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"Numb the dark and you numb the light."

"Numb the dark and you numb the light." - Brene Brown

Numbness - It is not a sign that nothing is there. It might be that there is too much. Emotional numbness (or avoidance) can cause a sense of isolation or disconnect from the world around you. Emotional numbness might be described as emptiness and may be even unbearable for those who feel there is no hope for a brighter future. Emotional numbness is used as a defense mechanism of the mind to avoid intense and overwhelming emotions. When you go emotionally numb, you lose the ability to truly feel and experience your emotions - even the positive ones.

While it is human nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain, the risk we run by avoiding or numbing ourselves from emotions, is that many issues can arise and manifest themselves in unfavorable ways or what I refer to as "coming out sideways." Numbness will cause imbalance in all of our major life areas: social, mental, emotional, physical, vocational, and spiritual. Emotional numbness is the unseen and hidden illness that many struggle with, yet don’t realize it until troubling issues start emerging. While many of us have adopted the mentality of showing emotion makes you weak, emotional numbness therefore becomes socially acceptable and stays hidden, latent, and not to be spoken about. In a society that largely doesn’t know nor cares to discuss how to handle strong emotions in healthy ways, being stoic and “level-headed” is valued – but the unruffled, placid facade is actually just camouflaging a person's unhealthy, detachment from their feelings. Maybe if we don't look at it, talk about it, or accept the reality that we are imperfect humans with feelings (gasp), they will eventually disappear... because sweeping dust under the rug means your house is clean. {sarcasm}

Thus, the importance of self-awareness - which is the primary aspect of therapy that I encourage. The more self-aware we are and the more frequently we take an inventory of ourselves, the better we will be about recognizing warning signs, imbalances, or maybe aspects of ourselves that we simply want to improve a little bit. Consider the following aspects of emotional numbing:

Do you find it difficult to truly express your feelings (both positive and/or negative)?

Do you ever feel like you’re a passive observer to your life or that life is sort of "dream-like"? Are you simply surviving your days, muddling through your tasks or job like you're on autopilot?

Do you feel connected to the people around you? (Being in close proximity to your co-workers does not count!)

Do you feel flat or empty inside when a situation would typically illicit an emotional response?

So I ask, how often are you checking in with yourself? How well do you really know who are you? Are there people, situations, or emotions that you are avoiding or concealing? What is keeping you from confronting those items? If any of this post feels like a personal attack, I can promise you it is not. This post is an invitation to allow yourself the time. space, and grace to experience those feelings. If that seems to scary, consider joining a support group, speaking with a trusted friend, or giving therapy a try. I promise you will feel lighter, happier, and more balanced. All you have to do is walk through the door.

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