- Mental Health
How to Find Yourself: Feeling Lost & Finding Yourself Again
Feeling Lost and Finding Yourself Again
This modern world of ours is often busy, chaotic and chock full of distractions. So much so that there are very few of us who don't, at times, have that sense that we've somehow disconnected from our authentic selves - that we've become lost on our journey through life. Once you've noticed that disconnected sensation of feeling lost, (which frequently takes months or even years) you're left wondering how to find yourself - how to find the real you amongst all the roles and responsibilities that have inperceptibly built up around you over time; cloaking the authentic self like a heavy, cumbersome coat.
Finding yourself requires taking that coat off for a while - being still and quiet, so that the real self has a chance to breathe and stretch. We need to give ourselves the space to see and hear what the real self is all about. Yourself is there - it hasn't gone anywhere - it's just waiting for you to pay attention to it. So here are some ideas on how we get lost to start with, why feeling lost can be extremely positive and how to find yourself again.
"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." Henry David Thoreau
Feeling Lost and Why Losing Ourselves Can be Positive
Life is busy. Work, family, children, friends, bills, colleagues, illness, commitments, responsibilities. housework, neighbours, studies ... the list goes on ... and on. No wonder we struggle to find time to connect to ourselves and often have a sense of feeling lost. What time to do we really give ourselves to just be, to check in with ourselves and find out where we're at? For some, the busyness is a way to avoid confronting themselves for fear of what they may find lurking. If this is you, don't worry, we've all been there and it's easily reversible. Being busy all the time allows us to live in the relative comfort of our own defences, without the need to question whether they're working for us or against us. Our psychological defences can build up to such a point that who we are is more about keeping defences in place, rather than simply being ourselves.
For those hiding from deep emotional pain the avoidance may take more extreme forms instead of simply being busy. Deadening ourselves with drugs, alcohol, sex, work or other addictions is another way to get well and truly lost and disconnected from our real selves. (I know, I've been there.)
The positive thing is, is that you're reading this. You have the advantage of knowing that you are lost. In contrast to the many, many people that don't have that knowledge about themselves or their lives and who are hopelessly doomed to a life half lived unless they wake up, you have the opportunity to find yourself. Take the journey and risk finding out who you are.
"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anaïs Nin
A Healing Retreat
Find Yourself by Taking Time Out
Now this may be obvious, but it's definitely worth discussing. We spoke previously about giving ourselves some space simply to be and it's the single most important thing to do this if we want to find ourselves. If you're initial reaction is, "But I don't have time!", or some other excuse, think again. If you are committed to finding yourself, which will ultimately improve your life and the lives of the people you come into contact with, you will make the effort to find some time just for you.
One excellent way of doing this is to go on a retreat or holiday by yourself. Now I don't really want to get into telling you what I do to find myself because we are all different and what suits me may not suit you, but one thing I highly recommend is to take one week away by yourself every year to reconnect with yourself and to totally get away from the busyness of everyday life. This option may not be for everyone, but for me spending a week in a cabin, in the middle of a forest, sourrounded by lakes, with no TV, and plenty of saunas, is the perfect way to find myself. I have to do this with the support of my husband, because we have children to think about, but he knows that in the long term it benefits everyone when Mom gets a good break. If taking time out in this way is something you long for and you need someone to take over your responsibilities while you're away, just ask. Mairela, in Finland, is my preferred healing retreat, and Sara the wonderful woman that runs it, offers a range of services to enhance your stay.
Whether you decide to go on a retreat to find yourself or not, spending half an hour daily or a few times a week, quietly writing, meditating or going for a walk on your own, is a wonderful way to reconnect to yourself. Why not set a time and date now when you can do this for yourself? What about today?
When You Feel Lost - Get Centred!
A quick way to find yourself that can be done in just a minute is to centre yourself. This can be done in a variety of ways - a simple stretch can really help, but my preferred method is to sit or stand in a quiet place for a few minutes and just concentrate on the senstation of breathing. Feel the air passing through your nostrils, or if you prefer, feel the rise and fall of your chest. Just focus on one point of sensation for a few minutes and you will find yourself refreshed and centred quickly and easily.
To develop your ability to centre yourself and to increase your chances of feeling centred more of the time, meditation is a useful skill to learn and one that can really help you find yourself.
Finding Yourself by Doing Something Totally Different
One of the best ways to find yourself is to do something completely different. Doing something new allows us to stretch ourselves and to discover qualities we may have never realised we had before (or to rediscover talents we haven't used for a while). Do you have places you'd like to visit? Activities you'd like to try or get back into? Something you'd like to get involved in, such as charity work? Someone you'd like to get to know better? All it takes is for you to make the decision to do it, so what are you waiting for? Take on the challenge however small or big and you might well surprise yourself.
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." Dalai Lama
When You're Feeling Lost - Decide Your Priorities
When was the last time you sat down and wrote a list of the things you'd like to achieve or experience in your life? The truth is unless you decide (or allow yourself to know) what you really want it's not going to happen. Think about what you have always dreamed of doing and write it down. How can you start working right now to achieve that? What is the first small step? Can you take that first step today, tomorrow or within the next week? Make the commitment to start working towards one of your personal ambitions - you won't regret it.
"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want." Ben Stein
Rediscover your Positive Qualities and Accept Your Shortcomings
One thing many of us find extremely hard to do is to be clear in our heads what is good about ourselves. Every single one of us has unique qualities and attributes that should be celebrated, if not by the whole of humanity, at least by ourselves. We often focus far to much on the things we don't like about ourselves which sends us into a spiral of low self esteem and low confidence which does nothing to help us on our journey through life. We need to develop both compassion for our shortcomings and a healthy appreciation of our positive qualities.
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Dalai Lama
"With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world." Dalai Lama
The quotes from the Dalai Lama above really say it all. No matter what your religious beliefs, developing compassion and realising your unique potential both go a long way in helping you to find yourself.
Connect With the Child Within
It's become a bit of cliché to spend time "finding the inner child", but all this means is doing something you love purely for the enjoyment of it. Reconnecting with the things you loved doing as a child is a wonderful way to find yourself and moving away from that sense of feeling lost. If your passion is dancing, put some music on now and have a dance. If it's art, get yourself a few artist materials and make something. If it's getting messy, go and do some gardening or bake a cake. If you loved sports, research a local team to join. There really is no one stopping you from doing something you enjoy apart from yourself.
One of the easiest ways to reconnect with tour inner child is to play with our own children. If you've forgotten how to play let them guide you. Immerse yourself in their play (without worrying about mess or how things "should" be done) and you'll probably have the most fun you've had in ages.
"Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life." G.K. Chesterton
Therapy and Counselling Can Help When We Feel Lost
For those of us with ingrained issues who may have unexplored emotions around grief or abuse, we may need specialist help to release blocked emotions and let go of pain in order to find ourselves. This is not a weakness, it's just how it is. Some emotions are so powerful and some thinking patterns so ingrained, that we need a guide to help us through them. Therapy can be a painful journey, but one that is necessary if we are to be truly free of things that are hindering our ability to be ourselves. Finding yourself comes as part of the process of counselling or psychotherapy.
"To the question of your life you are the answer, and to the problems of your life you are the solution." Joe Cordare
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on why feeling lost can be positive and how to find yourself again. I hope it has given you the confidence to make a decision today about something you could do to help yourself on your journey of self discovery. Below you'll find some quick polls for you to get involved with if you want to.
What is Your Gender?
What is Your Age Group?
How Long Have You Been Lost For?
When are you going to do something to help you find yourself?
Good luck on Your Journey to Find Yourself
Please feel free to leave a comment or question below if you would like to know more about how to find yourself or you'd like to share your own methods for finding yourself.