I Feel Empty! When is a Lack of Meaning Something More Serious?

empty feeling

Sometimes, normal people feel a lack of motivation, a lack of meaning aka a sense of purpose, in life. It can happen as we come to terms with one or more unpleasant realities (e.g., a series of disappointments and failures). The sensation of emptiness tends to be temporary, not long-term, ending when we succeed in other endeavors. But when negativity affects our day-to-day thinking, mood, and behavior for weeks and months, a more serious problem is going on.

Numbness and an enduring sense of indifference tend to go with a sense of emptiness and the lack of meaning in life. They are symptoms of depression. So are sluggishness, listlessness, a persistent sense of sadness, the lack of feeling pleasure, and a loss of interest in life. Worthlessness and hopelessness attitudes might be part of the problem. If any of this applies to you, read on for upbeat information about how to end the problem(s).

Online dictionaries define the lack of meaning/sense of emptiness problem in several ways:

apathy- noun :lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

 Lethargy– is a state of tiredness, weariness, fatigue, or lack of energy. It can be accompanied by depression, decreased motivation, or apathy. Lethargy can be a normal response to inadequate sleep, overexertion, overworking, stress, lack of exercise, improper nutrition, boredom, or a symptom of a disorder. It may also be a side-effect of medication or caused by an interaction between medications or medication(s) and alcohol. When part of a normal response, lethargy often resolves with rest, adequate sleep, decreased stress, physical exercise and good nutrition. Lethargy’s symptoms can last days or even months.

So much for the vocabulary that mental health professionals might use when describing someone’s sense of emptiness and meaninglessness. The goal on both sides of the “I feel empty” conversation is to reach a state of happiness and optimism. Both can be emotional rollercoasters, though. A person can crave positivity, but not know how to feel any. The good news is that you can learn to control the problem, even to prevent it!

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Some people succeed at feeling happy again by finding meaning and purpose in helping others. Taking on a cause which appeals to your sense of justice or compassion can be soothing. The phenomenon is called altruism. Look around for something that excites and motivates you, and give it a genuine try.

A word of caution, though: Random acts of kindness can prove to be cruel. It’s not advisable to surprise someone with a favors that you want to perform for them. They might not need or appreciate that. Your behavior could cause the person unforeseen damage. Focus  your efforts where you’re certain that they’ll be appreciated.

You can:

– help someone to clean up after some disaster,

– soothe sad animals at a shelter,

or

– work with youngsters, the elderly and anyone else who needs a hug, a listening ear, and 1:1 attention.

Check out respected organizations for your options, and see how much  helping someone else can boost your mindset. If you still feel down after such involvement, or want to skip it, seek out a psychotherapist who can help you past the “I feel empty” problem.

Yocheved Golani

Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.