Over the past several weeks I have been devouring a few books on self discovery, raising our standards and moving beyond our blocks.
One of the common topics is numbing.
Numbing is when we consciously or unconsciously do something whether it be eating, drinking, watching tv, shopping, or staying crazy busy to ignore processing our current emotions, and deaden the pain or discomfort. I can check all of those!
We numb when we feel inadequate to keep up with the demands of life. We numb when we feel vulnerable. We numb because we feel disconnected. We numb to take the edge off.
Earlier this week I had a difficult conversation with a friend. The end of the conversation was rewarding, but during it many uncomfortable emotions arose. I felt anxious from the conflict, a fear of rejection, the overwhelming sense of change and cried several times.
Afterwards, I called Chris and asked him to pick up a pizza for dinner.
He loving asked if that was really what I wanted to eat. I have been working very hard on taking good care of my body and he knew that I was using it to numb. I told him that I wasn’t even that hungry, but was really emotionally drained. I needed something to soothe me.
Chris suggested I take a bath. I agreed, and then came up with several reasons why I didn’t need to do that. “I’m fine.” “A bath is too much effort” “I’ll just watch a tv show instead.” etc. However, something inside me knew that I needed a bath. I turned the nozzle to the red, and poured in a cup of epsom salt and a few drops of my favorite essential oil. I lit the candles, turned off the lights and settled in. Ahh….. this is exactly what I needed.
Something profound happened. In that moment, I choose not to numb, but to actively engage in listening to my body. What did I really need to soothe myself from the onslaught of emotions? I was able to ask myself what emotions I was feeling. I was able to exist in the vulnerability of conflict and resolution. I WAS PRESENT.
I ended up having a beautiful conversation with Chris and we ended the night laughing and experiencing joy.
Numbing vulnerability is especially debilitating
because it doesn’t just deaden the pain of our difficult experiences; numbing vulnerability also dulls our experiences of love, joy, belonging, creativity and empathy. We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light. -Brene Brown
When we choose to swap our numbing behavior with another behavior that actually addresses and deals with the emotion, or a behavior that gives back to us and comforts we can learn to lean into the uncomfortable feelings. We open ourselves to real healing and the ability to process and move on.
Homework for Self Discovery:
- How do I numb those difficult feelings? My first instinct is to ____________ ?
- What feelings are my triggers to begin numbing? Loneliness, shame, rejection, fear of success, fear of failure etc ..when I feel __________.
- What does numbing cost me? When I numb I miss out on _____________?
- What is a healthy way to cope when I feel triggered? When I feel the instinct to _________, I will now choose to ________ instead of _________ because it gives me what I am really craving.
Example: When I am feeling lonely, isolated and disconnected, I will now choose to call a friend and let them know I am feeling lonely instead of watching more Netflix shows because it helps remind me that I am loved, cared for and that connection is right around the corner.
I hope you take the time to answer these questions, or if nothing else become more aware of when you numb.
Here’s to showing up in the uncomfortable and leaning into that fear and anxiety!