Feeling empty from time to time may be a normal part of the human condition. But if you experience persistent feelings of emptiness, there may be something you can do about it.
What does emptiness feel like?
- You don’t have a sense of purpose.
- You perceive a lack of meaning in your life.
- You’re not happy, but you’re not particularly sad, either.
- If someone were to ask you how you feel, you might say, “I don’t know.”
What causes feelings of emptiness? No one knows for sure, and there may be more than one cause. A common reason you might feel empty is self-alienation—feeling like a stranger to yourself. This sensation develops over time, usually as a result of pushing away unwanted emotions.
Our emotions are an important aspect of our experience of ourselves and our quality of life, yet most of us have some degree of trouble allowing ourselves to have certain feelings. Anger is one emotion that many people try not to experience, for example.
What happens to our feelings when we refuse to acknowledge them? They stick around in the shadows of our minds, gumming up the emotional works and, eventually, cutting us off from ourselves altogether.
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The result? We feel empty. We have a pulse, but we’re not really alive.
Life is an emotional experience.
If you come from a family that didn’t “do” certain (or any) emotions, you’re at increased risk of feeling empty.
Here are some ideas for getting out from under this uncomfortable state:
- Stop looking “out there” for a sense of purpose. Your purpose springs forth from your uniqueness. It’s not something that floats around the earth independently like a cloud, waiting for you to find it. If you don’t have a strong sense of who you are, it’s can be hard to feel in touch with your purpose. You are someone in particular. You have a story, of which you’re the star.
- Think about this question: “Who is the person experiencing this feeling of emptiness?” Your authentic self is the person who cries when you’re sad, and laughs when you’re tickled. It’s your authentic self who wants to inhabit the void, filling you with meaning, purpose, and connection. Start where you are: Someone is feeling empty. Who is it?
- Ask yourself how you might feel if you weren’t feeling empty. Look at your life—past, present, and/or future. What comes up as you think about it? Any so-called negative emotions such as anger, disappointment, or despair are showing you what might be hiding under a numbing blanket of emptiness. Are you protecting yourself from something you’d rather not know? Be curious, not judgmental. Compassionate, not accusing.
- Embrace your emotions, whatever they are. This is the same as embracing yourself. Although emotions aren’t literally a part of you, they’re a reliable reflection of you in this moment. How you feel in any given moment is the road that connects you with your authentic self. Try a little constructive wallowing in any emotions you have, and remember: curiosity and compassion, not judgment, is the goal.
- Be a joiner. There’s meaning in connection with other people. Consider sharing your sense of emptiness with another person. If there’s no one in your life you trust with that information, a support group could be valuable. A grief support group might be a good choice. Many of us have endured enough loss in our lives to fit right in. You can’t be closer to another than you are to yourself. Be honest and kind to yourself, rather than looking to other people to fill you up.
- Root out shame. There is nothing inherently wrong with you. It’s hard to be close to someone you despise, and shame encourages you to reject yourself.
- Try therapy. A good therapist holds up a metaphorical mirror, helping you see and appreciate who you are. If you need a little help, find a therapist in your area.
You don’t have to live your life feeling empty if you don’t want to. You deserve a good relationship with yourself and a meaningful, purposeful life. Let this article reach that part of you that’s there under the surface, waiting to reconnect and dispel those feelings of emptiness.
Describing emptiness the way you feel it is like describing the absence of color. A lack of joy inside is unlike any other type of sadness. Whether you are newly feeling this emptiness or have been tolerating it for awhile, you do not have to continue with it. There are ways to stop feeling empty inside, and you can start the process of returning color to your life today.
Causes of emptiness
Those who describe themselves as feeling empty usually share a similar thought – that life lacks meaning. Somehow, your reason for being was stripped away, and now you are a shell of your former self. Emptiness is often a symptom of a couple mental health disorders and psychological unwellness, such as the following:
- Addiction: This can be to alcohol or drug use as well as a certain behavior. When usage of the substance you are dependent on, or a certain want, becomes unavailable, feelings of emptiness can occur.
- Borderline personality disorder: Emptiness is often paired with other symptoms of this disorder, like a distorted sense of self, impulsiveness, and thoughts of suicide.
- Depression: Many depressed individuals will call themselves empty, hopeless, and have low notions of self-worth.
- Existential crisis: A loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job, can leave you feeling as if your role on this planet no longer exists. When you are unable to find meaning, you suffer from emptiness.
How to fill the void
Whether you know the reason for your emptiness or not, you are probably at the brink of tolerance. Living with a hollow feeling in your chest is not set in stone. What I am about to suggest is a mix of psychotherapy and self-help techniques. I can testify to their usefulness, because I too once suffered from chronic emptiness.
1 Acknowledge the emotion
Yes, call the emptiness an “emotion.” Acknowledge that there is something inside, like a black hole of sorts that is consuming everything else you should be feeling. Rather than denying the emptiness, show compassion towards yourself.
Also, acknowledge when the emptiness becomes a resounding presence and take note of what makes you feel it the most. Ask yourself if emptiness is a buffer from more uncontrollable emotions, like grief or wrath. When you think of emptiness as an emotion, you begin to realize what is hiding underneath.
2 Ask yourself questions
As you begin to redefine your emptiness, begin to investigate certain reasons for the numbness. Either vocalize these questions or write them down:
- Who am I with when I feel this way?
- What have I done to feel this way? Do I make a mistake? Do I feel guilty?
- Am I trying too hard to be perfect?
- Am I asserting my own thoughts and feelings? Or is someone else controlling me?
- What do I think about myself?
Negative responses to these questions can often instill emptiness in a person, even when they are not depressed.
3 Spend time alone
As you begin to accept the emptiness as something real and define some answers, you can begin to break it down and see beyond it. Avoid resorting to fleeing tactics that numb the hollow wound, such as drug use or other distractions like video games or TV.
Take moments throughout the day to just be alone, in and around yourself. Focus on you, your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Do what you enjoy by yourself, like meditation, yoga, playing an instrument, writing poetry… whatever you enjoy. Because after time, you will feel more joy than emptiness.
4 Congratulate yourself
Revel in even the small success of realizing the reason for your emptiness. Reward yourself when you reorganize your thoughts into something positive or catch yourself weighing the opinions of others too heavily. Whenever you promote positivity in your life, let yourself feel good. Always tell yourself that every success means you are alive and that, yes, you do have meaning.
Emptiness does not have to be your reality. It does not have to be the emotion that lingers from morning to night. Concentrate on you, your values, and let yourself feel. If you are hurt, let yourself feel it. From there, focus on that which makes you smile, and do those things regularly.
Feelings of emptiness—a lack of meaning or purpose—are experienced by most people at some point in life. However, chronic feelings of emptiness, feelings of emotional numbness or despair, and similar experiences may be symptomatic of other mental health concerns, such as depression, anhedonia, or schizophrenia.
Emptiness can also be experienced as an aspect of bereavement following the death of a loved one. An individual who experiences consistent and severe feelings of emptiness may find it helpful to speak to a therapist, especially when it becomes difficult to focus on other aspects of life.
Why Do I Feel Empty? Emptiness Symptoms and Causes
People confront feelings of emptiness in life for many reasons. For example, the loss of a loved one—whether to death or separation—may leave one feeling empty in the absence of a person who may have provided purpose and structure to life. A sudden change in life circumstances may also produce such feelings.
A common symptom of emptiness is the feeling that life lacks meaning. Viktor Frankl recognized the human need for finding meaning in life, even during hardship, during the years he spent in Nazi concentration camps. As a result, he developed his own form of therapy to help people find meaning in every aspect of life, naming it logotherapy, which comes from the Greek word logos (meaning).
Emptiness can leave a person feeling emotionally numb, despondent, isolated, and anxious. Some describe the experience as an empty feeling in their chest. People attempt to fill that void in a number of ways, often engaging in activities that are ultimately unfulfilling, such as compulsive shopping, eating, or the use of substances. Unfortunately, our consumer culture often capitalizes on feelings like emptiness, promising fulfillment with this or that product.
A person might instead attempt to combat emotional emptiness and give new meaning to life by volunteering, taking up a hobby, adopting a pet, cultivating or maintaining a spiritual practice, or other activities that may prove more emotionally fulfilling.
Mental Health Diagnoses Associated with Emptiness
A few conditions list emptiness as a symptom, and some conditions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) list emptiness as a criterion for diagnosis:
- Depression: A sense of emptiness is related to feelings of hopelessness, loss of pleasure, low self-worth, and low motivation.
- Borderline personality (BPD): Chronic feelings of emptiness are associated with impulsivity, an unstable sense of self, hopelessness, loneliness, and suicidal ideation. In BPD, feelings of emptiness are less associated with boredom.
- Schizotypal personality (STPD): Feelings of emptiness, stemming from feeling like life lacks meaning, may cause people with schizotypal personality to compensate by acting impulsively.
- Alcohol and drug addiction: People may attempt to alleviate feelings of emptiness and depression by self-medicating. The lack of availability of an addictive substance or attempts to quit using can also produce feelings of emptiness.
Emptiness may also occur on its own and could even trigger a mental health issue. People who feel concerned about overwhelming feelings of emptiness, whether they occur on their own or as a symptom, should consult a licensed mental health professional.
Feeling Empty in Relationships
It’s not uncommon for people to report feeling empty in intimate relationships. This emptiness may stem from different causes and can appear in short or long-term relationships. Experiencing phases of feeling empty or disconnected can also be normal in a long-term relationship or marriage, but if the feelings persist, it may be a sign there are issues that need to be addressed.
A few causes of feeling empty in a relationship include:
- Over-dependence on partner to meet all emotional needs
- Emotional needs not getting met in the relationship
- Lack of emotional connection, quality time, or physical connection
- Stress or pressure from outside circumstances, such as a new job or moving, on the relationship
- Communication issues
- Mental health issues that affect one partner
Feeling empty is not always reason to end a relationship, although it can be. When feelings of emptiness are a symptom of incompatibility or abuse, it may be time to consider moving on. However, when emptiness comes from miscommunication or misunderstanding, a couples counselor may help you and your partner learn communication skills and discover more about your partners needs in the relationship.
Individual therapy may also help people whose feelings of emptiness are interfering with their relationship, particularly when those feelings stem from an unresolved mental health issue such as depression or borderline personality.
Emptiness, Spirituality, and Existentialism
The concept of emptiness is also associated with several philosophical and spiritual traditions, though its meaning in each of these contexts differs from the potentially distressing psychological state addressed on this page.
In Buddhism, for example, the concept of emptiness, known as Sunyata, is associated with renouncing ego and desire in order to achieve openness, inner peace, receptivity, and ultimately, enlightenment. This kind of emptiness is a way of perceiving experience without the attachment of ego or self, and it is a goal for practitioners of Buddhism. Similar themes of renouncing worldly desires and greed appear in many forms of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, though the ultimate goals of achieving emptiness can vary among the traditions.
Existentialism, on the other hand, identifies meaninglessness as a reality of life, like death. The theory views people as capable of finding meaning in their own lives, and existential psychotherapy techniques, like Frankl’s logotherapy or humanistic psychotherapy, can help people find their inner wisdom and achieve a sense of meaning.
Last Modified: April 6, 2021 Reviewed by Health Beauty Idea Team
Maybe you’ve wondered, why do I feel empty? If you often feel empty, you are not alone. It turns out that many people feel empty without even a reason. Suddenly they felt like something was missing in their life.
Most of us usually have the wrong belief in responding to that void. That wrong belief is when we feel empty because:
- Feeling our spouse and family do not give enough love and attention.
- Don’t have a partner.
- Life is boring because the couple is not trying to keep the relationship friendly.
- My work is not satisfactory.
- I haven’t had enough success.
- I don’t have much money yet.
- Nobody wants to keep up with me.
- Life is boring and uninteresting.
- I do not accept the acceptance and love of the people around.
- I do not get satisfaction se**x.
But none of the conditions above that are the cause of voids and void in life.
Then why do I feel empty for no reason?
Here are the answer of question, Why Do I Feel Empty? The Reasons why You Feel Empty:
Losing someone You love.
Many possibilities cause you to feel empty but you don’t realize it. It could be that you feel life as a result of losing someone you love.
You ignore Yourself.
It can also be a mistake that you are feeling because you accidentally often ignore yourself. You do not want your hopes, needs, and wishes, but rather listen to the thinking of others.
It turns out that ignoring yourself can trigger anxiety, depression, and can even make you feel your life hollow. Some people feel dissatisfied with themselves and what they do.
They also felt failed, were not excited, and felt something was not fulfilled.
You sleep less
Fatigue due to lack of sleep greatly affects mood, energy levels, and our cognitive function. And the most ironic thing is that depression can also be the cause of sleep deprivation, so it’s like a vicious cycle. If you often have problems or sleep disorders, you are prone to experiencing erratic feelings.
You’re rarely doing outdoor activities
A number of studies have shown the benefits of “ecotherapy*”or “green therapy” in the healing efforts of depression. Therapy in the open nature apparently can give a taste of fresh and calm. Well, now the question, when was the last time you were walking or exercising in the outdoors? Try to give yourself a walk outdoors like a walk in the park even though it’s only five minutes a day.
Due to changes.
Change can make people feel lonely. People who change girlfriends, can feel lonely. An older person can feel lonely. So every time we experience change and face new things, we can feel lonely even emptiness. The impact, for each person is different because it depends on the way of thinking of each.
Because of separation.
The distance of the people or things we care about can make us feel lonely. LDR is the person who most often feels lonely because of this. It really is the distance that separates but does not close the possibility due to the impression of distance in the other sense. For example, communication that is difficult to connect, or because the opposition of parents makes one can not contact let alone meet the loved ones.
You are always comparing your life with others
One of the biggest causes of void is when you are always comparing your life with others. You think about what they have, but you don’t. But indeed, it may be that they also feel the void within themselves.
Lost something in life
Emptiness can also occur if you have lost something in life. You have a view that you think is good about life, but you have not yet achieved it until you feel empty.
- You too long isolate yourself and be alone.
- You Drain Your Energy to Work Endlessly.
- Hormonal deficiency or imbalance such as estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol.
Thank you very much for raeding Why Do I Feel Empty? The Reasons why You Feel Empty, hopefully useful
Why Do We Feel Empty?
by mooshoo » Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:12 pm
Chronic emptiness is one of the symptoms of BPD; I am faced with this excruciating emptiness daily. I read somewhere that our emptiness comes from lack of identity, which leads me to wonder what the root cause is of our “identity disturbance”. However, right now I’m focused on my emptiness. Yesterday I started to intuit that there was anger lurking behind my emptiness. I am terrified of getting angry. My therapist wonders if I fear that I would not be able to control my anger if I fully experienced it. I’m not sure about that, I just know that whenever I start to get angry I become very tired, which kind of puts out the fire of my anger.
Is there something behind the emptiness? Is the emptiness a cover for something else? I hate this emptiness! Is the emptiness covering up all of the intense and hot emotions that are brewing under the surface? I would almost feel better if it were covering up something, because I hate this void! I want to know that there is something other than this horrible black hole inside of me. It’s amazing to be so easily triggered emotionally, and yet to also be able to turn off all emotion when not in the process of being triggered. Extremes! Wow, I just got how totally black and white that is, nothing in between.
Is there really nothing to me? Am I really just a blank page? I can’t take this. I don’t know how to fully express the agony of having nothing inside. My therapist says that I’m not empty, but it doesn’t matter what she says, because all experience is emptiness.
I am so embarrassed and ashamed of this emptiness.
I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me —
I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living.
Re: Why Do We Feel Empty?
by distortedgirl » Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:53 pm
Re: Why Do We Feel Empty?
by Casper » Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:15 pm
I think it ties in with our other issues, namely an overwhelming desire for love and splitting. As we all know, we’re binary creatures. When we’re loved (and we know it), we’re great. When we’re not loved (or don’t feel like we are), we’re suddenly nothing, we’re just a mannequin with nothing inside to make us human. Unfortunately, we feel unloved more often than we feel loved, so the chronic emptiness becomes part of us. To paraphrase John Lennon, all we need is love. We just need a LOT of it.
But that’s just my 2¢.
Re: Why Do We Feel Empty?
by mooshoo » Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:30 pm
Johnny, this emptiness doesn’t feel like it’s associated with love. Although now that I think about it, if I felt love for myself, I can imagine the emptiness filling up. So, the next thing that thought takes me to is the thought of self-hatred.
I have a husband that adores me, although there is no amount of love that is enough for me. Right now it just feels like there is something hiding behind that emptiness. I’m not sure, but maybe this feeling is kind of a breakthrough, although I am hesitant to think that, since I like to prepare myself for the worst.
Oh, now I think I’m getting clearer as to where I am going with this. Okay, that was a sudden insight, mood swing that lasted a second and has now past! My fleeting insight was about the emptiness being a dissociative state (dissociating from the pain). I sense that there is a tremendous amount of pain behind my emptiness. I’m not sure that this is making any sense, this is all moving through me as I type this.
I just realized that dissociate was perhaps the wrong word. Could the emptiness be a coping mechanism to numb or block out the pain?
I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me —
I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living.
Re: Why Do We Feel Empty?
by Dancing is forbidden » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:21 pm
I feel the void within aswell. I don’t think I spend much time thinking about it when I have an upswing in mood, but it is very apparent most of the rest of the time. I think most bpders feel it and try to fill it with external sources. work, love, sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, validation, religion but I think the emptiness will only ever be filled with self realisation, self acceptance and creating harmony between how we are and how we’d like to be, and hence creating a consistent self image and thus identity.
I don’t know though. I’ll let you know the secret if I can ever fill my emptiness
As to its origins. This is an idea from a book on bpd.
“A borderline childhood is often a desolate battlefield, scarred with the debris of rejecting, indifferent, or absent parents; emotional deprivation, and/or chronic abuse. A history of prolonged separation and/or neglect by primary caregivers seems to be the most important factor in distinguishing borderline patients from those with other disorders.”
“Central to the borderline syndrome is the lack of a core sense of identity. The borderline does not accept her own intelligence, attractiveness, or sensitivity as constant traits she possesses, but rather as comparative qualities to be continually re-earned and re-judged against others. For example, the borderline may consider herself attractive until she spies a woman whom she feels is prettier; then she feels ugly again.
For the borderline, identity is graded on a curve. Who she is (and what she does) today determines her worth, with little regard to what has come before.
The borderline’s struggle in establishing a consistent identity is related to a prevailing sense of inauthenticity—a constant sense of “faking it.” Most of us experience this sensation at various times in our lives, but it is transient and soon overcome by our adaptation to new circumstances. The borderline, however, never reaches that point. He continues to feel like he is faking it and is terrified that he will, sooner or later,be “found out.” This is particularly true when the borderline achieves some kind of success—it feels misplaced, undeserved.”
“Lacking a core sense of identity, borderlines commonly experience a painful loneliness that motivates them for new ways to fill up the “holes.” For the borderline, the search for a way to relieve the boredom usually results in impulsive ventures into destructive acts and/or disappointing relationships. In many ways, the borderline seeks out a new relationship or experience not for its positive aspects, but to escape the feelings of emptiness—thus experiencing a kind of existential angst. Suicide may appear to be the only rational response to a perpetual state of emptiness. The need to fill the void or relieve the boredom can lead to outbursts of anger, self-damaging impulsiveness, and mood swings designed to elicit sensations of feeling”
Unfortunately, all Christians have feelings of spiritual emptiness from time to time. Fortunately, God knew it would happen and has given us a lot of helpful advice in His Word.
It is often sin that causes our feelings of spiritual emptiness—possibly the sin of apathy toward God or sluggishness in our daily lives. Also, how we feel physically can impact how we feel spiritually. So the best advice to overcome feelings of spiritual emptiness might be to first examine if we have been disobedient to GodвЂ™s commands for us. Ephesians 5:15–18 says, вЂњBe very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the LordвЂ™s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.вЂќ Then, we should make sure we are doing all right physically—are we getting enough sleep, eating properly, etc.?
A Christian may feel spiritually empty sometimes, but he need never be truly so. No born-again Christian is ever without the Holy Spirit. All who are born again have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit the moment they believed in Jesus (Ephesians 2:1–10). The Holy Spirit has sealed each believer вЂњfor the day of redemptionвЂќ (Ephesians 4:30).
So the key to overcoming spiritual emptiness is to вЂњfill upвЂќ with the Holy Spirit. Maybe that sounds obvious enough, but how exactly does one do that? Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, in his booklet вЂњHave You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life?вЂќ suggests these steps:
1) Sincerely desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:6 and John 7:37–39).
2) Confess your sins and thank God that He has forgiven all of your sins whether past, present, or future (Colossians 2:13–15; 1 John 1:1—2:3).
3) Present every area of your life to God for His gracious control (Romans 12:1–2).
4) By faith claim the fullness of the Holy Spirit according to His commandment in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14–15.
In doing those four steps, you are essentially doing spiritual breathing—exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure. In faith you are praying for what God already knows you need—the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Often in allowing the Spirit to fill oneself, there will be an immediate desire to dine on GodвЂ™s daily bread—the Bible. вЂњMan shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of GodвЂќ (Matthew 4:4).
It is also helpful to know where to turn for encouragement. Overcoming feelings of spiritual emptiness is often not a mental or academic exercise; rather, we need the personal touch of another born-again believer. Here is where the church comes in, with brothers and sisters everywhere, Bible study and support groups meeting locally, and, of course, worship services and the preaching of GodвЂ™s Word. What a shame to dwell on spiritual emptiness, when brothers and sisters would love to help.
The famous comedian Jim Carrey is noted to have said: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” What do you do in life when you get everything you wanted? What happens when you wake up every morning with everything you ever wanted? You begin to question “Is this it?” Most people chase money, wealth, success and fame, in hopes that it will bring them happiness. Once they attain it, the person is disappointed and thinks to themselves “That’s it? That’s what all the hype was about? I don’t feel happy or fulfilled.”
We often find celebrities and wealthy people fall into depression and resort to digressive behaviors. Recently, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian with 23 gold medals opened up about being depressed and considering suicide. One might imagine that winning gold, not once but 23 times, at the Olympics might have resulted in happiness. We all know that this is not the way humans work, we are never satisfied. The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said “If the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would want to have two valleys. Nothing fills his mouth but the dust of the grave, yet Allah will accept whoever repents to him.” (Bukhari). If we attain all the targets of our wants, the “want” will not go away.
It is human nature to always want more and never feel completely satiated. The achievement of wanted things does not remove the human tendency toward constant striving for wanted things. In fact, it reinforces the tendency. When was the last time you got more and wanted less? It is fine to want things, but a wise person recognizes that obtaining a want does not equal long-term happiness. Materialism, fame, wealth, and status are not the source of happiness and can never fill a spiritual or emotional void. This sounds very cliché, but those who have these things testify to this fact.
People quickly normalize what they have. If you get a brand-new car, at first, it is an amazing car. After a few months, it is just your car. After two years, you are ready for another kind of car because yours is getting kind of boring. In other words, having a new car went from making feel very happy, to being just a thing that you would willingly trade away, just to feel that surge of happiness again. Becoming famous, rich, or getting what you really wanted will quickly become your norm once you have had it for a while. Then you will need to come back to whoever you were before that. If you were not happy before you got your want, getting it will not keep you happy beyond that initial, but temporary, rush.
How do we find happiness and fill the emptiness inside? It is important to be happy with who you are now. This is not to say that you should not work on improving yourself, but to not be so hard on yourself and feel valuable for simply being human. This also requires that you live in the moment and enjoy the blessing you have. If one is constantly worried about getting more in the future, they will naturally always be in a state where they belittle what they currently have. Think of all the things that are most important in your life. Things that money cannot buy. Your health, your children, spouse, parent, or close friend. At the end of life, no one looks back and wishes they worked more or made more money. Rather, they wish to have spent more time with family or touched more people’s lives.
This is why the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said: “When a human being dies, all of his deeds are cut off except for three types: an ongoing charity, knowledge from which others benefit, and a righteous child who makes supplicates for them”(Muslim). Each of these three items touches people’s lives. It is important to recognize that what we have is already great. There is a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him that “Contentment is a never-ending treasure.”
Take a moment and look at your life. You will realize that you have everything, but something is missing. It is this missing thing that drives us to keep wanting and never be happy. We seek to keep fulfilling that emptiness or itch by seeking more things, achievements, gold medals, money, sex, or a high. What is missing is something that we already have, but we tend to belittle. We lost sight the joy of being human and connecting with ourselves, laughing with family and friends, enjoying nature, a simple meal, and the little things that play a big role in our life.
Without knowing what you want in life, what you love, or your purpose, you will continue to be lost. One cannot buy purpose, it must be found. Once you find it your happiness will be based on that purpose or connection, and not anything outside of it. That makes you rich in your heart. The ultimate purpose in life is to worship and connect with God. I have created jinn and man for no other purpose than to worship Me (Qurʾān 51:57).
Confession… Sometimes, I feel empty. Hollow, even. There are moments when, amidst the hustle and bustle of a workday, I pause momentarily, and I feel the emptiness. It feels like a hole is in the middle of my heart.
My spirit wails, just as an infant so loudly and sincerely wails when it experiences discomfort. My soul grasps out at the air in an attempt to catch a wisp of comfort. Of calmness. Of peace.
The empty feeling doesn’t happen every day, at least I don’t think. But when I feel this way, I have learned to get still and listen to my spirit. And acknowledge that it is crying and empty and longs to be filled because I have been starving it.
I believe that many of us have the tendency to feed our starving spirits with junk food. There are so many forms of junk food—it’s amazing how long the list is when you stop to think…
-Taking a trip to the mall to buy new clothes or a new pair of shoes. We call this ‘Retail Therapy’.
– Pampering ourselves, getting a manicure/pedicure, or getting our hair done.
-Entertaining a man or woman we know is no good for us.
-We might indulge in a pint of ice cream, or alcohol, or Social Media, or reality television, or video games, or texting, or sex, or drugs, or gossip.
For some of us, our job is junk food too. We might unnecessarily throw ourselves into excessive hours and deadlines. Whether we like our job or not is irrelevant. I think we are more likely to indulge in things we enjoy. Some of us indulge in things we dislike, but I won’t even go there today.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with a pedicure or a new pair of shoes. I am not saying that these things are all bad. What I am saying is that these junk food ingestions are not substantive nutrition for your soul. Your soul cannot sustain itself off of a pair of freshly painted toes.
Oh, but don’t we try! Quick fixes are easy to find. Hour after hour, day after day—we reach for these things to fill us up when we feel empty. Our impressionable minds and fickle attention spans are the perfect petri dishes. And with the advent of smart phones, reality television, and social media, we stay plugged in. To junk.
Ask yourself and honestly answer: “How much junk do I ingest daily?” Now compare that to the amount of spiritual nutrition you ingest daily. Does one outweigh the other? Perhaps you need to tip your nutritional see-saw to the other side.
I am so grateful for our Heavenly Father. He gave me the precious gift of sensitivity. I get sick (figuratively) when I eat too much junk food. I get overwhelmed when I try to keep up with the world. And I always withdraw quietly. To Him. He comforts me and nourishes me. His food sustains me. He feeds my soul.
It is only after I quiet myself and acknowledge that there is emptiness in my heart that I know to turn to Him. I do this as often as needed. It took me a while to get comfortable with this process, but it is so important to stand before God and ask Him to meet you where you are. Just as a car must make frequent trips to a gas station, we must make frequent trips to our God and asked to be filled with His holy spirit.
The next time we feel inclined to eat the junk food of the world, let’s take a few moments to ask ourselves what’s going on inside. If there is a hole in your spirit, acknowledge it. You won’t crumble or wither away by being honest with yourself. God already knows the answer. After you acknowledge the emptiness, ask God to fill you with his sustaining love.
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
Shopping can be an intensely emotional experience. There are oodles of research that explain the psychological aspects of shopping and why it feels so good to spend money. However, it is very easy for us to dismiss this when we reflect upon our own spending habits. But, if you are here and you have read this far, I hope that even for just the next few minutes, you will be open to exploring this will me. The questions I ask in the rest of this post may trigger things for you, and that’s okay! Because at the bottom of this page, I have a solution for you to try.
Retail therapy is a normal word in your vocabulary.
Do you regularly use shopping as a form of therapy or stress relief? Do you feel that spending money is justified if it makes you feel better? Do you buy things just to buy things, whether you need them or not?
You only pay the minimum payment on your credit cards.
Do you avoid checking your credit card balances? Do you auto-pay the minimum payment on your credit cards? Do you disconnect from the financial consequences of shopping?
You spend more time at the mall or shopping online than any other hobbies.
Do employees at your favorite stores know you by name? Do you find yourself at the mall when you are bored and have nothing else to do? Do you spend more time shopping than doing other things that you enjoy or are passionate about?
You have buyer’s remorse, ever, at all, even once in awhile.
Do you ever buy something and then regret it almost immediately? Do you notice that much of the things you buy don’t get a lot of use out of them? Do you regularly return items to the store shortly after you buy them?
You have multiple pieces of clothing in your closet that have never been worn.
Do you have things around your house that have never been used or even opened before? Do you buy things and then forget about them?
You buy things you don’t need just because they are on sale.
Do you get anxiety if you miss a sale at your favorite store? Do you find yourself buying things just because you feel like you will be saving money? Do you get daily emails from multiple stores with their best deals?
You feel the urge to go shopping after a bad day, an argument, or any special occasion (such as your coworker’s sister’s baby shower that you weren’t even invited to because you’ve never met her…)
Are you shopping habits correlated to different emotions you experience? Do you use shopping as a way to celebrate a accomplishment or recover from a setback? Do you often buy things for other people whether they need them or not?
You hide your shopping habits from your loved ones.
Do you feel embarrassment or shame related to your shopping habits? Do you avoid discussing money and shopping with your spouse, parents, or best friends?
Do any of these points resonate with you? Do you see yourself in this post as if you were looking right into a mirror? Do you want to change these habits?
1.Understand that buying stuff will never make you happy. I love this article from Becoming Minimalist about exactly that.
2. Try to figure out what triggers your desire to spend money. Keep track of emotions and events in your life and how they correlate with the impulse to shop.
3. Make a list of others things in your life that you enjoy and are passionate about. Pick up some new (or old) hobbies to spend your time on rather than shopping.
4. Download my guide to start taking steps today towards kicking this habit. In my guide you will:
- Identify the type of shopper you are
- Understand the emotions that trigger your impulse to shop
- Figure out what void you may have that causes you to spend money
- Find a community to support you