You are currently viewing Episode 166 – Numbing

Episode 166 – Numbing

Feeling numb is a natural reaction to grief, but it can end up being something we do way too much.

In today’s episode I’m sharing why we numb and how to bust out of the cycle so you can feel all the parts of being you. If you’ve noticed you’re using your phone, food, alcohol or even “good” things to avoid life right now or you’re just feeling numb way more than you want to, this episode is for you.


Today is Lauren’s 11th birthday. She was due on St. Patrick’s day. And we found out on the 13th that she had no heartbeat. And she was born in the early hours of the 14th of March. Just about eight hours after delivery. I went home and sat on my front porch and felt the spring sun shining on me after what seemed like so long inside a hospital room. Devin Hills or her birthler and I think it’s just so fitting. daffodils are tough.

They are bright and they are such a welcome site after a long winter. Lauren was beautiful with the sweetest cheeks and so much dark hair. I’m so grateful for the time I got to spend with her. It wasn’t enough, but I look forward to meeting her again. I know she’s nearby and I feel her often. I dedicate this podcast and really all that I try to do to her because she has been my greatest teacher, my greatest heartbreak. And one of my greatest loves.


How do you love someone?

You didn’t really get a chance to meet. I feel like I did get to meet her in all the time. We spent together. Eating like these homemade egg sandwiches and going for walks, hanging out with their big sisters and dreaming of a life with five little girls. We went on adventures and we had so much fun. Our spirits are connected forever. A lot of people who are new in their grief ask. Will it always hurt this much.

And I always say no. No. There will always be longing and there will be sadness and there will be tears. But mostly you’ll get to feel a lot of love. And I’m thankful for the gift that Lauren gave me. And I offer you her gift to share. Know, that you are loved, that there is hope and that you can do this, even if you don’t know how yet. Happy birthday.

Sweet girl. We miss you. Now onto today’s topic. Feeling numb is a natural reaction to grief, but it can end up being something we do way too much. In today’s episode, I’m sharing why we numb and how to bust out of the cycle. So you can feel all the parts of being you. If you’ve noticed you’re using your phone food, alcohol, or even quote unquote, good things to avoid life right now. Or if you’re just feeling numb way more than you want to this episode is for you. Now Sarah Limburg said quite often, feeling numb is temporary.

However, for some emotional numbness becomes a strategy to protect themselves from further emotional or physical pain. While it may provide temporary relief. Learning to cope with difficult feelings. This way can have long lasting consequences.

I totally agree with what she’s saying there. It’s normal to feel some numbness after a trauma, like a death, it’s our body’s way of protecting us. If you’re in this phase. Or if you notice yourself going in and out of it know that nothing is going wrong. It’s easy to add an extra layer of suffering to what you’re experiencing by resisting the numbness. What would be different if you just allowed this to be part of the process? Of course, if you feel like it’s ongoing and creating a big problem for you, please get professional help and be checked for depression or anxiety. Trust yourself and the people who love you to know what to do. Now I personally believe that grief is not a disorder and numbness is part of it.

It’s a season of. Our grief process. A few other reasons you can feel numb is if you’re on certain medications. If your body is flooded with hormones, like cortisol. Or if you’re experiencing overwhelming stress. So just be aware of that. Now I wanted to touch an emotional numbness first, but that’s not what I’m going to address today. What I want to talk about is when we are taking actions to numb our feelings. All of us do it to one degree or another. And the world we live in makes it really, really easy.

We have endless entertainment at our fingertips, social media. Drugs, vaping, porn, food, gambling, video games, all alcohol and so much more. Our brain loves the quick dopamine hits we get from these things. Our brain does not like feeling uncomfortable feelings. Can you see how these two truths may get way too easy to numb our emotions? Now, some people might say that a little distraction is fine.

A little chocolate on a bad day, a little wine to wind down at the end of the day. Not a problem. And maybe they would be right. But the problem I see is that we, as a society are very unwilling to allow any uncomfortable emotions. We are taught from a young age that they aren’t okay. And that we need to fix them. We get the message that if we experienced these feelings, there’s something wrong with us and we need to be fixed. Have you ever felt this way?

Or have you ever thought this about yourself?


There are also a lot of consequences to the things you choose to numb with. They affect our bodies. They affect our brains. You can get into a cycle that is hard to break out of. It can affect our relationships, our jobs, our self-worth and our spirituality. Have you ever been close to someone who is numbing, who is doing these behaviors and they’re stuck and they can’t see it. Or maybe they can see it and they are so hard on themselves. It’s hard to watch. The other problem I see is that if you always turn to numbing, you never get a chance to experience all your emotions. You never get good at it.

And you’re always afraid. One of the number one things I help my clients with is leaning into uncomfortable emotions because most of us just don’t have this skill. And it’s one of the most important things you can ever learn. And I hope that you’re learning it here on this podcast. I hope you are taking the gifts that grief and life are offering to you and getting good at all your emotions. So I have a question for you or a couple of questions.

What emotion do you find yourself avoiding or numbing the most? Like, what is your least favorite emotion? And then what is your go-to method for numbing? Now. Don’t use this as an opportunity to like beat yourself up. We’re just. Looking at it. So what emotion do you find yourself avoiding the most? And then what is your go-to way to numb?


A question people often have is, well, how do I know if I’m numbing or I’m just taking a mental break?

Like I’m just, you know, it’s not a big deal. Now I am a big fan of taking breaks, giving yourself a chance to recharge and making space for your nervous system to reset. One way to tell is to check in with yourself. Be honest and be curious. Are you doing the thing consciously or unconsciously? Does it seem to just happen? If your default brain is taking action, it might be numbing, right?

Like you just find yourself in the pantry. You find yourself standing in front of the fridge. You find yourself on your phone. Like it just happens. Um, That could be numbing behavior. You can also look at the effect it is having on your life. And for this, you have to be really objective and honest because at first you’ll want to be on the defense that everything is fine.

It’s not a big deal. Just open up. If the action you’re taking is creating a net negative effect on your life. Then it’s probably numbing. For example, exercise is good. Needing to run every day, no matter what, to the point that you’re losing lots of weight, your knees are killing you and you’re you’re living.

Kids are feeling rejected and your partner is worried about you. Might be a way that you’re numbing. Having a little chocolate that week before your period is due as a gift yourself could be self care and doesn’t have a negative effect. But stashing treats all over the place and finding yourself eating every time you feel any stress might be numbing.


Now once you’ve taken a look at what’s happening, you’ll probably find some places you are numbing.

And that is okay. The first step is always compassion. Being a human is hard and it’s messy and her brain is wired to do this. And like I said before, our world is in a place where it is so ridiculously easy to numb. It’s actually, I mean, Things are working to make it. More. Yeah, just to make it easier to numb, to make you want to come back for more to make you want to have those dopamine hits, like people are actively working at this.




But, like I said, the first step is always compassion.



When we add grief. To all of this and trying to figure that out, it’s completely understandable. Most people will go straight to shame when they realize what’s happening. But we don’t do shame here. Shame doesn’t help us. In fact, when it comes to numbing, shame will often exacerbate the problem. You might hide it more or you might lie to yourself, but for sure, you’ll end up in results.

You don’t like. And it’s not a fun cycle to be in. Um, and aside note on that, if you know someone like. That is numbing. Like you can see what they’re doing. Sometimes when we pointed out or we try to help. Um, what we do is just add some shame. And so that often spirals into. Not making it better. It actually makes it worse.

So we gotta be really careful when we’re observing other people. And really come at it with compassion as well. Like they’re also a human. They are also doing their best and it’s okay. There doesn’t have to be shame around it.

Another thing we want to do is to recognize what’s happening and own it. Take responsibility. It actually feels really freeing. My husband has a job where he used to be gone for weeks and weeks at a time, especially in the summer. So very often I would pick a series on Netflix that I knew he would never watch with me and I would put it on. At night after my little little ones had gone to bed. And often I had things to do.

There were dishes or a laundry, and I could have been a lot more productive, but I was lonely and I would get nervous at night. So I chose on purpose to distract myself. I would also stay up too late because I knew if I was super tired, I wouldn’t lay in bed and overthink and analyze every noise I heard. So this did kind of have a net negative effect on my life where I was tired the next day.

I wasn’t the mom. I wanted to be. The house was messier than I wanted, and I definitely wasn’t being enlightened or anything by these shows. But, you know what. I am okay with it. Sometimes I still do it. Now I can observe myself and know it’s probably not my best choice of activities and I probably should go to bed earlier. But I own it.

And I own the consequences. What’s really important is you can’t blame other people. You can’t blame your phone or Netflix or whatever. It’s not them. It’s you. That actually feels good. If you’ve got something like this, just. Just see. What it feels like to just own it. Then, if you want to make some shifts, start with those urges, you have the ones that come from your body and your unconscious mind that just want to seek pleasure, like easy dopamine hits. Like the feeling you get when you’re a little more relaxed because of substances you put in your body. Like the spike you get when people like your reel on Instagram, what you want to do is simply allow the urges to be there without answering them. Your brain will tell you that you’ll probably die, but it is wrong.

Tell it to calm down. Let yourself experience and process the urge. So with it, as long as you need to this, doesn’t have to be complicated. You can do it on the go while living your life. It’s like, if you want to drink less coffee and you usually go get some first thing in the morning, you could just want coffee and not go get it.

You don’t have to replace it. You don’t have to distract yourself. You just. Sit there and want coffee. Think about a time you wanted something and you couldn’t have it, right? Like maybe you were. Our vacation and they didn’t have your favorite thing that you like or whatever. Um, You, you knew you couldn’t have the thing.

What was that like? How did you handle it then? Now this part, where we allow our urges will be uncomfortable. So just expect it.


Something that can help is to think about your reasons. Why do you want to make a shift? Why do you want to stop numbing? What are you working towards? For me. I want to live my life fully. I don’t want to cloud my mind. I don’t want to be dependent on outside things to make me feel good. I want to create that myself and I want to enjoy the good things in life without having them control me. As a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, I live by a pretty strict health code where we don’t drink smoke or do drugs. We don’t even drink coffee or tea. So I can attest that it is actually possible. You can enjoy life without these things controlling you.




Now you don’t have to quit anything entirely.

That’s not what I’m saying, but I just remember people in high school being so shocked. That we could have fun without drinking. And it was just, we had so many conversations where people just could not believe it. Because where I grew up drinking was a really big thing. Um, But you can enjoy your life without all these substances. I want you to trust me.




Maybe your reason is you want to heal and find peace.

I think that’s easier when you’re purposeful with it. When you open up to it, being harder at the beginning, but also so beautiful as you let yourself feel feelings you’ve been avoiding for so long. And I would love to guide you through that process. It can be scary. Like I said, a lot of times we’ve been pushing away these feelings for so long that it it’s grown into this like big monster under the bed. That we don’t want to look at. But I promise you if you shine a light on it. It. It’s magic and it’s not scary. Right.

It might bring up emotions and that is okay. That’s what we want. Here’s the deal. Living a full life means not being afraid of any emotion. In fact, it means welcoming them with open arms. It’s like in pride and prejudice, the Keira Knightly version, which is the best version. When we see Elizabeth Bennett on the cliffs with the wind whipping, her cloak. And you can just feel that cold, fresh English air and all the heartache and everything she’s going through. It’s Mr.

Darcy proposing and getting rejected in the rain. It’s your favorite song full of heartbreak that makes you cry. If it catches you. Today I was listening to you’re losing me by Taylor swift on repeat and it was so, so good. It’s the spring, sunshine on your face and laughing until you can’t breathe. It’s mundane everyday stuff that you go through with gratitude.

It’s fighting for what you want. It’s that guttural scream you want to send to the universe on days where you just so angry. It’s a prayer. That’s more tears than words. And I suggest that you pray to help yourself stop numbing if you know, it’s time. What is it for you? What is truly living for you? Imagine it. Work for it. Draw it to you by believing in it. Little by little. Open up your heart to all of it. That’s what we’re here for. I’m sending you lots of big hugs. And I’ll see you next time.

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