I love cookies. Like LOVE THEM.
Sometimes, it’s easier to eat cookies than deal with the pile of bills on my desk.
Cookies make procrastinating piles of bills tolerable.
But the piles don’t fix themselves and when I don’t give myself cookies or shopping or scrolling Facebook as an option, it’s way harder to just let that pile of papers accumulate.
And what happens to that pile when I solve it with cookies is that it continues to grow. And a small pile becomes a big monster.
Ask yourself what you are tolerating that you wouldn’t tolerate if there weren’t cookies.
If you couldn’t temporarily forget about the piles? If you just had to feel the discomfort of knowing that there are things in the pile you need to deal with?
Dealing with the pile is harder RIGHT NOW but so much easier than it will be to deal with it two weeks from now.
That small pile will keep growing until it seems very overwhelming.
The buffers we use (cookies, shopping, social media, Netflix, and more) seems pretty innocent, until we realize what we are exchanging for them.
So how do you know when you’re numbing your emotions?
one – you lose it over little things
When you notice you lose it over little things, it’s a sign that you’re actually numbing your emotions, you’re pushing them down, you’re resisting them, and then they’re just ready to explode out of you at times when you don’t want that to happen.
two – you’re addicted to doing, not being.
If you have to be doing something all the time, it might be a sign that you are trying to keep yourself from feeling. Any other workaholics out there? I have a tendency to be this way. I have a tendency to just do, do, do because it keeps me from feeling whatever I’m trying to not feel. You’ll eventually burn yourself out because it’s not an authentic way of living.
three – you have less joy.
The third sign that you might not be processing your emotions and you might be numbing yourself out is that you have less joy. When we numb our emotions, we numb them all. We have less pain possibly, but we also have less joy.
We live in a world where numbing is fast becoming a way of life. We numb everything that brings us discomfort—we have anesthetics for physical pain, distractions for emotional suffering, and the false promises of feel-good consumerism.
We believe these bandages will heal the hurt that’s an inherent part of being human. Instead, they’re simply making us more sensitive to our pain.
The only way we truly heal is by learning to feel again. Because when we do, we not only connect back to ourselves, we also connect to our responsibility to the world we live in.
How do we stop numbing and get our power back? Here are four ways I’ve found helpful.
Access what may be causing you to numb yourself & the cost it’s having in your life
I think it’s really important to ask ourselves some questions, because some people totally downplay emotions and say, “Oh, they don’t matter.” They really do matter because your emotions are what fuel your actions. If you’re not willing to process and feel your emotions, you tend to be stifled in your whole life.
What are we running from?
What are we afraid to feel?
What is it that is keeping us at a point where we’re choosing this over what’s actually happening in our lives?
What’s it costing me to do this?
For some of us the cost is pretty mild. Maybe you’re just procrastinating things that you wish you would do. But a lot of times it’s costing us a lot. It’s costing us our relationships. It’s costing us the potential of what we could be in our life. It’s costing us years. It’s costing us time with our kids that we’re never going to get back.
I want so bad to see all of us wake up to our lives. This is the only one we get!
Accept what you’re actually feeling and stop resisting it. Be willing to be uncomfortable.
The thing that you’re resisting with is going to have its own set of problems, and it’s not actually solving anything.
You’re going to get addicted to pain medication. You’re going to get addicted to alcohol. You’re going to get addicted to Facebook. You’re going to get addicted to cookies!
They give you this temporary sense of relief, but the real problem is not going anywhere, and the real problem is going to get a lot bigger than it is now if you don’t deal with it.
When we’re not willing to feel the negative emotions, when we place a buffer between us and the negative emotions, what happens over time is, all we feel is negative emotion. We’re robbing ourselves of joy, because in order to have joy, we have to have the other side of joy too. We have to be willing to have both sides.
Really accept where you are. If you’re in a hard place, be willing to be there, and be willing to feel whatever it is you actually really feel. Even if that’s anger, or if that’s resentment, fear, or any negative emotion. Get curious about what you’re trying to push away, and just let it be with you.
Here’s the magic. When you let it be with you, it doesn’t stay forever.
It comes and goes. You just sit with it and be curious about it and learn something from yourself. Become more aware of it, and then you can pass through it.
Grief is similar. You have grief and you are unwilling to walk through the grief. If you just keep resisting, resisting, resisting, it just keeps trying harder to come to the surface. Whereas if you just let grief or fear or anxiety or anger or whatever the feeling is, just be with you, it passes so much faster.
I think we beat ourselves up, especially as women. We think we always have to be happy. But acting happy is not the same as true joy.
Can we just let ourselves be where we are and not judge ourselves for it? Then we’ll have the capacity again for joy.
I had oral surgery and when I was taking something for pain, it was so easy to think,”Oh, it’s all good. It’s all fine.” Yeah, it’s all fine because it’s numb. But when it’s not numb, what’s the situation? When it’s not numb I can see to it that the problem actually gets fixed.
This numbness that we’re tolerating, that we’re seeking out, is keeping us from assessing where we really are. It’s really motivating to get something fixed when it’s hurting and it’s not numb. When it’s hurting and you numb it out, you’re not motivated to fix it.
What are you tolerating in your life because of this numbing out that you wouldn’t tolerate otherwise?
Acknowledge that your feelings are coming from your thoughts.
Acknowledge that you are the one actually causing this with your thoughts. When we realize that we have so much control over all of this, our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, we can get ourselves into a much better place of taking the action we really want to take in our lives. But you’ve got to stop numbing to do that.
Let’s say you lose your job. It’s so easy to blame the circumstance, “Well, I’m just really depressed because I lost my job.” The real reason you’re depressed is because of the way you think about losing your job.
You could lose your job and think, “Oh, this is going to be an amazing opportunity. I’m going to figure this out. It always happens like this. God’s always opening a door, and I can’t see it right now.” Do you see the way that you could tell yourself the story about that job loss that wouldn’t make you dive into unending stress and overwhelm?
The first part of the equation is to feel what you feel. Then decide, “No, this is not the way I really want to think about this. I want to think about this in a way that is productive for me. I want to think about this in a way that motivates me to make some good changes in my life.”
The first side of the coin is to feel it. The second side of the coin is to acknowledge that you’re the one causing the feelings by the way you choose to think about the circumstance. There’s so much power in this process!
Take responsibility for what you’re creating in your life.
Take responsibility for your life. Everything in your life, you’re creating it. If we don’t have to keep numbing all of our feelings, we can get back to our real life!
I love this quote by Mary Oliver:
“Tell me what it is that you plan to do with your one wild life.”
What is it costing you to stay numb, and to stay stuck, and how can you be willing to be where you are, feel the pain that you feel, and then acknowledge that you have the ability to change that the way you’re thinking about your life?
I want to really live it and really feel it and really create it for myself and for my family. I want that for you too!