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Feeling numb and empty inside, I know that feeling way too well. It used to be my comfort zone. Even if it was making my life miserable. I remember one day, waiting for the train in Luzern Bahnhof to go to work. I was looking at everyone else around me and got that high level vision of sheep heading to where they were told to go without having a say in it. It was like watching my life from the outside. Wondering why I chose that. Why was I living a life that was making me feel so miserable, so empty inside? And more importantly, how could I get out of it? How could I change that?
In this article I share the 5 ways that helped me go from feeling numb and empty inside to feeling alive.
That first step is crucial. You have to acknowledge why you feel that way even if it is scary and painful to admit it. The main reason we feel numb and empty inside is because we live a life that is not the one we truly want. It is not the life we came here to live. We forgot ourselves on the way, we listened to others and made choices based on what we were told we “should” do, based on what we were told we “should” be.
Overtime, that creates an internal conflict. You want to please the ones close to you because you want them to love you (it’s usually what we do as a child). However you forget yourself in the process. You ignore your own feelings, your own needs and desires.
Frustration builds up inside of you until you reach a level where you literally hate yourself for never listening to your inner voice. That pain, with time, gets buried deep down. Because facing it is way too scary. It would mean admitting that you’ve been wasting your life. You’ve been giving up on your dreams one after the other to the point where you don’t even know what those dreams are. And in order to avoid that painful reality, you disconnect yourself…from yourself. Feeling nothing is better than that pain. Even if that pain is always there and somehow is eating you from the inside out. You’ve learned to ignore it. You’ve practised feeling numb and empty inside. To not feel at all. Until that pain, that very subtle yet persistent pain can’t be ignored anymore.
That’s when you start to look for answers. And stumble on an article such as this very one you’re reading. Telling you that the first step to feeling better is to admit, recognise and see that pain.
Once you are able to look at it, to really acknowledge and process that pain, making peace with it, you then have to start looking at how you can change that feeling. If you know where it’s coming from, you know how to solve it, how to fix it. Again, it is very important here to really be honest with yourself.
Feeling numb and empty inside means your life is not aligned with who you truly are. It means that over the years, you’ve built a life that is mostly opposite to the one you really dream of. Now it’s not about beating yourself up for that. There’s a reason why you made those past choices. You had some lessons to learn in the process in order to become who you truly are. You had to go through those experiences to help you wake up. Nothing is wasted. Everything that’s been happening in your life was meant to teach you something or to help you move towards your goals.
So it really is about allowing yourself to see the changes that need to be done in your life that do not make you happy. That can be anything from your job, relationship, habits to where you live. Whatever these might be, write them down. Put them on paper without overthinking the process. Allow your heart to speak for itself for once.
This third step is the one that will help you see what changes really need to be done. Making a list of what needs to be changed can be difficult to do depending on your lifestyle and your environment.
Taking some time off to clear your mind is a really good way to take some distance with your every-day life, allowing you to see things more clearly.
It makes it easier to allow yourself to see what is keeping you stuck, why you feel that numb and empty inside. When I got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore, I quit everything. The job, the relationship and leaving Switzerland. First heading to Bali for a month then Ireland where I wanted to settle. Now it doesn’t have to be that “brutal” for you of course. It was needed for me and for what I was meant to be doing in this lifetime. It can be totally different for you.
What is important is to take some time off, away from your “normal” environment, in a place that ideally feels really good to you. It can also be something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but always pushing it down your priority list. Go somewhere, do something for YOU, that makes your heart sing. A sabbatical can also be a great option if possible for you as it will allow you to be away for a longer period of time. Reconnecting with yourself, refilling that empty bottle of yours is not an overnight process. The longer you can be off, the more clarity you will be able to get.
I think this is the best part of the process according to me. When you start to be clear on why you feel numb and empty inside, when you start to know (and be ok with) the changes you have to make, things really start to shift.
One thing that was clear to me and that my clients also experience, is the people you used to spend your time with are no longer the ones you want to be with.
Your habits start to change, your desires, needs begin to be much more aligned with who you really are. It does not feel good anymore to be doing things you are not ok with. Therefore you start to practise saying “no”.
It feels uncomfortable at the beginning, for sure. You have that guilt feeling coming up, that voice telling you that you’re not being a nice person. That you’re letting them down. However it is important to recognise how that voice is not yours. It is the one you’ve been conditioned to. The one that has led you to building a life you never wanted. You do not want to listen to that voice. Instead you want to slowly shut it down. It will stay a whisper for some time. Until it disappears.
Another thing that happens is feeling like decluttering the space you live in. This is also normal in that process. What is happening when you initiate those changes is a shift in your energy. Therefore, the old energy does not feel good anymore. You want to get rid of what is not serving you anymore, of what is not aligned with your energy in order to allow new to come in. Old clothes, old stuff attached to old memories that do not feel good are to be removed. Emotional attachment will make it hard to get rid of some of your material clutter but once you’ve cut the cord, you’ll feel so much lighter that it will make the process easier each time.
Another way to move away from feeling numb and empty inside is to start implementing new habits that actually feel good to you. As mentioned above, when you start to acknowledge that feeling of numbness and emptiness and allow yourself to see what changes need to be made, your energy shifts. Decluttering your life feels like a natural next step, as will creating new habits.
Most of what you have been doing up till now was to fill in a void. Those habits will not resonate with you anymore, it’s time for new ones that will fill up your heart. It can happen that you don’t even know what to do because you have been disconnected from yourself for so long that you don’t know anymore what you really love. Be gentle and patient with yourself. It will come. Remember what you used to love doing as a child. Or that dream you always had in the back of your mind never doing it. That massage you wanted to treat yourself with but never booked the session. What about that coffee place you love so much? Maybe it’s time to actually go there and treat yourself with a nice tea and cake?
All these little daily new habits you want to create are to help you feel better. To help you move from feeling numb and empty inside to feeling alive. To see that life can be worth living again.
It is not an overnight process and each step requires a lot of time, energy and willingness to not give up in the process.
Another thing to keep in mind, it is a journey that can feel lonely. First because it is your’s and your’s only. Second, because people around you will not make it easy for you to change. They will do their best to make you stay where you’re at, because that’s what they know. You changing, shows them how their life might not be the one they want either, but they are not willing to make the necessary changes. You trigger them and they will try to stick with the version of you that they know.
It is all about staying focused on your goal, being clear on what you want, ie moving away from feeling numb and empty inside. This has to be your motivation so you don’t give up in the process.
In my experience, doing this alone is a very hard process and usually one that fails. You need guidance, support during this transition time. Look for someone who can help you achieve that. A person you resonate with who truly understands you and with whom you connect. This is your path to success.
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