Being emotionally numb may seem like a strange phenomenon to most people but many people surprisingly suffer from it and it has a lot to do with one’s childhood. A lot of the time someone who is emotionally numb as an adult may have suffered emotional neglect from parents and were not raised by parents who have emotional intelligence.

What is it?

Emotional numbness is a kind of disassociation with your feelings. On one end of the spectrum there are emphatic children who have been abused by narcisstic parents who feel a lot and suffer extensive emotional pain but there are also those who sadly, as a coping mechanism have completely shut themselves off so that they feel ‘no pain’.

UnityPoint Health describes it as the result of our minds disconnecting from our thoughts, actions, sense of self and sensory experience of the world around us. This is very likely for people who grew up in an environment where their emotions were seen as burdensome or irrelevant.

Signs of emotional numbness could be as follows:

  1. Even when something wonderful happens to you, you don’t feel happy or joyful. In fact people report feeling bland. In fact they feel completely disconnected from the experience in some ways.
  2. Emotions often don’t match events. A job loss or even losing a loved one may not result in an emotional feeling that is proportional to the event.
  3. When your primary emotion is feeling irritable. Anger is something powerful and walling off your emotions constantly can result in anger being a big emotion inside you.
  4. You can’t identify your feelings at all. When you keep swallowing your feelings, after sometime you become completely disconnected with your emotions and are unable to notice them anymore.
  5. Emotional outpouring from other people makes you feel uncomfortable. When other people express their feelings vocally or show a lot of emotion, you start to feel super uncomfortable.
  6. You often feel empty inside and your life seems to function on autopilot. You often find yourself going through the motions of life but have no idea why or what life is all about as an emotionally numb person cannot connect with feelings of joy or sadness.

Don’t despair

Experiencing the above need not be a lifelong situation. It’s more of a coping mechanism and you can reclaim those feelings if you want to. Try going for counseling or opening up to people and allow yourself to feel both grief and happiness in small measures first without feeling the need to put aside or choke down those feelings.

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