There is a feeling of emptiness inside that we all experience at times. We’ll do nearly anything in our power to avoid that feeling. It’s as though there is a void within that we attempt to fill with all sorts of things—food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex. This feeling of emptiness often leads to addiction as the dopamine rush we get from indulging in distractions rewards our brain and builds a habit loop. The distractions provide only temporary relief, however. Eventually, that feeling of emptiness resurfaces, as we only addressing the symptom and not the actual cause.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Whenever we stop long enough, we are aware of an inner feeling of emptiness. This feeling is so terrifying that we immediately get busy and try to block it out. We head for the refrigerator and attempt to bury it with food. We try to drown it with drink. We get very active with new projects or activities. We watch television.
If we just knew what we need to do to make the feeling go away, we would do it. We are competent women, and we can handle almost anything when we know what it is. All we really experience is the absence of something. We have a vague recollection that we once knew what it was, and we can’t remember it now.”
When we feel this way, we know that something is missing from our lives, but we can’t put our finger on exactly what. The thing that’s missing, more often than not, turns out to be us. We have lost touch with ourselves and who we are. We have given our lives over to our fears and self-doubt, and we are letting our anxiety order us around. We avoid our feelings and run from them, trying to use any excuse we can to avoid feeling empty. We keep ourselves busy, pursuing an endless list of tasks that we feel obligated to do, but we fail to stop and really consider what it is that we want to be doing. When we are a stranger to ourselves, we become estranged from others too. We must be in touch with who we are in order to stop feeling empty. That emptiness is the lack of self we feel.