The good news is that when you’re at the point of saying “I feel dead inside”, you’re ready to start living again! Trust that your feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness will pass. Know that if you take time to listen to and take care of your soul, you will find life and light quicker than you expect. Feeling dead inside isn’t a permanent state, even if you’ve been struggling for a long time.
This article was inspired by a reader who is struggling to accept her relationship breakup. “I feel like I’m a dead soul on the inside,” says Kate on When the Man You Love is Marrying Someone Else. “I met my boyfriend at work, and I felt my life was complete because he was there for me. Day and day out I feel like I needed him more than he would ever need me. Now he is marrying someone his mother chose for him, and I feel dead inside. I am devastated and feel nothing. I am however going to start going to the gym to have an activity that I could look forward to besides work. But I am so used to having him in my life constantly, I live alone, and I don’t know how to come alive again.”
If you’re brave enough to say “I feel dead inside”, you’ll find you’re not alone. Last month 72,000 people searched for ways to come alive – and the number is increasing. More and more people are seeking deep meaning and purpose in their lives.
Overcoming your feeling of being dead inside won’t be as simple as scrolling through my tips and finding a quick fix. It may have taken years for your empty feelings to develop and take root, which means it may take a long time for them to come alive again.
4 Ways to Come Alive When You Feel Dead Inside
I thought this would be a quick and easy article to write because I know what helped me come back to life after feeling like I was dead inside. But I was wrong.
The problem is that different people have different reasons for feeling dead inside. And, what works for one person – such as me or Kate above – won’t necessarily work for the next person.
So, you need to figure out what will work for you. You are the only expert on you, and you know more about yourself than anyone ever will. Your job is to find the crack in the tomb and start prying it open until the light comes in. And then, you will stop saying “I feel dead inside” and start focusing on what brings you alive.
These four steps will get you started…
1. Go back to when you first started to feel numb
When my grandma died, I felt like I was dead on the inside. My grief was overwhelming and constant. All I wanted to do was sleep. I wanted to hide from the world and never wake up.
Sometimes the feeling of being dead inside is actually grief or heartache that is stuck in our hearts, souls, and spirits. Difficult emotions, such as guilt, anger, shame, or regret can cause emotional issues if they aren’t processed or work through. But regardless of the cause – such as my grandma’s death or Kate’s breakup – the feeling is similar. Numb, no feeling, purposeless, emptiness, flat line. No ups or downs, just sad grey nothing.
I knew I needed to grieve my grandma’s death, and then I’d start to feel alive again. Kate needs to grieve the end of her relationship – and she’s already starting by going to the gym and creating activities that will help her heal.
What about you – when did this feeling of being dead inside start? Was there an event, or did it happen gradually? Thinking about this can help you heal and come back to life. If you know what the cause was, you can learn different cures. For instance, if you’re dealing with a breakup you can learn different ways to let go of someone you love. If you’re depressed you can try different natural remedies for depression.
2. Bring your story out of darkness into the light
Have you talked about what happened to you? Maybe you need to forgive yourself for past mistakes, or share your story with someone you trust. Secrecy and darkness makes everything worse. If you hide your experiences and problems, they will get darker and scarier. But if you tell people that you feel dead inside, you may be surprised at how much support and encouragement you find.
You may even find someone who says, “I experienced the same thing, and I felt dead inside for months. This is what helped me….” Or maybe you don’t need practical ways to come alive. Maybe you just need to tell someone what happened to you, who hurt you, and how numb you feel.
Bring your story and your soul into the light. It will help you heal. You might join a group of people struggling with the same thing, or start a blog, or just tell your best friend what happened. Maybe you need to see a doctor or counselor. Do something…don’t let the darkness win.
3. Venture into the past
Back when my grandma died, I didn’t do much to help myself come alive again. I didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately, I didn’t experience complicated grief or depression, and I was able to let my pain and grief go. That was an easier situation to deal with because my grandma was in her 70s, and I knew one day she’d die. I was still unprepared and heartbroken, but at some level I expected it.
But what I couldn’t get over for the longest time was my sister’s decision to stop speaking to me. This was numbing and painful at the same time. I didn’t feel dead inside, but I did feel shocked, confused, and ashamed. I’ve also experienced the pain of infertility and the loss of several loved ones.
Now when bad things happen to me, I know what helps me. I connect with God and find His presence incredibly comforting. I don’t know why we have to experience painful events and difficult feelings, but I no longer question. I’ve learned to accept and surrender to what is.
4. Experiment with different ways to come alive
It’s time to get creative! How have you tried to combat the feeling of being dead inside? Maybe you’ve talked to your family doctor, tried different prescription medications for depression, gone for counseling, joined a support group, read books, or even volunteered with people who are worse off than you.
Nothing worked, right?
Maybe it’s time to step outside your comfort zone. Plan a solo trip to Egypt. Move to New York City. Book an appointment with an art therapist. Start a blog. Learn how to play a new musical instrument. Sing in a choir. Go to church.
If you feel overwhelmed and stuck, read 10 Ways to Figure Out What to Do With Your Life.
What’s your experience with feeling dead inside and coming alive? Take time to think about what’s holding you back and how you can get out of your own way. Listen to the still small voice inside of you – because you do have the answer.
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of feeling half alive or even dead inside. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.