What To Do When Your Heart Feels Shut Down

I recently received an email from someone asking me what to do when the heart feels numb, and how to awaken the heart.

Here are a few snippets from the email in order to get a feel of the context it was written in:

“What to do when your heart feels numb? It is only numb when it comes to how I feel about my marriage. As I type this I feel sadness.

… Here I am years later feeling shut down, he suffers from depression and I have walked on eggshells our whole relationship…”

Further she shares with me that someone close to her has recently passed away and she has also lost her beloved pet, but from what I could tell she seem to have a healthy attitude and perspective regarding death, so I don’t feel the need to address that here in this particular article.

“We took a vacation for a few weeks (we did drink a lot while away) and we spent the majority of the vacation doing our own thing. I decided that I was not going to touch alcohol when we got back.

I have been thinking of divorce for a few years, I haven’t been really happy, I have just been moving along in the daily routine to make it through without feeling alive.”

Further she shares with me that parallely with the anguish and hurt, she also has never felt more alive, she feels like ‘someone has woke her up’.

She continues sharing with me that she knows that she’s in the process of spiritual awakening and that she is aware of the resistance form the ego in this process.

She ends the email with:

My heart has now been silent, as well as my ego.

I am sitting tight waiting until I am certain of what I need to do next.

Any suggestions on how to awaken my heart would be greatly appreciated”.

Here is my reply:

It sounds like both you and your husband are going through some major changes in your lives, both as a couple obviously, but also as separate individuals.

This can be a transition with sadness and grief and sometimes we need some time apart to be able to find back to each other again (if the love for each other is still there), and sometimes we need more intensive and immediate care to address that which is not in harmony any longer and that requires brutal honesty, which takes courage.

Questions to ask yourself could be:

  • What if I don’t address this now? What would happen?
  •  And what if I did take the bulls by the horns and just threw myself into the fire..?

If you imagine 6 months ahead, or next Christmas, and then remember how it was last year and the year before that, then you should be able to predict where things are heading if you don’t act and do something. (A simple “Hey, .. we need to talk” can be enough to get moving in the right direction). 

We can’t know any outcomes of course, but to look closer at the options we (seem to) have we can see more clearly what we are not okay with anymore. We are always the ones that hold ourselves back.

Difficult times, losses, suffering and challenges are oftentimes the portal to our awakening.

For me personally it was initially about addiction and surrendering, that was when my awakening really started, when I was on my knees crying and sobbing, asking God to help me, because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

I mean that literally; I had a breakdown and was hysterically crying for help from God when I felt and saw a hand that came from above and grabbed mine. (I still to this day get goosebumps when I think back on it). 

After that experience it took me only a few months to get into rehab, and I had already tried to get into one for a couple of years without any luck.

That was when things started to move upward and forward for me. That doesn’t mean it was easy (it was at times as going through pure hell), it just means that progress could begin for real, a movement in the right direction could begin.

I’m not a relationship counselor, but the obvious suggestion would be to mention that sometimes couples counseling could be helpful, if only for the purpose to bring you two closer as friends if it doesn’t feel right to continue the marriage.

Regardless of how you chose to handle this difficult time; something needs to happen, and it will probably rock the boat so that may be why you haven’t made a move yet in the direction of the heart. (Only you know of course). 

This contraction of the heart (shutting down) and expansion of the heart (feeling alive) can happen simultaneously and the back and forth will continue for a while, what is important to recognize is that Life (God/Truth) has a hold on you and will not let you go. 

The process is not reversible and you’re going through this either by acceptance and being courageous enough to follow the heart the first time it directs you, or you go through it kicking and screaming (resisting your intuitive knowing), but it’s only going in one direction now and that is the awakening.

The great thing about the heart (that doesn’t hold anything against you) is that while the closing can take years and years, the opening up again can be instant.

Your heart only contracts when not listened to, and the moment you re-commit to it, it’s wide open.

The heart can bear everything and it always moves from this moment on, so every moment is the best opportunity to turn things around and you do that by saying YES to that which is true in your heart.

I can testify that the moment you dare to go with your heart there will be joy and/or liberation.

Sure, there can be sadness and fear too at the same time, but they will be secondary; everything will have the base in Truth, everything will move from there, and everything is allowed to be there, and nothing is threatened.

The heart is authoritative in its nature (confident, not pushy), powerful and full of integrity.

That has been the case for me personally many times, when I have been faced with a difficult decisions (and I have felt very fearful) and then decided to go with what my heart tells me regardless of the fear I have felt – What a relief it has been!

It has astounded me and I have been filled with new energy that I know without a doubt comes purely from the heart.

But of course it takes guts.

Maybe its time to make an outward move now. Your heart may be awaiting for you to act on it, and that’s why it feels shut down.

It’s when we withdraw awareness and attention from what our heart tells us that disruptions occur.

The natural and ongoing feedback we get continuously from the heart is clouded by our disbelief/distrust in it and therefore the energy flow begins to diminish.

That’s how people become cold and emotionally closed off, when we neglect the heart, the small intuitive voice that directs us always.

This kind of inauthentic living is sucking the energy out of our life-experience and can only come ‘alive’ again (it’s never not alive, it just seem so when clouded by fear) when we turn back our attention back to it.

It takes guts to be vulnerable and share your innermost thoughts and feelings completely and open-heartedly with someone because there’s a risk of being hurt. (Only the ego can get hurt, not the true self).

There is no certain way, only a moment to moment listening and trusting, listening and acting, from the heart.

That’s an act of courage; to move and act from the heart, and we can’t possibly know beforehand how the other person will react.

And that again is not our responsibility; everybody is free to chose if they wish to respond (from the heart) or react (from the ego) to life and we can’t control how others will react to us being sincere and open.

The heart always leans towards what is good for us, and we must trust that it knows best.

The cause to our suffering and the seemingly closing of the heart is our non-acceptance of Truth (Intuitive knowing).

The heart itself is whole and pure and waiting for you to acknowledge its wisdom, and the moment you do, it seem to open up and come alive in an instant, although it was in reality never shut or dead, it was just clouded by your distrust in it. (Or because of the fear of following it).

True Wisdom


Here are some additional articles that may be helpful to you:

This process will help you come closer again and regain the friendship if done with honesty and sincerity.

Get together with your loved one and have some private time where you can be undisturbed.

And then simply ask each other these two questions one at a time: mariaerving.com/communicate-effectively


In this very long article I will give you some pointers that can help you move forward when feeling stuck or afraid of taking the step.

Are you standing at a crossroad in your life and feel completely overwhelmed by the time of transition between the old and the new, or do you feel that you’re on the wrong path in life, feeling lost and totally confused and disoriented, or do you feel excited and liberated by the realization of finally being done with something and now ready to move on but don’t know which way to turn, how to start moving in the direction your heart is directing you to go?: mariaerving.com/crossroads-of-life


7 Ways Of How We Dull Ourselves Down Spiritually And What To Do About It: mariaerving.com/how-we-dull-ourselves-down-spiritually-and-what-to-do-about-it/

One of my older articles, but the questions can be used in your situation too: Two Powerful Questions To Ask Yourself: mariaerving.com/two-powerful-questions-to-ask-yourself-when-feeling-scared-to-go-after-your-dreams/

And lastly, here’s a more recent posting by me with similar questions that can be life altering when followed through: Go here to read it.


Do you have a question for me too? Submit one here.

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