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What Happens When We Numb Our Pain?

When we haven’t yet learned healthy techniques to navigate our difficult emotions, we tend to fall into unhealthy emotional patterns of trying to escape our pain and numb ourselves from it. We use our drugs of choice, our addictive substances, and behaviors, to self-medicate from the emotions we’re having a hard time facing. Very often we’re caught up in patterns of denial, avoidance, secrecy, and emotional suppression, all of which cause our pain to grow stronger over time. What happens to us when we continually numb our pain?

Emotional Conditioning and Programming

Many of us have grown accustomed to numbing our pain because that is what we’ve been conditioned to do with whatever feelings we don’t know how to handle. We might have grown up watching parents, caregivers and role models suppressing their pain and numbing themselves to it. They might have used their drugs of choice in similar ways, unable to find healthy outlets for their feelings. We might have witnessed them unable to cope with the challenges in their lives. They might have taken their anger and hurt out on us, while also using an addictive substance or behavior to numb the intensity of how they were feeling. We learned certain emotional patterns by witnessing their behaviors, and when we watched these patterns play out over and over again, we become conditioned to follow them in our own lives. We often don’t question our patterns because they’ve become second nature for us. We’ve been programmed to follow them. We default to them instinctively because we assume that is how one ought to handle things. We might never even consider doing things differently. The patterns we’ve been programmed with become second nature for us, and they’re what we’re most familiar with. They are what we become most comfortable with, and it can be exceedingly difficult to move out of the comfort zone of numbing our pain.

Responding to Our Emotions With Fear

When we’ve been conditioned to develop these kinds of emotional patterns of suppression and avoidance, we are telling ourselves subconsciously that we aren’t strong enough to handle our emotions. Many of us feel so afraid of them that they become overpowering and destructive forces in our lives, and we feel powerless against them. The fear we feel around our emotions is often what is most driving us to avoid them. We numb our emotions because we’re afraid to face them. We’re afraid of what will happen if we allow ourselves to feel them. We fear we’ll get depressed. We fear our anxiety will be unbearable. We fear we’ll crack under the pressure, hit rock bottom or break down altogether. We’re afraid of the consequences of feeling our emotions. Will we be able to handle them? Will they take over our lives, causing us to be unable to function? Will we be able to go to work, take care of our families, and go about our normal routines? Will we be able to cope with the many demands of our lives?

Reaching Our Breaking Point

Numbing our pain with our drugs of choice is one of our go-to coping mechanisms when things feel too hard for us, but in turning away from our emotions, we actually make them stronger. We give them more power over us. This is when we begin to feel unable to manage our lives. The daily challenges we’re facing start to feel insurmountable and unbearable. We start to feel as though we’re not strong enough to contend with the many troubles accumulating in our lives. We don’t feel capable in our daily lives and in the roles we’ve taken on. Whether that’s our role as the head of our families or the role of the leader at work, we start to feel as though we can’t handle any of it, because our emotions become more and more overpowering the more we try to avoid them. It is in feeling our emotions, processing them and allowing ourselves to move through them that we actually heal ourselves from them. Trying to numb ourselves from them only compounds their strength and volatility. Many of us reach a breaking point where we can no longer function regularly. We can’t keep up with the demands and challenges of our lives. Even small tasks feel impossible, getting out of bed, making a phone call, running errands, attending a meeting. Our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues worsen. We might lose our appetites and find ourselves unable to sleep. We might develop chronic pain conditions. We might feel as though we’re letting our families down, unable to be the providers and caretakers they need us to be. We feel like we’re losing control. We feel as though we’re breaking under the pressure of it all, and daily life becomes increasingly difficult for us. We might retreat into self-isolation. We might stop communicating with loved ones. We might stop going to work. We might stay home, or stay in the bed, unable to function, unable to stop ourselves from crying or panicking.

When we’ve been numbing our pain for so long, we haven’t learned how to feel our emotions in healthy, effective ways. We haven’t learned how to manage our pain. It can accumulate and worsen over time until we’re forced to contend with all of our unresolved issues because they have overpowered us so severely that our lives have become unbearable.

At The Guest House Ocala, we are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse, process addiction, anxiety and depression in a safe, comfortable and confidential setting.

Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.

3230 Northeast 55th Avenue Silver Springs, FL 34488