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Many who have become emotionally numb because of trauma, abuse, depression, grief, or any other reason worry that they have irrevocably lost the ability to feel deeply. Some have been numb for so long that the state has become their version of normal. It’s kind of like looking back on your distant past. You know you experienced these things but you might feel far removed from them now. In the same way, people know they used to be able to feel but this knowledge does little for their present circumstances.

The metaphor of a spark is a useful way to conceptualize the journey towards recapturing your emotions and being able to feel deeply once again. A raging inferno can result from a single spark. Think about building a fire in the wilderness where your life depends upon keeping that first spark alive. You’re going to cup your hands around it, keep the wind from interfering, make sure it has enough oxygen, urge it to catch as gently as you can. You know that time and patience are essential. You have to slowly build the fire up, adding twigs, needles, and other small combustibles before attempting larger logs or it will suffocate and die out.

If you are trying to recapture your emotions, looking for and encouraging that spark instead of wishing for the bonfire is the mindful approach. People want to go from nothing to everything and become easily disappointed, wishing they could feel as deeply as those around them apparently do. The only emotions you need to worry about are your own. It doesn’t matter how weak or seemingly insignificant they seem, because regardless of their intensity these sparks are proof that you are still capable of feeling. You can change your mindset from disappointment that they aren’t big enough to mindful awareness of even the smallest change during the day. It doesn’t matter how long this change lasts, even seconds or milliseconds. It’s a spark and proves your capacity to build your emotional fire if you have patience and perseverance.