What is Emotional Numbing?

Release Emotional Numbing

Written by Sheila Zayas

02/05/2021

Our bodies are constantly talking to us via anxiety, knotted muscles, clenched jaw, sleepless nights, digestive issues, allergies…you get my gist. In order to feel better, we engage in emotional numbing. I was an expert at avoiding my traumas with my go-to emotional numbing agents – alcohol and marijuana.

Examples of Emotional Numbing

Numbs are devious little monsters. They like to hide. Emotional eating or drinking are easy to spot as numbs. But I failed to recognize how I escaped the depths of my pain by spending my time on social media, worrying, seeking attention, and constant busy-ness. Emotional numbing is any form of escape, like compulsive shopping, porn addiction or other chronic distractions.

When trauma is stored in the body, the ego will distract us from feeling the pain. Trauma is what happens in our bodies when we aren’t able to fully process a negative experience. It is not the experience itself such as abuse, an accident, or being violated. It’s the aftermath that continues to affect us.

Why Emotional Numbing Is Common

Emotional numbing is endemic. Just look around you. If you’re in line at the store or in a doctor’s waiting, most people are numbing their present state of being by looking at their phones.

And the funny thing is, we judge others for their numbs when they are not our numbs of choice. Me? I smoked weed day and night. But, I was disgusted if someone smoked a cigarette around me. Or I’d think, “why does he watch sports all day long?” Yet I’m on social media scrolling through pointless posts for hours on end.

Now, I’ve stopped judging people for their numbs, even as I’m still working through all of mine.

My Own Personal Struggles

My weed oil pen was my trusted friend against my anxiety.

One day (amongst other healing), I decided to feel the anxiety without self-medicating with weed. My anxiety felt like a clay ball that was knocking at the right side of my belly, just underneath my ribs. It was a relentless pulsating discomfort that caused me to be wide awake for most of each night. It (I) was angry, scared, lost, and hurt.

I began speaking to it (me), telling it that I was there, that I loved it. I meditated with crystals on it. And I went back to the root of my emotional hurt and pain. It took me years of inner work to achieve freedom. Read my healing timeline here.

Healing Begins With Feeling Emotions

You have to start somewhere. In order to start dropping your numbs for authentic experiences, you have to feel your emotions no matter how uncomfortable they are. Don’t sex them away, drink them off, or stuff them with food. Healing happens when you feel your emotions. I do not recommend this for someone under mental healthcare or medication. Please consult your doctor.

You have to make friends with yourself, be kinder to yourself, and learn to love you.

Do you numb yourself and escape pain you don’t want to feel or confront? Do you give yourself space in your life to just sit with your feelings, even if they are unpleasant? Or are you in a constant go, go, go mode?

Steps To Stop Your Numbs

I invite you to join me in becoming more present. In facing your demons and discovering the healing and presence that is on the other side of detaching from escapist distractions. Slowly reawakening to life is the best thing I’ve done in years. 

Become aware of yourself, notice why you do things. Life is too precious to be lost in meaningless distractions and escapes. I challenge you to be present and feel what you need to feel.

Here are some simple steps to help you drop your numbs one by one, get reacquainted with you and gently acknowledge your pain. Keep in mind that just because the steps are simple, does not mean that they are easy.  

  • Step 1: Get familiar with the energy and emotions of your body. Where do you feel tension the most? Are your neck muscles constantly tight; do you feel anxious in your belly; do you clench your jaw? Start there and peel back from there. Once you’ve pinpointed the place in your body where you are most tense, direct your awareness there and speak words of love and understanding to it (you). Sit with your pain, feel it. Connect with it and acknowledge it instead of numbing it. Then ask Spirit to direct you to the source of it, to help you face it and heal it.

Step 2: Download a meditation app. My favorite is Insight Timer. But there are countless apps to meditate. Start with 2 minutes of guided meditation. This is the start of going internal, into your inner world, into discovering yourself. Starting to meditate is not easy. The mind is hard to keep still. But I promise you, with practice anyone can do it.  

Step 3: Compile your list of alternative activities/things. Make a list of 10 helpful activities/things that you could turn to instead of unhealthy numbing. My go-to tools are meditation, breathing, non-caffeinated tea, sparkling water, crystals, massages, journaling, sound bowl, chanting, and reading. Place this list somewhere handy. When you feel yourself in distress or about to numb, select one of the things from your list and do that instead.

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