10 ways we as a nation are “numbing out”

After listening to the most recent “couragemakers” podcast (click here to experience it for yourself) I really started to think about how much I continue to numb myself. Although I work really hard on self discovery I still have a long way to go. Today’s episode was called “Challenging The Shit That Holds You Back” with Andrea Owen.

Andrea talked about how when she really started down her path of self discovery how her drinking had really accelerated. How when she really started to look deep within herself and address her pain the numbing became more prevalent. That really made me think about how we numb and all the different tools we use to numb. A lot of which you probably don’t think of numbing agents. Also how we really stunt our emotional growth when we numb ourselves.

Growth really happens in the most painful, uncomfortable, awkward times of our lives. If we numb ourselves in those moments to lessen the pain we are feeling we are really doing ourselves a HUGE disservice. If you can put down the drink, put down the doughnut, avoid the pills, or whatever it is that you are reaching for in that moment and just look that pain right in eye…feel the pain, and yes it’s going to hurt like a motherfucker….but those are growing pains and they are necessary.
First, let’s think about all the different agents we use to numb and how it is affecting us and those around us.

1.) Alcohol
This is a tough one for me because I really do enjoy cocktails…Prosecco is my current drink of choice…The thing is though how is it affecting not only you but those around you. Most people would say “what is the harm in just having a couple drinks”…I am one of those someone’s btw. One thing I start to realize with myself though is after even just one drink…I change. I lose momentum. My ambition towards greatness starts to decrease…I get this “meh, it can wait until tomorrow” sort of attitude. For others, they love the way the drink let’s their guard down but then they don’t know when to stop…before they know it they are slurring their speech and depicting themselves as someone their not which can make them look very unattractive to the people they love most.. Then there are the one’s who think they are “OK” to drive and end up injuring themselves and becoming the responsibility of a loved one. Or maybe get a DUI which again puts pressure on the loved one to drive them to work and everywhere else they have to go.  This can often cause resentment and inevitably lead to the end of that relationship. Or the absolute worst case is tragically taking the life of another human being…possibly ruining the lives of an entire family and more.

2.) Drugs
Drugs come in so many different forms now, Legal to illegal. Anything that is going to change the way you FEEL…masking physical and emotional pain, anxiety, sadness, fatigue…I am not talking about antibiotics here. Anything that if when the effects of the drugs wear off that you feel the emotional pain you were trying to mask with the drug in the first place…that is what I am talking about….Although I do not really think that marijuana is a harmful drug at all and I don’t think that legalizing it would be a bad thing it is still a mind altering drug and it numbs you from the pain you should be experiencing for growth. Which leads me to the other point…you cannot selectively numb….if you numb pain…you numb joy and happiness along with it. If you have someone in your life that loves you…they love all of you…the good, the bad, and the ugly. I recognize that many people suffer from feelings of depression and anxiety but I think many times those symptoms can be fought with a change in perspective, ownership of mistakes, and self-love.

3.) Sex
We as humans are here on earth for one reason and one reason only…Connection. So often we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to show the people around us who we really are so we feel the only way to feel actual human connection is through sex…I’m not talking about sex with someone you love and have a beautiful relationship with. I am talking about just having a warm body that you are trying to connect with. The problem with that is without that real connection that only comes with vulnerability of the heart you don’t connect anyway and you start to trust people less and less. You start to feel more alone than you did before this “connection” therefore even less likely to truly connect. There can be so much pain involved in this ….I think particularly with women as we tend to get more emotionally attached after sex then men do. When that emotional attachment happens but there is no foundation in which the relationship was formed there is a feeling of rejection when the deed is over with nothing to show for it.

4.) Shopping
Shopping actually boosts the same neurotransmitters, serotonin, as sex and drugs. When we buy things it makes us feel good which in many cases can be awesome. Anytime you make a purchase so many people prosper as a result of it. The company you purchased from, the creator of the actual item, the paper company that the receipt was printed on, the company that created the bag that you carried your time away in…the list goes on and on. The downfall is, much like alcohol, when is enough enough. We are the most in debt nation in the world for this reason. We max out credit cards, we blow our savings, we take out loans, you name it…we do it… all to just keep buying things that we don’t truly NEED. As a result our families suffer as we are now not able to provide the needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, and eduction….or medical needs perhaps. I absolutely believe in buying things that make you feel good but there has to be a limit..it has to just be the things you NEED. Be intentional with your purchases. If you don’t absolutely love it then you don’t need it.

5.) Video Games
Whether they are on a gaming console, your phone, or your computer games can often times act as a distraction from the pain you are feeling. I think a game, when you are intentional about when you choose to play it is awesome. If you find yourself reaching for your phone, computer, or game controller because you begin to feel the tinge of pain when you sit in silence….you have to fight the urge and just feel the pain.

6.) Social Media
This is a major one. Social media has a wonderful place in this world. I will forever be grateful for Facebook because that was the medium in which my boyfriend Heath and I were reunited. The question is how are you using it? Aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and other sites is a sign that you are avoiding something. Worse yet, we like to share the things on social media that make us look really really good….what we WANT people to see. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a couple snap a pic of each other in this really lovey dovey pose with big smiles and pure happiness only to go back to not talking or looking at each other after the photo was taken. We are creating a mirage of what we want people to think in hopes that will make us feel better about ourselves and our lives. All that does is drive us further and further away from connection. Use social media for inspiration, motivation, entertainment…but make sure you are not using it to numb or mask. Unless you are intentionally searching for something or you are posting something that you are really proud of that you think your friends, family, and the rest of the world needs to see tread lightly because you are likely just avoiding facing the pain you are inevitably feeling

7.) Food <——my numbing agent of choice
This is one I can really relate to the most. I have struggled with my weight and my body for as long as I can remember. I love food, I love the way it makes me feel. I love the feeling of being full…not stuffed but full. I wish salads would give me the same satisfaction as pizza did! We need food for survival which is what makes it extra difficult. You can’t just say “ok, that’s it, I’m quitting food”. Food is a must. Unfortunately there is something in a big ol’ plate of nachos that really gives me comfort than I cannot find in a bowl of quinoa and kale. This is something I have really been working on. Identifying when I am truly hungry versus when I am just trying to numb some pain. When I am traveling the road of healthy eating though it is amazing the difference you feel. The energy and genuine happiness you feel. Because I am not filling a void or feeling of emptiness with a sleeve of Oreo’s I am forced to face my demons and identify with where they are stem from….and fight them.

8.) Television
This is very much in the same realm as social media and video games. If you find yourself scrolling through the guide on tv…you are avoiding something. If you reach for the remote, find exactly what you want to watch, and pay attention and enjoy that is different. I think, again, like social media and video games, television has a wonderful place in this world….but you have to be aware of are you just distracting yourself, just passing time??? Or are you engaged with what you are watching?

9.) Over-exercising
I have a feeling there would be some people who would fight me on this but it’s true. Exercise is something, much like food, that we all need. This is also something that so many people avoid…myself included. However, there is a whole lot of truth in “too much of a good thing is bad”. Working out also stimulates that beautiful neurotransmitter, Serotonin. It makes us feel good which is awesome but there are people that are spending 5-6 hours of everyday working out. Our bodies need rest and our brains need to be stimulated. I get it though…nothing makes you feel like you can conquer the world more than working out. But it has to come in healthy doses. Work out, build muscle, burn fat, escalate your heart rate….but be cognizant of when you are just trying to numb out…trying to avoid the emotional pain.

10.) Plastic Surgery
We see this all the time in Hollywood. The most beautiful people in the world go under the knife in hopes of changing the way they feel inside. I can understand how this happens. As I’ve gotten older it becomes harder and harder to identify with the person I see in the mirror…who is that person? Inside I feel like a young 22-year-old woman but I look in the mirror and see the reality, It can be tough to swallow. I am not against plastic surgery….I think if a little enhancement is going to make you feel beautiful go for it. A nose job, breast enhancements, Botox, facelift. Go for it….BUT, if you find that you get one of those done and you end up wanting to go back for more there is a deeper issue there. You have pain that needs to be felt and fought and until you do that there is not enough plastic surgery in the world that will make you feel beautiful. You have to feel it on the inside before you yourself can see it on the outside.

What this all comes down to is being intentional. Give yourself a few moments every single day to feel your emotions. When you are in the car alone, turn off the radio, put your phone on airplane mode, and just be. For most people this is going to hurt….to actually feel your emotions…it can be excruciating but once you do it…it is the most peaceful beautiful feeling in the world. Trust me on this, I can always feel when I haven’t gave myself a little silence. When I do though, I recognize my value, my worth, my beauty, and my power. You will too!