We all know the common themes of numbing. We have read about alcoholism, drug addiction, and porn addiction. There are many other forms of numbing. The definition of numbing is depriving one of feeling or responsiveness.
When the going gets tough, numbing shuts it down. Most of us were never taught how to sit in discomfort. Emotional regulation was not modeled, and we certainly formed some deep-seated belief systems based on what our parents fed us.
- Being emotional is a sign of weakness.
- Be tough. Don’t cry. Anger is bad. Put a smile on your face.
- Don’t inconvenience anyone by being emotional or sharing your emotions.
- We don’t actually know what we are feeling, we have never built an emotional vocab.
- Uncertainty is too uncomfortable.
- You shouldn’t try to understand it, it’s too hard and you are asking for trouble. What you don’t know won’t hurt you.
We become experts at offloading our hurt, pain, and heavy emotions. The thing with being able to sit in the discomfort is if you allow yourself to feel the hurt and pain, you will be able to fully feel the joy and happiness too.
We cannot isolate what we feel and don’t feel, that’s not how it works. So as a matter of fact, you are preventing yourself from fulling feeling all the feelings in your life. Are you aware of what you usually do when you are feeling those really uncomfortable emotions? Do you suppress, numb, blame, deny or act out of character?
When we suppress our emotions an innocent comment, a small mistake, or feedback can trigger us. Suppressed emotions intensify. They get louder and bigger in the smallest moments. Can you begin to think of a moment where you possibly offload hurt or pain this way? And is there someone you do this with?
Feeling deep hurt and pain can cause us to begin to blame and make others feel bad about a situation when we are getting too close to the discomfort. It’s easy to turn to anger and say I just don’t care anymore, or I’m fine no worries, or whatever. How do you offload hurt and pain in this way? And is there someone you do this with?
Taking the edge off emotional pain is numbing. As I mentioned there are big ways of numbing that we are all aware of. Things like “man do I need that glass of wine, it’s been a hell of a day”. Emotional numbing can be through alcohol, drugs, food, sex, relationships, money, work, caretaking, gambling, affairs, religion, chaos, shopping, planning, perfectionism, constant change, the internet, and social media. How do you offload hurt and pain in this way? And is there someone you do this with?
Another form of suppression is going into denial. Packing the hurt and pain firmly down and ignoring it completely. Eventually, this catches up with us as our bodies store this hurt, and it will come to the surface at some point. Emotions are chemicals in our bodies and influence our physiology. When do you offload hurt this way? And is there someone you do this with?
When you are feeling hurt or in pain do you go into inauthenticity? What I mean by this is you act overly sweet, kind, and helpful in a passive-aggressive way. You don’t say anything or feel anything because it’s bad or not the right thing to do. When do you offload hurt in this way? And is there someone you do this with?
Hurt doesn’t just go away because we ignore it and pack it away in a box never to be seen. If the hurt is left unchecked, it festers like a wound that isn’t cleaned. Your behaviors will be so out of character with who you want to be, and this ends up sabotaging your relationships and career.
As uncomfortable as it may seem to sit with the discomfort. Allow yourself to fully embrace what it is you are feeling. If you get angry, let it happen but don’t let it be the stopping point. If you spend hours on social media, it’s okay but don’t let that be where you hand out going forward. If you find yourself blaming that’s okay as long as it’s not your go-to every single time you are hurting.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with big emotions. Allow yourself space to process what you can. Showing yourself compassion along the way.