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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Empty and How to Fill the Void

Why You’re Feeling Empty and How to Fill the Void

Let’s imagine the situation where you struggle with ignoring and escaping the feeling of extreme purposelessness and emptiness. Although you know a little about what you enjoy and want from life and what you want to achieve in future, you are still feeling empty and find yourself tortured by episodes of loneliness.

If you’re asking yourself, “Why do I feel empty,” keep reading and learn what these feelings of emptiness mean and how you can begin to overcome them.

What It Means When You’re Feeling Empty

Inner emptiness is caused by a lack of love, according to psychology expert Dr. Margaret Paul.[1] When you don’t love yourself, ignore your feelings, and always try to get attention and approval from others, you can experience feeling empty

All people are creative and full of potential, but not all of them use this potential and, thus, feel as though they’re wasting their time and energy. We try to fill the void with food, relationships, work, and things that are supposed to distract our attention.

Emptiness can be caused by an unfulfilling job, a lack of close friendships, a toxic relationship, or a simple lack of self-love and compassion. Whatever the cause, emptiness can be overcome if you’re willing to make some key changes to your routine and thought processes.

Symptoms of Emptiness and Void

In order to find the solution to the problem, we should learn how to tell whether we’re feeling empty inside. Understanding emptiness calls us to learn more about our inner feelings.

Let’s have a look at the most common symptoms of emptiness and void:

  • You don’t understand who you are and your purpose in life.
  • You are full of negative thoughts.
  • You always seek for approval from family and friends.
  • You don’t know how to explain your feelings.

Sometimes, emptiness feels like an inner void or emotional numbness

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. It may manifest as anxiety or depression if it has become a long-term feeling. If you feel as though you’ve lost a sense of direction, you may be experiencing emptiness.

Why Do I Feel Empty?

The most important thing to realize is that emptiness is a state of lack.

Some people who struggle with a chronic sense of emptiness had parents who were incapable of intimate relationships with them. When you do not get enough love and attention in childhood, you start to believe that you are not good enough. That means that the real cause of inner emptiness is a lack of emotional connection and demonstration of love.[2]

As a result, this feeling can travel through our lives like baggage. The lack of belonging becomes a traumatic imprint that becomes so acutely uncomfortable that we are willing to do anything we can to get away from that particular feeling.

Although this feeling is not uncommon for many people, if left unattended, it can result in a mental illness, such as depression, or substance use disorders. Furthermore, people tend to get out of this feeling with unhealthy habits, which increases the chance of alcohol and drug addiction.

For these reasons, having a clue about what is really important to you will help to identify the cause of your feelings of emptiness.

How to Deal With Emptiness

The key to fighting emptiness is to find out what you are missing. Is it a sense of belonging, meaning, or interpersonal connection? Here are several suggestions from leading experts on how to recognize and deal with inner emptiness.

1. Refocus and Rebalance Yourself

According to Kaitlyn Slight, a marriage and family therapist in Raleigh, N.C., we should focus on ourselves and spend more time thinking about our desires.[3]

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In order to be in a positive state of body and mind, you can spend several minutes meditating or exercising.

The easiest way to rebalance yourself emotionally and physically is to take a warm bath.[4] Many researches have shown that bathing has many benefits, including pain relief, enhanced mobility, and improved psychological well-being.[5]

While it’s easy to get distracted by all the negative emotions you’re feeling, it’s important to re-center yourself by practicing self-care through exercise, healthy eating, meditation, and other healthy habits.

Try to pick up some of these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

2. Discover Your Needs With the Help of Others

Everybody has needs, and it’s important to realize that we can’t always achieve them without help from others. We think that we have to meet them by ourselves, but sometimes, it is important to ask for help.

Asking for help can resolve many life issues and can be a first step towards meeting your needs. For example, if you’re lacking interpersonal connection, ask a family member to introduce you to some new people. Just one introduction can lead to many new connections.

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to get to the gym to exercise, find a friend who also wants to start so that you can act as accountability partners. Whatever you may be lacking, there’s likely someone out there who can help you if you’re willing to reach out.

If you find it difficult to ask for help, check out these tips: How to Ask for Help When You Feel Silly to Do So

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3. Appreciate and Treasure What You Have

Another way to stop feeling empty is through gratitude. Research suggests that feeling grateful is a very important positive emotion that allows people to expand their worldview and the view of themselves, which later leads to building better social relations and skills.[6] It is a sort of spiritual practice that helps you tap into a constant inner smile. 

This means that individuals who are thankful are also more satisfied with their relationships with friends and family. They are also less stressed and much happier overall(The Wellnest: 5 CRAZY-GOOD REASONS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE)).

Practice gratitude to stop feeling empty

    Try to be appreciative of what is around you by noticing all good things we take for granted. A simple compliment given during the day will show you how much positive energy you can create.

    If you enjoy writing, start a gratitude journal. Take 5 or 10 minutes each morning or night to write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for.

    These 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For can inspire you to be more grateful today.

    4. Never Stop Learning New Things

    Neurobiologists have found out that learning something new has motivational effects similar to dopamine, which leads to emotional stimulation.[7] Therefore, it’s important to not only review information you’ve learned before, but to also push yourself to learn something new each day or week.

    You can tap into educational podcasts or YouTube videos to do this. TED talks are often quite short, meaning you can squeeze some learning into even your busiest of days.

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    If you like to read, buy a few used books and make it a goal to finish them within a certain time frame. Even fiction books have a lot to teach about the human condition and psychology, so just find something that interests you.

    5. Ask for a Professional Help If Needed

    Many people cannot identify the reason behind this feeling, no matter how long they analyze themselves and search for a problem.

    Find a good mental health professional who will help you explore your feelings and understand why you’re feeling empty. They’ll help ground you in the present moment so that you can become whole again.

    You can also seek out support groups in order to connect with others who may be experiencing similar problems.

    Try to overcome the sensation that seeking professional help means that you’re weak, because it certainly doesn’t. Asking for help is a sign of incredible strength and bravery, and once you begin to receive the benefits, you’ll wish you had done it sooner.

    Final Thoughts

    Finding the cause of inner emptiness can be a long, challenging process. However, instead of distracting yourself by filling this emptiness with things like shopping, food, alcohol, and drugs, find out what makes you feel incomplete and regain your happiness.

    More to Help You Fill That Void

    Featured photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Melissa Burns

    Melissa is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. She writes about communication, entrepreneurship and success on Lifehack.

    Why You’re Feeling Empty and How to Fill the Void Wealthy, Successful People Who Choose Less over More: 10 Real-Life Stories of Minimalists If You Want to Succeed in Life, You Need to Find Your True Calling First Everything We Can Learn from the Most Famous Entrepreneurs Around the World Why Is Empathy So Important?

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

    Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of motivation that lists five categories of human needs that dictate individual behavior. These five categories refer to physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.[1]

    Motivation plays a big part in athletic coaching. I spent 44 years coaching basketball and each day at practice, I was trying to motivate our athletes to give their best effort. In this article, I will examine Maslow’s hierarchy and five areas of needs from an athletic perspective.

    1. Physiological Needs

    These needs represent the most basic human survival needs. They include food, water, rest, and breathing, and all four have importance in athletics.

    Food has had an evolution in the world of athletics. I cannot recall my coaches in the 1950s and ‘60s mentioning anything about food. As time went on, the pre-game meal became important. Steak seemed to be the meal of choice early in the evolution. Research then indicated pasta would be the better choice.[2]

    Today, I think most coaches prefer pasta. However, if the players are ordering from menus, some coaches believe the players should stick with their regular diets and order accordingly.

    The next step in this evolution was that the pre-game meal, although important, is not nearly as critical as the athletes’ overall nutrition. At our University of St. Francis athletic seminars, we invited nutritionists to speak and to educate our players on their nutritional habits.

    The ultimate change in food intake may be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady. He adheres to a specific, disciplined diet that has allowed him to play superb football at age 43.

    Water also has had an evolution in sports. It went from not being allowed in practices to coaches scheduling water breaks during the practices.

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    Rest is extremely important in all sports, and statistics validate its importance. NBA research found that during the course of the season teams win 6 of 10 games at home but only 4 of 10 on the road. In the NBA playoffs, the statistics change to 6.5 at home and 3.5 on the road. Many coaches believe rest is the key factor to these statistics because the players are sleeping in their own beds for home games.[3]

    Our St. Francis basketball team found the importance of breathing on a trip to play in a tournament in Colorado. In our first game, we were playing great and winning by 12 points early in the game. Then the altitude kicked in, adversely affected our breathing, and we lost the lead and eventually the game.

    In our second game, having learned our lesson, we substituted more frequently! Maslow’s idea of physiological needs plays a major part in the athletic arena.

    2. Safety Needs

    Safety needs include protection from violence, emotional stability and well-being, health security, and financial security.

    If a fight breaks out during a basketball game, there can be serious injuries. This is the reason a coach steps in immediately when there is any violence or dirty play in practice. The coach must protect the players. You drill your teams to play hard—never dirty.

    The importance of emotional stability has gained more credence in sports in recent years. Many teams hire psychologists to help work with their players. There is a great deal of player failure in sports and it is critical for the players to stay emotionally stable.

    Health security is much more prevalent in sports today than in my playing days. I once got a concussion during a basketball game. We had no trainers. The coach handled it by telling me after the game, “Sullivan, you play better when you don’t know where the hell you are!” He was right, and my medical treatment ended there! Games today have trainers available to protect the health of the athletes.

    Financial security is predominant in professional sports. Most players today use free agency to go where the money is because they consider sport not to be a sport at all. They believe it is a short-term business at their level. I personally appreciate the athletes who have taken less money so the team can retain teammates or use the dollars to bring in new players.

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    3. Love and Belonging Needs

    These needs can be summed up with two words: love and relationships.

    After teams win championships, you will often hear coaches say, “I love these guys” or “I loved coaching this team.” You can tell by their body language and the tone of their voice that they really mean it.

    I think coaches say this because the season can be a tough grind. Practices, scouting, film work, travel, and problems that arise take a toll on coaches. However, when you have teams that give all they have every night in practice, you do come to love them.

    ESPN did a 30-30 segment on the North Carolina State national championship team coached by Jim Valvano. I was especially interested in watching it because I knew a player on the team who used to come to our camps. Terry Gannon played a major role in their championship.

    The program was a reunion of their players. This was 20 plus years from their title, and if you were to take one thing away from the show, it would be how much the players loved each other.

    In the last analysis, sport is all about relationships. You can meet former teammates with whom you played 40 to 50 years earlier and that athletic bond is as strong as it ever was. Although you may have not seen each other in years, your friendship is so cemented it’s like you have been seeing each other weekly.

    David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, validates the relationship between athletics forges. Ted Williams is dying and three of his former Boston Red Sox teammates—Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio—make the trip to Florida to see him. Even though 50 years had passed since they played together, the bond among them never waned.

    Love and belonging epitomize the essence of sports.

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    4. Esteem Needs

    These needs are characterized by self-respect and self-esteem. Self-respect is “the belief that you are valuable and deserve dignity.” Self-esteem is twofold—“it is based on the respect and acknowledgment from others and esteem which is based on your own self-assessment.”[4]

    Often the players on the bench are the ones the coach respects the most because they work so hard in practices yet receive none of the glory. The best coaches never let the starters or stars ever denigrate the players on the bench. Coaches must always acknowledge the value and the dignity of those who play little. They often turn out to be the superstars of their professions.

    Some coaches will never get “it.” They think they can motivate their players by degrading them. They embarrass the athletes during games and they constantly berate their performance in practices.

    Great coaches are just the opposite. They are encouragers. They do push their players and they push them hard, but they always respect them. Great coaches enhance the self-esteem and confidence of their players.

    5. Self-Actualization Needs

    “Self-actualization describes the fulfillment of your full potential as a person.”[5]

    I believe three words are the key to self-actualization: potential, effort, and regrets.

    You often hear in athletics that a player has potential. It also is not uncommon for the person introducing the athlete to rave about his potential. I was fortunate to work with an outstanding man in the Milwaukee Bucks camps, Ron Blomberg. Ron had the best definition of potential that I ever heard: “Potential means he hasn’t done it.” Will he do all the work necessary to fulfill his potential?

    Effort is great, but it’s not enough. If you want to reach your full potential, you must have a consistency of effort in your daily habit. Only consistency of effort can lead to success.

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    John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said that success is becoming all your ability will allow you to be. He agreed with his friend, major league umpire, George Moriarty, even though he used to kid him. Coach told him he never had seen Moriarty spelled with just one “i.” He followed this with, “Of course, the baseball players accused him of having only one ‘eye’ in his head as well.”

    In his poem, The Road Ahead or The Road Behind, Moriarty wrote,

    “. . . for who can ask more of a man
    than giving all within his span, it seems to me, is not so far from – Victory.

    When your life is winding down and you look back if you can say you gave “all in your span”—that you consistently gave it your best effort—you will have reached your full potential and there will be no regrets.

    Final Thoughts

    Now that you’ve learned more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, consider reflecting on the last two needs (esteem needs and self-actualization needs) and ask yourself the following questions:

    • Are you doing all you can to enhance the self-esteem of those around you?
    • Are you doing all you can to self-actualize the potential you have been given?

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

    Reference

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