September 14, 2015
Emptiness is part of the human condition. Every single thing about being human screams impermanence. That impermanence gives us a feeling of emptiness at times, in spite of our spiritual leanings and our beliefs about an afterlife. We all have a normal, human desire to feel good right now, and when we don’t, we don’t like it. We feel a sense of emptiness and tell ourselves something’s missing, something’s wrong.
The idea that we can cure that emptiness may be the single most damaging idea that we perpetuate in psychotherapy. It’s like trying to cure ourselves of the joy that bubbles up when we see u-tube videos of babies or cats and puppies.
When we get quiet and stop running around like chickens in a coop with nowhere to go but around and around, we can actually see what’s happening. For the most part, we’re alternating between desperately trying to get rid of the empty, uncomfortable feelings, while unsuccessfully attempting to hold on to the bubbly, joyful ones.
Some of us resort to alcohol or drugs, or engage in compulsive gambling, shoplifting, sex, emotional eating, video porn or gaming, or non-stop talking, controlling others, pontificating, or watching 8 hours of soaps a day.
The antidote is to stop trying to get rid of it! The very act of acknowledging and accepting that we will occasionally experience a sense of emptiness gives us the opportunity to live bigger. We can take all that freed-up time and energy and put it toward behaviors that will likely generate more of the bubbly, joyful feelings and experiences.
Just something to tuck away for a rainy day when you notice that you’re scaring the crap out of yourself about having a bit of an empty feeling. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re simply fully human.