We might numb by drinking, by overeating, by using drugs, prescription or otherwise, by overspending. We are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated society in history.
There are other ways to numb too that on the surface may not seem to fall into the numbing category. Things like being a perfectionist, trying to control and make everything uncertain - certain, or pretending...we pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on people. Do you see yourself in any of these numbing behaviors?
So why do we numb ourselves? What is so scary that we need to take the edge off it in order to cope? Brene Brown is a research professor and author who has spent a majority of her career studying vulnerability. According to Brene, many of us numb vulnerability. We are afraid to be vulnerable, to be exposed, to be seen, to feel that we are enough, so we take the edge off by numbing ourselves.
You may be thinking to yourself, "Eh, what's so bad about that?" What researchers have found is that you can't selectively numb. You can't numb the dark stuff, the bad stuff, without also numbing the light, the good stuff, the joy. You can't selectively numb emotion and feeling.
Another interesting thing that Brene discovered in her research is that the most vulnerable emotion we experience as human beings is joy. What joy? Yes joy, when we experience joy we tend to immediately go to waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Here's an example, many of us are parents envision watching your sweet beautiful child as he or she is peacefully sleeping. You are probably thinking to yourself how precious they are, and how blessed you are to have them in your life. Your heart swells up with love and with joy. Now, if you are like many of us, your instant next thought will be one of terror..."Oh my gosh what if something happens to them?" Your brain will begin to think of the worst and try as it may to prepare for the worst. We practice for something horrible to happen. We want to beat vulnerability to the punch, so we prepare for the worst. We dress rehearse tragedy.
Sound at all familiar? I know it does to me. I have done that exact same thing. Brene calls this foreboding joy. Foreboding joy steals away the moments from us that are probably the most important in our lives. Can you really ever prepare yourself for the worst anyway? Does numbing really take it away?
Being willing to be vulnerable takes courage. It says, I am enough and my imperfection doesn't change that. It says, I am not willing to play small so as to not be vulnerable. To be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen is courageous and it's important. Vulnerability is the birthplace of authenticity, of innovation and creativity.
Researchers have found that those who had the capacity and willingness to lean into joy and feel it practiced gratitude. I've mentioned how important and transformative leading a grateful life is and this is just one additional reason. Expressing three new gratitudes each day is a huge start to leading a grateful life.
I encourage you to lean into the joy through gratitude, to be willing to be seen, to be vulnerable. To experience the fullness of life. To be your perfectly imperfect beautiful self!
I would love to hear your feedback on this post. What do you think? Can you numb the dark without also numbing the light? Do you witness yourself engaging in numbing behavior? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Drop me a comment or send me an email.