14 Numbing Strategies That Are Killing Your Joy And Creativity


The most profound sentence I’ve read in the last 12 months is this:


“If you numb the dark, you also numb the light.” 


Which ultimately means, if you suppress feelings like being sad, lonely, overwhelmed or stressed, you also numb the positive palette of feelings like joy, enthusiasm, love, belonging and creativity. 


I have a friend; let’s call her Lucy. Lucy is single and she doesn’t really go out often. She sits at home and watches TV.  Lucy doesn’t ask for telephone numbers or go on dating sites because the fear of getting hurt is too scary. Not going out definitely protects her from getting hurt, but at the same time, I’ve never seen her excited about anything. She looks like a hologram of herself, soul-dead and that’s because if you wear a suit of armor to protect yourself from the bad stuff, the good stuff can’t get through either. In other words, Lucy will definitely not make any connections that have the potential to hurt her but at the same time she will most certainly not make new friends either. 


Some people wear the relationship armor and avoid connection.  Others never create anything because they’re afraid that their painting, their song, their writing, their business idea, might suck and that people will hate it. The fear of getting rejected is bigger than the initial desire to create so they don’t even bother trying to produce anything. This is basically the same problem Lucy has. 

The fear of getting hurt leads to not even trying. 


Deep down you know that you want to feel connected and that your true nature is to be creative, but you're terrified to fail. To distract yourself from the immense pain that comes with denying your need for connection and creativity, you start getting really good at numbing all of these negative emotions and potentially making yourself vulnerable to sickness and disease.


Brene Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher and author of new book ‘Daring Greatly’, found a term for people who strive for connection and creative expression despite their fear of getting hurt. She calls these people ‘wholehearted’. I know a few wholehearted people myself and one thing they have in common is that they cry and laugh on a regular basis. They’re okay with showing what’s going on inside of them. Sadly these people are the ones that hear from others often “you’re too emotional”, “maybe you should go to therapy”, “do you think you’re going through a depression?” 


But what if it’s the opposite? What if the people who perceive others as too emotional are going through an even deeper depression that is so f****** huge, they became really good at numbing their feelings completely.


Here is a list of 14 conscious and unconscious numbing strategies. There are probably a lot more.

  1. Excessive shopping  (covering up what is going on in your inner self by buying lots of stuff for your outer self)
  2. Drinking a few glasses of wine after work  (alcohol numbs our senses)
  3. Over indulging in food, sugar, caffeine (emotional eating can give the illusion of filling a void)
  4. Prescription pills (a pain is the body’s way of telling you to look at something)
  5. Watching TV (is turning on the TV the first thing you do when you come home? Maybe you feel more comfortable when you have background noise? Try to sit in silence for at least 5 minutes a day or start a meditation practice)
  6. Being busy 24/7 
  7. No body contact with other human beings
  8. Smoking
  9. Taking birth control pills (when I stopped taking the pill I noticed that I had in increase in all my sense perceptions as well as my libido and negative feelings decreased)
  10. Making plans for the future (if you’re focusing on the future a lot, it could be a sign that you don’t feel comfortable with what’s going on in the present - that’s a denying strategy)
  11. Focusing all of your energy on your kids or pets 
  12. Cleaning (in some cases the need to clean your place or to wash your hands a million times a day, comes from an inner feeling of dirtiness. If you don’t want to look at the mess in your mind, you tend to compensate this with cleaning your outer space)
  13. Talking a lot (never coming to a stop is to never allow yourself to be in silence)
  14. Light and heavy drugs of any kind

In her book ‘Daring Greatly’, Brene Brown says, "If we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”


What Brene means is the painful truth - all of the negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the old memories that we can't let go of.  Not only that, but our inner desires and dreams that we’ve left behind a long time ago as well.


For those of us who are always busy, the scariest thing is to be in silence. Silence seems to be awkward. Silence makes you feel empty, makes you nervous, makes you think too much about bad stuff you don’t even want to think about. So you keep distracting yourself from the bad stuff your entire life. You keep busy with cleaning, shopping, smoking and watching TV, just to not have a moment of silence. But the pain is still there. You just covered it up with layers and layers of stuff.


If you’ve reached a point in your life where you feel stressed all the time and you don’t have any enthusiasm left or maybe you feel a little bit sad, tired and overwhelmed, it’s likely that you can’t distract yourself from the pain anymore. Some people call it midlife crisis or depression, but I call it an awakening. It basically means that your consciousness is expanding, but from the outside it can seem that you’re completely lost or crazy.  Don’t worry Hun, you’re not!  You’re just walking on a wobbly bridge. The other side is freedom.


F***. I was on that bridge for years and even now I sometimes find myself back there.


When people tell me that they were diagnosed with depression I’m almost a little bit relieved. Going through that time can be rough, but it’s also a chance to awaken to your true inner self.


If you feel stuck, meditation can help you. Sitting in silence and practicing mindfulness will definitely help because the only way to come to the realization of who you are is through being present.


Through becoming aware of your thoughts you look the pain straight in the eye. If you refuse to look at it, you stay stuck.


If you go through the pain, you will ultimately realize that you are more than your demons. You are love, connection and creativity and you were born to love, to be connected and to create. 


So let’s create the shit out of this life and make some new friends. 



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