For some people, emptiness is a chronic feeling. You have a hard time for many years feeling anything. You may feel detached from your life and have the sense that something is missing. There's a void that can't be filled. This experience can happen to people who seem to have everything together: a healthy family, a good job, and a busy social life.
Emotional numbness isn't exclusive to those who are missing these life achievements. That's because emptiness does not come from outside; it comes from within, and it can affect every aspect of your life.
If you're feeling this way, you likely want to know the cause of the emptiness. One of the reasons could be a mental illness or disorder such as depression, substance use disorders, or adult ADHD. For others, however, it could be caused by a lack of a good emotional support system in the past or present. If you haven’t been supported by your emotions in the past, there is a good chance you have suppressed your emotions to the point where you no longer feel them.
When you are feeling empty or numb, it can be alarming. You may be wondering if the emptiness has been caused by something outside of yourself. Emptiness is an internal state, and while it's not easy to get rid of, you ultimately have the power to manage and shape this internal struggle. Here are common reasons for feeling empty below, before going over tools to combat feelings of emptiness.
Stressful or Hard Situations
An Unfulfilling Job or Other Unrealized Goals
Anxiety and Depression
Alcohol and Drug Addiction
Too Much Media
Too Much Social Media
Borderline Personality Disorder
Death Of A Loved One
Friends, Relationship, or Family Issues
Other Medical Reasons or Mental Health Reasons
By assessing each situation, you can determine if each event is positive or negative and ask yourself how you should feel and respond to the things that happen. Writing your emotions can be a gateway to help you process what's going on inside yourself, and combat feeling empty.
Set Life Goals that Establish Meaning
An essential part of getting your life moving again and finding meaning is setting goals. A lot of the time we flounder and feel lost or empty because we haven't set goals for what is important to us. Sometimes this means reevaluating or revisiting past goals, and other times you have to brainstorm goals for the first time.
Many people who are not feeling deep meaning in their life might feel this way since they have subconsciously "turned off" their emotions. They might have reached a point where their emotions become overwhelming and caused them anxiety, leading to choosing "empty" as an emotion instead. The first thing you can do after acknowledging this numbness towards emotions is to start reconnecting with your emotions; allow yourself to feel again. Your emotions may come out inappropriately at first, such as sadness being expressed through anger, but remember no emotions are wrong or bad, as long as you continue making an effort to recognize them and grow.
Engage in Activities You Used to Enjoy
Right now, you may not feel like doing your usual hobbies or rituals, but you should try to do them anyway. This is a part of taking care of yourself. Pay attention to how you feel when you are doing these things. You may be able to connect with some of the joy or peace you used to feel, or you may find that it is time to replace this activity with something else. Either way, doing things that are just for you can establish self-love and reconnection to your emotions, which can combat feeling empty.
Talk To Support Groups
You can find various support groups that deal with the concept of waves of emptiness. These support groups may consist of people who have a mental illness that is contributing to feeling empty, or they may consist of people who are just trying to figure out how to find a meaningful life.
Alternatively, you can go to group therapy. Group therapy helps people who have a state of emptiness by allowing them to communicate with one another and help find solutions that way. You'll be surprised how often an empty group of people can find the treatment for their emotions by speaking to one another.
Go to a Treatment Center for Severe Issues
Work may be unsatisfying, or you don't have the time and energy to make friends. There are many reasons you may feel empty. However, if you feel severely empty to the point where it's hurting your mental health, or you have a severe mental illness, going to a treatment center can help.
Don't Avoid People and Reach Out to Those Close to You
You may not be ready to actively plan a time to hang out with friends or family, but if you get invited somewhere, go ahead and accept the invitation. Isolation may increase your feelings of emptiness. Your existing support system cannot support you if you alienate them. If you find yourself spending a majority of your time at home, go somewhere where other people gather.
Whenever these feelings start to rise and makes you feel like what you're doing isn't worthwhile, take out your list of goals. These are your reminders that your life has a purpose and you do have a sense of direction. If you're finding it difficult to take steps toward your goals or you feel stuck, don't be afraid to reach out for help. An online therapist can help you get to the bottom of your feelings of emptiness, so you can improve your mental health and live the fulfilling life you want.
An online counselor can support you in exploring those feelings of emptiness, finding the source, and working through them. Many people have talked with online counselors about their emotional numbness, received support, and moved forward. According to the APA (American Psychological Association), many research studies show that online counseling is just as effective as in-person therapy.
Many people who have dealt with similar issues have emerged as more resilient and fulfilled individuals. In fact, one study by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute found that clients with depression reduced their depressive symptoms by 70% through BetterHelp services.
You may read the full study here: Depression: Effectiveness of a Multimodal Digital Psychotherapy Platform for Adult Depression: A Naturalistic Feasibility Study
"Rachel is one of the best counselors I have ever worked with. She is kind and encouraging, she's not judgmental and is incredibly understanding. She's also not afraid to tell me what I need to hear, even if it's a difficult conversation. Without Rachel, I would have been stuck in the rut that I had been in for years. She is truly a blessing."
"Dr. MacLeod is a deeply caring and insightful counselor. She offered several helpful and practical coping strategies that enabled me to overcome a particularly challenging season of my life. In addition to her thoughtful advice, she is also a fantastic listener. I'm very grateful for the support she has offered."
If you're finding that you're unable to combat feelings of emptiness on your own, or if these emotions are related to drug abuse, substance abuse, or mental health issues like bipolar disorder--it's important that you get professional help. Don't hesitate to seek therapy or counseling when you can't seem to feel anything. You deserve to get the support you need and live a fulfilling life.