Is there always a nagging thought at the back of your mind that something is “missing” in your life?
Do you yearn to have something more or to experience something different?
You’re not alone; it’s a feeling that many people have. But it’s one that you can investigate and find solutions to with time and attention.
Let this article be a guide to help you on your journey of discovery.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you identify what you feel is missing in your life. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
First, don’t brush aside this feeling.
Do you believe that you don’t have the right to feel like something’s wrong because you have so much to be grateful for? This is a type of conditioning that many of us have gotten accustomed to over the years.
It’s very much like invalidating physical or emotional pain because someone else has it worse, or being told to be grateful to have Aunt Fiona’s disgusting haggis to eat because kids in another country are going hungry.
Just because you have a lot of things to be grateful for and happy about, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to feel like you want or need something more.
Are you experiencing “FOMO” or comparing yourself to others?
The concept of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) plagues a lot of people. It’s the feeling that somehow, despite feeling pretty happy in their life, there’s something out there that they aren’t experiencing that would make them feel happier or more fulfilled.
In basic terms, it’s “grass is always greener” syndrome. This often stems from peering into other people’s life experiences and wondering whether you’d be happier if your life was more like theirs.
For instance, you might have a wonderful relationship with an amazing spouse but feel like maybe you’d be even happier if you had a kid. Or you have a home in an incredible location but think that maybe the next neighborhood over is a bit nicer, or that you’d like your house better if you did some major structural renovations.
Ask yourself why you’re feeling this way. Have you been looking at the lives of those around you and feeling envy at what they have, but you don’t?
Or maybe you’ve been spending a lot of time on social media sites and feel like your place looks shabby compared to theirs.
Just remember that these glimpses into others’ lives never give us the full picture. Sure, that Instagram post about a person’s living room might look amazing, but it doesn’t show you the horrible fight they had with their spouse that morning, or that the rest of the house is in shambles.
The person who posted a (highly photoshopped) selfie showing off their incredible abs might have a serious eating disorder that’s damaging their cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Oh, and yeah, those are some cute pics of someone’s kid, but you don’t get the story of horrible sleep deprivation and diaper nightmares that go along with it.
There’s a saying that there are two sides to every coin, and you can only ever see one of them. There’s always a lot going on behind the scenes that you’re not privy to.
How to figure out what is “missing.”
The feeling that something is missing naturally leads on to the question of what that thing might be.
Consider some of these questions and activities to help you find an answer:
Are you putting your energy into pursuits, or obligations?
Over the course of a few days, take note of the energy you’re expending doing various tasks. Then determine how many of those tasks are done because you want to do them, or because you have to do them.
For example, does most of your day revolve around taking care of family members? Do you go from making breakfast for the household to working a job to pay bills, to cleaning up after them, and then bed?
In contrast, how much time do you get to spend on your own interests and personal pursuits? How much time is spent exercising, reading, or creating?
If most of your energy is going toward obligations, it’s not surprising that you feel like something’s missing in your life.
Consider which drudgeries can be delegated to others so you have more time to yourself. Then prioritize things that are important to you, and make time to do them.
Consider the two main core values of self-growth and service.
When it comes to things that fulfill us in life, they generally fall into two categories: personal growth, and service to others. If these things are absent or unbalanced, people can feel disheartened and depressed.
Personal (or self) growth revolves around how you continue to evolve as a person. In contrast, service generally means the things that we do for other people’s well-being.
For example, the former might revolve around self-care, health, education, and creativity. With service to others, that might mean interaction with other people, or animals, your local environment, or the planet as a whole.
How much time are you devoting to each/either of these? Are they well balanced? Or do you find yourself so depleted and busy that you can’t devote much time to either?
Which of these feel more important to you? And how can you make a commitment to spend more time doing them?
Consider making some small changes that can have long-lasting results.
For instance, if you feel like you want to do more yoga but don’t have enough time in the day to do it, determine what you can reschedule or cut back on so you can set aside 30 to 60 minutes to do that. Or, if you’re feeling like you don’t spend enough time in nature, aim to go for walks outside every other day.
Practice small acts of kindness to little wild ones, especially in wintertime. This can be as simple as throwing seeds or suet out to birds and squirrels, or offering a half-eaten chicken to some feral cats or foxes.
These small kindnesses will help to remind you about what’s really important in life. Put down the phone and watch the birds revel in the food you put out for them. Stop distracting yourself from the life you’re living and be fully immersed in it.
Once you stop allowing your attention to be drawn in different directions, you may discover that the “something” you thought was missing makes itself known to you with startling clarity.
Ask yourself if the things you do on a daily basis challenge and fulfil you.
At the end of the day, can you curl up in bed and feel a sense of contentment or achievement? Or do you just throw yourself into the covers and thank the powers that be that another day is over and done with?
If it’s the latter, chances are you’re not particularly happy with what’s occurring on a daily basis.
There’s a huge difference between completion and fulfillment, and many people get the two of them confused. Crossing all your chores off your ‘to-do’ list is great for a sense of completion, but did your heart soar when you finished scrubbing the toilet?
Same goes for the materials we fill ourselves with, be they for entertainment or edible purposes. Just because something staves off hunger or boredom doesn’t mean that it’s nourishing. Eating handfuls of sawdust will stop you from being hungry and most wood is technically non-toxic when consumed, but that doesn’t mean it’s offering you any nutrients.
That can also be said for the media we consume: binge-watching 57 seasons of “The Bachelor” might hold your attention and keep your mind from veering off in all directions, but do you actually feel good after watching it?
Try to choose more fulfilling experiences rather than grasping at unhealthy or hollow ones.
Are you dependent upon others to validate you or make you feel good about yourself?
This isn’t meant as any kind of recrimination or criticism, but is instead a potential reason as to why you might feel like something is missing.
For instance, do you only feel like you’re doing well in life if a parent or other figure of authority is telling you that you’re doing a great job? Do you look to other people for approval or positive reinforcement?
Many people grew up with parents who never felt like anything they did was good enough. Maybe the parents were struggling with depression or personality disorders. Or maybe they were just never meant to be parents and couldn’t drum up the right emotional responses. Either way, the young people grew up feeling like they never received the encouragement, kindness, and love that they sought.
Some might try to fill this emptiness with drug or alcohol abuse. Others might go through strings of unhealthy relationships as they try to find the love they never received from family members.
If you find that you’re constantly seeking positive responses from others to fill what you think may be missing in your life, this could very well be one of the sources.
This is a great opportunity for you to become your own greatest cheerleader and advocate. Nourish yourself in ways that you were not nurtured by others in the past. Instead of relinquishing your power to others and hoping that they’ll take care of you, step up and take care of yourself.
Basically, become the guardian and beloved caretaker for yourself that you always needed.
Look at whom you admire the most, and figure out why.
Is there a celebrity or important historical figure you really admire? Who is it? Why do you hold them in such high regard? Is it because you like what they’ve done with their lives, or because you wish you could do the same?
If it’s the latter, what’s stopping you from emulating their example?
The people you admire can tell you a lot about yourself. People who admire those who do a ton of outreach work tend to have really big hearts, for example. Meanwhile, those who respect and admire high degrees of physical fitness might feel small and weak, but aspire to greater strength and flexibility. Those who admire authors or filmmakers might dream about exploring that kind of creativity to create works that entertain and inspire others.
For example, my partner’s greatest hero has always been Hildegard von Bingen. You’ve probably never heard of her, but she was a 12th century abbess, polymath, healer, and visionary. My partner had a great career as a graphic designer and art director, which she absolutely despised. She always felt like something major was missing in her life, and she realized it was because she wasn’t living true to her life’s purpose.
So, she quit design, became a herbalist, learned a bunch of languages, and is now writing full-time from our cabin in the woods. She devotes as much time as possible to helping others, whether it’s through the words she writes, or the medicines she crafts.
Sure, the transition was difficult and her life changed dramatically, but the sense of fulfillment she has now was well worth the birthing pangs to get her here.
Who’s your hero? Or if you have more than one for different reasons, what are those reasons?
Why do you admire these people? Is it for their achievements? Their strength? Courage? Creativity?
Would you be a happier person if your life looked a bit more like theirs? And if that’s the case, what changes do you need to make in order to follow a similar path?
If the person you admire most is an Olympic triathlete, then you don’t necessarily have to train as hard as they do to run (and cycle, and swim) in their shoes so to speak. But you can take up a form of physical activity that appeals to you. Build strength and stamina in a way that’s possible for you to attain, complete with achievable goals.
Are you a huge admirer of Stephen Hawking’s work, but you failed science classes miserably? There’s nothing wrong with reading more about the subject matter you adore. Get a good telescope and teach yourself some astronomy. Delve into documentaries, maybe get a microscope and check out mineral slabs.
There’s always something you can do that will fuel your heart and soul.
Did you sacrifice a great dream or life goal, but never really gave up on it?
Many of us had grandiose dreams as children about amazing things we wanted to experience in our lives. But how many of us actually did them?
Sure, some of them were a little too unrealistic to be able to pursue. I mean, my friend wanted to be a fire truck when we were seven years old but I can’t imagine that worked out the way he wanted it to.
Other dreams are more realistic and attainable, like travelling around the world, becoming a martial arts specialist, writing a novel, or living with elephants for a while.
Some people put a lot of time and effort into achieving these things only to fall short. But the vast majority just push those dreams aside and don’t bother trying to follow them in the first place. Maybe they’re afraid that they’ll fail if they try. Or they brush them off as silly and turn their attentions to more practical matters.
These dreams and goals exist(ed) for a reason, though. Deep down, each of us has something powerful that draws us to experience certain things. It’s like a deep, yearning hunger for a particular meal. It’s sad to consider that we have the ability to taste this dish if only we put real effort into doing so.
Do you still have these kinds of dreams simmering on the back burner? If so, what’s stopping you from trying to follow them now?
Are you aware of what’s missing but you’re afraid to pursue it?
There’s another reason why someone might feel like something is missing in their life and that’s when they’re in denial. In fact, they might know full well what’s missing but they either can’t or won’t face it.
As a result, they keep maintaining the status quo and aching for what they really want on a subconscious level.
Let’s say you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage. You have a couple of kids, a decent job, a nice home, and everything is pretty stable. Sure, every day feels a bit like Groundhog Day, but it all feels safe and comfortable. You just don’t want to think too hard about the fact that you’re just going through the motions.
So you watch TV or always have the radio going so you’re never in silence; never alone with your own thoughts. Maybe you’re dealing with more anxiety and depression than usual. Those tend to come up harder when people aren’t living lives that are true to their natures.
This can (and usually will) intensify until you end up having a nervous breakdown at the big annual family holiday dinner when it’ll explode out of you that you’re gay or transgender or want to pursue a career as a circus performer.
The truth has a startling tendency to come out, whether we want it to or not. Usually with a huge burst of emotion.
If you’re aware that there’s a pretty intense truth that’s percolating its way to the surface, you might want to sort that out. Otherwise, that “something is missing” feeling will likely keep eating away at you, damaging your mental and physical health until it’s addressed.
Consider booking time with a therapist or life coach.
If you try to do some soul searching and still can’t figure out what’s going on, you might want to book some time with a professional. This doesn’t mean you’re weak-willed or anything, but rather that you need some help digging into the root of things.
Maybe there are things that happened in your early childhood that are affecting you now, and you didn’t even realize it. It could be that a loss in your early life made you feel as though you’re always mourning loss and absence. Or perhaps you’ve spent so much time focusing all your energy on other people’s needs that you aren’t aware of your own, or even who you really are.
Therapists can help ask the right questions to determine where these feelings stem from. Then you can work toward where (and who) you want to be, with greater understanding about why you’ve been feeling the way you do.
If you want to speak to a therapist, you might wish to consider the online therapy sessions provided by BetterHelp.com. You’ll be able to talk directly to one of their trained and experienced therapists from the comfort of your own home via video, phone, or instant message. Here’s that link again to learn more.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Alternatively, if you’ve managed to sort out what’s missing but have no idea how to transition toward the life you want to live, a life coach or therapist can help you with the tools you need to get there. It might feel like there’s an impassable obstacle ahead of you, but there’s always a way to cross it.
Sometimes we just need a friend on the other shore to toss a rope to help us swim ashore.
If you think a life coach is what you need to help you create the kind of life you desire, fill out this short form to connect with one near you.
Maybe there’s nothing missing at all: you’ve just been taught to feel like there should be.
Sometimes, the absence of a thing is much more powerful and beautiful than a thing itself. I mean, we love to look at the wide expanse of open, cloudless sky, right? It doesn’t need to be packed full of “stuff” in order to be magnificent in its own right.
From day one, most of us are inundated with the idea that we should always be grasping for the Next Big Thing. Rather than focusing on what we have and being content with it, we should be scrabbling toward the next goal, the next Apple release, the next… something.
As a result, it’s not surprising that many of us feel like there’s something missing in our lives. We’ve been conditioned to expect a yawning chasm within that needs to be filled with “stuff,” but never filled. Never satiated.
The idea here is that there’s a deficiency within us; a hollow that reminds us of emptiness, fear, want, and death. Something that must be plugged however possible.
Instead, this space within is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. Rather than being a yawning absence, it might be a gateway. A center of intuition.
What you feel might be “missing” could really just be an internal set of open palms that’s ready to receive something amazing that’s on its way to you. Or a book ready to be cracked open so you can determine your life’s true purpose.
There will always be a slew of excuses as to why someone shouldn’t be following a path or desire that truly inspires them. Maybe they’re “safe” and comfortable in their current life, or they don’t want to disappoint others around them. Or maybe the path they want to tread will be difficult and unconventional. They might risk being ostracized, or may have to fly without a familial safety net to fall back to.
But what’s the point of life if it isn’t going to be an adventure? Few people ever lay on their deathbeds with great relief that their lives were dependable and beige. In fact, among the greatest regrets that hospice care workers hear from the dying, two of the top ones are “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me,” and “I wish I had taken more risks.“
If you feel like something is missing in your life, then know that it is absolutely possible for you to fill that up. Starting now.
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