General Question

ducky_dnl's avatar

Can one re-learn emotions?

Asked by ducky_dnl (5378points) July 20th, 2010

I have felt numb and emotionless for almost seven months, and now I want to try to “re-learn” my emotions. I want to put feeling behind what I say and do. I just forgot how to feel things. Happiness, anger, sadness, love, jealousy…even thinking about those things seem forgein to me. I see this as nearly impossible, but I see people living and I want to be that way. So, can emotions be re-learned.. and how do I start?

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19 Answers

anartist's avatar

You sound fairly young and in some kind of emotional shock. If that is the case, eventually things in life will start to shift and you will start having new responses to new things and it will all start to come back.
If deliberately shutting off your emotions to endure loss is repeated too often and if you reach a point in life [usually due to age] where the losses cannot no longer be replaced, then a narrower range of emotions may become a way of life.

ducky_dnl's avatar

@anartist I am young. I’m 17. 17 and emotionless..I’ve suppressed all of my emotions for a long time and then 7 months ago..WHAM! I stopped feeling things after I lost a huge part of my life. My other half sort of. Now I have decided that I should try to feel happy and things like that.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies made a great suggestion. I think learning meditation might help you as well.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

yep… and taking long walks in the morning and evening help too. not just one. it’s gotta be a regular discipline. 30 days in the hole. after that, a new life is yours.

SeventhSense's avatar

As well as sitting which is very beneficial, get physical. Move a muscle change a thought, feeling.
Energy + Motion= emotion
Check out Dynamic Meditation

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

love that @SeventhSense

“Move a muscle change a thought, feeling.”

upon these words, you shall be quoted

whitenoise's avatar

You might want to act as if you were to treat yourself from a depression.

Get into physical shape and exercise. About 30 minutes a day of activity that gets you panting.
Get involved and interact with people.
Talk to your physician or a trusted counselor.

Remember: physical exercise and counseling are just as, if not more, effective as any prescription anti-depressent, but come with far greater advantages.

Meditation and spirituality may be beneficial, as long as you don’t allow them to keep you from interaction with other people. The last thing you need is (further?) isolation from meaningful interaction with other people.

One last thing… be gentle with yourself. Guilt and self-deprecation are very powerful ways to loose yourself.

Success…. and my warmest wishes….

liminal's avatar

I haven’t responded to your questions very often, but I have read enough of your writing to know that you have lived an intense life (is it safe to say traumatic?). It makes sense to me that you have emotionally shut down. Your simply wanting to feel and thrive again is a big deal. I trust that you are still talking with a therapist who can help you navigate the feeling world.

What is powerful about what others have suggested to you so far is that they are gentle ways to wake yourself up. Putting into practice any of the above suggestions will not change things for you immediately, but investing time into awakening is the only way to experience its unfolding.

This site: offers a practical step by step exercise that is reflective of much that has been said thus far.

Peace to you.

filmfann's avatar

You sound like me when I was on Paxil.

Try volunteering at a homeless or battered womens shelter.

Austinlad's avatar

…or for that matter, doing any kind of volunteer work. Might help reboot your emotions, which I assure you aren’t gone—they’re just napping.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Once you relearn how to think without the distortions that contribute to and maintain depression, the full range of healthy feelings will return as the medications are gradually and safely eliminated.

marinelife's avatar

You sound as if you might be clinically depressed. Consider taking this self-test. If it seems to fit, you need to see your doctor. Consider medication to get your feelings back.

perspicacious's avatar

You don’t learn emotions; they are a natural part of being human. Talk to someone about your problems, whatever they may be.

SeventhSense's avatar

Well it would go nice on a subway wall anyway. Thanks for the comps. It’s been said before more than once though. Maybe Bhagwan Rajneesh said it first. He’s quite amazing.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve seen this happen to someone. It’s not the emotions that you need to relearn. It’s feeling them. Being aware. They’re all still there, but you’ve created a huge barrier and now you want to break it down. You can, a little at a time, gently.

If you were my child, I would want to try three things with you. One, I would ask you to see a counselor, someone not involved in any way with your history or the rest of your personal life and who could guide you safely to a reawakening of your feelings. Two, I would suggest meditation. Three, I would encourage taking the path of art, some form of art, to regain a means of expression.

You need both courage and patience. You can come back if you want to.

Pandora's avatar

Many of the suggestions above are great. If you are not clinically depressed than it sounds like you may have shut your feelings off to protect you from getting hurt. Part of you wants to feel joy again but a bigger part of you wants to stay protected.
If that is the case than you have to deal with what set you off and you should come to realize that no one on this planet is protected from a broken heart. There are billions of sad stories. And billions of people who decide to take a chance again at life and laughter. If you suffered some tragic circumstance than know that it can only defeat you if you give up.
Your life is what you make of it. Make yourself stronger by making yourself more vunerable. Only then can you allow others into your life and they may bring misery sometimes but they will also bring joy.
Best of luck. I hope you figure things out soon.
Remember this. Shit rolls downhill never up. So start climbing and you’ll be good.

LostInParadise's avatar

You said that you started by trying to shut down your emotions, so it is safe to assume that you were going through something traumatic. You were feeling overloaded and so your emotional system responded by shutting down. You might want to consider going on a retreat. I am considering one myself. There are several Buddhist organizations that provide retreats of various sorts. I think it might really help you to be in a quiet supportive atmosphere.

mattbrowne's avatar

You can undo the suppression.

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