Clarie Psychotherapy

Clarity to Choice and Courage

Emotional Numbness

Emotional Numbness & How To Embrace Your Feelings

“I don’t usually show my emotions”

“I rather focus on solving the issue”

“What’s there to be happy or upset about?”

What to do when you’re someone who “doesn’t have a lot of emotions”? 

If you find yourself not showing or expressing your feelings, having a lack of emotions or feeling emotionally numb, it may feel okay on the surface or sometimes seem to reflect strength, independence or resilience, but over time, it can be concerning and may impact your overall well-being. 

Emotions are a natural part of our  human experience, and they play a vital role in our mental and emotional health. 

While we might have been taught from a young age to suppress our emotions that being sad, mad, guilt or disgust are ‘unwanted’ feelings and to stop these feelings, our feelings are parts of us, just like feelings of happiness, contentment, joy and excitement. 

Consciously suppressing our emotions in the short term may help in coping with negative emotions – for example, a person feeling anxious about an upcoming presentation may suppress their anxiety by focusing on other things. Over time, however, it leads us to feeling okay with repressing our feelings, thoughts, memories unconsciously.

Repression is often used as a way to protect the person from emotional pain. For example, a person who has been through a tough experience may repress the memories in order to avoid feeling the pain associated with it. One may become highly functioning as a result of this practice, but may not feel happy even with achieving success.

Both repression and suppression can both have negative consequences.

Repression can lead to the development of psychological disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Regular suppression can also lead to problems, such as difficulty coping with stress and anxiety.

It’s important to remember that emotions can manifest differently in different people, and some individuals may naturally have a lower level of emotional intensity or may experience emotional numbness due to various reasons. 

How To Work Past Emotional Numbness and Embrace Our Feelings

Here are some steps to try out if you feel your emotions is affecting you: 

Observe your reactions, inner thoughts and feelings. Bring them to your awareness. 

Start by becoming more aware of your emotions and how they manifest in your body and mind. Pay attention to physical sensations, thoughts, and behaviours that may indicate an emotional experience.

Learn to develop a better understanding of your needs and emotions. 

Take time to reflect on what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way to better identify and articulate your needs and emotions when you’re communicating with others. 

You might feel that jumping for joy is unnecessary, but if you don’t allow yourself to feel joy or laugh loud, explore the reasons behind it.

Validate your emotions and give yourself permission to express emotions, starting in small healthy steps.  

Know that it’s okay to feel what you feel, and your emotions are valid. Recognize that your emotions are a natural part of being human and that they deserve acknowledgment and validation. 

Give yourself permission to feel and express your emotions without judgment or criticism.

Engage in activities that promote emotional expression, such as art, music, dance, or writing. Allow yourself to express your thoughts and feelings in a safe and healthy way. This can help you tap into your emotions and foster emotional awareness.

Mindfulness practices, such as reflective journaling, meditation or deep breathing exercises, to bring awareness to your emotions and cultivate a greater sense of emotional presence.

Engage in Self-Care and practice boundaries

When we’re not used to expressing ourselves, it can be helpful to engage in self-care and practice boundaries to help us express ourselves more effectively. Setting boundaries means letting others know what we’re comfortable with and what we’re not – such as voicing our needs and saying no when we don’t want to do something.

Sometimes, when we don’t show emotions or express ourselves, it may be because we’re protecting ourselves from getting hurt. Caring for ourselves allows us to feel more safe and secure, hence better expression of self. 

Learning to be vulnerable with people you trust and who support and respect you – Sharing our thoughts and feelings with others, even if it’s scary, might allow us to connect with others on a deeper level.

Exploring Old Beliefs and Try New Experiences

Sometimes, our thoughts and beliefs can influence our emotions. Reflect on any negative or limiting beliefs you may have about emotions or yourself, and challenge them. You can seek the help of a therapist to explore and reframe any unhelpful thought patterns.

Trying new experiences can help break monotony and stimulate emotions. Explore activities that you haven’t tried before, or that you used to enjoy in the past – could be hobbies, sports, arts, or social activities. Exploring new environments, cultures, or engaging in community service or volunteering can also help you connect with others and evoke emotions.

Emotional numbness can be a symptom of an underlying issue that may require attention and treatment. If you feel like your lack of emotions is impacting your daily functioning, relationships or overall well-being, it’s essential to seek support who can provide a safe space for you to practice expressing your needs and emotions, offer feedback and guidance, and help you build your confidence in expressing yourself. 

Expressing your needs and emotions is a valuable aspect of healthy communication and relationships. With time and patient practice, we can become more confident and comfortable in expressing ourselves. 

Your emotions and needs are valid, and learning to express them can lead to improved sense of self, well-being and healthier relationships with others.

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