Being numb and not feeling pain can sometimes help us to survive. When we’re under the surgeon’s scalpel, or the dentist’s drill, for instance, we want to be anesthetized. To not feel. Emotionally, too, there are times when we need to push through painful situations, so we numb ourselves to the emotional pain.
But we wouldn’t want to live that way forever. If our fingers were permanently numb, we’d miss the warning shock of a cut or a burn, and we wouldn’t enjoy the pleasure of touching a loved one or a fuzzy blanket.
There are many reasons we may have learned to be emotionally numb in order to survive. The problem is that, unlike after surgery, the numbness often lasts long after the danger is gone. This numbness then gets in our way of being able to feel with precision. To accurately detect dangers and opportunities. Living under a constant anesthetic—not feeling—interferes with our ability to enjoy our work, relationships, and life.
What we need, is to remember and cultivate how to life an aesthetic life—a life of deep feeling. Yes, we will feel pain, but we will also feel pleasure, joy, and everything else in between. All the experiences which make up a full and healthy life.
Our safety may have depended on us being numb at one time, but our well-being depends on our bing able to feel. It’s worth doing what we need to do to heal and to cultivate this very human ability.20 September 2022