Emptiness Inside: Why You Feel Empty in Life and How to Fill It

By Theo Harrison

Do you feel lost in life?

Do you feel lonely even when others are with you?

Are you unable to express your feelings and emotions?

Do you feel that life is passing you by and you’re just a silent spectator?

Are you feeling empty inside?

The greatest tragedies in life is not untimely death, but to live a life of emptiness.” – Topsy Gift

You breathe, but you don’t feel alive. You exist, but you don’t live your life. Everything feels detached and lacks any meaning. The emptiness inside can be a dark, lonely place that you can’t describe or explain to anyone. You feel so alone and disconnected that the world around you stops making sense. Most of us struggle with feelings of emptiness from time to time and we don’t even understand why.

Truth is, life is a unique experience of complicated emotions. Our emotions impact our mindset, our motivations and our quality of life. Hence, it is normal for us to experience intense emotions that leave us feeling empty and sucks out all the happiness and fullness of our lives.

Regardless of how successful, attractive and popular you are, there will be times when you will feel something is missing from your life. Something that is valuable to you. Sometimes these feelings of emptiness arise due to certain negative experiences or situations. However, most of the times it results from a lack of self-reflection and the urgent need for addressing deep problems within ourselves.

What emptiness feels like

“This world that I live in is empty and cold, the loneliness cuts me and tortures my soul.” – Waylon Jennings

Although it might be difficult to understand at first, when you feel empty and lost, you live your life in autopilot mode. You wake up, you wash yourself, you eat, you go to work, you do your job, you mandatorily laugh with your coworkers during happy hours, you come home, you have your dinner, you Netflix and you sleep. The alarm rings the next morning and you repeat. You keep following your schedule like a good little robot. You do everything you are required to do without feeling or thinking anything about it. Everything is routine. Everything is familiar.

Your robotic programming has taken over your human self and so now you are incapable of feeling any happiness, or sorrow for that matter, anymore. You ask yourself “what am I doing? Is this what my life is supposed to be? Do I even need this soulless life?”

Feeling empty in life can be devastating to your being and can affect you mentally, emotionally and physically. If you’re going through this emotional ordeal, you will feel a void in your life and experience these inner feelings:

  • You don’t understand yourself
  • You are unable to explain how you feel
  • You lack a sense of purpose
  • Your mind is dominated by negative thoughts
  • You constantly seek validation and approval from loved ones
  • You lack meaning in life
  • You are not sad or depressed, but you’re not happy or satisfied either
  • You feel like there’s a vacuum or black hole inside you

Why you believe you feel empty

Many people around the world feel empty in life. However, most of us are unable to understand why we are engulfed with this overbearing feeling of emptiness. Hence, we start to develop some false beliefs regarding why we feel this way. Most common false beliefs that we tell ourselves about why we feel empty are:

  • I am unlovable
  • I am not as successful as I should be
  • I don’t make enough money
  • I don’t have a romantic partner
  • I am unsatisfied with my work
  • My romantic partner doesn’t love or care for me
  • My romantic partner doesn’t give me enough attention or stimulation
  • I am not physically intimate with my partner or anyone else
  • I have no one to have fun with
  • My life is boring and nothing is exciting
  • I don’t have enough friends or people who love me

There may be some more distorted reasons that you may end up telling yourself about why you are feeling empty in life. But none of these are true. These are NOT the actual reasons for your inner emptiness. However, you firmly believe these false notions and so you do what you think is necessary to fill the void. And this takes you down a path that is even more hazardous for you in this state. You start getting addicted to substances like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, junk food, and sugar. You become addicted to activities like shopping, overworking, sex, internet, TV, computer games, gambling, and other unhealthy activities. But none of these things can fill the black hole that’s growing inside you. These can provide you temporary solace, but in the longer run, these will do more harm than you can imagine.

“Illusion is needed to disguise the emptiness within.” – Arthur Erickson

What you need to do is identify the real causes for your inner emptiness and focus on addressing the real problem and healing yourself instead of fixing the symptoms.

What is actually haunting you inside

The reason why you feel like a stranger to yourself is actually simple. There is only one real reason for feeling empty: a lack of LOVE. Every other reason that you can come up with for feeling lost inside is in some way or the other associated with the lack of love in your life.

If you are struggling with a feeling of emptiness, then it can be traced back to the complex issues in your intimate relationships. It may be that your parents did not love you as much as you needed or maybe you lost someone who loved you very much or something else entirely. Love and attention help improve our self-esteem and make us feel important and wanted. And when that love is lacking in our lives we start feeling we are not good enough. Hence, we go through the journey of life with a lot of emotional baggage that makes it even harder than it needs to be.

So the real reason for your chronic inner emptiness is a serious lack of emotional connection and a lack of display of love. But it’s not the lack of love from someone else that’s making you feel empty. It’s a lack of SELF LOVE that causes an emptiness. When you stop loving yourself and abandon yourself that’s when you experience inner emptiness.

You are causing your own emptiness

When you criticize and judge yourself, talk yourself down, ignore your feelings, avoid your passions, numb your emotions with addictions, stay inside your head, and believe others are responsible for loving you and making you happy, you will feel a deep void inside that no one else can fill but you.

Self-abandonment is the cause of your own inner emptiness. You are the cause. You make yourself believe you are unlovable, unimportant, inadequate, worthless and not good enough. You have made yourself believe that you’re flawed and you don’t deserve to be loved.

Reasons why you feel empty

Let’s break down the causes for your emptiness to gain a better understanding about why you’re feeling empty and lost in life.

1. You don’t understand yourself

“One must know oneself. If this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better.” – Pensées, Blaise Pascal

Do you know who you are? When you are unable to know yourself it can lead to feelings of emptiness. Failing to understand who you wish to be as a person and what you want in life can make you lose touch with your inner self. This leads you to feel that life lacks meaning and you are drifting through life without any purpose.

2. You are detached from others

When you fail to build any meaningful relationships in life, romantic or otherwise, you start feeling distraught and lonely. It makes you feel isolated even if you are surrounded by others.

According to the 2003 study ‘Gratitude and Happiness: Development of a Measure of Gratitude, and Relationships with Subjective Well Being’ by Watkins, Woodward, Stone & Kolts, relationships are the most important factors for happiness. As the quality of your relationships matters more than the quantity, a lack of intimacy in relationships, rather than a lack of relationships, can make you feel lonely.

3. You’re unable to move on from your past

When there are unanswered and unresolved issues from your past, certain uncomfortable feelings will linger for a long time. Your inability to make peace with your past will add to your feelings of emptiness and purposelessness. When a relationship ends, like a loss or a divorce or a breakup, most of us are unable to get closure. Moreover, the failure of an important relationship can leave a huge void in our lives, especially when we believe the relationship was tied to our identity. Now when the relationship is over and the person is gone, we feel lost and don’t know who we are without it.

4. You don’t have any passions to pursue

“Life is empty and meaningless because life is empty and meaningless.” – Werner Erhard

But when you lack the dream, you don’t have any drive to move forward.  Your goals, ambitions, and dreams define who you are. Your passion drives you forward in life and the sense of achievement makes you feel fulfilled. Even when you fail, you learn from the experience and try a different approach to move ahead. But when you lack the dream, you don’t have any drive to move forward. You don’t have any purpose. You don’t have any reason to wake up in the morning and make a difference in your life.

How to fill your inner void

“Moments of suffering are meant to empty us so that we may have the potential to tap into our truest depths.” – Kamand Kojouri

Once you know what exactly is making you feel empty, you can understand how to fight and overcome it. Here are a few suggestions you can follow to get started and live your best life.

“Love yourself. It is important to stay positive because beauty comes from the inside out.” – Jenn Proske

Your feelings will tell you everything you need to know about how you treat yourself. The first step to get rid of this emptiness inside starts with loving yourself. Be mindful and aware of your thoughts, emotions, and body. Instead of engaging in self-abandoning behavior, talk to yourself with compassion and kindness like you would with a friend. Remember, you are your own best friend. So treat yourself accordingly. It means paying attention to what your thoughts and emotions are telling you and taking responsibility for doing what’s necessary.

2. Acknowledge your emotions

Self-love also means opening up to uncomfortable feelings like loneliness, heartbreak, pain and allowing them to heal simply by letting them pass naturally, instead of holding on to them. Learn to embrace your emotions and yourself. Your feelings are a reflection of you at this moment. The more you pay attention to your feelings and emotions, whether positive or negative, the better you will be able to connect with your authentic self. So allow yourself to grieve and mourn if you need to as it will help these difficult emotions to pass. Be compassionate with your feelings without judging them.

3. Spend time with yourself

“Become totally empty. Quiet the restlessness of the mind. Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.” – Laozi

Instead of investing in unproductive activities and unhealthy addictions like TV, computer games, alcohol and drugs, look inside and just spend some quality time with yourself. Focus on what makes you feel excited about life. What your passions, dreams, and desires are. What you are afraid of. Sit with yourself and identify what needs you have how you can fulfill them. Do things that you enjoy or used to enjoy when you were younger. Write, paint, exercise, cook or whatever you may find interesting. Meditating can also help you understand your needs and refocus on yourself. This will help you find more meaning in your everyday life.

4. Appreciate your life

Another excellent way to overcome your emptiness is by practicing gratitude. Psychological studies have revealed that practicing gratitude can help you imbibe positive emotions and feel a lot more satisfied and happier in life. It allows you to develop better social skills and build stronger relationships. By appreciating who you are, what you have & being thankful for your life, you will gain a whole new perspective in life. You will stop taking good things for granted and shift your mentality from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. You will start focusing more on what greatness is already present in your life instead of all that you don’t have. Gratitude will help to reduce your stress and anxiety, enable you to enjoy the little things in life and make you more open to receiving blessings from the universe.

5. Try new things

According to studies conducted by neurobiologists, learning new things and engaging in new experiences can help you feel a lot happier and feel more motivated in life. It has almost similar effects as dopamine and can help you experience emotional arousal. It is also a great idea to give your living space a makeover and change your living environment. Even the most minor changes like getting a new furniture or bed sheet or even new lighting can have a great positive impact on your emotional and mental health.

6. Get professional help

If you are still having problems coping with your feelings of emptiness, seeking professional help can be a great idea. Sometimes self-analysis might not be the best path to take. In these cases, getting help from a therapist can help you find all the reasons and solutions for your inner void. A good therapist can give you the exact help you need to start living a fulfilling and meaningful life once again.

Love yourself to find fulfillment

“Emptiness is not a great loss. It creates a great opportunity to fill yourself again and again with great love.” – Debasish Mridha

The first step to start filling your emptiness is to love yourself. When you love yourself, you will be more kind and compassionate to yourself, you will find new interests in life, you will pursue your dreams, you will attract more people, you will build deep, meaningful relationships and you will find your own happiness. Everything great in life starts with self-love.

There is no need for you to carry on living like this where you feel a vacuum inside you. Build a better relationship with yourself and give yourself the love you truly deserve. Once you have this figured out, everything else will fall into place by itself. It’s not that hard to live a meaningful life filled with purpose.

All you need to do is believe in the universe.

And yourself.

A version of this post was previously published on TheMindsJournal and is republished here with permission from the author.

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