Tuesday, March 23, 2010


We’ve all had times of acute numbness regarding certain dire circumstances of life—those we’ve “found” ourselves in. But, some have suffered more than others. Notwithstanding, we’ve all felt it.

What can or should we do when numbness strikes?

Answer: nothing.

Life’s taken its shot at us and we should simply just “be,” leaving any of the analysis to a later date—the last thing we need is self-imposed pressure. We allow the full strength of the issues confronting us to take their hit; the numbness is our protective emotive shell helping us adjust to the newest reality across our bow; that thing we’re interminably struggling with.

Your numbness is essential protection for an emotionally untenable state of being. Who knows why you’re truly numb? Do you?

I’ve certainly had hardly a clue when it’s occurred to me. Well, that’s not entirely true. Generally there are so many reasons for the numbness it does my mind. (My numbness has often occurred from workload or life overload.) Indeed, the depth of complexity of the issues and ironically be a big part of the problem.

But, let’s not criticise the numbness—for it is functional, not dysfunctional. Numbness turns our world upside down and confuses us and we panic within as if to say, ‘Eek, what is going on here? And to think like this is a trick. The numbness is a help.

Indeed, to illustrate there is a positive form of numbness that occurs when courage controls the vessel in the midst of a great performance. Yet, this is only a partial, well-directed, honed numbness. It’s like all the butterflies flying in formation; it’s a blistering, stirring reality when we turn nerves into the very fuel of great performance.

But we’re getting distracted!

It is better to experience numbness in our sorrow, distress or grief than in the previous state where we battled hard against what was happening, racked with fear. Numbness is safety. It is part of the journey in our grief; a part we can and should truly own.

(How strange that fleetingly after the numbness has left, we often have this lovely acceptance of the reality all over us—but for a time, until the next cycle of damaging grief takes its turn.)

When we’re numb we should not panic. Let it happen. The tears and processing of grief will return. If nothing else the numbness is a place we can simply “be”—if we’ve got the cognisance and composure. At this level it is important to have a default acceptance of most things in life—the character trait of truthful humility—that helps.

Most of all, for this time, let the issues of life roll over you—without a note of self-imposed pressure. You’re actually probably coping really well.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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