Filling a void

Some of us have this empty feeling that just won’t go away. Life is good, great and at times, ok but yet that underlying feeling is still there. You can’t really identify what it is or how to fix it. We try to find a way to fill that emptiness, that void by drinking, drugs, sex, relationships, work, eating… etc. In the end, the things we try to fill that void with still leaves us empty and even more unhappy. Sometimes you may not even realize you have a void or where it stems from. We go through life so fast, just doing and not thinking. You let your emotions take over instead of trying to find out why you feel the way you do. Some people’s void stems from relationship issues with parents as a child, family life, environment. Some people’s void are from things that happened in their life as an adult. Whatever your void is, you can’t run away from it forever. It will eventually catch up with you and knock you down. At that point, you’ll have no choice but to face the very thing you’ve been running away from.

I didn’t want to post this blog without finding ways to help fill the void so I found these blogs by Dr. Tony Ferretti.

WHAT IS YOUR EMOTIONAL FILLER?

Do you have an emotional void? How do you fill that void? Many of us have a void in life that we attempt to fill with either positive or negative people or activities. In my practice, I work with highly successful, driven people who channel their energy into their careers. On the outside these individuals appear to be have it all, beautiful house, fancy car, name brand clothes, but on the inside is a gaping hole that they are attempting to fill. Some people grew up in homes where love was conditional based on performance, achievement, and productivity. Others grew up in abusive homes and never received approval or acceptance from their parents. Some had very little guidance/direction from their parents whereas others were micro managed during every step of their development. These are some ways in which an emotional void evolves and as children we find whatever way possible to cope. In fact, many people use the same coping mechanisms they did as children throughout their adult lives. For example, if as a child you used avoidance, withdrawal, and detachment to deal with verbal abuse you may find you’re still employing the same approach even though as an adult you have many more resources. Ask yourself, how did I cope with conflict as a child and do I use the same method today? Back to the original question, how do you fill your void? We may fill the void with food, alcohol, drugs, material possessions, sex, pornography, video games, etc. Sometimes the obsessions are more subtle or appear positive like work, wealth, physical attractiveness, exercise, popularity, status, power, and control. Over the next couple of weeks I will discuss the impact of these unhealthy emotional fillers and share positive alternatives.  For now, identify your void and emotional filler.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

Last week I discussed ways people fill their emotional void and where the void originated. Today I’d like to discuss why many people never realize a void exists until they self-destruct. You’ve heard the expression “work hard, play hard,” this describes many in my patient population. Driven, intense, and competitive people don’t transition well from work to home and carry the same behaviors and mindset to their personal lives. They are used to being busy, stimulated, challenged, and productive. Being still is a waste of time in their minds and they get restless when idle. These individuals operate from two speeds, 5th gear and neutral, and tend to be all or nothing types. They may use caffeine to pump them up and alcohol/drugs to bring them down. They don’t have the time, desire, or inclination to focus on their void and keep themselves distracted and detached from emotional issues. We read about people self-destructing everyday with the latest being the Secret Service scandal. Bright, educated, successful people using poor judgment and making bad choices. Are they filling a void too? All too often achievement or power-oriented people struggle in intimate relationships due to their emotional immaturity and self-absorption. Many don’t realize the void until it’s too late. Last week I challenged you to find your void, this week I challenge you to share it.  Next week I’ll discuss practical ways to achieve balance in life since fillers are typically a result of imbalance.

FILLING THE VOID

Now that you recognize your void and hopefully shared it, the next step is finding healthy ways to fill it. Most people have a void and insecurity in some area of their lives, so be assured you are not alone. When filling your void, be sure to keep balance in mind since even positive activities can become unhealthy and addictive. One of my favorite fillers is exercise, it doesn’t matter what type of exercise, just get active. Fill the void with a hobby, home project, volunteering, or any healthy passion that you have which gives you joy. I find that giving back to the community and serving others in need can be a wonderful void filler. For me, having a relationship with God and incorporating prayer in my life will consistently  fill a void. Spending quality time with family and friends creates an emotional connection and fills a void. Nurturing a marriage fosters emotional intimacy and builds a sense of belonging. Having a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and meaning in life related to work, raising a family, caring for others, or supporting a partner to excel in their career can fill a void. Ultimately, taking care of our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, and relational needs in a balanced and healthy way will produce positive benefits. And remember, balance breeds success. Life is extremely busy and very stressful, but attending to our needs will enable us to care for those we love with greater patience, strength, and energy. Next week I will discuss my book that is now on Amazon, Change Your Life, Not Your Wife: Marriage Saving Advice For Success-Driven People, written with Dr. Peter Weiss, which addresses the destructive nature of filling the void with work, wealth, power, and achievement.

I’m glad I came accross this blog very informative. As for me, I fill my void the same way “having a relationship with God and incorporating prayer in my life…. or at least I try too :-).

What positive ways will you choose to fill a void?

12 Comments
  1. i am dating a guy newly divorced. he openly told me that he does not want a committed relationship and that i am filling a void he has. i am very concerned about these comments. i feel like i should run and tell him that i’m not going to be his emotional void. what is this guy doing and what does it mean for me ?

    • You have to ask yourself if you really want to just be a place holder until he feels well enough to move on. He is being 100% honest with you about his wants. Are you being 100% honest with yourself. Is that all you want or are you hoping by staying around he will change his mind? Why wait and hope? Sounds like you should focus on building your self worth once your realize the gift you have to offer a guy this no longer will be a question

  2. What do you do when you have shared how you feel but the person you are with will not even try to understand? No understanding because he was not raised with love and feeling ‘ in his own life? I have no-one and not in a state I grew up in so I am being told to have patience with him because of the way he was raised. Well if the way he was raised with feelings not mattering and no love only to himself his needs his desires, isn’t the allowing him to do what was wrong to him as a child good?? How is that helping anything? I am so lost and broken mentally and I can not just fix anything because I can’t live on the streets and why should I over needing to be seen as a person that he loves so much at least he says he does and him telling me I don’t need anything at all that doesn’t benifit him because he goes out of his way to give me a roof over my head so I should be happy I don’t possibly need nothing more then that and a hug at night. No hobby’s no interest ‘ besides what he tells me needs to be done. And then to be told that nothing belongs to me at all but the roof over my head, that that’s my belonging is his life and he loves me in the same sentence. But my void is not over anything possible of his saying or actions so by me telling him this is mean. Help me please cause I am not as important as him according to God because God said the man is the head of the house.

    • The man is the head of the house IF that’s the man God blessed you with. No marriage is perfect but when it’s the person God has for you there is always a way to work it out. God created us to support, love and be there for one another. Doesn’t seem like that’s the relationship you have. Pray and listen God will lead you. God bless

  3. I’ve come to realise I have been filling a void over the last few years. I fill my void by looking after my children (and others) taking care of pets ect I feel needed and fulfilled doing this but I always seem to want more? More children… More pets… Will it always be this way? Can I fill my void any other way? Exercise doesn’t really do it for me. Being around family and friends do but I don’t see them enough to fill it and I always seem worse the next day, when they have gone? Please help?

    • Hi, until you search within to figure out what the void is and why you have that void you will always feel empty. You can fill it temporarily but once those things leave family, kids, pets the void remains. We need to determine what the void is??? From there we can work on ways to permanently fill the void. At times it starts with loving ourselves. We tend to search on the outside for answers that we must find within. It’s not an easy process but so worth it. I would love to discuss more…

  4. Hi my name is Sydney I am 16 years old and for the past 4 years I have had troubles saying no to guys . Whatever they want i give to them. My dad gave up his right when he found out my mom was pregnant with me and wants nothing to do with me ,I don’t know if that has anything to do with it .But i’m tired of feeling powerless ,I DON’T KNOW how to say NO people think its so easy but its not for me.I’m afraid of hurting the guys feelings ,I feel like its mean to say no so I just don’t say no i give them what they want .I NEED SERIOUS HELP!!How do I BEGIN TO LOVE AND RESPECT myself enough to say NO.

    • Hi Sydney,

      I’m really happy that you realize you have a weakness and want to change. That is amazing for your age. I commend you. Now I’m just going by the little info that I have here. I’m wondering if the problem is not really you saying no but you doing what they want you to do because you want them to love you. A lot of young ladies fill the void of their father not being in their life with men/boys. Some sleep with guys that says the right things in their ear, some like you, do everything you can to please them. So what you need to focus on is how to build your self-esteem so you know you’re worth. So you know how to love yourself and not seek that love from others. Once you learn how to love yourself you will NEVER allow anyone to take advantage of you. You need to read self-help books. Google how to love myself more. It sounds crazy but all these little things when you start doing them you will start to think of your self highly. I know what it feels like, I used to be the same way. It took a lot of mental work for me to say NO and love myself. One thing I had to do that was extremely hard was stand in the mirror, look myself in the eye and say I love you. I want you to do that. It will feel very weird but please do it. The more you do it the easier it will get. Also write down all the things that are amazing about you and be grateful for them. Write things you would like to improve in your life and start affirming them daily. For example for a long time I wanted to eat healthy but didn’t have the will power to do it so one of my daily affirmations were “I will eat healthy daily”, “I will exercise daily” etc. Guess who’s eating much healthier then before, me :).

      So whatever you want to become better in speak it and write it… it will come to pass. I hope I gave you enough little tips to get you started. I wish you the best. The mind is a powerful thing, start working on it to overcome your low self esteem. Please email me if you want to talk more donata@adhdfdn.org

      xoxoxo

  5. Hi there
    I am a 30 year old gay man and for most of my life I have struggled with weight, relationships, rejection and complete bottle up my feelings regarding family verbal abuse.

    I have made peace with alot of things regarding rejection and relationships and replaced it with “ingredients to a beautiful life” and that is trying new things such as hiking and surfing.

    But with all of the above I have realised that I have a void… here’s how the story goes for years the only and main thing that has been on mind the entire day was weight loss and yet 30 years later after pushing myself in exercise and dieticians im still overweight because the moment I reach a high there’s still a void and fill it with food.. particularly cake like textures or chocolate. I don’t know how to get rid of this habit as when the void comes to mind it is a really painful feeling and the only comfort is either indulgent food or sex. I have such an attractive face but my body doesn’t do it justice because of my bad choices.

    I’m stuck in a rut at the moment and I’m not at peace… can you help??

  6. Hi… the fact that you are reaching out to talk to someone is awesome and I hope my words can point you in the right direction to start making the necessary changes to break this emotional eating cycle. A lot of times in life things hurt us so deeply and to avoid the pain we push it back soooooo far in our minds. By doing that instead of healing and truly letting it go we deal with it in other ways. Ways like eating, drinking, sex, drugs…etc, that we don’t even realize that we are doing it to avoid the pain. You said “as when the void comes to mind it is a really painful feeling” that’s where we need to start. You HAVE to be able to feel that pain in order to deal with that pain so that you can heal from that pain. Every time it comes up and you eat the pain away or sex the pain away…. you think that’s what you’re doing but the pain still remains. The cycle continues. STOP and allow yourself to deal with the pain. If that means sitting down and writing what happened and how it hurt, write what you’ve been through since or look in the mirror and talk to yourself about the pain. What ever way you choose please do it. Don’t stop yourself from crying, let it alllll out. That’s the only way to start healing. It won’t be a one time thing, you will have to do it several times. The more you do the less it hurts. If it’s someone that caused you the pain, write them a letter even if you don’t give it to them. This will allow you to express yourself and allow what you pushed down for so long to start coming up. As you start dealing with the pain you will start feeling better. When you feel better, you do better.

    Please no matter how hard it is please do it. You deserve to be happy. It will be scary because no one wants to relive a painful memory but in the end it will be freeing for you.

    :)

  7. I look at my husband of 16 years and feel no attraction to him. I love him because he is the father of our 3 children, but that is all I feel. We are going through a divorce and we are trying hard to at least stay best friends which is what we started out as for the children. He has started talking to other women and it really bothers me but I do not want to sleep with him or kiss him. Please help me I am a wreck. I thought I wanted to move on but when he is with another women I get upset and hurt. He works all the time and I have my thoughts that he has cheated on me before so I started talking to other guys to feel needed. He knows I have talked to other guys but when I confront him about the other women he is talking to and the ones I think he has cheated with he says its not him. I have trust issues with him and I am trying to heal from myself with the help of God because I am use to just bottling up my feelings so I have begun to let my feelings come out but when it comes to him I still fill no attraction but I feel pain and hurt and I dont believe a word he says to me. I have a void I tried to feel with so many things guys, kids, work, family, and now God. He says he doesnt want the divorce but the is still talking to other women online im so confussed can you help me

    • Hi Stormy,

      I am so sorry that you are feeling like this I hope what I’ve said below will help spark a light in you. The information I wrote below is all based on assuming that you are not in an abusive relationship.

      The issue here is you are trying to find something from others that you can only find within. You are lost, confused, feeling unworthy to find the love that you really need to find within. In a marriage two “whole” people come together to make a healthy relationship. It’s never all rosy but it’s always healthy. When either one or both parties in the relationship aren’t 100% whole you look for your partner to fulfill you and vice versa. Once they can’t fulfill you, you look for it somewhere else all the while what you are looking for is inside of you. 

      I am glad you have a relationship with God because he will be your source of strength during this time. Don’t make any moves on the divorce hold off if you can. Take a “mental” break from the marriage. Take time to get to know who you are. Find yourself. Pray for guidance. Ask God what is your purpose in life. What is your gift. Take a few months to meditate, read self help books, practice yoga or some type of exercise to help with your body and mind. Take your focus off your husband and what he is or is not doing and immerse your whole focus on building you. I guarantee you once you’ve blossomed into the woman God has created to be either your husband will fall completely in love with you or you will realize you deserve better.

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