When we turn away from feeling bad emotions, we also put aside our ability to attach to the joy of all of which life has to offer. Some people may even experience memory loss, as they do not remember much of their life—even looking at old pictures of themselves can seem surreal. Although things may seem fine on the outside, you may feel overcome by a wave of sadness or loneliness. This is because even part of you insists on freezing up, there is something deep down in you that cannot help but remind you that you are missing out on life. Deep down, you know that the strategy of locking your heart away is no longer working and that to choose to live this life fully is to allow your heart to melt, blossom, and ache at the same time.
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Inside of you is a wildly spontaneous, innocent and playful child. Deep down, you long to engage in life fully, to feel completely safe in the presence of others, and to love without holding back, as that is the call from your nature. Through the construction of emotional skills and resilience , you can begin to feel safe enough to dip your feet into the deep waters of feeling.
We can start with small strategies, such as learning to label emotions and self-regulate. The first step to working with your emotional numbness is to relinquish any shame or self-criticism attached to it.
On top of the pain of feeling empty, you may have accumulated layers of relational shame and conflicts associated with it. For instance, your intimate partner may have accused you of being cold, defensive or distanced when they had needed affection from you. However, it is important to remember that your numbness grew out of a place of pain and tenderness and was nothing but a desperate attempt to survive. Shaming or punishing yourself for becoming numb in the first place will only reinforce the defensive pattern. Once you have parked away your harsh internal critic, you are ready to approach your numbness from a place of compassion.
This is important because when you first acknowledge the extent to which your numbness has held you back from joy, you will hit a wave sadness. This is the grief over the fact that you have been out of touch with yourself and your true nature all these times. Instead of bypassing your sadness, set an intention to move closer to it, feel into it, so it can be digested, rather than suppressed. Now, you are ready to look carefully at your numbness. Use your imagination, and reflect on the following questions:.
The Thaw: Reclaiming the Person for Psychiatry: Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
Keep approaching your shield, until you reach the tender wounds that lie beneath it. Breath gently and thoroughly through this process. I would not have survived without you. However, I am stronger now, and I no longer need you. Our goal here is not to get rid of the shield but to befriend it and get to know it, so it no longer runs the show.
We do not expect things to change overnight, and you may have to repeat the process of approaching it and inquiring it again and again. The next time you find yourself using the shield to defend against emotions that arise, or when you feel numb where you wish to feel alive and present, you will be more aware, and your numbness is no longer an unconscious , destructive force. Your emotional shield aims to protect, and you may choose to use it, or not.
But the power remains in you. Young, J.
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Schema therapy: A practitioner's guide. Guilford Press. For a year now, I've been feeling like this ever since I stopped taking Sertraline. It's gradually gotten worse over the past year and it's even gotten to the point where I don't feel any emotional connection to my wife or my family. My friendships with people have dissolved because of my irritability and inability to connect with them. I feel like I'm in a bubble but I'm just watching without being present. People stopped feeling real and every time I explained the feeling to my doctor or my counselor, they don't know how to help.
Every day has just felt like a blur and it feels like I don't exist. I don't think I have this disorder, but you described everything to a perfect "T" as to what I'm feeling like now. A long time ago I walked into a bathroom and I saw a guy leaning with his back to wall then he slowly slid down to a sitting position.
I heard later he was had a nervous breakdown. He was overloaded. His breaker tripped. From time to time if I get a few negative events close together in a row or one bigger one and I will get zoned out in a stress reaction. I usually mope for a while then I will analyze and plan. I tend to come up with drastic hack and slash moves designed to eliminate the source of my problems, but not the cause. The cause I subconsciously re-create again. When I see that I try to work things out so I don't have to change jobs, apartments, friends etc again.
Sometimes that is possible on my end or the other party's end but sometimes it is not. I feel things too intensely and then burn out on that into numbness with depression and a loss of energy. I don't need to feel intensely because I have some control over my choices. This comes from where I had no control and no choices. Nobody wants to be shaken, scared or angry and I am trying to resolve or move with the best intentions.
But sometimes that stress reaction is gonna happen. Not a bad thing every time unless I'm being ridiculous. Which is sometimes the case. Thank you so much, Imi, for writing this incredible article that describes the problem precisely. I can relate to a lot of the thoughts in it. The "imagine the wall inside one's mind" is very useful, and I can immediately see the good effect on myself upon using it. I am 15, i had a horrible childhood. I would rather not get into details.
I have had this numbness feeling for two years and tonight i mangled my arm with a razor just to feel something. I have been wanting to cry for awhile now but couldn't because i thought emotion was a disease.
Why should anyone feel sad, depressed or angry for so long they start to lose their sanity? I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero. Ball State University. PSYS Arch Gen Psychiatry — J Addict Dis 57— Pechey R, Halligan P Prevalence and correlates of anomalous experiences in a large non-clinical sample. Psychol Psychother — Caputo GB Apparitional experiences of new faces and dissociation of self- identity during mirror gazing.
Percept Mot Skills — Ohayon MM Prevalence of hallucinations and their pathological associations in the general population. Psychiatry Res — F Posters 3.
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Accessed Apr Drug Alcohol Depend — J Psychosomatic Res — Genova P The Permanent Trip. The Thaw: Reclaiming the Person for Psychiatry. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. LSD: Still with us after all these years.