I feel DISCONNECTED / WITHDRAWN

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

What is it?

If you have felt disconnected or withdrawn at some point in your life, you may have noticed that when you feel that way you are not able to fully engage with or relate to your own feelings or those of others. This means, for example, that it may be difficult for you to identify and name your own emotions, or that it’s hard for you to feel deep emotions toward someone you love, or that you’re just generally feeling “empty.” It can be a temporary state due to extreme stress, or a more lasting condition.

How do we get to feeling that way? One reason worth mentioning is that we live in a world of modern technology and innovation which, in appearance, promises us to stay more connected and informed than ever before. And yet, why do so many of us experience exactly the opposite? The unintended consequence of modern technology is that our interactions with others have become much like “drive-thru” experiences that lack depth, meaningfulness, and often compassion and kindness. Does this sound familiar? If so, it’s time to reconnect, NOW.

What is it telling you?

Feeling disconnected and withdrawn is alerting you that you may be losing your sense of self, and that you can’t connect to other people in a healthy and positive manner anymore. It’s telling you that you’ve become disconnected from your own life, going through it in an “automatic pilot” mode, as if you were observing it from the outside. Feeling disconnected may also be telling you that for any given reason, you are in a place where you don’t want to feel your emotions anymore in order to avoid emotional pain. This is called a defense mechanism. You don’t have to go through life this way, however. Trust that things can change and that you can feel again. It’s time to reconnect and love your life again.

How to manage it?
  • Meditate and breathe. Learning to breathe deeply will restore control and peace in your life. It will make you feel grounded and will help you remember where you are and who you are.
  • Stimulate your five senses. Give yourself permission to “feel” life through your sense of touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste. The results will surprise you.
  • Face and reflect upon how you feel. This will help you connect back to yourself.
  • Practice gratitude and rediscover the joy that can be found in the simple things in life. Focus on Love and Beauty, whether in nature or the people in your life, and realize that there’s so much to feel alive for.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle (good sleep, exercise, and eating habits). Be kind to yourself, and fall in love with your life all over again.
  • Join activities that bring you joy and meaning including art, volunteering, working, or sports.