Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
You feel broken inside. No matter how much gratitude you practice or positive self-talk you use, the feeling of emotional brokenness does not go away. “Am I broken? Am I flawed?” you wonder. Read this article to learn more.
Table of Contents
What is emotional brokenness?
Emotionally, feeling broken manifests as:
- Crying easily or often
- Uncontrollable anxiety
- Depressive or low mood
- Hopelessness or despair
- You might notice, “My brain cannot feel happiness” or “My brain keeps spiraling out of control.”
In your self-perception, you feel:
- A sense of failure
- Low self-esteem
Interpersonally or in romantic relationships, you feel:
- Unlikeable or unlovable
- Unworthy of love
- Socially anxious – “What if I embarrass myself or get rejected?
- Less than – “Other people seem not to be broken..”
- You might wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I different? I am broken. I must be broken.”
How can emotional brokenness impact you and your life?
You have questions, “am I too broken to be loved?” You fear that if someone gets to know the “real you,” they’ll run away or hurt you, and so you
- Unconsciously sabotage things
- Misinterpret neutral signals as signs that the other person will leave
- Choose people who are not healthy for you because they at least can “tolerate” you
- Avoid dating altogether
Maybe it’s hard to open up and be vulnerable. You’re afraid to burden others with your brokenness. As a result, you keep a distance. Or, you put up with unhealthy friendships in your life because you’re not sure you’d be able to find better people.
You do the bare minimum to survive each day. It’s hard to nurture and love your body, soul, mind, and heart. What’s more, you numb yourself with social media and shows. It’s hard to pursue what will bring you joy in life because you don’t know what you want. Perhaps you don’t see what you want because you feel it’s unattainable anyway.
Why am I so emotionally broken? Why do I feel broken?
Internalized messages about being broken
Here is a story I hear from some of my clients, “I don’t remember when I last felt happy. And I always wonder what went wrong. I have a good life and a decent job. I have friends and family. So why do I feel so lonely and depressed?” Is this you?
Chances are that you’ve explicitly or implicitly been told that you are inadequate or flawed. In truth, you may not even realize this until you take a deep dive into your experiences.
Family: Were you told you were less than? Were you belittled? Were you seen as unlovable? Bound to fail and amount to nothing? Did you feel different and isolated from others around you?
Community: Were you seen as flawed or bound to be broken because you come from a single household? Or a family struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues? Did you feel broken because your neurodivergent brain functions differently from the “typical” learning and processing style?
Media and society: Did society convey messages about your skin color, hair, physique, or personality type? Or your social, economic, and cultural location? That because of these traits or these aspects of you, you’re less than or inadequate?
Keep in mind that these are simplified examples. Often, multilayered factors contribute to feeling broken. Our family, community, the media, and society convey these messages subtly and overtly. Furthermore, these messages interact in our psyches in complex ways.
Trauma can contribute to feeling emotionally broken
Another reason we may feel broken could be due to distinct traumatic experiences. Do you remember the last time you felt whole? Or at least the last time you felt less broken inside? Maybe something happened, and you started feeling broken.
In this case, remember that you are not broken. Ask yourself: What has made me feel broken? What has broken me? What have I seen break the people around me?
- Was there a loss? Was there once a person in your life who could acknowledge your whole self?
- Have you experienced race-based, intergenerational, or immigration trauma?
- Were you physically or sexually threatened or hurt? Were you emotionally abused?
- Did you experience betrayal? Rejection? Ongoing blame?
Ever since what happened, you’ve been feeling inadequate, ashamed, unlovable, empty, or persistently depressed. Traumatized people can feel broken and incapable of being in an intimate relationship.
How to fix being emotionally broken? Here are 4 things to keep in mind for your healing.
So what’s the quick fix here? I’d be lying if I made it sound as simple as following a recipe. Healing emotional brokenness is an active process that takes time and effort.
(1) Remember that burying or minimizing your feelings of brokenness will only prolong the pain. They don’t just disappear.
They might feel insurmountable, but trust that they are there for a reason. Sadly, they will not go away until you address the root cause. When you acknowledge them, you can begin to understand them, analyze them, and consciously work through them.
The way you approach healing emotional brokenness depends on what caused it. First, you need to understand how they came to be. Are they internalized messages from your family, community, the media, and society at large? Are you struggling emotionally because of traumatic experiences? Have you been struggling with anxiety and depression for so long that it feels like your brain is permanently in this state?
(2) It’s okay to ask for support—from the right people.
If you feel broken inside, it can seem like everyone has it together. You may be hesitant to open up because how on earth will they even understand when they appear so put together? For instance, perhaps you don’t want to burden others with your feelings of brokenness. Or, you’re afraid that their response could be dismissive or minimizing. These are all examples of fears to use as your compass.
What do I mean by using your fears as a compass? It means to choose wisely who you decide to open up to. Specifically, look for people who speak about differing perspectives with empathy and understanding. They try to listen, ask questions, and put themselves in the other’s shoes. In other words, find people who will receive your vulnerability with care. Let your emotional walls down with people who have directly or vicariously experienced pain and can speak about it in a healthy nondefensive way. Essentially, you want to seek support from caring, trustworthy, and emotionally mature people. Otherwise, opening up to the wrong people may cause more harm than good.
Why reach out for help? When you bottle up your thoughts and feelings, they can feel heavy! As a result, it becomes difficult to gain perspective on your situation. Whereas opening up to people in a discerning way can lighten the load. You give yourself a chance to be proven wrong.
With the right people, you may learn that you are not a burden. You are not broken; you are relatable. You are not unlovable because people see many likable qualities about you. You are not inadequate; you are human, like all other humans. Vulnerability creates opportunities for connection, relatedness, and mutual support.
(3) Consider therapy if you feel stuck still.
A safe space is essential if you don’t have trustworthy and unbiased people to confide in. If this is the case for you, know that quality holistic therapy can help you address various reasons for emotional brokenness. Therapy can help you sort through internalized harmful messages about your identity and self-worth from your family, community, or society. Additionally, a specialized therapist can also guide you to work through your trauma — whether it’s race-based, intergenerational, or immigration trauma or emotional, physical, and sexual trauma.
A knowledgeable therapist will help you see your situation from new perspectives. Moreover, a therapist specializing in concerns about self-worth, brokenness, and trauma will help you integrate different pieces of yourself so that you feel whole and intact. Get started here.
(4) Finally, begin to get in touch with and explore everything that exists beyond your brokenness.
Reflect on these questions: What are the pieces of me that exist beyond my brokenness? What are my strengths, curiosities, and interests? How else do others see me? When else have I felt less broken – even if it was for a brief moment – and what was different about those moments?
Points for reflection
- In what ways do you feel emotionally broken?
- Do you have a sense of what may have caused it?
- How does feeling broken inside impact your relationships and inner and outer quality of life?
- Where are you in your healing process?
- Where do you feel stuck in this journey?
- What next steps can you take in that journey?
- What resonated with you from this post?