A mistake often made by those who suffer from anxiety and post traumatic experiences is utilizing emotional numbing as a primary mechanism to cope with their mental distress.

Emotional numbing is defined as “process of shutting out feelings and can be experienced through emotional deficits or restrictions in the capacity to feel or express emotions. As a coping tool, emotional numbing can manifest as avoidance, denial, and detachment and can actually prevent you from experiencing healthy processes of confrontation, problem-solving, and emotion management that are important avenues of growth for people” (https://thesummitwellnessgroup.com/blog/what-is-emotional-numbing/).

The Problem with Numbing

The trouble with emotional numbing is that we are never solving the underlying problem causing our distress, we just mask it. When we are emotionally numb, we essentially ignore our thoughts and feelings and push them deep, deep down, so we don’t have to deal with them. I can tell you from experience, this never works out so well.

I recently dealt with a traumatic life event that quite frankly I was not prepared for (like we ever are, right!). I struggled to find ways to feel all my feelings. I was in denial, then angry, then depressed, then mad, then… you get the gist. But rather than deal head on with my emotions, I started hard core numbing by watching hours of Netflix. No kidding, I sometimes watched 8 hours or more a day of fucking TV in order to avoid thinking and feeling. It solved NOTHING! It made me feel worse. I needed to pull my shit together.

We get ourselves into trouble when we utilize certain coping mechanisms to find refuge from our pain. Alcohol, drugs, sex, food, Netflix, shopping, and overworking are coping strategies that if not exercised with caution can quickly become more of a problem than a solution in themselves. So instead of just having our anxiety or trauma as a problem, we have created another demon we have to deal with.

The Change- Dealing with It!

The solution to emotional numbing is, wait for it… dealing head on with our emotional pain. Rather than adopt negative coping mechanisms that can potentially turn into problems themselves, we need to address the problem and develop healthy alternative coping strategies to get us on the path of healing and growth.

Pleasure of change- When we exchange negative coping strategies with healthy ones, we become the people we genuinely want to be. We work through our anxieties, we conquer our fears, and we overcome our tribulations. Life will always throw us curve balls, but when we learn how to manage life’s challenges, we prevail.  We create the life we want. We become truer to ourselves and drive a more positive future.