The Cost of Emotional Numbness is Everything

Numb heroes have been busy saving the day in metaphoriacal and actual arenas for ages. But the glorification of the numb hero may be costing the human race our place on this Earth.

Why do I think this is true?

I think it is true because I have been the numb hero. I tried to save my marriage and my children, and I’ve been trying to save my friends and the planet. It almost killed me. I was numb to my feelings and emotions, and because I was numb to my feelings and emotions… I was missing things. Important things.

I was missing details that my fear, if it had been available to me, whould have helped me to notice.

I was missing boundaries that my anger, if it had been available to me, would have made it possible to sense.

I was cut off from what was deeply important to me because my ability to consciously feel my sadness was hindered by numbness.

I was cut off from my conscious joy, and therefore unable to notice and sense how things all fit together.

The consequences of the consequnces of my numbness meant that I lost time engaging authentically with the people with whom I had the most significant relationshps of my life: my parents and siblings, aunts and uncles and cousins; the fathers of my four children, and my children themselves. This extended to friends and coworkers, and even to strangers on the street.

My numbness cut me off from the single most important person in my life: my self. Or, prerhaps more accurately, my selves: my many parts, who had been, over the course of my childhood, lost to me through the events during which I originated numbness.

Yes, I originated this numbness. Unknowingly, during my formative years, I chose to unconsciously shut down, stuff, and eventually ignore and deny my feelings, to one degree or another. This was my foremost survival strategy.

As an adult, this straegy prevailed as my unconscious modus operandus.

I was doing the best I knew how with the conscious awareness I did have, but with this numbness came blind spots, certain kinds of deafness, and other filters. What I saw and heard was often distorted under the influence of my unconscious fear. So many times, I heard what I feared to hear, rather than what was being said. I saw what I unconsciously feared seeing, rather than what was really in front of me. I thought I knew what I most feared knowing, rather than finding out what else there was to know.

I felt more and more pain as I contracted around the world I made for mysef during a lifetime of consequences from numbed feelings.

I had, after all, kept some degree of each of the primary feelings: anger, sadness fear and joy. At certain times, under certain conditions, I would allow myslef to feel, but this was not the feeling of a centered, grounded, highly self aware person. No, my feelings, when I was feeling them, were powerfully perpetuating the survival mechanisms from my childhood. My feelings were not fuelling, as I have since learned is possible, consciously directed responsible action (and stillness), and words (and silence!) My feelings were not, like they could be, fuelling my conscious evolution.

And it almost cost me everything.

It was not until I gained certain distinctions about feelings and emotions and learned certain processes by which emotions and old choices can be made conscious, that things began to change. It was not until I started earnestly experimenting to see what would happen if I lowered my Numbness Bar, that I began to make strides toward a new way of being human, with conscious feeling happening.

Over the years prior to these findings, I had made some progress, thanks to encounters with certain books and experimenters who had happened upon tools that changed things. Many of these tools served to prepare me to receive the distinctions and possibilities that came later. I had thought, during all these years, that I was really “good at” feeling, at being with my feelings, and communicating about them with others. And I was, at least compared to many humans of today who are more numb and less able to talk about feelings than I. But there was a vast and rich world in store for me, stored right here, in my hitherto numb Emotional Body.

After only seven months of Conscious Feelings Work, including being coached through perhaps a dozen big Emotional Healing Processes, and countless “small ones,” there have been extraordinary changes. This has been humbling, and a great relief, because over my 50 years, I have done many things that promised me change. I noticed slow and sure change, but no-one else noticed. Now, the change is showing to others.

And no wonder. Conscious anger means my very bones are more clear and present to me. I sense more readily what I want and don’t want, using low level anger to declare, in a regular speaking voice what I will and won’t be doing. I am more readily able to choose simple things I had difficulty choosing before, and to assert myself quietly, before strong self assertation becomes neccessary.

Conscious sadness means that I can grieve what there is to grieve, when grief arises, catching the sounds in towels and pillows and cleaning up and getting to what’s next within minutes. I catch it when my sadness mixes with anger and fear to produce depresssion, isolation or withholding, and I see to these. I am also able to put any feeling “on the shelf” if circumstances mean feeling now is not conducive. This is very different from the unconscious, reactive numbing of my past!

I am falling in love with my fear as less numbness is happening. My conscious fear is making it possible for me to pick up on fine distinctions, details and indicators to which I have been oblivious in the past. With my fear freed from its prisons in my solar plexus and the nape of my neck, my skin sometimes tingles with awareness. My senses, more easefully alert, are more likely than ever before to notice the subtle changes in the world around me. Autumn is turns into winter more beautifully than ever before. My fear also helps me slow down to the speed of connection with others, while my subtle, conscious anger comes up with questions that help us navigate to intimacy.

As you might imagine, this all helps my joy, my authentic joy, come alive. My joy, too has been numb, under modern culture’s threat of being thought crazy, clueless or on drugs. I feel such a joy to finally, clearly and without hesitation create my life’s work. I feel such joy to see the faces and hear the voices of my children, and my fellow inhabitants of Eaeth and to be open like never before to finding out who they are and what they want. I am better able to navigate with others as an empowering ally, especially in regard to my adult children.

I feel such sadness and anger that numbness prevails in the world as it does.

I see so many problems denied, ignored and avoided, or argued about at length as mostly unconscious feelings fuel debates that remind me of teenage rumble scenes in movies. Bravado, subtle and not-so-subtle insults, and mental power plays abound in personal and public spaces. In spaces where collaborative action, informed by experts is most needed, numb and unconscious fear about “what others might think” prevents real solutions from happening.

It might cost us everything.

My anger, fear, and sadness about all of this, unnumbed, and conscious, make it possible for me to direct my attention, my discerning mind and my passion to make time, space and tools for creative collaboration. Between my personal parts and between me and my companions in Possibility Management gameworlds, we continue to use the distinctions, maps and processes that have made such a differenece for me.

We are having the time of our lives creating spaces where clarity, transformation and creative collaboration abound. We are solving the problems of numbness, and facing into the other problematic consequences thereof.

We may or may not get to them all, but the joy of doing what we can, while we can, with each other, where we are…shines bright.

Join us!

Nicole is, among other things, a Top Keener on the “Help Gaia’s Risky Human Experiment Succeed” Team.

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