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Last Updated on December 6, 2021

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

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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 the 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. Most of them report feeling empty. 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 approval from family and friends.
  • You don’t know how to explain your feelings.

Sometimes, emptiness feels like an inner void or emotional numbness. 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.

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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.

Many reasons can lead to feeling empty. These reasons can be mental, physical, or emotional.

Physical Factors

While there are lots of physical ailments or issues that can lead to feeling empty, here are the main culprits:

Lack of Sleep

Getting enough sleep every night is beneficial to your health. An individual can start feeling empty when they are tired. Adults who sleep for seven to nine hours every day will improve their mental and emotional resilience. You should never sacrifice your sleep for anything.

Exhaustion

Feeling like you don’t have enough energy to carry on can be caused by exhaustion. Perhaps you’ve been working so hard that your energy levels have dropped dramatically.

If you are feeling tired and empty, you should consider seeking assistance from a friend, colleague, or neighbor, incorporating rest time into your calendar, and meditating. If these solutions don’t work for you, you’ll need to find the cause of your exhaustion. You can:

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  • Write down your goals
  • Visit a psychologist or doctor to get medical advice
  • Delegate some responsibilities to capable people
  • Step away from a demanding job temporarily or permanently

When you assess your situation and responsibilities, you’ll find that there are obligations that don’t fit into your life the way they did a while ago. Sometimes, quitting something is a sign of strength.

Mental and Emotional Factors

Circumstances or life events can lead to a sense of emptiness and sadness. Everyone experiences their world differently. How you perceive events will greatly influence your emotional and mental health condition. Some of the common causes of chronic feelings of emptiness include:

Boredom

Are you dissatisfied with your life? You can start feeling empty because you don’t have a clear purpose. You need to write down a list of activities that you can do to increase your sense of fun, joy, and meaning. You can also consider writing down some of the things that you are grateful for

Loneliness

When a relationship ends, you may start feeling a void. To feel happy, you need to maintain your relationships with family, spouses, and friends. Loneliness has been closely linked to dangerous mental conditions such as clinical depression and mental illness.

Grief

After losing a loved one, it’s common to feel emotional numbness and emptiness. To come to terms with losing a loved one, you’ll need to accept your grief, find support groups, get advice diagnosis, learn the best ways to express your grief and get involved in something.

5 Ways to Overcome Feeling of 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 medically reviewed suggestions from leading experts on how to recognize and stop feeling empty.

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]

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]

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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

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.[7]

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.

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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.[8] Therefore, it’s important to not only review the information you’ve learned before but 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.

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 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.

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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.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2022

Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

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Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

Are you wondering…

Where am I going in life? Where am I supposed to be going in life?

And to answer your questions, here’s what the great writer and thinker, Christopher Morley famously wrote:

There are three ingredients to the good life – learning, earning and yearning.

Where Am I Going? Is It the Right Direction in Life?

There are many times in life where one does not know what comes next or where to go in life. The realization that you are lost and don’t know where to go, or that you don’t like where you are going often comes as an epiphany.

Most people describe this as being in a rut. It’s like you have everything you want and still so much is missing. You could have everything in the world but something about your life still doesn’t feel right.

Signs That You Need to Change Direction in Life

It is important to identify when you are unhappy with your life and want to change where you are going. Some of the most common signs of needing a change in life are as follows:

  1. You feel unhappy with your life and often reminiscence about the choices you made.
  2. You feel as if you are forced to go against your morals and intuition at work or home.
  3. The situation that you find yourself in currently is causing you a lot of stress.
  4. There is a fear or dread of the future and the consequences of your life decisions that have been causing you anxiety.
  5. You feel like you had to give up on your passions and interests just to make it in this world.
  6. The future that you are currently envisioning seems nothing like what practically lies ahead.
  7. You find yourself surrounded by unhappy people who often think you’re too idealistic.
  8. You often look forward to having a ‘good day’ even when nothing is particularly wrong with the days right now.

If you feel like most of these signs apply to you, then it’s time to re-evaluate where you are headed in life and how you want to change that.

The 3 Key Phases of Life

Before learning how to choose the right direction for yourself, first try to understand the 3 key phases of life:

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The Learning Phase

The Learning phase typically stretches from the age of five into the early twenties and its over-riding characteristic is freedom.

Your thinking is unfettered, you are chock-full of dreams and aspirations and (happily) someone else is footing the bills. It’s not a cliché to say that schooldays, for many of us, really were the happiest days of our lives.

Contrast it with adult life – no one expects very much of you, and other than passing a few exams along the way and you can just swing along, having a great old time …

The Earning Phase

The next phase is the Earning years; the period from leaving formal education (at 20-something) to retirement (at 50-something or 60-something). Welcome to the grown-up world, welcome to the tax net.

The overriding concern in this Earning phase is the security (I spell that word as follows: $ecurity because, for many people, this phase tends to be all about generating sufficient income to pay the monthly bills.)

Reality bites. This can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over. Few in the Earning years question the choices they have made because, typically, this questioning process can be quite disconcerting – oddly, I find this is particularly true of people who are less than happy with their working lives.

Routine generation of wealth becomes paramount and you get swept along with the current. This is fine if you made sound choices in your late teens and early twenties with regard to your career. But if you didn’t … for routine, read ‘RUT’.

Which brings us to Morley’s Yearning phase – from ceasing your full-time occupation until … well, ceasing.

The Yearning Phase

What is yearning? Unfortunately, yearning is not the same as simple hankering, wanting or desire. The dictionary definition of yearning is:

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“A feeling of intense longing for something lost, absent or unattainable.”

A bit gloomy. So for many people, the Yearning years are about looking back over a life not quite fulfilled and saying ‘I wish, I wish. If only … if only …’

With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made.

Studies conducted in the geriatric population and on terminally ill people consistently demonstrate that regrets in human beings arise as a result of decisions not taken. The wise old owls that I have talked to over the years all speak with one voice on this.

It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

Think about where you are…

As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future, you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness.

I make no apologies for this – that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.

Some people get these choices unerringly right and they do so early in their lives. Others come to a realization of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his McDonald’s business in his early 50s. [1] Colonel Sanders didn’t start his KFC franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s.[2] And the list can go on.

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It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it.

How to Choose the Right Path

Do you know at what phase of life are you now? Once you understand where you are now, the next step is to find the direction you want to move to.

You have the motivation and direction to take your life where you need it to be, you just need to get up and do it. The best time for change is now, and if you procrastinate any further you might miss out on a great opportunity.

To live a meaningful life, it is important to pick a direction that brings both peace and success. Here are some things to take into consideration when choosing a new direction in life:

1. Chose What Your Inner Child Would Want

It is very important to acknowledge the needs and opinions of our ‘inner child’. That’s because we often have real happiness at this age and develop passions that last us a lifetime. To calibrate your direction in life, think of what the younger you would feel about your current situation and what would they want to do.

2. Think About The Things You Want To Change

Make a list of the things in your current life that you are dissatisfied with and want to change. Then think of the alternative options you have to give yourself a life where you find happiness and fulfillment by avoiding these things. This will help you understand what must be done to feel good in life.

3. Find Inspiration to Follow

Everyone has an idea of what they want in life and finding inspiration isn’t hard in this day and age. Just think about those you admire and see as role models and try to follow in their footsteps. As they have already reached a place you associate to be a goal, you will find it easier to navigate your way through life to reach that destination as well.

4. Be Clear on What You Don’t Want To Be

To find out where you want to be headed in life, try finding out where you don’t want to end up. This would help identify situations and placed you would try and avoid at all costs. It keeps you on the right track because if you minimize the wrong paths, then choosing the right one becomes much easier.

5. Learn to Enjoy Where You Are

There is no such thing as a perfect life. What you need to learn, is to work hard and to find things to be happy and grateful for.

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Live in the moment, appreciate the things you have. Only this way you will see clearly the meaning of your life.

6. Commit to Getting or Staying Healthy

Nothing is more important than your mental, spiritual and physical health.

Getting your life on the right path isn’t something you can achieve in a day. But, with hard work and dedication, you will get there!

7. Help Others

By helping others you will increase your sense of purpose and improve self-esteem.

There are many ways to do this. Volunteer in your community, mentor young people, or just help neighbors.

You will be surprised by the feeling you will have after.

Start Making the Change Today

After reading all this, you are surely ready to change the direction of your life. Start by making a change today instead of just thinking about it. Every difficult journey starts with a single step, and this is the sign to take yours. Once you make one change, the rest follow suit and soon your life will be exactly how you want it to be.

Need more help to get out of the rut? Take a look at these articles:

Featured photo credit: Johannes Plenio via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Britannica: Ray Kroc
[2] Biography: Colonel Sanders

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