Do you find yourself feeling empty, blank, lethargic, listless, disconnected….just going through the motions but like a zombie on autopilot? Every language has a word for it, and yet it’s so hard to describe and put a finger on it, this sense of existential angst, weltschmerz, ennui, apathy, “funk”. It is an uncomfortable and disconcerting feeling and one cannot help but wonder “What is going on with me?” You find yourself shut down and shutting people and activities (you previously found energizing and pleasant) out. This “anhedonia” or inability to feel pleasure or pain just pervades your life and daily functioning and you just can’t seem to get a grip on it.
The truth is that something is causing you to shut down, numb your feelings, avoid immersing yourself in life - this avoidance is a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are also coping mechanisms and protect us, but they become an issue when they are not functional and are resulting in discontent if not acute suffering. The truth might be that you are feeling sad or lonely. You may be in mourning after losing an important relationship (through death or divorce), or perhaps you have lost an important part of your identity by changing careers or abandoning a dream, you feel judged and assume you are not living up to expectations. You might stop caring for yourself while focusing on your family or career. Losing ourselves can spark anxiety, depression, guilt and shame, anxious or embarrassed and make us feel helpless, hopeless, worthless and useless, all signs of depression. Many people diagnosed as depressed, may feel numb rather than sad. In my experience, the truth may very often lie in that you’re minimizing, avoiding, or ignoring core parts of your identity and your personal set of Core Values, the values by which you’ve your life and find fulfillment. It is an incongruence between the person you are and the person you wish to be (or become) - your desired self. When we live inauthentic lives we become repressed, suppressed, and distressed, because we are disconnected with ourselves, our values our source of energy, creativity, inspiration. Sometimes people get immobilized in this Catch 22 cycle where they lock themselves into this cycle where they ignore themselves and their own needs, wants and desires, sacrificing them for what they assume is more appropriate, socially acceptable and responsible. Often these sacrifices are made for what the person assumes or believes are the expectations and needs of others, which supersede their own. Sadly they then become ensnared in this trap where the frustration just exacerbates the negative feelings, which then leads to numbing the feelings or acting them out in self-defeating ways. Your numbness, discomfort, insecurity, lack of purpose are real signs that an important part of your life requires attention.
So often clients will ignore this apathy and numbness for years and just drift through life, after all, there is no “crisis” and nothing is “wrong”, that they can pinpoint. Often they feel undeserving or perhaps it just feels daunting to wade through a bog of emptiness and nothingness to look for something meaningful. How does one begin to look for something when you don’t have a clue what it is you are looking for…. you just feel there must be something more to life…. or something is missing…. So many people spend anything up to a lifetime just trapped in this tepid comfort zone of numb apathy, just going through the motions day in and day out, year after year.
Where Life Coaching and short-term Counseling can be so effective is to just help you take charge of your life once more…. to re-energise, mobilize, empower you to live an authentic life and become the person you need to be, to feel alive and worthy. You need to reconnect with the creative, vital parts of yourself, you need to embrace your unique set of Core Values and become your best self through self-awareness and growth. Now this all sounds so easy and simple but there is a reason so many people just choose to numbly exist because taking responsibility for change is scary. Many people are risk averse and prefer security over freedom, they would rather not change and prefer to just accept blank mediocrity as opposed to daring to become extra-ordinary. What do you want as your epitaph one day…. the dates you lived as a sign you existed OR that you really lived a good life? What is your dash, and how will you fill it? It is your responsibility to fill your dash and live your life. Life does not happen to you…. YOU need to make life happen, it is up to you to make your life worth living by embracing who you are and all of your potential and choosing to live your life to the fullest!