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Numbing vs. Soothing


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As an addict we are all familiar with the word “numbing” as it’s the acting out that we do to block out pain and regret afterwards. I have always thought that “soothe” falls into the same category BUT that is not so.

The dictionary states “soothe” is to gently calm a person or their feelings while “Numbing” is defined as deprived of the power of sensation, without feeling, desensitised, senseless, unfeeling; anaesthetised, paralysed, frozen.  Soothe does not deaden the feeling but relieves, takes the edge off, without loss of senses, but the dictionary clouds the issue by stating similar adjectives as numbing, which has in the past been a cause of confusion for me!

I have now concluded that it is ok to soothe as it’s a thought-out process to provide relaxation.

I am NOT going to define numbing behaviours as this will be too triggering, and we all know what they are; and focus instead on activities that we can all use for soothing without feeling guilty or having the shame afterwards.

Having healthy coping strategies can help in our self-care journey. Self-soothing techniques come in handy if panic comes on suddenly and without warning. It’s crucial to note that self-soothing doesn’t replace reaching out to your support system. Staying in touch with the people you love (and not pushing them away) is an important part of looking after your mental health and well-being.

Over the last few years, I have discovered the art of talking… taking a shower, creative writing, poetry, painting, woodwork and walking very helpful. I have also rented a ¼ plot at a local allotment and this has given me fresh air, exercise and a place to go. Listening to music in the car is another soothing activity.

In the past sport, especially sailing was helpful for me in clearing the mind and very relaxing while being out in the elements. 
If you are lacking ideas, put “Self soothing activities” into your search engine. 

Build up several new soothing skills to add to your armoury to tackle feelings that normally take you towards acting out. In my recovery journey I am currently looking to reconnect with my digital piano and make my own music. 

I do hope this article has been helpful.

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