We live in a culture of extremes and constantly keep swinging between two extreme binaries of most things in life. One such thing is our Emotion. The current culture globally speaking goads us either to drown ourselves in our emotions and feel the heights of passion, be it positive and productive or negative and destructive, and the excuses it throws at our restless hearts and minds are such as YOLO or Just Do It! Or it surreptitiously lures us to numb our human feelings and just cut the connection with our true deep emotions in the name of..again YOLO or Just Be Happy! And we often don’t realise that there’s ‘A Billion Dollar Industry of Numbing’ ceaselessly at work to mint money out of our numb senses and emotions. Nor do we most often realise what devastating ill effect this is having on us and our mental wellbeing and health.
How the Industry promotes ‘Numbing’ :
Which industry? Well, which industry not? From entertainment industry to hospitality to airlines to pink lingeries to flavored condoms to kids animation to a hair pin! Everything keeps promoting endless ways we could be constantly running away from facing our deepest innermost true feelings, more so if those are somewhat negative and disturbing, to forget ourselves in something more desirable and fanciful. And we grow up in a culture which conditions us from childhood to make good use of them.
Kids are handed over video games and expensive gadgets than being taught to have quiet times or to paint or journal to self express.
Teenagers and college goers feeling empty and incomplete inside are lured with false notions of romance and fulfilment, “How to make him/her fall for you” columns and when that fails there’s plenty of alcohol and drugs then available to numb the heartache and increased sense of emptiness.
Grown ups and professionals have clubs, parties, alcohol, one night stands, bigger cars and better targets as ready tools to forget how it really feels inside under all that stress of rat race and unhealthy competition and out and out materialism.
How many have seen even a single television commercial on their entire life? All of us I guess. What did we like about it? The joy promised? The hope of a better “emotion”, right? The psychology behind any successful advertisement is to trigger emotions other than what any viewer is feeling at that moment. It’s always geared towards a “greater and better” emotion than being experienced currently so that the viewer will fall for the “promise of greater happiness” through the possession of the product.
Deep seated inner lack of Self worth is wiped off with one dab of ‘the new and perfect make up base/aftershave’.
Deep rooted sense of inner disconnection is dismissed with the flick of the newest smartphone or app on the block.
Malls and movieplexes are buzzing with the mantra, “Feeling low or bored? Come to us! Forget your woes.”
Interestingly even our non-materialistic and human circles too unwittingly pass on the parcel of Numbing. Parties and frolics and hullabaloo round the clock with BFFs and social circles so readily and efficiently draw us away from our deeper and truer emotions and numb us with false sense of ‘connection and belonging’ amidst some really deep seated issues with loneliness and inner vacuum.
We are constantly numbing our emotions, esp the unpleasant ones. And frequently some healthier and positive ones too.
Each time we curse the world and stick to cynicism we numb that priceless emotion of childlike trust.
Every time we recall one last failed neurotic romance we refuse to give the healthier version of Love one more chance and numb our feelings.
Whenever we hit the gym (for anger or stress management) or light a cigarette or do a rave we are numbing our truest emotions churning inside and yelling out for our attention.
The current global industry doesn’t approve of slow speed, slow gait, silence, solitude or meditative attitude. Because that opens us up to facing our truest inner feelings. These help us to un-numb. And while the global economy is running on the ‘Culture of Numbing’ how can the television channels and news media and glamour magazines and beauty industry or fancy gadget brands allow such anti-numbing products? The global market and Stock exchanges would come crashing down if we all just woke up to facing our emotions deeply and working on healing them.
Why numbing is a lethal drug :
If you’ve tried decluttering your home like I am nowadays, you must have noticed it’s so much more easy to push clutter inside a box or under the bed than spilling open the entire cabinet on the floor and going through the useless stuffs examining them one by one and carefully discarding the useless old unproductive items. Only problem is clutter remains as ever and soon shows up again clogging up useful space even more. Same with our mind and thoughts and emotions. It’s way easier but disastrous to numb our senses by pushing our truest inner emotions with and under all that numbing opportunities being sold outside. The real issues never get noticed nor deconstructed towards a long term functional healthier emotion. Numbing as ’emotion management’ is Not at all sustainable a tool any given day.
Moment the movie is over we remember our own realities.
Moment the shopping spree has to stop due to pocket crunch we again feel the inner lack.
Moment that hottest sex is over and done with we again feel unfulfilled and disempowered.
Moment the hangover or substance halo around our brains clears we feel the extreme emotional vacuum or turmoil again.
Moment the next professional target is achieved or increment bagged we return to the same restlessness of ‘what next.. what more?’ because deep inside our truest emotions are still crying out, “I don’t feel enough. I don’t feel complete. I feel empty inside.”
It is just as true for apparently functional people and more so for mental health survivors. That depression or anxiety or obsessive compulsive itch or dissociation trauma may get temporarily distracted with such numbing techniques but CANNOT be sustainably disarmed. The ONLY way those will slowly heal us by facing our truest and deepest emotions, howmuchever difficult or unpleasant they might be. Or it’s just an endless downward spiral of agiant whirlpool.
My mental health expert has a favorite line which they keep sticking up on my face quite often – “Therapy and sorting oneself is not a spa!” And it really isn’t! In any efficient module of therapy we are repeatedly made to really touch and work with our truest emotions and discomforts inside. No spa job indeed! But what the hell. Those beauty spas and discs and bars will run out of significant amount of business if we instead chose mindful and meditative quiet to face our genuine inner emotions instead of numbing them with these ceaselessly luring industry.
Sit quietly. Breathe. Listen to your emotions instead of running away to speedily numb them with readily available endless products and lifestyles. Work lovingly with them. Get professional help if needed. Do whatever but don’t turn your gaze away and numb yourself. Numbing is deceptively lethal. Numbing NEVER heals. Only getting in touch with our emotions does. Trust me. I have been there, done that – all of it. Only now am learning to say no to numbing, instead connecting to my deepest emotions to help them heal and find sustainable and genuine peace.
Until next time, take care.
© & Author : Nivedita Dey, 2017
Image © & courtesy : Source websites