“Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day!” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The feeling of emptiness inside is one that is often triggered by events like the lack of purpose around an empty nest, a divorce, a ruptured relationship of some kind, loss of job or even what is known as the “mid-life crisis.” Then, sometimes, this feeling comes up without a clear cause. It can be a nagging, persistent presence calling for relief, a gaping emotional hole in your consciousness wanting to be filled.
And try to fill it is often what happens next, often with less than satisfying results, as Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in the quote at the beginning of this post. You try to get something from outside yourself to fill the void, especially if it comes in the wake of the loss of a relationship in your life, whether absolute in death or divorce or loss of a job, or in kind, as in the empty nest where the relationship is forever changed by the “flight” of offspring into a more independent life.
But your effort to fill the void with outside things, whether emotion dulling alcohol or drugs, or with relationships when you are seeking to get your emptiness filled, leave the emptiness intact after a short relief. What is the answer to this empty feeling, this emotional void, this longing for connection and love?
As unlikely as it seems, that which has the potential to fill the emptiness is already within you, although you perhaps are not aware of it. It is called self-love, and it can fill the void so effectively when applied fully that you can be overflowing with love and fulfillment and joy. It is a hidden treasure waiting to be revealed, but not quickly or easily realized, as it is buried under an overabundance of contradictory and limiting beliefs for most people. Finding it and experiencing it fully can require a challenging journey and is often best taken with a trusted guide. But it is worth the trip.
More on this soon. . . .