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Emotions. Escaping numbness.

MingleMingle Veteran
edited September 2016 in Philosophy

The responses to my last thread has lead me to ask this.

I am not a very emotional person and actually I hate it. Where before I had grown up thinking it's weak to cry I now really wish I could. I used to be able too in my early teens but somehow due to embarrassment I must have switched off and haven't been able too since. I actually enjoy feeling sad on the rare occasions as I feel like I I'm reflecting and healing myself somehow but it just doesn't feel deep enough.

It's weird being so numb, hard to explain but it just feels like I'm going through the motions all the time and lacking passion without a real re activeness to life. Like whatever happens nothing really knocks me and everything is just "OK". I feel like emotions set clear distinctions of whats good and bad rather then everything just being experience and I just beat myself up about it on the inside. I don't know if that conveys what I mean but as I said its hard to explain.

I am a 27 year old man and I would actually love to just ball my eyes out, it's not about acting tough anymore I just don't feel like I can. It feels impossible for me. My eyes just don't make tears. Nothing is truly good and nothing is truly bad it just is.

Anyway I thought meditation would help and even counseling but neither have. Hence why drink has seemed like a good option (FYI if anyone is getting the impression of me having a drinking problem I actually rarely drink at all, this week is prolly the most I've been drunk in 2 years).

Do you think emotions can be hidden away behind certain things, like triggers? Like maybe a certain specific experiences can happen and suddenly you feel things you haven't felt in years?

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Comments

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Do you think you have anything in your past to ball your eyes out over? I think it's a reasonable attitude to say nothing is truly good/bad and just is. It's healthy.

    Mingle
  • @silver said:
    Do you think you have anything in your past to ball your eyes out over? I think it's a reasonable attitude to say nothing is truly good/bad and just is. It's healthy.

    It doesn't feel like it is. It just feels like things are building up without being acknowledged. It lacks passion and empathy.

  • @Mingle said:

    @silver said:
    Do you think you have anything in your past to ball your eyes out over? I think it's a reasonable attitude to say nothing is truly good/bad and just is. It's healthy.

    It doesn't feel like it is. It just feels like things are building up without being acknowledged. It lacks passion and empathy.

    I think so yes. I grew up in a large family and often felt left out. My counsellor said my emotions may have been left unnoticed so I stopped recognising them in myself.

  • To be entirely honest, I am younger, but I know how you feel. I have both depression and OCD and have to take medication for both. I have found that of all the "coping" mechanisms there are, I have found that following the Dhamma has given me the most happiness. That said, I understand this numbness, because I often feel it too. I too wish I could cry, but I never do anymore. Sometimes I wish to cry, but I just can't. It's a hard feeling to describe, but it just seems "empty." I guess the purpose of my comment is not to offer some magical fix, but to empathize with you. I understand, friend.

    Mingle
  • @Spekter said:
    To be entirely honest, I am younger, but I know how you feel. I have both depression and OCD and have to take medication for both. I have found that of all the "coping" mechanisms there are, I have found that following the Dhamma has given me the most happiness. That said, I understand this numbness, because I often feel it too. I too wish I could cry, but I never do anymore. Sometimes I wish to cry, but I just can't. It's a hard feeling to describe, but it just seems "empty." I guess the purpose of my comment is not to offer some magical fix, but to empathize with you. I understand, friend.

    That is comforting. It is like on the inside you can be really bothered by things but you are still projecting the same old version of you to the world. You still smile and say everythings OK. You wish outside you could reflect how you feel inside.

    Spekter
  • You just carry on day by day, never truly being touched by anything.

  • @Spekter said:
    To be entirely honest, I am younger, but I know how you feel. I have both depression and OCD and have to take medication for both. I have found that of all the "coping" mechanisms there are, I have found that following the Dhamma has given me the most happiness. That said, I understand this numbness, because I often feel it too. I too wish I could cry, but I never do anymore. Sometimes I wish to cry, but I just can't. It's a hard feeling to describe, but it just seems "empty." I guess the purpose of my comment is not to offer some magical fix, but to empathize with you. I understand, friend.

    Also one more thing. I have learned with emotions that sometimes it is better to recognise then to try and fix. Emotion just wants to be acknowledged that its there.

  • Indeed. Many people have been shocked when they found out about my sexuality, even if it is inconsequential. They always say, "you don't look gay," or, "you don't seem gay to me." The reason they think this is not because they don't notice it, but because I have gotten so good at hiding it and acting straight. The same thing happens with my depression. People seem to believe in my "false identity," and therefore see the "real me" as fake.
    I was at the ocean two days ago. It seemed incredibly calm and peaceful, so I went in. I found that as I got farther out, there was incredible turbulence; a strong riptide. I think that you and I are the same way. The turbulence within is not visible from the outside.

    Mingle
  • @Spekter said:
    Indeed. Many people have been shocked when they found out about my sexuality, even if it is inconsequential. They always say, "you don't look gay," or, "you don't seem gay to me." The reason they think this is not because they don't notice it, but because I have gotten so good at hiding it and acting straight. The same thing happens with my depression. People seem to believe in my "false identity," and therefore see the "real me" as fake.
    I was at the ocean two days ago. It seemed incredibly calm and peaceful, so I went in. I found that as I got farther out, there was incredible turbulence; a strong riptide. I think that you and I are the same way. The turbulence within is not visible from the outside.

    That is very well put. We are creatures of conditioning though aren't we ?. When we are so used to acting a certain way it can take years to undo.

    SarahT
  • This is what confuses me about Buddhism, we are taught to observe thoughts and feelings then let them go but is that expression? Can I express anger without acting angry?

  • From my personal observation, yes. I think the Dhamma sheds light on good ways to live a conditioned life in a positive way. That is, the Dhamma seems to encourage behaviors seen as positive to become part of a conditioned life, while gradually rooting out behaviors seen as negative. Eventually, when we no longer need a conditioned life at all and we cease to exist, we have reached Nirvana. For you and I, I think we have to recondition ourselves, and to gradually bring in these "positive" behaviors, if not all at once. It can take years to undo, but let's face it, friend, there is no rush.

    Mingle
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    There is a difference between understanding and accepting how things are, but that isn't the same as utter indifference or uncaring. I don't think, anyhow. In a more philosophical sense, yes, we know labeling things good or bad isn't pointless. But there has to be a balance between that and living in our world. On the larger scale, it might not matter. But there is obviously a difference between a devastating accident and a nice cozy holiday dinner with family. (very generally speaking, of course). There is a difference between a child who has been loved and nurtured and one who has been abused. To refuse to acknowledge that, or be unable to feel a difference isn't the same thing. Not saying that is what you are experiencing, Mingle. Just that a true grasping of that understanding shouldn't result in indifference. Compassion is understanding, not indifference.

    I do think there are triggers that bring things out in us we didn't know were there until we were reminded in some way. Often we can't even grasp what it is just that something is there poking us. Facing those things in us isn't easy, and depending what's there, I'm not sure it's always 100% safe for us to do without support. Not that you will catch fire or anything like that, but that realizing certain things about our lives without someone there to support us through it can be hard unless you are prepared to deal with whatever comes.

    We bury stuff a lot, we are taught to from the time we are very little. We have our own unique needs, but the nature of parenting is to cater to the common denominator and try to keep things afloat. Parents and families have their own assorted issues, too. So our needs as young people often go very ignored and we learn to stuff them away out of requirement to get along with family. Eventually, we have to face that and return to it. It's not easy. I think often harder for men because we still teach them that emotions are a woman's thing. Which of course isn't true.

    SpekterMingle
  • You asked if feeling things and letting them go is expression. This is just how I view things, of course, but I think that Buddhism is a process. Of course we are going to have moments where we are angry or upset or sad, and it's fine to feel those things. None of us are bodhisattvas. That said, I think that as we all travel farther down the path towards enlightenment, those feelings eventually fade away. In other words, I think that being a Buddhist is a process, and that because we are both Buddhists doesn't mean we both have perfect track records with controlling emotions. We are "learning on the job." Plus, I agree with @karasti, support is VERY important. We are all here for you.

    Mingle
  • Lonely_TravellerLonely_Traveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    I get injected in the behind every two weeks with an old fahioned anti-psychotic which is definitely a recipe for emotional numbness. Personally I find metta meditation a good antidote to emotional numbness and anhedonia caused by pharmaceuticals. Its a better "hit" than booze and drugs as well.

    lobsterMingleSpekter
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Emotions. Escaping numbness.
    I used to be able too in my early teens

    If you could express them once,,, you can express them again...so in the meantime..it might just be a case of having to ...
    Fake it until you make it ...reigniting those old unused neuropathways :)

    Mingle
  • Does meditating help with any of this? I have been doing so for two years and have yet to feel a single stir of strong emotion? I do however (on a possibly unrelated subject) remember dreams and dream settings. Like it brings me closer to the sate of mind I feel when wake up

  • @Spekter said:
    You asked if feeling things and letting them go is expression. This is just how I view things, of course, but I think that Buddhism is a process. Of course we are going to have moments where we are angry or upset or sad, and it's fine to feel those things. None of us are bodhisattvas. That said, I think that as we all travel farther down the path towards enlightenment, those feelings eventually fade away. In other words, I think that being a Buddhist is a process, and that because we are both Buddhists doesn't mean we both have perfect track records with controlling emotions. We are "learning on the job." Plus, I agree with @karasti, support is VERY important. We are all here for you.

    I read a quote some where saying something like 'until we can be mindful in every moment and even whilst we sleep, in our dreams we are still weak"

    I did get rather frustrated the other day at someone and felt like my meditation let me down.

  • @Mingle said:
    Does meditating help with any of this?

    If developing metta (Metta bhavna) or a tantric alignment with heart based qualities, it is likely to come sooner ...

    MingleSpekterdhammachick
  • @lobster said:

    @Mingle said:
    Does meditating help with any of this?

    If developing metta (Metta bhavna) or a tantric alignment with heart based qualities, it is likely to come sooner ...

    Errr don't quite know what you mean there.

  • @Spekter said:
    Indeed. Many people have been shocked when they found out about my sexuality, even if it is inconsequential. They always say, "you don't look gay," or, "you don't seem gay to me." The reason they think this is not because they don't notice it, but because I have gotten so good at hiding it and acting straight. The same thing happens with my depression. People seem to believe in my "false identity," and therefore see the "real me" as fake.
    I was at the ocean two days ago. It seemed incredibly calm and peaceful, so I went in. I found that as I got farther out, there was incredible turbulence; a strong riptide. I think that you and I are the same way. The turbulence within is not visible from the outside.

    What does being gay look like? In my later years I have come to realise gender/sexuality stereotypes are just stupid. What is "manly" now may have been considered not so manly before. Back in the 18the century men used to wear wigs and makeup and these were back in the days where "men were real men". Men aren't born with an eversion to the colour pink either. Women have always been tough and athletic too. Back in hunter gatherer days women had to survive and endure a harsh lifestyle just as much as men. Back to emotions also, men are no less a subject to them as women are, they're not a woman thing they are a human thing. I myself am straight and I like growing my hair long, looking at art or sometimes poetry. I like to dress sorta flamboyant to (I have way to many scarves in my wardrobe). I don't wear makeup but I do "get" why some dudes would. I mean if woman can have the advantage of making themselves appear better looking why cant men?

    I mean just the other day I was getting stick cause I was wearing an Alice band in my hair. People called me feminine, I mean if it was glittery or fluffy I'd sorta see there point but what is feminine about simply wanting to keep my hair out my face so I can work?

    Stereotypes annoy me lol.

    BunksSpekter
  • Being tough also doesn't make a women any less sexy either that's why I like the character Lara Croft. She is a good example.

  • Lonely_TravellerLonely_Traveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    @Mingle said:

    @lobster said:

    @Mingle said:
    Does meditating help with any of this?

    If developing metta (Metta bhavna) or a tantric alignment with heart based qualities, it is likely to come sooner ...

    Errr don't quite know what you mean there.

    Buddhanet's metta meditation section.

    http://www.buddhanet.net/metta.htm

    lobsterMingle
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran
    edited September 2016

    Is it important to you to be able to cry outwardly? Or are you worried that you've become internally numb? Compare little babies to teenagers to elderly people. There is a natural progression of outwardly expressing emotions less, and thinking internally more. Crying, giggling, shrieks of joy don't die off, they morph into something better. I don't think you should worry too much about progressing along a normal path. Outward expressiveness is gradually replaced by inner wisdom. I think you are noticing things, thinking about things, that you would not have when you were younger.

    For me, meditation is only part of what Buddhism offers. I would not expect meditation to help me feel more emotional. Just the opposite, really. Meditation, when successful, allows me to slow the mind way, way down. Let the internal chatter gradually subside. The mind likes to restart by itself, so I have to continuously bring it back to the barn again (and again and again). But usually I can get myself settled into a good relaxing low-power idle. And that's all.

    In addition to meditating, I also find times to pause, reflect, ponder. It is quiet, but it is not meditation. It's a chance to think about things, and observe how they feel internally. I don't try to solve them. I just notice them, get adjusted to them. This is when I think about the 4NT, or the 8-FP. I don't try to decide how to fix anything. I just observe. THIS is the setting in which I make peace with my emotions. And I find that observing and absorbing them is actually much richer than outwardly expressing them. It starts off feeling detached, like observing thoughts and emotions from an odd distance, but it somehow allows the experience to be more thoughtful, less childish. I can calmly see aspects that I wouldn't otherwise have noticed.

    Inquire within.

    Mingledhammachick
  • @Steve_B said:
    Is it important to you to be able to cry outwardly? Or are you worried that you've become internally numb? Compare little babies to teenagers to elderly people. There is a natural progression of outwardly expressing emotions less, and thinking internally more. Crying, giggling, shrieks of joy don't die off, they morph into something better. I don't think you should worry too much about progressing along a normal path. Outward expressiveness is gradually replaced by inner wisdom. I think you are noticing things, thinking about things, that you would not have when you were younger.

    For me, meditation is only part of what Buddhism offers. I would not expect meditation to help me feel more emotional. Just the opposite, really. Meditation, when successful, allows me to slow the mind way, way down. Let the internal chatter gradually subside. The mind likes to restart by itself, so I have to continuously bring it back to the barn again (and again and again). But usually I can get myself settled into a good relaxing low-power idle. And that's all.

    In addition to meditating, I also find times to pause, reflect, ponder. It is quiet, but it is not meditation. It's a chance to think about things, and observe how they feel internally. I don't try to solve them. I just notice them, get adjusted to them. This is when I think about the 4NT, or the 8-FP. I don't try to decide how to fix anything. I just observe. THIS is the setting in which I make peace with my emotions. And I find that observing and absorbing them is actually much richer than outwardly expressing them. It starts off feeling detached, like observing thoughts and emotions from an odd distance, but it somehow allows the experience to be more thoughtful, less childish. I can calmly see aspects that I wouldn't otherwise have noticed.

    Inquire within.

    Sorry I don't have time to reply to your whole message. Thanks all the same. I would say outwardly expressing would to me be a sign that I am changing. Like I have broken some sort of seal.

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    I'm suggesting that outwardly NOT expressing is the sign that you are changing, growing, maturing, because that externally visible evolution is part of the deeper internal changes. Look at those.

    dhammachick
  • Maybe you're right. So you don't need to express emotions on the outside to be emotionally healthy?

    Perhaps I just long for more depth to them, I do actually enjoy being sad as rarely as it happens. It's nice to reflect. It's also nice to be moved by music and feel what the person who wrote it conveys.

    Perhaps I'm not numb at all. I will still say though, these things do feel better when I'm drunk.

  • @Mingle I can't quite answer what being gay looks like, because I don't know. I too hate stereotypes, and I have found that "looking gay" is a particularly vague one. Any male looking even vaguely feminine or dressing in any different way could be regarded as "gay," I guess. Me, personally, I try to ignore the stereotypes and ensure that I don't perpetuate that kind of behavior. I am simply kind to everyone.

    lobsterMingle
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie gal Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited September 2016

    Deleted

    lobster
  • MingleMingle Veteran
    edited September 2016

    @Spekter said:
    @Mingle I can't quite answer what being gay looks like, because I don't know. I too hate stereotypes, and I have found that "looking gay" is a particularly vague one. Any male looking even vaguely feminine or dressing in any different way could be regarded as "gay," I guess. Me, personally, I try to ignore the stereotypes and ensure that I don't perpetuate that kind of behavior. I am simply kind to everyone.

    That's the best way to be anyway. Tbh as annoying as these stereotypes if I get called "gay" too me that means I'm doing something right. Ever heard of peacocking? Men are expected to look all drab and bland and any attempts to stand out are seen as feminine but actually in nature it is the males that stand out is it not? The lion with the biggest mane, the wolf with the shiniest coat and of course the peacock with the most flamboyant feather's. Even a guy building his muscles up can be seen as gay when it comes to humans though.

  • @dhammachick said:
    Deleted

    Iz plan! B)

    ... and now back to the numbness ... o:)

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited September 2016

    Some numbness therapy!

    Bunks
  • ^^. Mummy!

    Mein Gott in Himmel. What happens when we do this in virtual reality or in the simulated reality we are all allegedly living in? [lobster faints] O.o

  • MingleMingle Veteran
    edited September 2016

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Some numbness therapy!

    When he made that jump my heart skipped a beat.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    It does seem that adrenalin junkies need extreme experiences to feel really alive.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    It does seem that adrenalin junkies need extreme experiences to feel really alive.

    I have a friend now in his mid 40's who is always looking for that next rush!

    When we were young it was booze and drugs but now he is married with a child it's gambling and motorbikes.

    He just can't help himself.

    I guess if it weren't for people willing to take risks humans may not have spread far and wide etc.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited September 2016

    I know a guy who, as a regular member on another forum, would video his exploits and show us his daring.
    His last jump was posted by a friend.
    After that, the videos stopped.
    Because he had stopped.
    At least he died doing what he loved doing....

    He often took his dog with him.
    Fortunately, that time, he didn't.
    No point intelligent dying along with stupid....

    dhammachicklobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Bunks said:

    @SpinyNorman said:
    It does seem that adrenalin junkies need extreme experiences to feel really alive.

    I have a friend now in his mid 40's who is always looking for that next rush!

    When we were young it was booze and drugs but now he is married with a child it's gambling and motorbikes.

    He just can't help himself.

    I guess if it weren't for people willing to take risks humans may not have spread far and wide etc.

    I'm sure you're right, it has always been the risk-takers at the cutting edge of discovery, the explorers and innovators. I was a bit of an adrenalin junky when I was younger, motorcycling, hang-gliding, sailing small boats in storm-force winds, all kinds of crazy stuff. I have always been easily bored, never satisfied with the mundane or conventional. Buddhism is neither mundane or conventional, so it feels like a good fit. ;)

    Bunkslobster
  • RiddlewindRiddlewind oregon usa Explorer

    @Mingle I discovered something that affected me as far as emotions and sensitivity that came in the idea of identifying myself with “manliness” or “manhood”. It was a way I thought I had to perceive myself. I know now that it was for the sake of ego. I found that by simply identifying myself with what “manliness” or “manhood” supposedly meant that it automatically made me less caring, sensitive, and empathetic. It also not only made me more aggressive but fearful of what others thought, and so fearful of displaying anything that might contradict that self-identity.

    I discovered how silly this was and that is was self-destructive. Just the idea can kill what we really are beneath that facade, and that was all it was, a facade. I decided instead to let those ideas go and instead perceive myself simply a loving human being and decided that that was enough. And it became enough.

    That did not keep me from doing so-called “manly” things, but it did release me from much fear and an idea that was much more a cage than freedom, much more a killer of life in me than it was something to give me life.
    Peace and freedom is a better pursuit.

    BunkslobsterMingle
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I'm watching a movie right now, @Mingle that you might have seen before, but just in case you haven't, it's fun psychological/emotional study on human nature.

    It's called 'What About Bob?' with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus.

    dhammachick
  • TheBeejAbidesTheBeejAbides Human Being Veteran

    Your Big Long Cry is coming. You sound very similar to me before i crack open and let it rip. I'm also a 27+10 year old straight man, and i've been having this crop up again lately. And i've had some good ones... and guess what? They are really just the start of you allowing yourself to feel again. You've been successfully avoiding somethings. You are starting to see that its not helping you. I will suggest that you get a real chiropractic massage and see if someone else can't help surface this stuff. But be warned---> it gets to be a bumpy ride after the juices start flowing. Talk it out. And not just on here. Use actual audible words that you and someone else can hear. It will help you feel what you need to feel. Whatever it is you've been ducking i can assure you that you aren't the only one that has held shit in, only to explode one day in a well-spring of emotions.

    Massage, exercise and make 1 consumptive change in your routine. Eventually, you're gonna cry so hard that your young teen self will be proud. Good luck.

    Mingle
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    Murray's had alcohol problems. Dreyfus is bi-polar.
    What a great combination...

    Steve_B
  • @TheBeejAbides said:
    Your Big Long Cry is coming. You sound very similar to me before i crack open and let it rip. I'm also a 27+10 year old straight man, and i've been having this crop up again lately. And i've had some good ones... and guess what? They are really just the start of you allowing yourself to feel again. You've been successfully avoiding somethings. You are starting to see that its not helping you. I will suggest that you get a real chiropractic massage and see if someone else can't help surface this stuff. But be warned---> it gets to be a bumpy ride after the juices start flowing. Talk it out. And not just on here. Use actual audible words that you and someone else can hear. It will help you feel what you need to feel. Whatever it is you've been ducking i can assure you that you aren't the only one that has held shit in, only to explode one day in a well-spring of emotions.

    Massage, exercise and make 1 consumptive change in your routine. Eventually, you're gonna cry so hard that your young teen self will be proud. Good luck.

    That's good news, I started giving 0 fucks about being stoic about 3 years ago I think. This does take time though doesn't It?

    How does exercise help though?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator

    It releases endorphins.

    If you succeed in opening up more demonstrative positive emotions, it will also enable a gateway to being able to feel the opposite, with no inhibitions...

    lobsterTheBeejAbides
  • TheBeejAbidesTheBeejAbides Human Being Veteran

    @federica said:
    It releases endorphins.

    If you succeed in opening up more demonstrative positive emotions, it will also enable a gateway to being able to feel the opposite, with no inhibitions...

    @Mingle -yep. What fede said.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @federica said:
    It releases[ endorphins.]

    Endorphins are great, part of the dolphin family I believe. :p

    Mingledhammachick
  • @SpinyNorman said:

    @federica said:
    It releases[ endorphins.]

    Endorphins are great, part of the dolphin family I believe. :p

    Then it's settled, I'm starting my new life as a dolphin straight away.

    SpinyNorman
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Yes, I can picture it: Mingle as an endorphinated happy dolphin, long hair flowing, bottle of Pinot in one fin, didgeridoo in the other, tears of joy freely flowing, female dolphins podding (not flocking, you see, because they're dolphins).

    I love happy endings.

    MingleSpinyNormanWalker
  • @Steve_B said:
    Yes, I can picture it: Mingle as an endorphinated happy dolphin, long hair flowing, bottle of Pinot in one fin, didgeridoo in the other, tears of joy freely flowing, female dolphins podding (not flocking, you see, because they're dolphins).

    I love happy endings.

    That sounds like one cool dolphin.

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