Finding Yourself When You’re Feeling Lost
Let me start off by clarifying that when I talk about feeling lost, I’m not talking about feeling discouraged or having depression. If you have depression, I encourage you to seek therapy and other methods beyond this video that can accurately address your individual needs. This post is for those who feel lost. Now, some people may not understand how this works. In fact, they may feel that this concept is utter nonsense until they truly experience it themselves.
I imagine that you are reading this post because you feel lost to some extent. I encourage you to pause and consider the particular ways you feel lost right now. What exactly have you lost? The moment you become familiar enough with those feelings to attach a label, it becomes apparent what needs to happen.
This topic is complex because there are countless ways a person can feel lost, I’ll focus on four general types for this post today: loss of direction, purpose, identity, and connection.
Loss of Direction and Purpose
Direction and purpose are fairly similar, so I will discuss them together. Direction involves expectations—expectations about where life is headed. Is my life matching up with how I used to envision it? Loss of direction happens when it doesn’t quite match up.
Purpose involves the things we find meaning in. So, when you experience a loss of purpose, you have likely noticed that some things no longer have as much value in your eyes as they used to. Consequently, you feel like a different person.
If you aren’t satisfied with the direction and purpose of your life, I want to remind you that people can change. You can change. Let’s look at the Transtheoretical Model for what steps can make that possible. These five stages are:
Those first two stages—pre-contemplation and contemplation—are incredibly important because you can’t move forward until you accept the desire for things to be different. From there, change comes from planning, attempting, and retaining daily.
If you could use some more guidance, consider these ten principles in the field of positive psychology. Two English professors, Richard Layard and Anthony Seldon, compiled a list of ten habits of happy people: giving, relating, exercising, appreciating, learning, goals, resilience, positivity, self-acceptance, and spirituality. I invite you to select a daily, happy habit to incorporate into your life.
Loss of Identity
A loss of identity happens when someone feels like they aren’t the person they’re supposed to be. Consequently, this loss is typically accompanied by emotions like guilt, shame, and even blame. Here’s the thing: we don’t have one identity. We are a collection of identities. There may be one identity in us that feels broken, but we have far more identities that are still pretty whole and pretty healthy. They’re just dormant because the broken one feels like it’s front stage.
So how do you overcome this narrowed vision of yourself? One strategy is a method called narrative therapy. It involves recognizing what story you are continuously telling yourself about yourself and then breaking the cycle by writing a new story. (It’s important that this new story highlights you at your best.) Doing this will open the door to hidden as well as potentially new identities you want to take on. Because personality is fluid, you have the chance to get your old self back or become completely different and even better. It’s your choice.
Loss of Connection
Lost and loneliness go together. The more lost we feel, the lonelier we usually feel as well. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of people around, you can still feel lonely.
One study found that someone who surrounds themselves with empathetic, loving people almost instantly has a better mood. In light of this, I invite you to seek out what I call “the circle of love.” These are safe people who want to embrace and welcome us. The problem is that people who are facing difficult emotions tend to consider themselves unworthy of receiving support.
Restoring a loss of connection can happen when we recognize people who love us, tell them our needs, and receive their love.
- Journal about what specific ways you feel lost?
- Addressing Loss of Direction and Purpose: Set one manageable goal for finding meaning, happiness, fulfillment, and motivation daily.
- Addressing Loss of Identity: Recognize the narratives you keep telling yourself about yourself that are not letting you progress. Write new narratives about you at your best.
- Addressing Loss of Connection: Acknowledge people in your life that love you. Explain to them what you need.