Your hectic day has finally lulled to a stop.
There’s nothing left to do. There’s nothing more to say. Now you have time to relax. But instead, the silence descends upon you with oppressive force. You feel suffocated underneath the weight of this momentary, but seemingly eternal, nothingness.
Suddenly that old feeling returns … the feeling of desolation, the feeling of a gaping inner hole inside. Your insides ache under the gnawing pressure of this profound vacuum. How can feeling empty be so terribly painful?
As the feeling intensifies, so does your desire to seek relief. No matter what it takes, you just have to suppress this emptiness a little longer. It seems too hard, too endless to bear such hollowness.
So you reach for a cigarette, your phone, the fridge, the bottle, the remote control, or the next sexual conquest, all in an attempt to escape your old, dark friend: emptiness.
What is Emptiness?
Emotionally, emptiness is a feeling of inner desolation: a complete absence of joy, hope, or satisfaction. When a person experiences emptiness, they are plunged into an inner abyss which often results in addictive and escapist behavior.
Feelings connected with emptiness often include despair, depression, and loneliness.
8 Signs You’re Experiencing Emptiness
Nobody ever tells you that emptiness weighs the most. – Anonymous
Signs to look out for include:
- Fear of being left alone
- Lack of meaning in life
- Feeling empty/hollow inside
- The absence of true happiness or fulfillment
- Addictive behavior (to escape the emptiness)
- Emotional numbness
- Inability to slow down/workaholism (as a form of escape)
- Chronic boredom
Not everyone will share all of these signs, but if you identify with more than half, you are probably struggling with emptiness.
3 Reasons Why Emptiness is Haunting You
Contrary to all logic and reason – emptiness hurts. You would not believe the pain and the suffering that can come from a thing which, by all accounts … is not even there. – Ranata Suzuki
As a person who has struggled (and still at times struggles with) emptiness, I can tell you that depression is often a symptom, not a cause, of emptiness.
When looking online and listening to others explain emptiness, it is often linked to various mental illnesses such as BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), Schizophrenia, alcohol and drug addiction, anxiety disorders, and of course depression. But to me, these labels are distracting and often times shallow, meaningless, and even harmful because they don’t go to the root cause of what causes emptiness.
Don’t get me wrong, while emptiness is sometimes caused by neurological chemical imbalances, I dare to say that for most people, it goes much deeper than that.
So what are the origins of emptiness? Why does this inner desolation haunt you? I have often explored this topic in-depth privately because it is one of the major issues I have (and still) struggle with.
When it comes to exploring what is really causing your emptiness, be careful. I’ve run into so many justifications which sound true, but in reality, they are band-aid symptoms of much deeper issues. Here are some of those false reasons I’m talking about:
- I don’t have a partner.
- I don’t have enough money.
- I’m not successful enough.
- My partner doesn’t love me anymore.
- I have no close friends.
- My husband/wife is boring.
- I don’t have enough sex.
- I’m not in the right job.
When you dig deep enough, going to the core of each of these issues, you will find some common themes.
Here is what I’ve found lies at the root of emptiness:
1. Soul Loss
Soul loss means being disconnected from your soul. All of us have experienced soul loss to some extent. Soul loss is caused, and reinforced, by trauma, abuse, childhood conditioning, materialism, and ego-centered living.
Soul loss manifests as the eternal sense that something is “missing” from our lives. In other words, it is disguised as the perpetual “search for happiness” which often results in misguided, futile, and externally-focused pursuits. Our obsession with money, fame, power, beauty, and the “perfect” relationship are all attempts to get back that which we have lost: contact with our soul.
Soul loss is a modern epidemic of epic proportions. It’s symptoms manifest as low self-esteem, suicidal depression, mental illnesses, physical illnesses, rage, grief, and in extreme circumstances, acts of violence, cruelty, and depravity.
If you want a more detailed examination of soul loss, check out the article “21 Signs You’re Experiencing Soul Loss.”
2. Lack of meaning and purpose
When you have lost touch with your soul and are feeling empty, you will inevitably lose touch with your life purpose. What are you destined to create or do? What does your heart crave to express? How can you experience self-fulfillment? When you experience soul loss … who the hell knows!
We are all brainwashed and conditioned to act in certain ways. Since childhood, we are pressured to conform and fit into nice little boxes by our parents, teachers, and society at large. When we become adults, it’s the same story, except now we mistakenly believe that we are the ones choosing to study that accounting degree, get married young, get a mortgage, rack up huge student debt, and live a socially “acceptable” life.
Because few of us were told to look inwards, we live most of our lives externally. We listen to what everyone tells us about who we should be and ignore who we really are. We try to fix our inner wounds by using external distractions. We lock away anything uncomfortable, confronting, or “deep and meaningful” and prefer the comfortable and commonplace instead.
Why is it that people who experience breakups, job loss, death, and illnesses suffer so greatly? Yes, loss of any kind is painful. But what is more painful is the feeling of emptiness left behind. The creeping sensation that one’s life is not being lived to the fullest, and one’s unique purpose is not being accomplished .. now that is fucking scary.
If feeling empty is becoming an increasingly large problem for you, it could signify that you are starting to become more conscious. You’re starting to reach breaking point. Your soul, locked away, is sick and tired of being ignored. It is trying to get your attention. Emptiness is the messenger. And although it may seem like a horrible thing to experience, it is actually a blessing in disguise my friend. (More on that soon.)
3. Suppressed and Repressed Emotions
So what happens if you’re living your life purpose? You’re regularly making contact with your soul? You’re devoted to living a path of heart … but that emptiness is still haunting you?
If emptiness is a constant companion with you, even on your spiritual path, it could be because you are suppressing and repressing emotion.
What is suppression and repression (and what’s the difference)?
Suppression is consciously shutting away your emotions. Repression is unconsciously shutting away your emotions (i.e. you have no conscious awareness that you’re doing it).
If you grew up in an environment that demanded you to be stoic and punished any form of strong emotional expression, you probably struggle with this issue.
The problem with suppressing and repressing emotions is that over time, they begin to build and stagnate within you. The more your emotions are dammed up inside, the more disconnected you feel from yourself. The more disconnected you feel, the more you feel empty.
In other words: you stop feeling your emotions. Life becomes dull and bland. Where you would otherwise feel joy, you feel mild enjoyment. Where you would otherwise feel anger, you feel mild annoyance. Where you would otherwise feel sadness, you feel mild listlessness.
Shutting out your “negative” emotions not only keeps them at bay but through time, it keeps all of your emotions at bay, positive ones included.
If you want to read more about this issue, I recommend checking out our article on emotional numbness.
5 Ways to Feel Better if You’re Feeling Empty
Personally, I feel empty when I’m not permitting myself to experience my emotions – both good and bad. But the cause for your emptiness might be totally different.
Take a few moments to reflect on the causes of emptiness above. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling empty?” and examine each one of the points. Which do you resonate with the most? Keep in mind that it’s possible to feel empty due to all three reasons.
Now you might be wondering “Yeah, OK, I’m feeling empty … but what’s the solution?”
Here are some valuable suggestions:
1. Establish your own spiritual practice
Connecting with your soul is not a novel, wishy-washy, one-off experience. It is a serious practice. It is a daily practice that one should commit to for life. You need to make an effort every day to introspect and turn inwards in order to reap the most benefits. And when I mention the benefits, I mean everything ranging from the small and subtle, to the paradigm-shifting-mind-blowing-mystical-experiences.
This website is full of suggestions on how to connect with your soul, but here is a great place to start. In my current spiritual practice, I make use of dream work, shadow work, inner child work, journaling, tarot and oracle cards, meditation, spirit guide contact, and prayer (but my practice often morphs and changes).
I recommend experimenting with various practices that you feel comfortable with at first. This might range from mainstream spiritual practices to more esoteric methods. The main point is that you need to explore what “soul” feels like. If you are in desperate need of this contact, I recommend finding a local (or international) shaman who can guide you on a spirit quest through the use of plant medicine. Plants such as psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, san pedro, and ayahuasca provide sacred gateways into the realm of soul and spirit.
2. Seek relentlessly for self-fulfillment
Emptiness is the ‘possibility yet to be filled.’ – K. Hara
Start trying to find what will emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fulfill you. This will require you to look inwards and to possibly ignore everything that everyone has ever told you about who you “should” be.
Self-fulfillment is 100% personal and up to you to discover. No one can hand it to you on a silver platter. You have to explore what sets your soul on fire and makes your heart sing. YOU have to take the steps, set the goals, and put in the effort because if you don’t, you will wind up feeling empty and unfulfilled.
Remember, your destiny is in your hands. Once you start taking a proactive approach to your life, you will likely feel much better. Learning how to be your true self is one important place to start.
3. Allow and embrace your emotions
Feeling our emotions and actively embracing them flies directly in the face of everything we’ve been taught growing up.
In particular, emotions like anger and sadness are shunned and largely feared because of their ferocious power. Such emotions are usually buried and expressed through sports, alcohol binges, workaholism, or relationship conflicts.
One powerful and healthy way of letting your emotions out is through catharsis. Catharsis, when done in a safe and private environment, is immensely liberating. Different forms of catharsis include intense exercise, screaming, dancing, laughing, and crying. I personally enjoy crying and punching catharsis because I struggle with repressed grief and rage.
Other passive forms of catharsis include art therapy and journaling. In my book “Awakened Empath,” I also explore a technique called SOAR which helps you to experience and regulate intense emotions. (You can check out our Youtube channel for some examples of SOAR put into action.)
I must stress here that our emotions are not here to be “fixed” or “cured.” You simply cannot rid yourself of anger, jealousy, or grief for your entire life. These emotions are normal and are part of the human experience. What we can do is learn how to let them flow through us without clinging to or dramatizing them. Once all emotions are permitted to dance through you, feeling empty will no longer be a problem for you because life will become vibrant again.
4. Create your own support network
You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other. – Carl Sagan
As much as we like to convince ourselves, we are not islands. As human beings, we are innately wired to be social. We need some kind of social contact, care, and support in order to be emotionally and psychologically healthy.
One of the best ways to stop feeling empty is to seek out others. Try to locate those who feel the same way as you and/or are experiencing similar problems. Realizing that a lot of what you experience is a shared human experience has the potential of relieving you from a lot of suffering.
If you don’t have anyone in your life right now, there are always support groups online. You can also look into your local community paper and see if there are any communities you could join. There are free help networks like 7cups online, and you could reach out to a therapist/counselor if you desperately need someone to hold space for you.
Creating a support network doesn’t need to look or be perfect. Even just one or two people can be sufficient enough to help you handle your feelings of emptiness. If you don’t know where to start, hop onto a social media platform and join a group or page to do with emptiness/depression. You can join our group on facebook (called ‘lonerwolf tribe’) if you need a place to go.
5. Create a solid sense of self
This may be unconventional, but I believe that possessing a weak sense of self can be the cause and result of feeling empty. When we lack a stable ego, we float throat life being tossed here and there with no sense of solidity or wholeness. It is absolutely imperative that we all have a stable ego as without it, we simply cannot operate in this world effectively. As such, possessing a frail sense of self is kind of like being a vagabond with no home to return to – and feeling empty is often a result. Psychologically speaking, we need to be like the humble snail who carries its shell (ego) around as both a form of protection and shelter.
I have written more about how to develop a stronger sense of self in the past (you can explore that more in-depth if you like). But for now, here are a few suggestions:
- Brainstorm, or write out on a notepad or Word Document what things attract you and you only. *Note: It’s important to write down what you genuinely like, not what you think you should like out of duty or obligation.
- Once you have genuinely discovered a few concepts that you enjoy or find meaning in, begin to explore these. Try to do this one at a time. Narrow down your interests by mixing and matching until you discover what you want to pursue. It also helps to pay attention to what you enjoyed doing in childhood. What memories stick out? What underlying theme is there? This is a good indication of what your life calling could be, and what you should pay attention to.
- Pursue. Read all the books you can, watch movies and documentaries on the topic, look for pictures for inspiration, even attend interest groups or meetings. Don’t just think. Act. Fill yourself with inspiration and continuously fuel your passion. I also recommend taking some free personality tests to develop a stronger sense of self.
- Journal about the following questions: What do you want to be? Who do you want to be? Let these two simple questions simmer in your mind for a while if you have no response. The answer will come eventually.
Having a weak sense of self (and the resulting sense of emptiness) is often due to living in a dysfunctional and toxically enmeshed family as a child. If you were raised in an overly-strict family with rigid roles, you were likely taught that “it’s not okay to be you.” This, of course, is utter bollocks. Learning how to love yourself and caring for your inner child will also be tremendously helpful in not only creating a strong identity, but accepting that identity fully.
Discovering how to overcome inner emptiness can be complex and daunting. When we lack energy from an absence of inner wholeness or purpose, we lack motivation, so you may need to force yourself at first. But it’s worth it. Start small. Keep pushing yourself. Keep experimenting. Keep going. What you’re experiencing has a purpose and above all, you are not alone.