Dieting. Binge eating. Alcohol. Perfectionism. Workaholic. Over exercising. Netflix. ALWAYS being “busy”.
Numbing at it’s finest… Not all forms of numbing are “bad” however, the one thing that numbing does is keeps you from feeling your feels.
I believe when we numb from our own lives with things that are “good” we don’t pay any attention to what we are actually doing because it’s….”good” right? Not so much. I don’t care if you are busy volunteering, numbing is numbing.
Real quick… let’s take a look at what exactly numbing means:
depriving one of feeling or responsiveness
To paint a pretty picture for you, let’s think about going to the dentist. When I go to the dentist and need to do something “invasive” I want that sucker numbed! I don’t want to feel it. If I can’t feel how much it hurts, it’s like it never happened. Fix it up and kick me out the door to get on with my life.
Then as the numbing agent wears off, I begin to feel the work that was done. It’s uncomfortable. If uncomfortable enough, I know I can take something to numb it down again…never having to fully feel the pain.
We do the same….exact….thing with our emotions DAILY. Instead of taking the time to just feel it we try to busy ourselves so we can’t. Then all of a sudden weeks and months go by…you are in a funk you simply just can’t get out of. What gives?!
The current numbing strategy isn’t working so obviously a new one needs to begin that numbs you in a new way. Perhaps it goes from restrictive eating to feel in control to flat out binging. Or maybe you start taking more hours on at work because the 10 hours of overtime wasn’t really all that bad anyways.
Whatever it is, it’s just a new numbing agent sending you further and further away from the issue at hand…the emotions you have been neglecting.
“I don’t have time to deal with that…there is too much to do.”
“I can’t understand why I feel that way so I’m just going to brush it off and hope that time will take care of it.”
And so stuffing the emotions further and further down we go. We start doing things we can’t explain… like being mean to a significant for absolutely no reason. Getting really short with coworkers and friends. Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning because sleeping would just be the easiest thing to do. Diving deeper and deeper in to things that we are able to check out from the world…escape our realities.
This is a slippery slope…once we begin to numb ourselves, it can dive down pretty quick.
So how can we do something about it?
M- Maintain control
First things first, we need to notice that it is going on. When you begin to feel yourself wanting to escape your current reality, this is a pretty good signal that there is numbing going on. Being aware of how you are numbing is going to be a HUGE part in ceasing it. Maybe you don’t know what you are numbing yourself from just yet…that’s ok. If you know HOW you are numbing, the WHAT will soon follow.
Identify how you are numbing and when you find yourself gravitating towards taking part in that activity, get real with yourself. Resist the numbing agent and just sit there. Sit there and feel. Feel the emotions that come at you in their entirety. Are you feeling mad? Be mad. Feel like you’re going to cry? Cry. Whatever emotion comes to you at that time…feel it. You don’t need to continue to hang on to those emotions. Unleash them from your heart. Release yourself from their control.
Once you are able to release your emotions because you took the time to feel them, it’s time to learn how to maintain control of your emotions. This is no easy task but an important one. Basically what this means is that when emotions come up….take charge. Because you are sad about something doesn’t mean you need to throw yourself a pity party for weeks and not allow yourself to experience any joy. Repeat the first two parts of NUMB by noticing what the emotion is and the unleashing it. (aka feel it and let it go.)
Your emotions don’t need to dictate your actions. YOU can be in charge of that. It’s time to get intentional…not be reactive. You will know if you are being reactive if we go back to the part where I said you are suddenly taking things out on others with no reason what so ever. Your emotions have taken control over you. Get aware. Let them go. Get back in control.
Probably the part that causes numbing to begin with in the first place is a lack of balance… too much work. Over stressed…under rested. Taking on more than can be handled. Bringing things back in to balance will with out a doubt take the amount of numbing incidents down. When we practice balance in our life we have the opportunity to stop…feel…and recharge. If you are working all the time and under pressure with deadlines, you never get that opportunity to just be.
When we can’t just be, we don’t know how to manage our emotions and then we numb them away.
If you’ve been numbing for some time, it will take some time to stop yourself from falling back into it. And guess what.
I want you to understand that in order to live your life fully and enjoy it, you have to FEEL it. We were given emotions for a reason. All are necessary. But if we can’t handle them, they will take over your life. We will turn to numbing agents that will literally suck our lives away. Don’t be afraid to feel your emotions.
Our greatest hurts become our greatest powers.
Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to tap in to a higher level because you are too afraid of how bad something will hurt if it doesn’t go as “planned”.
Fall hard. Trust indefinitely. Feel emotions deeply.