Numbed emotions

5 min readSep 17, 2021
…I want to be fearlessly happy.

‘Numbed emotions’ is my AsyncArt Autonomous piece exploring the mind of a person with Cherophobia (fear of being happy)

The piece changes 4 times a day (sunrise, day, sunset, night). It uses the visibility time of each state as an indicator of suddenness and long-lasting impact of the feeling.

Worth noting is that the time in painting is still paused to one moment (see window).

How I started

Initially, my idea was to create a piece showing a quick switch by my brain whenever something happy happens to something that offsets that feeling.

Deep down somehow my brain prepares for the worst whenever an opportunity arises. Or if I am enjoying a moment, it makes me nervous immediately, a feeling that I must not be off guard.

For eg- If I see something very appealing in front of me and I wish to run towards it, my first step would be backward instead.

I didn’t bother going into details about the Whys of it until I started creating this piece.

As I went into depth of this feeling, creating it became calming. Finally, I was getting answers to so many questions, understanding myself better and an assurance that I am not alone.

This piece became a journey of embracing my imperfection and like an end put to those doubts.

Why I created ‘Numbed emotions’

I have always found it calming to know there are others like me, that it is normal to feel this way and it doesn’t make us any less deserving of anything.

And if through this piece I could reach those who needed to see this, I call it a success.

If this piece can initiate the thought of finding the source of this feeling, it served its purpose.

Because it is important to ask questions to find answers.

Symbolism and significance of each element

Butterflies- Butterflies represent changes, hope, and courage. In ‘Numbed emotions’, when they show themselves in the daytime, it talks about the less felt joy that’s finally making its way towards us. (less felt, as shown by broken window)

But as we start feeling that joy (shown by very slight smile), there is a quick short phase of something appearing, causing pain, and hence bursting the source of happiness.

(The bookshelf hence is shaped like a butterfly)

Painting and Curtain-I often use paintings to represent memories. Both phases of butterfly form part of her memory. The past experience that make us feel this way.

The curtain is trying to hide that negative memory but is failing to do so. We do our best to not recall those, but they are too strong to be forgotten.

Band-Aids- The band-aids show the precautionary mindset we create. Only one (on the waist- with some blood) shows the wound and another is just a result of anticipated future damage

Books on the floor- The books show the past. An experience of happiness followed by something scary.

But worth noting is the repetition of the activity, which represents the courage to break through that negative feeling and conquer our fears. It represents hope.

Chessboard- the position on the chessboard shows 4 stages of a famous French Defense trap.

1st position is at the start of the game, representing preparedness and uncertainty of where things will go.

2nd position is the stage where we start becoming happy with the opportunity of getting an extra pawn we are offered.

3rd position is the realization that what made us happy was a trap and now it’s too late.

4th position is destruction.

I used it as a very indirect way to show how a person could end up learning that from very unexpected places — if something is making you happy, you need to be extra alert. it might be a trap.


Sunrise- She is like a puppet to her fears controlling her. The eyes are watching and something is eating her.

Day- She is starting to enjoy. A very small tiny smile to show how less she feels any positive emotions

Sunset- As she feels positive, something hits her, stopping to feel that way. It is painful.

Night- That something is not there anymore (or was never there at all) but the feeling of that terror stayed.

‘Numbed emotions’ is a brave attempt from my side to present this feeling in the most honest way possible and to finally share my vulnerability with the world. And after creating this I feel happy about myself, like some chains that were holding me are finally broken.

Hope you enjoyed reading it

Thank you for your time.