That feeling of emptiness. It’s right there in your chest, yet you’re unsure how it came about. Is it sadness? Melancholy? Boredom? It may be a little of everything. Feeling this way is not uncommon. You might call it “feeling empty,” while someone else might call it something different. What matters the most is that it’s real, valid. Although overwhelming, it can be managed.

Uncovering what’s lying underneath this emptiness feeling might not be a straightforward process, but it’s possible and a recommended first step toward resolution. The feeling of emptiness might last a few days and then resolve on its own. Other times, it might linger for two weeks or longer.

Why do I feel empty?
Feeling empty can sometimes manifest as a sense of loneliness, confusion about your life and goals, or lack of motivation to pursue anything in life. Everyone might feel this void in their heart from time to time. The experience could have many causes, including shifting hormonal levels, losing a job, or the required physical distancing that comes with a pandemic. Any life stage or situation that may require you to reflect on yourself and your life might also lead to a temporary feeling of emptiness.

Losing touch with yourself
It’s not unusual for someone to lose touch with themselves once in a while. A lack of insight into yourself may lead to that lingering emptiness feeling. Some people call this “living without a purpose.” It means that you might not have clarity on the type of person you are or the one you want to become. Not having specific goals or dreams to achieve can also lead you to feel empty. Losing touch with yourself can come from many circumstances. For example, a consuming relationship or a demanding job.

Unresolved past experiences
Sometimes, feeling melancholy might have to do with a long grieving process that you haven’t explored yet. For example, an unresolved painful experience in your childhood or a sense of abandonment from a family member. When we don’t openly talk or explore emotions that have been with us for a long time, they might manifest in other ways. Even if it feels overwhelming and painful, thinking and talking about significant past events that caused you grief may help you process them.

Not taking care of yourself
For some people taking care of others may come first. This could lead them to put their own needs aside for a long time. This, in turn, may lead to feeling empty. You might feel that making others happy makes you happy, too. Even if this is the case, it’s important to consider that supporting others is not exclusive of supporting yourself. Everyone needs support and care, including you. Often, when your needs are fulfilled, you become better equipped to help and support others, too. Abandoning yourself, not listening to your own hopes and desires, could make you feel empty. In many instances, accounts you follow on social media might portray a lifestyle that’s not realistic or a perfect life or appearance. This could lead you to compare yourself and inevitably underscore your life.

Not having significant relationships
Maintaining close and good relationships is one of the most important aspect of the human experience. This means that it’s not about how many relationships you have but rather the quality of these relationships. Emotional intimacy, support, active listening, and company are all important. When these are missing in your life, it could lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness.