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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you work through the feeling of being lost so that you can find yourself again. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
Feeling lost can feel a lot like depression. You don’t enjoy doing the things you used to love. You’ve lost motivation. Life feels meaningless and you’re just going through the motions each day.
Because you don’t recognize who you’ve become, your self-image and self-confidence are affected. It’s a struggle to remember when you didn’t feel this way – a time when you felt happy or excited about life.
There’s also a sense of shame that comes with feeling lost. After all, don’t people figure this out in college? Maybe you’re the type of person who always seems to have the answers and now… you don’t.
Besides, no one else seems to be having an identity crisis or speculating about the meaning of life.
Who exactly do you talk about stuff like this with? The people in your inner circle are not going to understand what you’re struggling with.
As much as what you’re feeling right now sucks, it’s actually a gift. Let me explain…
Imagine living your entire life without realizing you’re not being true to yourself? Or what if it’s at the end of your life when you suddenly realize that you’ve never truly been happy?
But that’s not going to be you because, having become lost, you now have the opportunity to find yourself; to choose how you want to live and who you want to be.
How you navigate this pivotal point can change the trajectory of your life and lead you into a life that’s more compatible with your true self.
So if you’re feeling lost and looking for ways to find your identity, keep reading to understand why you feel that way and how to reconnect with your true self.
Why Do You Feel Lost?
There are many reasons why we feel lost. It could be a specific reason or trauma, or it could be a combination of different events. Either way, we must understand the “why” behind our feelings so we can recognize the triggers in the future.
Below are some reasons why a person may feel lost:
1. You’re experiencing drift syndrome.
Chances are you’ve never decided for yourself what you want to do in life. Life has happened to you and you’ve sort of drifted along with the tide.
Or perhaps other people in authority, such as your parents, have always made the big decisions in your life and you just went along with everything they said.
You went to college, studied what you were told to study because of the family name/prestige/future earning potential, got a job, and have been rising through the ranks ever since.
Or maybe you didn’t go to college, you’ve taken whatever job you could get and settled into adulthood. After that, you might have gotten married, had a few kids, and life continued as expected.
You’ve drifted without considering what you want to do with your life.
2. You’re changing the way you think.
The way you think is changing. You may have met someone or experienced something that blew your mind and changed your perspective on life.
Now, you’re having difficulty going back to the status quo. You’re realizing that the old way of life was shortsighted and does not fit your new mindset.
You feel like an imposter in your life, pretending to believe what you don’t. In a bid to please everyone around, you just go through the actions and emotions.
3. You’re too busy for passion.
Between work, family, and other responsibilities, there is no time left over for you to pursue passion projects. There’s so much to do each day that you rarely get to everything before you collapse into bed at night. You just don’t have the extra energy for the things you’re passionate about.
Life is all about what you should do and what you must do. There’s no time for you to do what you want to do or love to do. Sadly, your life is about everyone else and not about you.
4. You can’t see a purpose to it all.
Whether it’s your job or the errands you run, you don’t know the purpose.
At work, what you do seems menial and pointless. It doesn’t seem to connect to a bigger purpose or even connect to the bigger company objective.
In life, you’re just bouncing from one errand to another on autopilot. Perhaps you take part in a committee at your child’s school or religious group that seems to lack meaning. You’re just there because you couldn’t get out of it.
Maybe you wonder if anyone would miss you if you didn’t show up or if your work wasn’t done. You can’t see the bigger “why” behind what you’re doing.
5. You lack meaningful social support.
You have friends. It’s not like you’re a friendless loner. Your relationships are just very surface level. There are no deep discussions. They’re not people you talk to when you’re going through a difficult time. Truth be told, you don’t really have someone to talk to during hard times.
So you feel even more alone and isolated as you try to navigate this period in your life because you have no one you can unburden yourself to.
Your group of “friends” would definitely not understand what you’re going through. They’re good for a couple of beers but nothing deeper than that.
6. You’re suffering cognitive overload.
You’ve got too much on your plate. You’re trying to do too much for too many people.
Aside from jumping from one responsibility to another and managing a huge workload, you have no way of managing the information you’re in charge of. Everything is stored in your head.
You’re doing all the work, managing your schedule and that of others, all with no help. Even going to sleep at night has become a challenge because your mind refuses to slow down enough for you to fall asleep.
Multitasking will be the death of you because you are constantly on the go. There’s no downtime for you.
7. You have too many distractions.
Your phone is never quiet. It’s always pinging with one notification or another. Emails, texts, and chats, that all supposedly need your immediate attention, drop continuously throughout the day. If your phone is ever silent, the battery must be dead.
Between the phone notifications and calls, you can’t make it through a meal without having to attend to something. You simply have too many distractions.
8. You compare yourself to others.
Compared to what other people are doing or what they have, you don’t measure up. Everyone seems to have their lives together. Their careers seem to advance at a faster rate than yours. You’re not as rich, smart, beautiful, or lucky as everyone else.
The problem is you compare yourself to others. And because you’re comparing yourself to what other people choose to show you, you never seem to measure up. You see other people at their best and you compare yourself to that ideal picture.
9. You care too much about what other people think.
People have so many opinions. They know how you should live your life, what you should do, and what you’re doing wrong.
But that’s not the problem…
The issue is that you care too much about their opinion.
You’ve lived your life based on what other people think is the right choice and have struggled to meet their ridiculously high standards. Because you don’t want to disappoint them, you go along with what they say or work yourself to the bone trying to meet their expectations.
The irony is that what other people think is right or true may not be right or true for you. But you’re too busy trying to please them that you don’t take time to consider what is right for you.
10. You have a victim mentality.
The world is against you. Nothing ever works in your favor. Everything about your current situation is not your fault. Things happen to you, instead of you making things happen. Even when you try to do something constructive, a string of bad luck sweeps in to mess everything up.
You’re the victim who can’t just catch a break. When you try to take one step forward, life knocks you back three steps. So you’ve been stuck in life, unable to move forward. Now, you’ve just given up. Why keep fighting against forces that are outside your control?
Always the victim and never the victor.
20 Ways To Find Yourself Again
Now that you have an idea of how you got to this point of feeling lost, how do you get out of this funk? How do you find yourself when you feel lost?
Below are 20 ways you can try to turn this uncertain period into a tool for creating a life that you can be proud of and excited to live.
1. Acknowledge and accept how you’re feeling.
Feeling lost can feel a little like you are behind the curve. No one around you seems to be having an identity crisis. At your age, you’re not supposed to be trying to figure out who you are. That should have happened years ago.
You might even be successful by the standards of society. Perhaps in your career, you’re about to reach the level of management or you’re approaching retirement.
But something is off. It’s almost as if you’re wearing shoes on the wrong feet. It just doesn’t fit. This isn’t exactly what you can discuss with your spouse or best friend because they wouldn’t understand. Your life seems perfect.
So you try to silence your feelings and continue as you’ve always done before.
Unfortunately, the more you ignore your feelings, the more dissatisfied you become. The more you feel lost.
So since stuffing your emotions down isn’t helping, why not try acknowledging them instead?
Accept that you feel lost. Admit that you’re not living life to the fullest, rather you’re just going through the status quo.
You’re not the first person to question everything they once knew about themselves and life. Everyone goes through this at one point or the other. Decide that you will use this period to create a life that is true to your values and excites you.
2. Review your life.
Make a timeline of your life. List out your achievements, challenges, and even regrets. Write down the good, bad, and momentous times of your life. Every major life event and whatever used to make you happy should go on that list.
Next to each event, write one of two things:
- Positive events – What felt good about these events? Why did they make you happy? What resulted from these events?
- Negative events – Did you learn anything from these events? What was the lesson? What did you gain from these experiences?
This exercise will help you reconnect with the things that made you happy before you got too busy to focus on yourself. Sometimes life gets so busy with responsibilities and work that we forget what makes us happy. We think that there’s too much work to do that having fun seems like a waste of time.
Take a walk down memory lane and remind yourself of the things that you used to enjoy and that there’s always a lesson to learn in every situation.
3. Make a list of your goals/dreams.
If money were no object and you could do whatever you wanted to do, what would you do? Would you travel or change careers? Maybe you’d run a marathon or learn how to do the salsa? Write everything you’d like to do. Nothing is too small or ridiculous.
You’ve heard of a bucket list. Write your own bucket list. But instead of just having a list of things you want to do someday before you die, write out a plan to do those things now instead of sometime later.
If you want to travel to Paris, put together a budget and start saving towards it. Do you want to change careers? Decide on the career you want to move to, what education you’ll need, and get started. Have you always been interested in learning how to fly a plane? Check out if there are lessons in your area and sign up for them.
What’s the thing you’ve always wanted to do but never gave yourself the chance to do? Now is the time to make your dreams a reality by turning them into goals and working towards them.
4. Accept yourself.
Do you accept yourself? Without all the titles or accolades, do you accept yourself as you are? If you cannot accept yourself, the good along with the bad, you will continue to struggle to find yourself.
The reason we adopt false personas is that we don’t think our real selves meet up to other people’s expectations. We assume we will not be accepted. While the truth of that assumption is debatable, no good can come from lying about who we are. No good can come from not fully and completely loving ourselves.
Whether other people accept the real you is up to them. But you must learn to accept yourself. You can’t live a happy and fulfilled life while denying yourself or trying to be who you are not.
Accept yourself, the parts you love, the parts you hate, and even the parts you’re ashamed of. They all work together to form a unique you.
5. Try to find your true calling.
Some people already know their true calling. They just need the courage to pursue it. To those people, you cannot afford to let fear deny the world of your gift. You already know what you were called to do, so do it. If you don’t do it, who will do it? If you don’t do it, will it ever get done?
Other people do not know what their true calling is. What they know is that what they’re doing right now is not it. To find your calling, a good place to start is for you to look at what you’re good at. What are you passionate about? Your calling doesn’t have to be something altruistic, like helping the homeless. It could just involve you using your gift.
Look at someone like Bill Gates. His gift was clearly software development, which he pursued with a passion. He started Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen in 1976 and, after lots of work and dedication, he left the company in 2014 and committed his life to help the less fortunate all over the world. His gift financed his philanthropic desires.
Finding your calling and walking in it puts you in a position to not only do what you love but also to help many less fortunate people.
6. Work towards your dreams (no matter how big).
Find a chunk of time for self-reflection, and grab a pen and some paper. Picture yourself in 5 years. Write what kind of life you would like to be living then. Describe what type of person you would like yourself to be, your best version. Answer questions like:
- What are you doing on a day-to-day basis?
- Where do you live?
- Who are your friends? What kind of people do you surround yourself with?
- What does your ideal life look like?
Be very clear and specific about your vision.
Look at your life now and plan how you can get from where you’re at to where you want to be. What do you need to do to be the person you’ve described? How can you live the life you’ve described?
No matter how big your dream is, there’s always a small step you can take today that will get you just a little closer to it. Break your big dream down into small actionable steps and start working towards it.
7. Study the people you admire.
Who do you look up to or admire? What qualities do they exhibit that cause you to admire them? It could be someone you have access to because it would be easier for you to study them and the traits you admire. But you can study a famous person as well. A quick google search can turn up a bunch of information on almost anyone these days.
Note the qualities that you like and even the ones you don’t like. If the people you admire are in your life, ask them how they developed the skills or behavior that you like about them.
Is it their entrepreneurial skills or their utter faith that life will work out in the end or their work ethic? Some of those skills are gifts people are born with, but almost all of them can be developed over time.
Study the attributes you admire and learn what steps you can take to replicate them in your life. This will help you become the person you want to be.
8. Start a journaling practice.
There are so many benefits to journaling. It helps you get all the noise in your head out and onto a piece of paper where you can make sense of all the chaos. Journaling is a great tool for self-reflection and identifying triggers.
If journaling is new to you, the fear of someone stumbling upon your deepest thoughts can be enough to prevent you from starting at all. So find a secure place to put your journal, if it’s a physical one. Or make sure your digital journal is password enabled.
Once you have a secure place, learning how to spill your guts will be the next hurdle, especially if you’re used to keeping all your thoughts to yourself.
You could just write about your daily or weekly events. Or if you prefer something specific to write about, here are ten journal prompts to help you reflect on your life and guide you towards finding purpose and meaning in life:
- What are you grateful for in your life recently?
- Define what happiness means to you, and what it would look like in your life
- What does living in your truth mean to you, and how can you make it a reality if it isn’t already?
- What is something that you want to achieve in your lifetime?
- Write your obituary – what do you want to be remembered for?
- What are your strongest talents and abilities? How can you use them to help the world around you?
- If money or responsibilities weren’t a factor in life, what would your life look like? Describe it in detail. How can you make that life your reality?
- What are some important recent events in your life?
- What is holding you back in life? Be honest – how can you move past these things?
- Write about what you can do to start taking action towards living a purposeful life.
These prompts will help you get started with turning journaling into a regular practice. They will also help you get to know yourself better as you look deep within yourself to answer these questions.
9. Ask yourself self-awareness questions.
If you’re feeling lost, it’s pretty safe to assume that your self-awareness is at an all-time low. You feel disconnected from who you really are.
This happened so subtly that you may not know when it happened or how you became someone you don’t recognize.
You need to ask yourself some self-awareness questions to help you figure out who you are and who you want to be. Ask yourself:
- Who am I?
- What do I want?
- What can I do today that will make me feel accomplished?
- What can I do today that will benefit me tomorrow?
- Where am I going?
Now, you may not have the answers to some of these questions right away. But at least let them sit in your subconscious and let your brain work out the answers in the background. Just make sure you keep returning to the questions until you have an answer.
Note that it’s ok for the answers to change from time to time. We’re dynamic creatures who are always changing. Don’t feel as if once you commit to an answer, you’ve got to stick with it for eternity.
10. Do what excites you.
What excites you? What do you enjoy doing? When was the last time you did what made you happy?
Nothing that makes you happy is a waste of time. So, if reading makes you happy, then find a good book, get a cup of coffee or tea, curl up on the couch and read. Even if it’s only for one hour.
Life doesn’t have to only be about your responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be dull and boring. There should also be time in your schedule for what makes you happy, something that you look forward to doing.
11. Step out of your routine/comfort zone.
Step out of your comfort zone, out of your routine. Challenge yourself to do what is unfamiliar. The reason you’re feeling lost could be because you do everything on autopilot. You’re not learning anything new. There is no growth in your life. Nothing is stretching your mind or capabilities.
Look for opportunities to step into new and unchartered territory. Do what you haven’t done before. Try something you’re not sure you’ll be a success at.
Regularly stepping out of your comfort zone will give you a chance to develop new skills. Your brain will learn new methods of solving problems. Even your present skills, no matter how good they already are, will improve if you step out of your routine.
There is no room for growth where you are comfortable, so step out into the unknown.
12. Get a life coach.
Sometimes it’s just better to talk through what you’re feeling and going through with an unbiased third party. A life coach could be the guidance you need as you navigate the new trajectory of your life.
If you’ve decided on changing careers, you can engage the services of a career coach to guide you and hold you accountable. Perhaps you’re finally taking the plunge to start your own business. A business coach could provide the encouragement and accountability you need to achieve that dream.
Life coaches are there to push you beyond what you thought you were capable of. They keep you on track to reach your goals.
People and businesses who work with coaches report positive results from the engagement. According to the Institute of Coaching, 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, while over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills.
A coach could be the tool you need to help pivot you in the right direction for your new life.
A good place to find a life coach of any kind is Bark.com where you can enter a few details and have relevant coaches contact you with their services and prices. Click here to fill out the short form.
13. Try a new hobby.
Start a new hobby. Maybe something you’ve always been interested in but never had the time to pursue. Or something that’s totally out there and not what you’d typically be interested in.
A new hobby gives you the chance to step out of your comfort zone. You’ll learn new things, expand your social circle, and have fun doing it. Starting a hobby that is different from what you would typically be interested in also allows you to explore other tastes and try new experiences.
Trying a new hobby can help you explore new aspects of your personality or life that don’t necessarily fit into your current reality.
14. Open up to the people close to you.
Do you have someone close to you that you can talk to? Can you share what you’re feeling with a friend or a spouse? Is there anyone with whom you can unburden yourself?
If you don’t, why not? You either need to change your social circle or work on opening up to other people.
If you do, why not discuss what you’re feeling and going through with them? When you open up to other people, you not only deepen your emotional connection but also get things off your chest. There is something very therapeutic about opening up to people who care about you, even if all they do is listen.
Human beings are social creatures. We weren’t designed to be lone wolves.
15. Express your feelings.
It’s ok to feel. It’s even ok to express your feelings. Whether you’re a man or a woman, no one should ever feel ashamed of their emotions or forced to ignore them. Your feelings are valid.
Bottling up your emotions until you feel you’re going to explode only adds to your feeling lost and alone. Expressing your feelings helps you confront and understand them. It can even give you insight into the why behind your feelings and what got you there.
If you can express what you are feeling to another person, great. They can offer a listening ear and perhaps even guidance. But if the only place you can express your feelings is in your journal, there’s also some benefit in that, because you can always go back and review what you’ve written.
Don’t run away from your feelings because that only prolongs the ordeal. Eventually, you will have to deal with your emotions because they won’t go away.
16. Rekindle past friendships.
Can you remember when you were last happy? What about when you last felt like yourself? Who was in your life back then? Reach out to an old friend from that period in your life and reconnect. Meet up with them for lunch or a drink. Reminisce about the good old days when you were happy and felt like you.
A walk down memory lane with a former friend can help you remember aspects of your personality that you’ve forgotten. Did you use to be spontaneous? Were you passionate about music or playing an instrument? Were you a gym rat or really athletic?
Past friendships can help you remember who you used to be. And while who you used to be might not be where you want to go, remembering how full of life you were can motivate you to find that same zest for life that you had before.
17. Forgive yourself and others.
You may have made some poor decisions that have negatively impacted your life. Perhaps you dropped out of college when you now see that you should have stayed in school. Or maybe you broke up with a romantic partner because you weren’t ready to be serious but now realize that he/she was the love of your life.
It’s possible you broke a few laws and served time in jail as a result. You could still be paying the consequences of your crime many years later with limited job opportunities and other such consequences.
Everyone has done things that they regret. We’ve all made split-second decisions that have changed our lives in big or momentous ways. It’s time for us to forgive ourselves for our errors.
People have hurt or offended us. The poor decisions of others may have deeply and negatively affected the trajectory of our lives. It’s time for us to forgive them for their errors too.
As Suzanne Somers, an American Actress, once said, “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” Letting go of past offense means letting go of its power to hurt you. Forgiveness means being able to move forward with your life without emotional encumbrance.
Forgiveness does not mean you have to forget. When you forgive, you choose not to dwell anymore on past hurt. It means regaining the brainpower and energy you waste on being angry or plotting your revenge or hoping for evil on the offending party. It means moving forward into the future.
18. Attend inspirational events.
Attend an event geared towards inspiring the attendees. It could be a religious event or a leadership conference, or even a TED Talk in your area.
At the event, you’ll hear inspirational stories, meet with people of like mind, and learn a thing or two about a cause you’re interested in.
The energy in a room full of people who are excited about a particular cause, whether it is personal development or empowerment, or career advancement, is enough to spark a fire within you.
If you work at a job you don’t like but can’t afford to leave, join the professional association and attend their conference. Such gatherings can help you see your job in a new light or teach you new skills that you can apply to make you more efficient in your role.
Use inspirational events to light a spark in your career or life or even marriage.
19. Evaluate your habits.
Are your habits helping you or hurting you?
Are you overworked because you procrastinate until the last minute and then run around like a headless chicken to meet a deadline?
Do you overeat because you don’t plan out your meals?
Are you exhausted because you stay up late playing video games or scrolling through social media?
Evaluate your habits and be honest with yourself in your assessment. Are your habits adding to your feeling lost? Or are they helping you to become a better person?
If your habits are not helping you to make the most of your day, then it’s time for an overhaul. But don’t just change everything at once. Pick one habit to work on at a time.
If you’re a serial procrastinator, break down big projects into actionable steps that you can work on each day.
If your eating habits are out of control, take healthy snacks with you to work and refuse to buy any additional junk food.
Review your habits and change the ones that aren’t helping you become the person you want to be.
20. Take a solo trip.
Sometimes, all you need is a change in your environment. Go on vacation to a town a few miles away by yourself. You don’t have to go to an exotic location. It’s possible to check into a hotel for a couple of days.
If you’re feeling stifled, take some time off and leave your environment. A change in environment can be like a breath of fresh air to give you a mental boost. A weekend getaway to a local Airbnb might be what you need to recharge your batteries.
Get out and explore the world around you. Spend time with yourself, resting and relaxing. Treat yourself to a well-deserved solo trip.
What Happens When You Find Yourself?
“Not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau
Feeling lost and working through it can be a challenging period of personal growth.
It can cause upheaval in relationships with people who don’t understand your point of view or the person you’re becoming. It can also be filled with fear because you’re stepping out into unknown territory.
But if you can weather the storm and find yourself, you’ll have learned so much about yourself in the process.
You’ll know what you value in life and what makes you feel fulfilled. Life won’t feel pointless because you’ll know and understand yourself. As a result, life will make more sense because you’ve been able to connect with your passion or find your calling or know where you are going.
Every day will feel like a gift because you will be living a life that is connected with what you value in life.
You have already spent so much time being this, that, or the other for everyone else in your life that you’ve lost sight of who you want to be. You’ve lived the life everyone else wanted you to live.
Remember, you only live once. This is your only shot. You don’t get any do-overs in life. Make it everything you want it to be.
Still not sure how to find yourself again? Talking to someone can really help you to figure everything out. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can guide you back to yourself in a structured manner over time.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
You might not think your problems are big enough to warrant professionl therapy but please don’t do yourself that disservice. Nothing is insignificant if it is affecting your mental well-being.
So seek the help you deserve today. You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. Now it’s time to do what’s right for you.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
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