Emotional numbing comes in two forms:
- detaching emotionally as a coping method to avoid triggering overwhelming feelings.
- detaching emotionally as a form of keeping boundaries and protecting from any psychic trauma.
What does it feel like to be emotionally numb? You feel like a ghost watching and observing others go along in their lives and you feel so invisible that you can’t interact with anyone. This state of mind is very painful. You feel unfocused and ungrounded. Can’t communicate or think straight.
There can be many causes for emotional numbing only you can say how it occurred in your life.
So how do you manage in the meantime.
- identify triggers, what caused your initial shutdown.
- write it out uncensored on your computer or by hand.
- talk to a therapist or trusted friend.
- stay busy.
- eat and sleep well.
- remember, the feeling is temporary.
It may take some time to come out of emotional numbness but that is the OK. Mental health is very important and it takes time to understand what is going on in our minds. Is it a linear process, not at all. Healing has its own time table, have patience with yourself and in the meantime take really good care of yourself. You are worth it.
You feel sad, people are rude, you are munching on junk food, your bag of chips is empty and you are down in the dumps.
Well pumpkin, take heart, humans have feelings, some can be explained and some are random. You have permission to be human, you don’t have to control your feelings.
Try to let feelings move through you before reacting. Acknowledge those uncomfortable feelings and release them. Will you be able to do this on a first try? Nope. Try as many times as you need to.
Feelings have life spans, some are quick, some last a while, some seem to never go away. Resist the urge to analyze every feeling or thought.
Here are some suggestions for self-care while you are feeling a little or a lot off.
- talk kindly and with compassion to yourself.
- it’s OK to feel your feelings.
- read a book.
- listen to music.
- find a healthy distraction like cute animal videos, take a walk in nature, go to a gym.
- talk to a trusted friend.
- light a candle.
- get together with friends.
- be good to your body.
- try coloring with your non dominant hand.
As you move through your internal life remember, it’s OK to get good at being good to yourself.
If there is one thing wonderful about being human it’s the ability to change. When we experience trauma or other upsetting situations we can recover and bounce back and end up thriving. However, the journey is not an easy one. Even though there is no one path to healing there are some guiding principles to recovery.
- there are many pathways to recover.
- recovery is self-directed and empowering.
- recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation.
- recovery has cultural dimensions.
- recovery is holistic.
- recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness.
- recovery emerges from hope and gratitude.
- recovery involves a process of healing and self redefinition.
- recovery is supported by peers and allies.
- recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community
- recovery is reality.
The idea here is to find your way to recover. There is no right or wrong way to recover and it is your journey with lots of helpers along the way. Don’t give up.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.aacap.org
Child Welfare Information Gateway http://www.childwelfare.gov
American Psychiatric Association Answer Center – 1-888-357-7924
American Psychological Association Public Education Line – 1-800-964-2000
This list is from Page 19 of Mental Health First Aid USA – for adults assisting young people. ISBN: 978-0-9885176-0-8.
Those gosh darn feelings can be so annoying. They are looming up to get my attention and I will do almost anything to chase them away. But those pesky feelings keep chasing me.
I use busyness, procrastination, eating, TV and any distraction to keep those uncomfortable feelings of anger, grief, sadness and past memories that need to be processed just under the surface of my awareness.
Hold on one minute. Bashing feelings are not the best way for me to check in with my inner life.
As hard as it is I must be willing to sit quietly and let the feelings come up like waves rising up and crashing on the shore. Let these feelings come in to focus and let them go. Create a tiny space for opening up to my inner life.
This commitment to quiet time creates trust between me and my inner world that I can examine my feelings without judgement and in a very gentle and natural way I can heal.
If you have 15 minutes for yourself what would you do?
Call a friend, Mend some clothing, Paint a picture, Sing a song, Write in stream of consciousness, Meditate, Listen to you favorite music, Draw a picture, Write a positive note to your significant other, Feed your pet some treats, Gaze at the night sky, Sit still in the morning hours before daylight, Read something interesting, Count the stars, Sip a hot beverage, Send good wishes to those in need, Not complain in your voice or head, Just listen intently to your environment.
Finish the list of your favorites.
And you do have 15 minutes anytime you want. Indulge happily.
Internalized oppression is when we have been oppressed and unwittingly use the methods of the oppressor against ourselves. The oppressor could be family of origin, your unfulfilling job, negative friends, or any other area that feels oppressive. Wow that is a heavy realization.
How do we recognize this internalized oppression?
- Where am I punishing myself. Am I continuing a behavior that is keeping me down.
- Are my beliefs based on an oppressors opinion?
- Do I want to assimilate or fit in with my oppressors to feel of value?
- Do you have oppressive views of your identity?
- Do you believe you have no power?
Here are some remedies. I am sure there are many more.
- Stop a negative behavior and sit with the feeling. There’s a good chance there is shame and guilt present. Express any feelings that come up.
- You now have permission to have your own opinions and don’t need any validation but your own.
- You are not supposed to fit in, you are supposed to be your own person without apologies.
- Your identity is your own, no one can tell you who you are.
- Power can be overwhelming, take baby steps in reclaiming your personal power.
We learn to oppress ourselves, and it can be unlearned. This is the work of an empowered adult.
So get to work, you are worth it.
There are three things necessary to our wellbeing: Identity, Community and Purpose.
However in our fractured world where these things are hard to find, many people, young people especially are lost in the world. The internet doesn’t help. Even though the internet is a tremendous asset there is not much in the way of human interaction. So we become fractured. We lose any sense of identity, community and purpose. We flip from one relationship to another to find our identity, racing from one community to another to feel we fit in, and trying over and over again different causes to feel personally satisfied. Or we can completely shut down.
We can see the lies fed to everyone by invisible agenda makers. These invisible agenda makers know psychology to manipulate those who are searching for their lost identity, community and purpose. Their hidden agenda is to tap into these basic human needs to the detriment of the searcher. These invisible agenda makers come up as extremists groups as political, religious, consumerism and that sneaky minority of those who just hate humanity and are power-hungry to destroy anyone they can.
Let’s find out what our true identity, community and purpose is by not blindly following others but doing the work of learning about ourselves. If you have no sense of identity, find out who you are by your own standards. If you have no community, find like-minded people or create your own community. If you have no sense of purpose, find your passion and go for it.
It’s not easy to go your own way, it’s unknown territory so at times you will feel lonely and lost. That is OK. Sit with the feeling rather than running away from it. When you arrive to the other side you will know more of who you are, have an internal compass that will find the community that loves you and you get up every day happy to live your purpose.
Stop wasting time, learn more about you now.
I made a cake called Black Magic Cake in honor of the full moon, in honor of my dark side. The side that is hidden, the side with raw emotions. My friend Christopher asked me who I was going to hex with the cake. I got a laugh about that but it made me define just exactly what the dark side is for me.
It is the dark of our emotional life, the part that we cry in the night about. The part that is ashamed and holds secrets that we decided to go to our grave with. It is grief, sadness and mournful pain, the murderous rage and hatred. It is the part that is unhealed.
Making this cake is to give a voice to those uncomfortable feelings that need to be expressed. I usually write them out or do art to express myself but this time I tried something different. I baked a cake.
My advice to you is to unravel those strange feelings and sensations. There are messages there that want to be heard. Honor yourself enough to express yourself in a positive way. If you squash your dark side it has a way of showing up in unhealthy patterns.
Be curious enough to examine your dark side without judgment. There is no right way or wrong way of living your life. It is your path alone and very sacred. Make this journey important. Look at your dark side and be healed.
Depression – Ugh – That feeling that nothing matters and all is hopeless. But lets take another look. Depression just might be your friend. It is probably telling you something is wrong. Maybe its your job, relationships, the drug you use, the lifestyle you have, and that it’s time for a change.
The reason you feel so bad is that you refuse to listen to the changes you need to make. Change is hard but it’s better than living in a constant state of misery and hopelessness.
Don’t believe the lies that your fear will tell you that you are helpless to change. That is not true. You are capable of doing anything you want to do.
Now get out there and make a plan. Do one baby step. Only baby steps. Only baby steps work. You can do it.
When you were little you learned lots of stuff. How to play and cooperate and dream. However, if you have had a childhood you have had a trauma. What happens when there is neglect and harassment and trauma?
All memories are held in your body. Your mind does not have to recall exact situations but your body will remember. For example, have you ever heard, smelled or tasted something reminiscent of the past? Did it make you sick to your stomach or happy? Those are held memories in your body.
At some point, if situations are too much, your mind may shut down to protect you. Your body will remember seeing your pet killed. Your body will remember verbal abuse. Your body will remember everything that had a negative impact. Your mind will see something similar to the trauma experienced and you will feel it in your body.
Any belief about abuse being normal is never true. The person doing the abuse believes that its OK to abuse. That is a false belief. The child takes on the belief that they deserve to be abused. That is a false belief. These false beliefs become intrinsic as if they are normal and true. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is if your life is less than desirable and you are stuck, examine your beliefs. Look for an experienced trauma therapist. Find it in yourself to learn why you make the choices that you do.
One of the simplest free ways of healing is to listen to mediation videos or music. There’s plenty on youtube.com and with the help of a therapist you will transcend false beliefs and live a much happier life.