April 24, 2023

Feeling Empty: The Ultimate Guide To Finding Fulfillment [2023]

Written by Sara Lane

how to find fulfillment woman smiling

Your life may be everything you dreamed it to be: family, friends, cars, money, a thriving career, success, fame.

Despite the blessings in your life, you may still find yourself wondering – is this it?

Finding physical, emotional, and even spiritual fulfillment in life is essential to becoming all that we were meant to be.

In this therapist-approved ultimate guide, we will cover everything you need to know about getting rid of feeling empty and creating a meaningful life.

Finding Fulfillment

Whether you feel like there is something missing from your life – love, a child, a sense of happiness – or whether you feel as though you have everything you’ve ever longed for…

Emptiness can strike at any stage of life.

Just because emptiness takes hold does not mean that life is unfavorable. Instead, it’s important to begin a deep search for meaning and purpose as you seek to experience fulfillment in your life.

Some ways you can begin your healing journey include getting back to the basics of your spiritual, emotional, and physical health:

  • Do you feel that you are living out your values and beliefs?
  • Is your home a place where you feel safe and content?
  • Are all of your needs for shelter, food, and clean water met without fear of lacking in any of those areas?
  • Do you feel a sense of meaning and purpose in living your unique life?

Beginning a deep dive into these questions may help you begin your journey towards health and wholeness.

professional woman asking "it this it?"

Here are some simple ways you can work on your emotional and social needs to create a better sense of living.

Creating “Enoughness” & Finding Contentment

Being enough. When, as children, we feel “full” from the love and nurturance our caregivers provide, we grow up with a sense of there being enough – enough love, care, attention, safety, warmth, fun, excitement, opportunity, and hope.

When we have not had sufficient nurturance in our developing years, an exaggerated craving for nurturance persists into our adulthood. It feels like an empty space that can’t be filled.

Setting limits can feel too restrictive. Difficulty setting and enforcing limits on our own behavior is a signal that we are not experiencing enough of the right kind of fulfillment in our lives.

Some of us are settling for feeling full and pleasured by food rather than being fulfilled by our lives. Begin to establish a state of “enoughness” by identifying what’s missing in our lives.

career woman asking "what is lacking in my life?"

Exercise: Creating a State of “Enoughness”

  1. Make a detailed listing of what there isn’t enough of in your life.
    • Journal: What is lacking your life or what is there not enough of:
      • in relationships,
      • downtime,
      • joy,
      • meaningful work,
      • hobbies, etc.
  2. Identify at least one non-food way to bring more of each item on your list into your life. Be creative.
  3. Set an intention and a time for following through with the activities you’ve listed.
  4. Monitor your progress.

Setting limits is an act of self-care. It means setting realistic limits and not applying black-and-white thinking.

Set limits for gray areas. A good rule of thumb is flexibility.

For example: tapering off sodas on most days and adding more water, but allowing yourself a soda here and there.

As a general rule, if you feel anxiety about a limit you’re setting, or the new limit is an extreme change from what you’re already doing, it’s probably not realistic.

If you’re setting an unrealistic limit, it’s because you want to change immediately.

While you may want to end the pain now, changing long-term habits is a gradual process. It’s about progress not perfection.

Going slow allows you to practice and make small changes so you don’t feel totally deprived.

10 minute pause man resting on couch

Exercise: The 10-minute Pause

Take time in your busy day to give yourself an opportunity to recenter your emotions.

As hectic as your schedule may be, giving yourself a 10-minute pause can be an opportunity for you to reset the stress and anxiety of the day, and relieve any buildup of negative emotions.

During this time, you may wish to practice these attributes:

  • Listening with a Quiet Mind
  • Asking Questions that Matter
  • Appreciating from the Heart

For more information on taking a 10-minute meditation break, see this article for reference.

Setting Limits and Boundaries

“Today I will realize that I have a unique voice and the right to express it. I don’t need to hear what others think. I need to hear myself think.”

Are you willing to do it? Are you willing to be a little hungry, not for food, but for sweets and all the things you crave? If not, is it because you’re just too hungry everywhere else in your life?

Before you start to set these goals and boundaries for yourself, you must take care of your basic needs for belonging, safety, and connection.

  • How much support do you have in your life?
  • How much reassurance do you have in your life?
  • Where can you get more of what you need?

If we don’t have an arena where we can express our voice, we’re going to feel empty. No amount of money, success, or food will fill that emptiness for long.

hands supporting each other

Build a network of creative support. How supportive are the people in your life when you express your needs, hopes, and desires?

If you tend to seek advice and approval while maximizing your self-doubts, you’ll attract a certain type of person who thrives on feeling one-up and controlling you.

Don’t count yourself out.

  • The job requires five years of experience and you only have three? Send that resume anyway.
  • The personal ad says he’s looking for someone 25-30 and you’re 35? Answer anyway.

Some of us have spent so much time avoiding rejection and criticism that we rarely experience it directly. That leads to a phobia that keeps you from taking risks.

See rejection as an opportunity for growth and change.

If you receive a poor evaluation at work or fail to get a raise you feel you deserve, look at it as feedback. Why have others failed to recognize your strengths?

Setting Limits on Others

Personal boundaries are protective. If they’re effective, they keep us safe from harm while allowing us to take in what we need.

If they are firm yet flexible, and not too loose or rigid, they will allow in the warmth, connection, closeness, safety, and intimacy we need and desire.

Loose Boundaries Lead to Merging

When our boundaries are too loose, we merge easily with the emotions and needs of others. We tend to get over-involved in other people’s lives – we give too much and try too hard.

We may try to fix or control others with our opinions, judgments, demands, and advice. While this may look and feel like care, it often unconsciously represents our own need for caretaking.

We try to fix the people we are closest to so we can have our own needs met.

We may take on more work and outside commitment than is healthy for us. We may feel the need for constant connection with others and try to avoid being alone too much.

The price is constantly feeling drained triggering isolation with food and TV. Too much aloneness triggers anxiety and overwhelms.

Eating, which is soothing, temporarily removes the loneliness and anxiety.

Rigid Boundaries Lead to Isolation

Rigid boundaries are an attempt to avoid the uncomfortable and often terrifying feeling of anxiety we associate with closeness.

We don’t let others get too close because intimacy is frightening. Too much closeness brings on a feeling of being engulfed or suffocated.

We fear the loss of our separateness and independence. We may also avoid intimacy with ourselves and feel afraid of connecting with our inner world.

This can lead to feelings of emptiness and depression.

man calling his therapist for support

Seek Assistance

If you’re experiencing emptiness in your day-to-day life, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor who can walk you through what’s missing in your life.

Our Houston therapists at Eddins Counseling Group are ready and willing to walk with you as you begin your journey towards happiness and contentment.

Feel free to give us a call or send us a text today and we’ll help you get started.

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