a Grinch with Emotional numbness

5 ways to know if you have emotional numbness

Yes, yes, I know.  It’s February!  Why am I talking about the Grinch Who Stole Christmas?  And who said he had emotional numbness?

Well, my hubs and I watched the original 1966 cartoon just the other day, and I thought it was so cool that the Grinch seems like many of the clients I work with.

No, they don’t hate Christmas; they struggle with emotional numbness.

Emotional Numbness in a children's book: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

This timeless book is usually read only at Christmas, and it starts with Dr. Seuss telling us:

“The Grinch hated Christmas!
The whole Christmas Season!
Now please don’t ask why
No one quite knows the reason.”

For someone who is struggling with emotional numbness, this is classic! 

It can be challenging to pin down why you feel this way; you just know that you do.  However, much like the Grinch, you may not know quite the reason.

The brilliant Seuss goes on to tell us:

“It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”

Dr. Seuss was brilliant at sharing truths…

Many adults struggle to understand emotional numbness and its consequences, and Dr. Seuss explains it beautifully, innocently, and charmingly.  

The good Doctor hones in on how those with emotional numbness often feel about themselves.  

You may feel that your head ‘isn’t screwed on just right’ as you struggle to understand why you’re moving through life detached, disconnected, and maybe even anxious.

Maybe you go from event to event, activity to activity, hobby to hobby, trying desperately to find something that makes you feel alive.  

Maybe you tried just about everything you can think of, and you still struggle with emotional numbness.

Maybe you have more in common with the Grinch than you’d like to admit.

Maybe you feel like your ‘heart is two sizes too small’ as you move through your days feeling tired all the time, emotionless, and empty.

Maybe, just like the Grinch, you wish you could find some way to “stop it from coming.”

Dr. Seuss goes on to tell us all the things that the Grinch hates about the Whos.

  1. He hated the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
  2. He hated their Feast! Feast! Feast Feast!
  3. He hated their Who-pudding and their rare Who-roast beast.
  4. He hated that the Whos would sing! Sing! Sing! Sing!

This isn’t to say those who experience emotional numbness hate these things. But I have found that people who struggle with emotional numbness can quickly move into anger and hate as these are the emotions you can actually feel.  


Implicit Memories

An implicit Memory is a long-term memory. These types of memories are not conscious.  They are your body’s memory of past events, and you are unaware that a memory has occurred as you interact with the world around you.  

Implicit memories can run your life if you let them.

Maybe you’ve experienced implicit memory in action:

  • Name-calling as you drive down the road
  • Bursts of anger for no apparent reason
  • Cursing out the guy in the car in front of you because they didn’t use their turn signal
  • Aggressive behavior

These behaviors are actually due to old interactions and beliefs that keep you stuck in a pattern of experience – belief – action – experience – belief – action – experience…⁠

⁠Something happened in the life of the Grinch that led him to this place where his heart was too small.  Some deep wounding caused his hatred of the Whos. 

Dressed up like Santy Claus

How many times have you wished you could play dress up?  Be someone else?

The Grinch did it!  He cut out a coat and hat and pretended to be Sant Nick to steal the joy away from the Whos.

I remember emotional numbness.  There was a time when I felt nothing.  I was an Unemotional Wreck!  I struggled with feeling empty, and I was tired all the time.  I wished, beyond all wishing, that I could be like those that I saw experiencing life.  Instead, I was going through the motions of life.  

When I experienced Transformational Coaching, I began to feel things.  Just like Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the Grinch, my eyes began leaking and I started to feel things.

“In Whoville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day.”

Am I comparing everyone struggling with emotional numbness with the Grinch?

Yes, yes, I am.  

There is just too much similarity between the Grinch and his healing journey with those I’ve worked with to pass up this opportunity to take it down to an elementary level.

Maybe it’s time to pull out the book, pull up the cartoon, or even enjoy the Carrey version…especially if you think you might be struggling with emotional numbness.

5 Ways to know if you are Emotionally Numb.
Feeling empty.

People who feel empty tend to try and fill that emptiness with activities, people, drugs, work, and more.  
If you’re feeling empty, there is help.  You weren’t designed to go through life with a heart that’s two sizes too small.

Implicit memories rule!

If you find that you fly off the handle at the drop of a pin or you feel anger rise up as easily as last night’s spicy meal, you’re more than likely emotionally numb.  For emotionally numb people, anger feels like a warm hug when it first appears and then can send you into a shame spiral as easily as the tornado picked up Dorothy’s house.

Feeling tired all the time

This is a tough one as feeling tired all the time could be many things.  However, if you’ve removed all the other factors (not sleeping well, hormonal issues, mentalpause, etc) and you’re still tired all the time, it may be your unemotional self at play.  

Hobby Hopping

What happens when you can’t feel happiness and joy?  You hop around from hobby to hobby, event to event, activity to activity, hoping that something will fill the ever-growing hole in your heart.  You may feel happy for a moment, but you have to shift to something new to keep from feeling empty.

Digestive Disorders

Whether your medical doctor has diagnosed you or you know something isn’t right.  If your digestion is out of whack and you’re doing everything you know to fix it (eating right, supplements, digestive aides, etc.), and it’s still not correct, this could be your emotional numbness at work.

This can be super disheartening, but I want you to know that there is a reason you have become emotionally numb.  It goes way back to a time before you even had conscious thought processes and was a response that came online at a very young age to ensure your survival.

I have been able to reconnect and shift from emotional numbness to feeling and healing.  

No one needs to live like the Grinch on Mount Crumpit, disconnected and emotionally numb. 

It is totally possible to grow your heart three sizes and experience emotional healing.

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