Does Your Life Lack Meaning?
Vera sought out counseling with me because her doctor advised her to discover the emotional causes of her chronic fatigue. Vera, a successful stockbroker, was in a loving 18-year marriage. On the surface, everything in her life was fine. She had enough money, friends, and a good relationship. Yet Vera awoke each morning battling fatigue and depression.
David sought my help because of chronic feelings of inner emptiness. David is very successful in his manufacturing business, has a good marriage and two adult children. Like Vera, everything seemed fine. Yet the feelings of inner emptiness drove David to overeat, overspend, and indulge in porno on the Internet.
While both Vera and David were successful in their careers, neither loved their work. They worked to make money, but their work had little meaning for them. Yet when they looked inside, neither could discover what did have meaning for them. Both reported that they had never experienced a sense of meaning in their adult lives, and that the emptiness and depression had been with them since adolescence.
As I worked with Vera and David, it became evident that each had made a decision early in their lives to shut down their feelings to avoid the deep pain of unbearable loneliness. Vera shut down because she was unable to tolerate the loneliness of her mother’s behavior toward her. Her mother would say she loved Vera, but Vera never felt her love. Instead, she felt her mother energetically pulling at her, trying to suck the life out of her. As a very sensitive child, Vera could not tolerate this confusing experience, so she put her feelings in a box and decided to live out of her head instead of her gut.
David, also a very sensitive child, shut down because he was unable to tolerate the loneliness of being with two emotionally unavailable empty parents, and the loneliness of rejection from peers.
As adults, both Vera and David were still shut down from their feelings. They were still afraid of feeling the pain of loneliness – a feeling that is actually an everyday fact of life. Loneliness is present when your heart is closed or another’s heart is closed, or when there is no one with whom to share love. Loneliness is the primary feeling when we want to connect with another and the other is unavailable. If you were completely open to your feelings, you would feel moments of loneliness throughout the day. However, most people never feel this feeling and are completely unaware of it, because the moment there is a twinge of emotional pain, they move instantly to various addictions and addictive behaviors, such as substances, activities, thoughts, shame and blame. Yet when we shut out pain, we also shut out joy and a passionate sense of purpose.
Pain and joy are in the same box. Vera and David could not discover what has meaning for them and what brings them joy while keeping a lid on their feelings. And the very act of keeping a lid on their feelings was creating their depression and inner emptiness.
Imagine that your feelings are a child within. If you ignore this child – by ignoring your feelings – this child feels abandoned. Our refusal to feel and take responsibility for our own pain is an inner abandonment and results in anxiety, depression, and/or inner emptiness.
It is our child within – our feeling self – that has the blueprint for what has meaning for us, for our passion and purpose. Each of us comes to this planet with a deep purpose to express, and when we don’t express this purpose, we end up feeling empty and depressed. Yet we cannot discover this purpose when we keep a lid on our feelings.
Learning to manage the pain of loneliness is essential to discovering your passion and purpose. There is no way of managing loneliness without a deep and personal connection to a spiritual source of love and wisdom. We cannot manage loneliness from our mind alone.
You will find deep meaning in your life when you decide to open to and learn from your feelings of loneliness rather than continue to shut them down. And you will open to these feelings only when you do not feel alone inside due to experiencing the love and wisdom of your spiritual Guidance. Opening to Divine Love and opening to your feelings will bring you the fullness, joy, passion and purpose that are the yearnings of your soul.
This article was posted on August 12, 2005