I believe there are facets of the human condition that each of us should make the time to explore over the course of our lives. I believe that lifting our most private and vulnerable selves out of our murky inner depths for examination is essential for creating the sustainable sense of peace and fulfillment we acutely desire.
Speaking from my own experience, it has been a privilege and an honor to bear witness and provide comfort to people from all walks of life in their times of emotional crisis. The profoundly intimate and raw conversations that unfold in these moments have been some of the most meaningful and illuminating conversations of my life. I know from my own experience and the experiences of many others that coming to terms with a lingering and corrosive sense of emptiness is a deeply nuanced, personal, and frightening struggle for most of us. As such, it deserves far more than a casual one-off article filled with platitudes serving up a quick hit of superficial wisdom and sending us merrily on our way. Instead, I invite you to join me as I attempt to thoroughly explore the very heart of the matter so that all of us can better understand what to make of it – how to live with it, learn from it, and grow from it.
Here's a brief look at what each of the four parts in the series will examine:
Part One – Why are we so afraid?
I start by examining the connection between the sense that something really important is missing from our lives and buried feelings of shame and unworthiness, feeling as though life is utterly beyond our control, and feeling let down or trapped by life. These feelings are understandably frightening and the instinctive reaction for many of us is to go to great lengths to avoid having to actually feel them. The catch is, however, that the best way to assuage these fears is by turning toward them rather than running from them. If we set a goal of slowly becoming more comfortable with discomfort, we become able to sit still long enough to learn more about the source of our fears and how to ease them.
Part Two – What Running Away Looks Like
Every single one of us has developed a way of responding to various fears. Sadly, however, our culture is not particularly adept at teaching us how to react in healthy ways. Instead, we do the very best we can with little guidance, poor examples, little personal insight, and a lot of guess work. Not surprisingly, this hasn't served us very well.
Part Two in this series explores the unhealthy ways we try to 'fill up' the emptiness in our lives including the urge to stay busy at all costs, the need for constant change, a drive to achieve more, own more, or do more, the need to fill the void with people (especially 'the one'), or turning to addiction in a desperate effort to induce numbness as a replacement for fear. When these coping mechanisms become too exhausting or impossible to sustain, they can lead to terrible depression, hopelessness, or even suicide. Thankfully, as a culture, we are beginning to learn how to replace negative strategies with more positive, effective, and lasting ones.
Part Three – Healthy Ways To 'Fill Up'
And now to the more uplifting stuff! Part Three delves into healthy, long-term strategies for cultivating a deep sense of contentment. In addition to offering tools and exercises for fostering a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in your life, this segment also challenges you to look honestly at your expectations and your priorities in the context of the things we know lead to a life-affirming sense of fulfillment – meaningful relationships, living with a sense of purpose, cultivating empathy and compassion for ourselves and others, knowing how to draw personal boundaries, attending to our basic needs, and cultivating an ever deepening sense of gratitude in our day to day lives. Further, Part Three doesn't shy away from an extremely important truth: our feelings are in a constant state of ebb and flow. With that in mind, it is important to acknowledge that feelings of emptiness are impossible to permanently eliminate from our lives. Our goal, then, becomes to manage the feeling as it emerges and come to see it as a welcome reminder of the need for a personal realignment.
Part Four – Don't Lose Hope
The closing segment of this series highlights various ways to keep the ball rolling toward positive change. Addressing that nagging feeling of emptiness isn't an easy or a quick process, so it is important to put a structure in place for the challenges yet to come. Part Four shares resources for encouragement and support along with some basic exercises for helping you make deep and lasting progress toward understanding what is missing in your life and what to do about it.
I am eager to share this series with you and am looking forward to the fantastic discussions I hope this series will spark! In the meantime, please know that I continue to believe in you and all that you are capable of being. Until the next time, remember to live your life as kindly and boldly as possible!
Hi! I'm Jennifer
I’m a professional life coach and business owner in the Washington, DC area living my dream of helping purpose-driven people experience deeper fulfillment and personal transformation. I'm also an active professional violinist who thrives on connecting with people of all ages and backgrounds through the power and beauty of music.