Everyone experiences a sense of emptiness from time to time, even when we are skilled at distracting ourselves from it. Children experience emptiness, resulting from of a lack of empathic connection when their emotional and psychological needs are not met by their primary caregivers; and in their resiliency they may turn to their imagination to fill the void. This is a form of psychological survival and can be very creative. Adults, too, will positively or negatively use their thinking and imagination to protect themselves from emptiness. Some turn to addictive behaviours. These days, we have all kinds of gadgets to fill the void. In one way or another we all avoid the void; but the void is essential for self discovery – the discovery of our essence.
If we mature into adulthood with a healthy personality structure and a capacity for self awareness, we may be able to tolerate a little emptiness for the purpose of self discovery. More of who we are is always in the void, in what we do not yet know. The struggle with the sense of emptiness is the fear of the feelings that we may have hidden there; and probably for good reason. This can produce a lot of anxiety, and some feel they can’t cope and shut it all down with depression. There is often a fantasy that there is an endless void inside in which there is no one there. To the person experiencing this, it feels very real and can lead to many dissociative tendencies.
We encounter a sense of emptiness because there seems to be a gap between what we thought ourselves to be and the more of who and what we actually are – a more authentic self. This is why those involved in meditative and contemplative practices are in some form actively seeking emptiness by leaning into the quietness of the mind. The result is a greater sense of peace and equilibrium, and a greater sense of identity but without a label to provide an identity as a defense against emptiness, which is a very fragile sense of identity. A quieter mind allows space for an open heart and for life to become meaningful again. Yet, it seems that as much as we might crave peace, we might also fear emptiness.
The sense of emptiness can and often does encompass difficult feelings that we need to encounter as part of the healing journey. There is often a deep psychological and emotional journey to undertake; and to be able to take this journey, it is necessary to engage in acts of self care that help us become grounded and centered in the body. It is also helpful to do this in a therapeutic setting of some kind that provides supportive healthy boundaries that nurture self honour, so that we can tolerate the emptiness of what we thought we knew, and who we thought we knew ourselves to be, as we journey towards a deeper self discovery.
Emptiness is making space for your Self.
If you are experiencing a sense of emptiness or lack of meaning, call 020 8780 9449 or use the contact form on my website.
For more information on how I work visit putneycounsellingandpsychotherapy.co.uk
Picture, courtesy of Google images.