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What To Do If You’re Emotionally Constipated

May 15, 2014

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Life has a way of deadening our emotions. Pain and disappointment chip away at our childlike enthusiasm and hope until our most common feeling is simply “numb.” Remember as a child how you lived unencumbered by all that weighs you down today?

There was no morbid self-consciousness. There wasn’t a trace of timidity. Your head and heart were connected and you weren’t jaded, disillusioned, or bitter.

Ready to feel alive again?

First, you need a cathartic release of pent up angst. When your feelings are constipated, you need a healthy purging. Don’t worry, I’m not going to push the metaphor any further.

This week, set aside some time to scream, cry, laugh, and dance. You’re going to need to get out of your skin and away from a mirror for a bit.

We must live from our hearts, not our minds. They need to be connected, each doing their part, but our hearts are the “wellspring of life.”  Blaise Pascal once wrote, “The heart has it reasons of which reason knows nothing.” Basically, we know more than we can understand. Much more can be said about this, but I simply want to convey the importance of not retreating into our minds and excusing a head-heart schism.

So, first, create a new playlist with fun, high-octane music that you sing at the top of your lungs in your car. And don’t look over and wonder what people are thinking about you. That’s what I mean by stepping away from the mirror.

Second, take a few hours for a personal “bonfire of the insanities.”

You can do this many different ways. Here’s one:

Go on a hike to a remote location. Imagine your equivalent of a large rock on top of a mountain. In route, pray a simple prayer: “God, draw out from my heart every toxic emotion that’s suffocating life. Father, draw out all this anger, shame, and bitterness.” As you connect to painful memories in the past, ask God to draw out the toxic emotions connected to them. When you get to your destination, do something physical to help mark this as a turning point in your life.

Scream to the top of your lungs!
Chop down a tree that symbolizes a need for forgiveness and take back a piece that can help you remember it. (If you do this one, plant a new one that signifies the new life arising from renewed grace.)
As you walk back, pray, “God, in those very spaces where anger, shame, and bitterness have resided, fill me with life, freedom, joy, love, and peace.” Breathe deeply as you pray, “God, may your light extinguish any and all darkness. May the cleansing rivers of your Holy Spirit renew life in its fullest form in my heart.”

Third, schedule a night out where you can cut loose and have fun without being too self-conscious. Go dancing, take a road trip to a fun concert, be spontaneous and take a weekend trip away with people who are life giving. The sky’s the limit, just make sure that the activity is active, not passive and you’re connecting to your heart. [Note to my more conservative readers who are cautious of such an activity: We must not spiritualize a deadening of our emotions by demonizing the counterfeits of life-giving activities. Everything good can be driven to excess and everything good has a counterfeit. Find the real thing that brings life and draws you closer to God. Don’t retreat from the good in fear of the bad.]

Seriously, I’d consider dancing. If you don’t know how, your night out can be a lesson. My wife and I have been taking dance lessons and they’re infinitely better dates than dinner and a movie.

We’re all familiar with the destructive outlets people take when they start to feel numb. Don’t wait for that! Take some time now to find constructive ways to reconnect your head and heart, purge toxic emotions, step away from the mirror, and even out of your skin for a few, and allow God to lead you to a place where you feel alive again.

I promise, you won’t regret it! …Even if it feels a little awkward at first.

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