How Many Times Have You Asked: What’s The Point?

the point

It’s a casual phrase, and many folks use it often.

What’s the point?

We mutter it under our breath at times of frustration. We throw it out at a person who is refusing to cooperate. We use it as a way to express hopelessness and helplessness.  In these times it can actually be quite useful as a way to vent some steam and stress.

But some people use it more often than others. For them, it becomes almost a mantra. It starts to run deeper than the current situation, reflecting not just momentary feelings, but an overall philosophy of life.

What’s the point of doing this?

What’s the point of trying?

I’ve observed that many people who frequently question The Point are doing so because they feel adrift in their lives. Why are they adrift? Because they are not listening to their greatest anchor, director, and connector. They are out of touch with their emotions, which should be telling them what they want, feel, and need, where to go and what to do.

Many of the people who ask, “What’s the point” grew up in emotionally neglectful families, in homes that treated their feelings like they were irrelevant, or even burdensome.  If this is you, perhaps you feel helpless and hopeless. Or maybe you feel trapped, or stuck, or lost. Maybe you feel alone.

For some, the question of “What’s the point” runs even deeper and begins to reflect a questioning of one’s very existence.

What’s the point of being here?

What’s the point of being alive?

If any of what you are reading right now applies to you, please consider it as an alarm bell. A bell that calls you to face the fact that there is a big problem in your life and that it’s time to acknowledge it.

Steps to Find Your Answer to What’s the Point?

  1. Start paying attention to when these words come to mind. Most likely there is a general theme that brings triggers this question. Is it at work or at home? When you’re alone? When you’re in conflict with someone? When something doesn’t work out for you?  Take note because understanding this is important.
  2. Start paying attention to the words that follow: What’s the point? What’s the point of __________? This will give you information about the true nature of your question. Understanding this is key.
  3. Start paying attention to what’s the feeling you’re having when you say this. Are you, for example, frustrated, angry, sad, hopeless, afraid? Helpless, lost, alone? Identify the feeling you’re having and it will inform your next step.
  4. Start trying to figure out: What’s that feeling telling you? Feelings exist for a reason, and every feeling carries a message. The feeling, whatever it may be, is telling you that you need to change something in yourself or your life.


The Feeling                                                The Message

Alone                                                            Open your walls and let someone in

Sad                                                                Figure out why you’re sad and address the cause

Frustrated                                                    Frustration is a feeling meant to drive you to action.

Lost                                                               You are lacking direction. Start working toward finding one.

Those are only a few possibilities. The number of different feelings and situations that can bring about “What’s the Point” is endless. Understanding yours is key. How deep does yours run? Are you feeling hopeless or helpless? Or are you jumping to a simple question as a coping mechanism? Might that be actually allowing you to avoid facing the complexities in your life?

Ask yourself questions. Pay attention, and look inside yourself. Because the answer to your “What’s the Point” is likely not simple, but it’s important. And it is there.

Growing up with Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) makes you more prone to asking “What’s The Point.” To understand why, and to learn more about CEN, see the book, Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Nathan - October 17, 2020 Reply

I fully understand & realize the importance of feelings & emotions & recognizing & acknowledging them. However for me, I have another tough layer added on here. I have BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) & I am also an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) so all of this means that I Feel *Everything* intensely. Admittedly because I often feel *SO* much, I have to give myself a break sometimes even if this means that I ask the question: “What’s the Point?” More often than most.

Kristen - September 4, 2020 Reply

I sometimes feel like this. I’m trying to work through the program and get to a better spot. I actually feel good day to day, but when I start to really look at my life sometimes it feels pointless. I’ve created a nice life for myself, but something’s missing. I’ll re-read through the article and try to figure out what it is! Glad I’m not the only one feeling this way!

    Jonice - September 6, 2020 Reply

    Dear Kristen, the something missing is your feelings and all they bring with them. Keep working through the program!

mary - August 31, 2020 Reply

I ask what’s the point of trying to heal? I read both your books, been in therapy with CEN therapist for almost 2 years and yet all I feel is pain. What’s the point of being open to emotions if my emotions consist primarily of painful ones?

    Jonice - September 2, 2020 Reply

    Dear Mary, it’s essential to not only allow yourself to feel your pain – not always but at times – and also work through that pain. Depending on your level of trauma and the depth of the neglect, it can take more than 2 years. I encourage you to keep at it.

Diane - August 31, 2020 Reply

Thanks for replying. You say it is best for my situation to see a CEN therapist and I totally agree. As I live in Scotland, the last time I checked, there were only 3 on your website. There were 2 who didnt really seem like therapists – they ran self development organisations and the other one I couldnt afford. I wish there were more to choose from. I could choose any old other therapist and ask them if they would read the book and do CEN work with me but i have no idea where to start when theres loads to choose from and if they would be any good at CEN work. Any advice on that would be appreciated. Thank you again.

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Diane, you can ask your primary care dr. for a referral. Many therapists will be willing to learn about CEN and work through the book Running On Empty with you.

rikk - August 31, 2020 Reply

this is mad
im doing psychotherapy at the moment
why do you count it as a loss to not have feelings ?
im being told about them ?
why do you want need them ?
I have a very toxic backround .
how do feelings not get in the way .
I think very black and white
and am not limited by right or wrong , morals , fear , empathy , attachments or driven by them either .
ive watched people have feelings and find people that have them patronising when they try to use them to control you .
ie . someone cares about you … ? what is it you cant be shown or weighed . if you cant feel someone is caring its a lie right .
why is no emotion sadness if sadness is an emotion
now I know I have a toxic backround why would I want to feel it if it would hurt me ???
being toxic myself has got me this far 50 years
yet im doing it wrong … again … again my fault that I have to fix … lol
you keep saying see cen therapist … why
can they show you before and after in case you dont want what they offer .
if I gain some feelings will I still be able to discard right from wrong or morals when I dont need them or gain useless emotions like fear ?

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Rikk, the answers to all these questions are in the blogs on this site and my two Running On Empty books. If you really want to know, I encourage you to read more and do your best to learn how feelings work.

Gail - August 30, 2020 Reply

I ask this a lot. Specifically I ask “What’s the point of continuing with therapy? I will never get over my past and be able to live a normal life.” I’ve read the books, done the exercises and seen therapists for many many years. I’m beyond frustrated!

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Gail, perhaps a psychopharmacologist could help. If your brain chemicals have been thrown off by depression or trauma, it can make it much harder to heal.

      rikk - August 31, 2020 Reply

      heal from what to what ???

Carolyn - August 30, 2020 Reply

OMG. I do have CEN and I do say What’s the Point all the time! I could write a blog of my own as to how/when/why I say this now that I have read this article. One example: I said it today in an email to someone about my father. My father just got diagnosed with cancer 2 mos ago. He and my mother both had CEN and passed it on to me. CEN has made me emotionally distant from him even tho I had a good home. I’m sad for him and what he’ll go through but I feel guilty that I don’t feel as bad as I think I should. I have a lot of anxiety as a result of it. Thank you so much Dr. Jonice for the blogs and books! Psych Central will be missed for sure.

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Carolyn, please allow yourself to feel what you feel. Remember that you can’t choose your feelings, they choose you. Judge yourself on your actions, not your emotions. Best wishes for you and getting through this difficult family situation.

    rikk - August 31, 2020 Reply

    why do you feel guilty why do you want to feel sad ???
    sorry I dont understand this emotion stuff .

Maria - August 30, 2020 Reply

I use What’s the Point? To avoid facing the complexities of my life. I try to pay attention to my feelings more, but then my mind starts to swirl. I try to identify my emotion and be still with it. Accept it and not try to do much more than that.

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    That’s a great realization, Maria and it sounds like you’re doing the exact right thing. Try to sit with your feeling and simply feel it for a bit and accept it, whatever it is.

Diane - August 30, 2020 Reply

For me, it’s what’s the point in trying – to heal, get access to those emotions, do the work etc because I can never force myself to do what is required. I have no self discipline. I stumbled across your website a few years ago when researching procrastination because this is my biggest issue. When I procrastinate over starting the work to heal myself of CEN (or start but have no self discipline to keep going) I say what’s the point cos I really really cannot find it within myself to do it. Emotions drive action right? Therefore without the right emotion I can’t make myself do the work – but I have to do the work to get access to the emotion! Does that make sense? That’s why there’s no pint in me trying.

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Diane, I see the Catch-22 you are caught in. I recommend you consult a CEN trained therapist because the best way out of a bind like this is to get help. Check the list on this website. There are many in the UK.

Denise - August 30, 2020 Reply

I have been asking that very question just this weekend, “What is the point?” My husband and I brought a lot of “stuff” from his mother’s home after she passed away. When we finally got through all of her stuff, we started asking asking “What is the point” of keeping all of the stuff we have? Who will want it? Are we keeping things that are of no worth to anyone? Who will want it when we are gone?

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Denise, it’s true that stuff is just stuff. It’s not what makes us happy! Maybe the stuff you took was an attempt to avoid the grieving you had to do. I encourage you to feel your feelings as best you can. All my best wishes.

Susan - August 30, 2020 Reply

I am so sad that all of us who benefited greatly from reading material on your website, Jonice, will soon no longer be able to do so! Thank you for all the great material and information. It has been so helpful and revealing to me! I wish you all the best in your future personal and professional endeavors and life’s adventures!

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Susan, my website isn’t going away! It’s my other blog on psych central that will be ending. I’ll still be writing weekly blogs on this website. Thanks for your kind wishes!

Christina - August 30, 2020 Reply

When days start fading away because of blending into one another with a background hum of reflecting on the gone-ness of family members to death and distance, it reminds me of dish-washing. What’s the point of all this? Although the dishes are scrubbed, dried, and put away, they’ll be back, but not the family members. Why miss them when there is a freedom from their imperfect ways that isolated me from a balanced emotional health? … Time to do the dishes. Again.

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Christina, there is meaning there for you. Please seek a CEN trained therapist to help you work through your feelings of grief and hurt and find your joy. You deserve better than this.

Barry - August 30, 2020 Reply

this is a great article as usual, but I wonder if the problem for many of us may be even more basic than this. I definitely am a CEN person by your definition and upon recently starting therapy, I learned that feeling numb and/or empty is the definition of feeling sad. Due to the emotional wasteland of my upbringing, I did not know this is what sadness is. Upon discovering this in session, I confirmed that if that is the case, then I have felt sad almost all of my life. I wonder if others are similar. I am not autistic btw, I just grew up in a completely fake environment where all of my emotional responses to anything other than that which fed my parents egos in a way that aggrandized them were avoided, dismissed, denied and judged. I recently read Mary Trumps’ book on her family and my conclusion is that my family is the same as Donald’s minus the hundreds of millions of dollars. It is no wonder I am so lacking in knowledge and experience of what emotions are as everyone around me growing up sought to devalue and debase me for simply having them. Comfort, acceptance or acknowledgement….forget it, wasn’t ever going to happen in the home I grew up in. Mostly detaching from my feelings like I did then seems to me now to have been one of the best and most sensible of all possible responses given the environment I grew up in and people I grew up around. The issue now of course is finding my way out of the corner fate painted me into.

    Jonice - August 31, 2020 Reply

    Dear Barry, I’m so sorry you grew up in such an emotional wasteland. But you are not painted in a corner, even though I understand it feels that way. I encourage you to look for a CEN therapist from the list on this website and allow someone to help you heal. You can do it.

Tina - August 30, 2020 Reply

Thank you for all you do and have done to help us

    Jonice - August 30, 2020 Reply

    You’re welcome, Tina! Keep watching for fresh blogs that will be posted on this site!

Marion Miller - August 30, 2020 Reply

Hi Jonice,
Wow, I’ve asked this question since I was 10 years old ( I’m now 56 ). My father died at age 10, also his 3 brothers passed, 1 when I was 8, then my father, then another uncle when I was 12 and the last one when I was 16. A year after my father died we found out we had a half sister who came to live with us as she was pregnant. Emotions weren’t discussed and we felt we just had to get on with it and unfortunately my half sister understandably brought a lot of other problems to the situation. My mum had so much to deal with and was brilliant at taking care of us physically and kept us safe. However there was not the emotional support. Her own up bringing wasn’t good. I have suffered most in my family with depression and anxiety I am highly sensitive. I had my only child at 37 after meeting her father whilst in hospital with a breakdown, he financially abused me of £24,000. Life was extremely difficult bringing up my daughter on my own, I had a another breakdown when she was 2 and my mum had to live with me for a year and a half. My mum was diagnosed with lung cancer when my daughter was 5 and I was my mother’s support, she passed away in 2009 when my daughter was 8. My daughter started having problems with anxiety and pains for no reason when she was 10 and problems at school. I devastatingly found out when she was 11 that the girl next door who was 2 years older had sexually abused my daughter from 4 to 10 years old. My daughters been under mental health since before this came out and life has and still is horrendous. My daughter was also sexually and physical abused when she was 15. My daughters now 19 and has extensive problems and issues. She’s had therepy and been hospitalised self harms, high anxiety etc and many physical problems, she hasn’t had a life and nor can I, so there you go WHAT IS THE POINT! Unfortunately I don’t think there is an answer.

Thankyou for all your posts and knowledge and helping me to understand about cen. I wish you all the best.

    Jonice - August 30, 2020 Reply

    Dear Marion, I’m so sorry you have been through all this. It’s so important to fight for your own health and happiness and for your daughter’s too. Just keep chipping away and do not give up!

Andrea - August 30, 2020 Reply

Just want to say THANK YOU! I read ‘Running on Empty’ and have done a lot of work recognizing I’m one of those ‘had everything growing up, except atunement’ people. Getting comfortable with Being Seen and realizing my needs are not a burden on others and that I can develop a sense of dis/likes, hopes and dreams and gain connection with my emotions, over the last few years has changed my life.

I’ve gained a much deeper sense of self (and ability to set boundaries) and overall happiness. Your blog has been a great weekly reminder keeping me on track to continue to do the work.

So, thank you for your efforts and sharing your knowledge and helping me.

Most sincerely,

    Jonice - August 30, 2020 Reply

    Dear Andrea, I am proud of you for your hard work on this! You are an example of what can be accomplished by taking on your CEN. Thanks for sharing this!

Samantha - August 30, 2020 Reply

This is valuable. Thank you. I never interrogated the thought from this deep vantage point before. I’ve been laggardly with reading the books, which I’m apologetic for, but accepting that there must be reasons for that too. There is probably more in them to help with this.

    Jonice - August 30, 2020 Reply

    Dear Samantha, there is A LOT in the books to help with this. I know it’s hard to face the problem. I’ll be here when you’re ready.

Else Marie - August 30, 2020 Reply

I have asked myself that question so often, and when I do I feel so low that I really don’t see the point in trying to change anything – I don’t have the energy or the courage. To be able to change, I have to feel that it would make sense, but I don’t see the point of doing that, because only God (or whatever) knows the purpose of our existence (if there is one – maybe there isn’t). Maybe the point is that there is no point. Existential depression? Anyway, I will never know…

    Jonice - August 30, 2020 Reply

    Dear Else Marie, you are in charge of finding your own meaning. I encourage you to start paying more attention to how and what your feelings are. They will provide you a rudder, and a deeper knowledge of yourself.

Leave a Comment: