“Sometimes, I feel like as if I’m going through different notions of life, without actually living. I want to feel something – anything, but I don’t know how to. It’s like I’m just floating in an isolated space – not knowing to how to fly and nowhere to land.”
This is an excerpt from the pages of my own journal. As someone who has experienced emotional numbness for a few years, I can tell you how tough it can get at times. It is so much more than a constant wave of sadness or depression. Until and unless you have experienced emotional numbness, you can’t comprehend the kind of damage it can do to your life.
For someone, it can be a defense mechanism while for others it can be a part of their grieving process. Though, if you wish to learn how to stop feeling numb emotionally, then you need to identify its cause and gradually make your way out of it.
Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License
What is emotional numbness?
People often associate emotional numbness with depression, but it is so much more than that. Consider it as a feeling of being numb or dead from the inside. An individual who is numb emotionally won’t experience feelings like joy, happiness, fear, hate, agony, pain, grief, and so on. Unlike depression, which stops us from finding contentment, it makes us resistant to sadness, hatred, and even loss.
Psychologists identify it as a feeling of “disassociation”. If you are being emotionally numb, then you would feel a sense of despondency and dejection on an emotional and psychological level. It will gradually make you disconnect from the people around you, your body, your senses, your righteousness, your memories, your identity, your feelings, and most importantly – yourself.
Causes of emotional numbness
In order to learn how to stop being emotionally numb, it is important to identify its causes and triggers in the first place. Following are some of its major causes.
- Overwhelming stress
- A drastic change in one’s life (like the death of a loved one)
- Separation from someone significant
- Drug abuse
- Abusive relationship
- Change in the surrounding environment
- Post-traumatic stress
- Violence or assault
- Intense suffering
- Side-effects of a drug or medicine
Besides these triggers, there are tons of other causes of emotional numbness as well that can largely vary from one individual to another.
How to identify emotional numbness?
If you think you or someone you care about is going through emotional numbness, then look for these common signs and symptoms.
- Feeling empty and lost from within
- Not having any immediate or long-term goals in life
- A desire to be alone and isolated
- Not able to identify your own emotions
- Inability to express your thoughts and feelings
- Living in an “auto-pilot” mode
- Losing the desire to go out and meet anyone
- Feeling that the world is not real (having a sense of unreality)
- Cutting yourself from your friends and family
- Not being able to cry
- Showing a lack of compassion
- Disassociation from your life
- Depersonalization (feeling as if you are a stranger to your own life)
- A sudden urge to escape from your thoughts and life
Since we all go through a different journey, the overall symptoms of being emotionally numb can also alter largely among each one of us.
How to snap out of emotional numbness?
Now when you know the major causes of emotional numbness and its related signs, you can certainly find your way out of it. To know how to stop feeling numb emotionally, I would recommend the following suggestions.
- Accept your present emotional status
In order to start with, you need to acknowledge your current state of mind. Look for the common symptoms of emotional numbness and talk to a professional to get a medical diagnosis. Accepting the fact that you have a psychological problem and that you need help is a battle half won.
- Try to identify the root cause
If you want to know how to stop feeling numb emotionally, then you need to know what caused it initially. Most of the people are able to identify its root cause, as it is often a life-changing event. From the end of a relationship to the death of a loved one or a drastic financial loss to a change in your environment – there could be all sorts of events that could have triggered emotional numbness.
Before you work on coming out of emotional numbness, it is important to learn its cause. Otherwise, even a minor event or setback in the process can take you a long way back. Without overcoming your fears, you won’t be able to snap out of it entirely.
- Boost your confidence
Most of the people who show emotional numbness also depict a lack of self-confidence. Too many times, we don’t want to feel something because it seems unwanted. Just because you are afraid to face the reality, it doesn’t mean it that things will automatically change.
There comes a point in our life when we need to decide – whether we wish to live by being confined by boundaries or are we confident enough to cross the line. I would recommend working on confidence-building exercises. From changing your wardrobe to making a video of yourself – there are literally thousands of ways to boost your confidence.
- Surround yourself with positive people
This is the most important tip for living a prosperous life. The key to happiness is not money or fame – it is people. If you have caring and nurturing people around you, then you can win over the entire world.
When we become emotionally numb, we often break our ties with our friends and family. While it might seem difficult to get in touch with them again, it will be a risk work taking. All it takes is a message or a phone call to let them know how much you miss them. Plan a Sunday brunch with your parents or make some weekend plans with your buddies. Trust me – positivity is addictive. The more you stay with positive people, the better you would feel.
- Set short-term goals
In order to grow as a person, we all need to set some goals. I have to be honest – while trying to come out of emotional numbness, there will be some tough days. If you won’t have short-term goals and milestones to look forward to, then you might crawl back to isolation again.
For instance, you can have weekly and monthly goals to plan. Try to meet your friends and family once a week. Make sure that you do something new every month. There’s no need to make a stringent plan of action, but some guidelines will certainly come handy to you.
- Change your lifestyle
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the kind of lifestyle you have. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, then you might find it hard to come out of emotional numbness. I would recommend focusing on the three most important things – your diet, the sleeping pattern, and physical exercise.
Try to have a balanced diet and make sure you include all the vital nutrients in it. Additionally, don’t sleep too much or too less. On an average, 7-8 hours of sleep a day is must. Most importantly, exercise a bit to keep your metabolic activity up. Go for a morning jog and make sure you walk at least 8 to 10 thousand steps a day. Trust me – these small lifestyle changes can bring a drastic change in your life.
- Avoid stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are the two most common triggers of emotional numbness. Not just that, they can also affect our health and our overall well-being in more ways than you can imagine. Try to avoid unwanted stress as much as you can.
You need to understand that you can’t put your A-game all the time. It is okay to have some setbacks in a relationship. It is okay to miss a few deadlines every now and then. It is okay not to be in control. Your life is so much more than a job or a relationship. Avoid anything that makes you anxious and try to attain mental peace.
- Learn to express your emotions through art
People suffering from emotional numbness often find it hard to express themselves in words. Therefore, you can look for something else to channel your emotions. From a music instrument to a paintbrush, there are different ways to express your feelings. All you need to do is identify the right medium and make your story a work of art.
- Be patient
This is something that a lot of people might not tell you about emotional numbness. You need to be really patient with yourself and the people around you. Accept the fact that you can’t change everything in a day. To be honest, there are a few things that can’t be changed at all. Just take one step at a time – and one day, all of this will feel like a distant dream.
- Learn to let go
Once you identify the things that make you feel numb inside, try to let them go. It could be a habit, a feeling, or even a person. Try to identify the toxic relationships around you and slowly walk away from those who drain your energy. Let go of a habit and your own doubts that often pull you down. Remember, the Phoenix should burn from its own ashes to emerge. There are a few things you need to let go of if you wish to rise up again.
- Pet a therapy dog
Okay – this might sound strange in the beginning, but a therapy dog can help you overcome depression, emotional numbness, and plenty of other psychological problems. There is ongoing research on this with some scientific evidence to back up the claim.
Therapy dogs are usually trained to learn and identify the behaviour of their owner. If you are living on your own, then petting a dog will certainly help you. You will always have a loving companion by your side, which will fill your heart with joy. Coming from someone who owns three adorable dogs, I know for a fact how they can change our mood in no time.
- Get professional help
Most importantly, get in touch with an expert who can give you a personalized guidance and assistance. I would recommend seeing an experienced therapist or psychologist who can perform a professional diagnosis and help you overcome emotional numbness.
Besides that, there are dedicated support groups (online and offline) that you can also join. By sharing your experience with others and learning from their stories, you would certainly be able to take the right steps.
Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License