Chronic Emptiness

Emptiness is a common emotion to experience from time to time.  Some people frequently feel empty when they experience a loss or enter into a new environment.  It is also not surprising to hear most people don’t enjoy the feeling. Most people describe the feeling as uncomfortable. Luckily for most, the emptiness passes and the usual sense of self returns with all the feelings of wholeness and security in yourself, but there are those individuals that suffer from chronic emptiness. How can one help the individual suffering without becoming part of the problem? The situation is similar to someone in a large body of water thrashing around trying to stay afloat.  The person helping needs to be able to do so without drowning the sufferer or themselves.

Some describe emptiness as emotionally suffocating, almost as though they are physically struggling for air.  It is only natural to for them to latch on to those willing to help so they can “save” themselves.  The feelings are real and relentless.  One strategy commonly used by sufferers is to keep their lives so filled with activities there is no time to feel.  Down time is an unwelcome event but the lifestyle is exhausting. Other coping methods are substance abuse and self-harming behaviors. The underlying diagnosis can range from depression to personality disorders. Here are some tips to help cope with the emptiness in a positive way.

 

  • Find things that help you feel grounded whether it is a church group or your job.  When activities are scarce try focusing on your senses like walking barefoot outside, listening to music or even scented candles or lotions.
  • Become aware of your self-talk and redirect negative thinking or all-or-nothing beliefs.  When feeling empty it easy to ruminate on unconstructive thoughts.
  • Engage in hobbies, preferably those which are both enjoyable and activities that can be done alone.
  • Find ways to reach out and help others.  Get out of the victim role and get into the drivers seat.
  • Spend time journaling about goals, both short term and long term.  Invest in your future.
  • Become your best friend.  Find ways to self-sooth and enjoy spending time alone.

 

Joyce Hull, LMSW

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