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What are you numbing your emotions with? (Yes, you are!)

By Michal Spiegelman

From a very early age, I have been overly sensitive to other people’s energy. I could listen to an adult conversation as a child and sense tension, fear, or anger, even when the speaker hid it behind a fake smile. My mother, a Holocaust survivor, avoided her feelings all her life. But I felt my mother’s pain even when she tried to escape it.

I was an unhappy child with an unhappy mother. I remember very clearly that expressing emotions was not encouraged in my house. In fact, my siblings and I would get punished for laughing or crying too hard. At night, I would cry under my pillow so no one would hear me.

I was very empathetic, compassionate, and caring. By the time I was a young adult, I was good at hearing other people’s stories of pain, but I didn’t have the filters to separate their pain from mine. It all got mixed up into one big internal ball of hurt and confused emotions. To “cope” with the overwhelming feelings, I continued my childhood habit of crying beneath my pillow when nobody could hear me.

Being a natural giver and caring deeply for others led me to become a social worker. But even with the skills I acquired through my education, I still expended a lot of energy avoiding my feelings. I grew more and more overwhelmed and drained as I became a highly sensitive over-giver who spent all her energy taking care of others with zero left over for herself.

After finding Reiki in 1996, I began to deepen my understanding of how to work with energy. As a social worker and a healer, I continued to learn new ways to get in touch with and stop avoiding my feelings.  

It was many years later when I learned the source of my over-sensitivity: I am an empath.

Empaths feel and absorb other people’s energy, their emotions, and sometimes their physical symptoms. If you are an empath, you are a magnet or a sponge for other people’s stuff.

When a friend loses a loved one, an empath feels as if she too lost a loved one. When a coworker loses a job, an empath feels as if he too lost his job.

Empaths who have not learned how to separate their feelings from the feelings of others turn to another tactic: numbing them.

They numb their feelings in many creative ways. They shut down. They isolate. They put on fake smiles while crying inside. They zone out in front of the television for hours. They deprive themselves of joy.

Instead of managing their emotions, they avoid them.

Once you identify if you are an empath, it will be easier for you to learn better ways to manage your emotions. Take the Empath quiz below to identify if you are an empath. 

What are you numbing your emotions with? (Yes, you are!)

Are you an Empath?

Want to start using your empathy as your strength and superpower?

Get the pre-launch special for my brand new course for Empaths.

The Benefit of Numbing Your Emotions

Numbing your emotions is a temporary fix. Eventually the pain will resurface, and when it does, we tend to feel worse. We all have some emotions that we’re uncomfortable with. Life is hard and unpredictable. Numbing your emotions is sometimes easier than dealing with the reality of losing a loved one, managing a broken heart or simply just dealing with life’s daily challenges.

Escaping into unhealthy habits or simply disconnecting and shutting down gives you the illusion of being protected.

If you’re sad and you don’t want to cry, being numb to feelings will benefit you. If there is past trauma or past hurt stored in your body, numbing your feelings creates an armor so you don’t have to go back and reconnect with the pain.

The Cost of Numbing Your Emotions

What we don’t realize is that you cannot be selective and decide which emotions to numb and which ones to get in touch with.

We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions,” says Brené Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection.

Numbing your emotions means not only avoiding sadness, anger and fear; it also means avoiding joy and happiness.

Another cost of numbing your emotions is risking your health. More than twenty years’ experience with different healing modalities, proved to me that when an emotion is held for extended periods of time, it manifests as a physical symptom. So many people that have taken our Reiki classes throughout the years, and are giving Reiki to themselves regularly, report that they are able to manage their emotions better, even when they suffer from chronic pain or a chronic disease. In other words, numbing your emotions makes your physical symptoms worse and dealing with your emotions contributes to your physical healing process.

Emotions Are Messengers

Emotions tell us that something needs our attention.

Instead of disconnecting, numbing and escaping, we must learn ways to balance, manage and deal with our emotions so we can stay emotionally fit and healthy.

The Alternative to Numbing Your Emotions

When going through an emotional roller-coaster, we must recognize the feeling, feel it, own it, accept it and move on. The process of changing how we deal with pain needs to be learned in a supportive, professional environment, and one of my intentions when I coach and mentor women is to help them learn how to manage that process.

If escape or running away is your method to deal with emotional pain, and you know in your heart that you keep numbing instead of managing, this is a red flag. It is your sacred responsibility to take care of your health and well-being, so you can contribute to the world and be of service.

Challenge yourself with the “outside the box” idea that you might be an empath, a person who is highly sensitive to energy and tends to take on other people’s emotions. Start learning healthier ways to face the feelings safely and stay balanced.

What are you numbing your emotions with? (Yes, you are!)

Are you an Empath?

Want to start using your empathy as your strength and superpower?

Get the pre-launch special for my brand new course for Empaths.

Meet Michal
Michal Spiegelman

Michal Spiegelman is the visionary behind Beacons of Change, a transformative platform dedicated to guiding women and healing professionals toward a soul-fueled life lived at full power.

As the founder and creator of the Soulful Healer Method for Profound Transformation, Michal empowers a diverse community of individuals to find their authentic voice and develop a distinctive identity.

Michal combines deep expertise and timeless wisdom with a comprehensive methodology enriched by a variety of traditional and holistic therapeutic tools. This powerful blend ignites transformation and growth, inspiring women and healing professionals alike to become soulful and shine brightly as beacons in their personal and professional lives.

Michal is the author of "Becoming Soulful: Six Keys for Profound Transformation in Your Therapy, Coaching, or Healing Practice," scheduled for release in the summer of 2024.

She is a certified professional life coach, Reiki master, spiritual mentor, medical intuitive, and social worker, passionate about elevating consciousness in the world, one soul at a time.

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  1. geri

    Hi Michal I love the article and can relate to a lot of. I suppress my feelings and numb myself with food. I really like your last line to look after yourself before the other person- easy for me to say and type but its so hard to do- im a giver to a fault- I need to learn and practise self care.

    many thanks geri

  2. Michal Spiegelman

    It’s good to hear from you, geri. I love getting your messages (here and via email). Yes! Learning to practice self-care is the key. We can so easily take care of others before taking care of US.

  3. Addie Clynurn

    Sometimes a person i do not know well, would get in my thoughts. Just people i know in passing. Later i find out that person has passed on. It over whrlmsvme at times.


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