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3 Ways To Deal With That Feeling of Emptiness
“We become aware of the void as we fill it.” ― Antonio Porchia
Humans feel empty from time to time. It’s a normal part of life.
Some describe this feeling as “losing a sense of purpose.”
Others reach a point where their lives lack any meaning. The things they used to enjoy doing no longer give them joy or fulfillment.
When this feeling hits you, it doesn’t always make you sad in the conventional sense of the word.
Emptiness can make you unhappy, it’s more than that. It feels like a gaping hole in your very being – and once it’s there, there’s nothing can seem to fill it.
And this can lead to something called SELF-ALIENATION.
When you alienate yourself from the world, or when you feel like a stranger to yourself, then it compounds the feeling of that emptiness inside you.
People have tried to deal with this emptiness in different ways, but most of them aren’t healthy.
In fact, they’re downright destructive.
Whether it’s excessive eating, binge-watching, drugs, alcohol, pornography, shopping, or casual sex, it only numbs the pain of emptiness temporarily.
Soon enough, that feeling of existential dread will come knocking, and the cycle starts all over again. Every time this happens, it can push someone further into despair.
So, how do you deal with the feeling that something’s missing? What’s the best way to keep that emptiness at bay and live a meaningful life?
Where The Void Comes From
Here’s what most people don’t understand about that feeling of emptiness: everyone is born with it – even in people you’d least expect.
This is actually one of the traits that define us as a species. When was the last time someone worried about a dog or a snake having an existential crisis?
If you think about it, humans are the only ones on this planet who have to deal with thoughts like this. I suppose that’s the price of self-awareness.
However, the level of which we feel this emptiness varies from one person to another.
While you might be worrying about the things you have to do tomorrow, your neighbor might be questioning the very purpose of waking up the next morning.
So why do some people struggle with feelings of emptiness while others don’t seem to have a problem finding meaning in life?
Well, for one thing, certain life events can trigger specific emotions related to a sense of helplessness and futility.
For example, if someone loses a loved one or suddenly goes bankrupt, changes like these can turn their world upside down. When the natural order of things descends into chaos, that person could very well end up questioning the purpose of their life.
If you’ve gone through some changes yourself, or just feel a general exhaustion about the things happening around you, there is hope.
There are a few things you can do to gradually reframe your mindset and unlearn some toxic beliefs you may have.
In time, you can keep those feelings of emptiness to a bare minimum so that it doesn’t get in the way of living a fulfilling life.
Here are 3 ways to deal with that feeling of emptiness:
#1. Take care of your body
This is probably the last thing most people feel like doing when they’re wrestling with feelings of emptiness. But there are two reasons why staying on top of your fitness and health is so effective.
First of all, taking the focus away on thoughts along the lines of “I feel so empty…” is incredibly beneficial in itself.
While you can’t completely shut down that nagging voice in your head, you can keep it to a barely audible murmur so you can enjoy your life. And when you shift your energy towards something productive, you’ll also challenge that voice and prove it wrong.
Second, improving your physical state through better food choices and exercise will have a direct impact on your mental well-being.
When you feel better about yourself, that feeling of emptiness doesn’t get a vote.
Did you know that what goes in your body is connected to what happens in your brain?
Experts have discovered that the gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract actually has hundreds of millions of nerve cells and neurons which send signals to your brain. And your gut is responsible for producing “happy chemicals” like serotonin and dopamine which affects your mood.
So if you eat a lot of unhealthy, processed food, that can literally get in the way of your happiness.
This is why taking care of your health is a better way to deal with emptiness by NOT making that void bigger.
#2. Embrace Suffering
Suffering and pain are one of the biggest paradoxes of our existence. As a species, we instinctively avoid anything we perceive to be dangerous or wrong for us.
However, avoiding these unpleasant things can ALSO be bad for us on some level. In fact, avoiding suffering and pain TOO much can actually make you miserable.
If you have nothing worthwhile to grapple with in life, you’ll make that gaping void even wider.
Buddha recognized the value of suffering and how it can enrich the quality of our lives. By accepting that life is about overcoming some sort of struggle, it can open up the path to happiness.
If that means having to suffer from time to time, then so be it. That’s the essence of the Human Condition.
And I’m not saying that you have to recklessly invite unnecessary suffering into your life by wrecking your health, for instance.
What I mean is that by having a worthy problem to solve, the PROCESS of solving it will give your life great meaning.
The great thing about it is that you get to choose which problem to solve (i.e., making other people’s lives better in some way) and play it like a game.
And when you make the choice to take on that responsibility, the feeling of emptiness will go away.
#3. Confront the void
This is somewhat related to the last point because it’s also about the human tendency to avoid uncomfortable thoughts.
Studies show that our brain has anywhere between 50,000-70,000 thoughts in a single day. Since we’re often preoccupied with a million different things, we usually don’t make the time to quiet our mind.
It’s mostly because we’re uncomfortable with being alone with that sense of emptiness inside us. And like I said earlier, there’s an irony in making something bigger by not confronting it.
This is why you need to cultivate the habit of making time to do this every day. Mindfulness and meditation is an ancient practice that allows you to observe what’s going on in your body.
Whether you’re feeling tense, uptight or stressed out, the act of stepping back and observing it from a third person perspective is actually beneficial.
Self-awareness helps you keep things in perspective and reminds you that things aren’t bad as they seem.
More importantly, you’ll realize that the feeling of emptiness isn’t something to be feared, but embraced (see # 2).
Then that nagging voice becomes something you can live with. Some people even think of it as living with an annoying roommate.
And best of all, you’ll understand that it’s pretty much useless trying to fill that void with destructive habits.
Instead, mindfulness and meditation allow you to have a “conversation” with that roommate. In time, you can even learn to like it!
Overcoming the Struggle
Getting through the feeling of emptiness can be challenging if you don’t have the tools to cope with it. But if you cultivate the right habits and practice them as often as you can, you’ll gradually turn the tide in your favor.
It’s not an easy process, I know.
I’ve had to fight against the same feeling in the past, and although I’m on top of it now…
…it’s something I need to work on every day like everyone else.
It used to be so hard because it seemed like nothing I did matter, which robbed my life of meaning.
It came to a point where I slogged away at my career and my relationship just for show. At the core of it, I felt empty.
I stopped believing that I was making a difference in my life or anyone else’s, and I felt anything but empowered.
After some internal struggling and soul-searching, however, I came across a ridiculously easy way to take my life back.
Thanks to a small but powerful change in my thinking, I unlocked my potential to do more things in my life.
Suddenly, I honestly felt that I was adding value to the world in a way I never thought was possible.
And just like that, the fog of negative emotions cleared and I was able to find my true purpose again.
It’s all in this video, check it now before it’s gone: