Why a person feels numb

Wooff asks: All my actions are based on what the worst is going to happen if I don’t do it. For example, if I don’t do this for my mom, I’ll regret it when she dies. My every action is based on death. I should have fun now so that I don’t regret my life when I die or before I die. Is this good thinking? If not, how do I change it? I think I’m asking you this because this isn’t normal thinking. Also, I’ve observed I’m emotionally numb most of the time. I think I’ve trained myself to feel this way. I got hurt by several persons two years ago. Shouldn’t I be okay after all this time? What do you think? How is it possible I can’t like someone?

Hi Wooff –

I’m not a psychotherapist, but my human friend Handsome is, and he says you sound a lot like you’re a victim of trauma.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with basing your actions on pessimism. All sorts of committees depend on someone being in the room who looks at the worst-case-scenarios (to balance discussions against crazy optimists like me!). In the world of investment, people like that are called Bears – they predict markets will go down, and invest accordingly, and so do well when all the optimistic “Bulls” are losing their shirts.

And I’d far rather have you thinking you want to have fun before you die, rather than not care about what you do. (You might even have some sort of psychic gift that you won’t live as long as some others. The great composer George Gershwin thought the way you do, obsessively, and that actually helped him complete his amazing output of music before he fell ill and died at the age of 38. On the other hand, the more recent songwriter Bob Dylan seems to have had the same obsession all his life, and he’s doing just fine at 74!)

What concerns me more is the numbness you report, and how you connect it with some bad things that happened to you. Numbness is a common reaction to a horrible trauma. You might also have a condition called Anhedonia, which means the inability to experience pleasure (though your earlier letters to me have been so passionate and exciting, it’s hard to believe this is your situation).

In either case, while I love that you come to me, I think the better idea is for to talk with a therapist, someone who knows how to deal with trauma. I’m not saying you’re crazy; this is something bad that happened to you, and you just need someone to help you get back to your true self. There are lots of great ones out there. If you need help finding one, feel free to write me a note and let me know what city or town you live in, and I’ll see what I can do to help.

And then of course, my friend, my other suggestion is that you get yourself a companion who is anything but numb, and will always help encourage you to live your life to the fullest – not because it will end someday, but because it’s here right now.

Of course, I mean a dog. One who’ll be as crazy about you as I am, but unlike me, who’ll be there for you every day, jumping on you and licking your face and teaching you over and over and over… “LIVE!”

No one becomes numb without good reason. Especially someone as smart as you. So I’m not going to tell you to go against your instincts. But a good therapist would be able to help you find ways to open yourself up safely and carefully. While a dog would gladly model for you how to be open with no thoughts of boundaries. Between the two, I’m sure you’d very soon come to be the person you want to be.


Anything I can do to help, just ask. But in the meantime, know I’m cheering for you every minute!




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Kota - April 19, 2016 Reply

Yes!! Getting a dog is an excellent idea!! I would also encourage you to follow Shirelle’s advice and follow up with a therapist. I think a dog friend will wake you up every morning with kisses and joy. Dogs love to take walks and people watch or just smell fresh air and enjoy nature. I think a dog will help open up areas of your heart that you have closed off without even knowing that it was happening. Love from animals (especially dogs) is so unconditional and free. It’s a “safe space” to feel your emotions again. Dogs will never judge you and only love you more as you begin to open up more. I don’t mean that they love you less in the beginning. I only mean that they will enjoy you more as you begin to share personal, private, and many more experiences and emotions with them. What an excellent idea!! I highly encourage you to do this. Also, maybe consider going to the shelter and adopting your new friend. That way, you’re helping him/her in the same way that they are helping you. You two can both benefit mutually from the relationship. No doubt, a dog in a shelter had experienced some big changes in their life recently and they would be forever grateful for the opportunity to love you and get to know you.
Praying for your recovery.

    shirelle - April 21, 2016 Reply

    Oh that’s so sweet and lovely I’m going to have to go howl at the moon… even though it’s daytime outside!

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