"The Ways We Numb Ourselves"
by Madisyn Taylor
by Madisyn Taylor
"We are born equipped to experience a complex array of diverse emotions. Many of us, however, are uncomfortable confronting our most powerful emotions. We may shy away from delight as well as despair, and deny life’s colors by retreating into a world of monotone grey. We may numb ourselves to what we are truly feeling. It’s easier to suppress our emotions than to deal with them, so we may momentarily turn to diversions such as alcohol, food, sugar, shopping or television. Work, too, can be misused as an anesthetic.
We may even numb our hearts. While it’s normal to temporarily seek distractions as a means of coping with intense emotions, numbing yourself habitually can block the action of discomfort as an impetus to learning and growth. When you are numb, there is no pain or powerlessness, but there can also be no joy or healing.
The activities that numb you may seem harmless or pleasurable, but turning to them habitually diminishes the quality of your life. Numbing yourself so that you don’t have to feel intense emotions can often satisfy a surface need while blocking your awareness of a deeper need. You may find solace in food or shopping when what you really need is spiritual nourishment. The less you feel, the less alive you feel. Your feelings add vividness to your experiences and serve to connect you to the world around you. It is possible to disavow yourself of numbing behaviors a little at a time and once again taste life’s rich flavors. When you sense that you are engaging in a particular behavior simply to deaden your emotions, stop and ask yourself why. Examining the feelings that drive you to numb yourself can help you understand what is triggering your desire to emotionally fade out.
With each numbing activity that you cut out of your life, you’ll find yourself experiencing a greater emotionally acuity. Senses once shrouded by the fog of numbness become vivid and sharp. Traumas and pain long hidden will emerge to the forefront of your consciousness and reveal themselves so that you can heal them. You’ll discover a deeper you—a self that is comfortable experiencing and working through intense emotions with courage and grace."