a defense mechanism to avoid intense and overwhelming emotions such as fear, hatred, or jealousy.
When you’re emotionally numb, you no longer feel your emotions but becomes disconnected from your memories, identity, body, senses, and environment. In worst cases, emotional numbness makes you cruel.
Emotional numbness is different from emotional detachment. Emotional detachment is necessary for creating boundaries or helping others in crisis situations.
Emotional numbness, on the other hand, is an automatic inner defense mechanism.
13 Signs Of Emotional Numbness:
1. You have difficulty expressing strong negative or positive emotions.
2. You often find yourself as a passive observer instead of a full participant.
3. You feel that life is a dream as if it’s unreal.
4. You live on autopilot.
5. You don’t find interest in activities that others find enjoyable.
6. You feel distant and disconnected from others.
7. You don’t join with your friends and family members.
8. You feel your emotions as body sensations without feeling it in your mind.
9. You dislike people who are expressive of their own strong emotions.
10. You don’t feel anything in situations that call for strong emotional reaction.
11. You panic or in a state of terror when you finally break through strong emotions.
12. You feel empty inside.
13. You feel physically and emotionally numb.
In extreme cases, emotional numbness can cause people to commit suicide.
How To Remedy Emotional Numbness:
While overcoming emotional numbness requires support from trained professionals or therapists, there are self-help suggestions you can follow when you find yourself struggling with emotional numbness, which includes some of the following:
1. Anchor yourself to your body
Because emotional numbness is also connected to disassociation, mental disconnection from one part of yourself, you may either feel only the emotions through your body and not your mind or completely meltdown every time you experience strong emotions.
The best self soothing mechanism you can apply is by anchoring yourself to your body through mindfulness and physical contact.
Hold tightly one area of your body, such as the hand or stomach. This method helps you ground your body.
In extremely emotional situations, wearing shapewear is helpful. The shapewear will act as a hug to your body where you will feel safe and ‘held together’.
2. Take deep breaths
The easiest and quickest way to deal with intense emotions like fear and rage is by taking deep breaths.
Many deep breathing techniques are available online but finding your own, the one where you feel most comfortable, is the best in calming your mind and body.
3. Write down your sad thoughts
Keeping a journal of your sad thoughts is also helpful. Every time sadness casts its shadow over you, write the emotions immediately.
This helps you to express your emotions as well as let those emotions out of your system. Finish it off by reading uplifting news or something that inspires you.
4. Purge it all out
Release your repressed emotions by screaming into or punching a pillow. You may also try impassioned dancing or dynamic meditation.
A regular catharsis is necessary for your healing journey so as to avoid depression or chronic illness.
5. Practice yoga or self massage
Well known for clearing and balancing the energy, yoga has a way of releasing the emotions stored in your body.
Begin with the gentle forms of Hatha yoga at least 10 minutes a day. Keep it your goal to connect with your body, mind, spirit and heart.
6. Develop your creativity
Express your emotions in artistic endeavors. Write a song, doodle in your journal, create a collage or practice crafting. The point is to express your feelings creatively.
Notice how the activity makes you feel afterward.
7. Nurture your inner child
Your inner child is the most affected part of you during a trauma. For this, you need to look for the most vulnerable place inside you where your inner child is curled up.
You can comfort and nurture your inner child by using powerful affirmations. If faced with a difficult circumstance, repeat this mantra: “It’s okay for me to feel…” “It’s safe for me to feel sad”… “My anger is valid”…
8. Dedicate space and time for inner exploration
In this busy life, numbing yourself through external distractions is easy. Thus, turning within is an activity you need to set aside space and time.
You must have a firm commitment devoted to the healing of your emotional numbness. If looking within is difficult for you to do alone, joining with a meditation group might be helpful.
Never set aside looking into yourself because, after all, it’s where emotional numbness resides.
As you start doing the suggested tips, notice how you gradually embrace your emotions and how beautiful each one becomes.