“I feel like a shell of my former self.”
Is that something you find yourself Googling or perhaps something you’re thinking about?
Maybe you’re wondering what happened, how you got to this point, and why you don’t feel like yourself.
Feeling like a shell of your former self can leave a person with a heavy sense of emptiness or hopelessness that can be a total drag.
There are a few reasons why a person might feel this way. First, trauma, stress, mental illness, and crises can drain you and make you feel like a shell. In addition, various life events change a person, and sometimes it’s hard to stay present when you are grieving the person you were.
Nevertheless, if you feel like a shell of your former self, you’ve landed at the right place. This article will share eight things you can do to either alleviate or accept this feeling.
Whether you’re grieving your former self because you don’t like who you are or you feel like a shell due to other factors, the following information can help.
You’ll learn how to establish a new sense of self so you can cast off the shell of your old self and really come into your own person with love, passion, and confidence.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you feel like yourself again. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
8 steps to take if you feel like a shell of your former self:
1. Understand and acknowledge your feelings.
Feelings exist for a reason. Imagine them as tiny little mailmen that send messages to your brain and directly affect both your physical and mental health.
When you can understand and acknowledge these messages, you put power back in your hands rather than allowing your emotions to run wild.
Consider how you’re feeling about yourself. Are you having harmful and destructive thoughts? What sort of conversations are you having with yourself?
When we block and avoid emotions, we’re just pushing them back until they simply can’t be pushed back anymore. This can be the cause of emotional stress and feeling overstimulated.
Avoiding emotions can put people under severe emotional stress, leading to further health obstacles. Though avoiding your emotions might feel easier, it’s not better for you in the long run.
There is so much strength and power in being vulnerable and in tune with your feelings. When you understand your emotions, you’ll feel more like yourself. Being vulnerable and having honest conversations with yourself can help you better understand why you’re feeling the way you are and what you can do about it.
When you understand and acknowledge your feelings, you become a more authentic person. You’re living in the now with the WHO you are right now.
Perhaps your former self has some unresolved emotional trauma and you feel empty because it’s never been dealt with. You feel lost and are not even sure who you are at this point. Firstly, that’s okay, and you’re not alone. You can take action to make understanding your emotions easier and benefit from improved emotional intelligence.
When you’re feeling an emotion, notice it arise. Acknowledge how it feels throughout your mind and your body. Label the emotion and understand the intensity of the feeling. You can use a 1–10 type scale to put the feeling into perspective. Write out your emotions, practice reflective writing and self-compassion, and never ignore them.
Once you are more in control of your feelings, try to figure out why you’re experiencing those emotions so you can begin to feel the power of being vulnerable and authentic. This should help you start to feel more like yourself.
Sometimes, when we’re living through life and encountering tragedy, trauma, and other challenging obstacles, we suppress our emotions rather than feeling them. This can quickly become a habit. Before you know it, you’re a shell of your former self.
Carrying around all your suppressed emotions can be a drag. You must work to notice, label, and feel emotions and their varying intensities.
2. Start wondering “why?”
If you’re carrying around the empty shell of your former self, healing can begin by answering why. Why do you feel like this? Did something happen in your life? Did you experience a traumatic event? Are you living authentically? Do you like who you are?
These are all questions you can start asking to understand why you’re feeling like a shell of who you were. The why is critical to making the situation better.
You became a parent at a young age.
If you’re someone who became a parent at a young age, then that might be why you are feeling like a shell of who you were. It can be hard to maintain an identity when your entire world is wrapped around another human.
If this is you, here are a few things to try to start feeling like yourself again:
- First, ask for help and build yourself a support system.
- Take time to relearn who you are now and what you enjoy.
- Finally, make time each day for some self-care.
You married young, the relationship is over, and you’re a bit lost.
Sometimes relationships end, and if your entire world is wrapped up in your partner, it can be complicated to find who you are once the relationship is over. Take time to mourn and grieve the relationship; label the feelings and commit yourself to living your best, most authentic life going forward.
You experienced a traumatic event.
Traumatic events can cause a lot of obstacles in life. Make sure to connect with your healthcare provider and perhaps even attend therapy. These two things can help you work through the trauma and live in the present.
You’re having a mid-life crisis.
You’re getting stuck in the “what ifs” and wondering where your life might have been had you made other choices. You’re unsure if you’re happy and don’t know which direction to go.
If you’re having a midlife crisis, that’s normal, okay, and possibly the reason you feel like a shell of your former self. Talk to a therapist for tips on how to work through the crisis and come out better on the other side.
3. Make a decision.
Once you understand the why and acknowledge the feelings surrounding it, along with the intensity of the emotions, you can make a decision.
This decision is an integral part of personal development.
Once you acknowledge what your feelings are and where they stem from, you can decide if it’s time to let your former self rest and bloom into who you are now or take time and set personal goals to get back to who you were.
Every case is different and the optimal decision will vary for each and every person. Sometimes the former version of who we were is more confident, fierce, and ruthless, while other times, it’s a trauma-shocked victim. You need to decide whether you want to be who you were or if you’re ready to bloom as you are.
Though this sounds like a big decision, don’t worry. Because once you understand and acknowledge your feelings and the reasoning behind them, it will be apparent to you whether you need to move on or get back to who you were.
4. Live authentically.
If you want to live a good life that you can feel proud of, one of the best things you can do is live authentically.
To live authentically is a holistic psychological concept that embraces who you really are, combining your actions and words and ensuring they’re congruent with your beliefs and values.
How do you leap into living with authenticity?
- Forgive yourself for anything you perceive yourself to have done wrong. Self-forgiveness can feel like setting yourself free.
- Practice self-compassion. Speak to yourself, be kinder, and let yourself be a person who is loved.
- This involves being present, aware, and in the moment. Allow yourself to have feelings about your life, environment, the news, and so on, and be in the moment feeling them.
- Build healthy connections with people.
- Acknowledge your reality. Are you living life with intention and the way you want to live, and if not, what can you do to improve it? Living authentically involves living your life the way you wish to.
- Own your life, mistakes, obstacles, and positives alike. You’re the creator behind it all. So be proud of your life and own it.
5. Build a support system.
Build a support system that you can trust, count on, and who loves and supports you.
Every one of us deserves the kind of love and compassion that supportive people bring, and they can make a huge difference in our overall health and well-being.
Look to family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and faith leaders to build a solid support system. Alternatively, reach out and connect with those who are going through something similar to you—either in-person or digitally.
Support systems have a positive impact on overall health and fight loneliness.
6. Build a new self.
If you feel like a shell of your former self, you might be stuck in the past. This can signify that you must forgive yourself, accept mistakes, and let yourself live authentically again.
Through this process, you’ll start to build a new self—one that you feel comfortable and confident with. Building a new sense of self is a journey, so don’t be discouraged.
Here are some tips:
- Become a more self-aware person. Focus on being in tune with your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Know how you feel about things.
- Make time to connect with yourself.
- Look at life’s challenges as an invitation to build a better sense of self. Challenges often shape/make us and teach us a lot about ourselves.
- Do things that make you happy.
- Learn how to be happy alone.
- Define your morals and values.
- Create personal boundaries.
Building a new sense of self is individual, but a qualified therapist could assist you.
It’s about getting to know who this version of you is, how you feel about things, your opinion, and so on. It’s about peeling back the layers of societal expectations and allowing yourself permission to grow and bloom.
There are two more core elements to building a new self:
Accepting you’re not who you were.
Living in the past will cause you to miss out on your life right now. It’s essential to understand your feelings and then move on, committing to take care of yourself, developing a new sense of self, and learning who you are. Feeling like a hollow version of your former self can be a heavy, crippling feeling.
Accepting that you’ve grown, changed, and adapted is integral. We can’t stay the same. We aren’t who we were. We grow, learn, change, bloom, and the cycle repeats itself throughout life.
Every situation we’re faced with in life allows us to grow, learn, change, or bloom. We must learn to trust that we have exactly what we need to do good in this lifetime and allow ourselves the grace to live unapologetically.
Accepting you’re not who you were might come with grieving that person, allowing them to rest, and then stepping into who you are now.
There are many seasons of who we are, and when you begin to feel like a shell, it’s time to reevaluate and ensure that you’re living authentically.
Accepting who you are now.
Acceptance of the person you are now is a journey. Once you’ve accepted that it’s time to let go of your former self and embrace the person you are now, you’ll feel a bit more at peace.
You can start accepting who you are by embracing your uniqueness, listing your strengths, staying present and in the moment, practicing self-compassion, and forgiving yourself for past mistakes.
Accept yourself as you are in this present moment and allow yourself to let go of your former self. Rebuild yourself and watch how you bloom!
7. Embrace change.
Change indicates growth, and growth, quite frankly, is blindingly beautiful.
Don’t fear the change, but rather embrace it. Take it as an invitation to get to know who you are and if you’re anything like your former self.
Perhaps your former self isn’t anything like who you are now. Instead of fearing the change, choose to lean into it. Embrace it. Change means something.
Imagine the seasons. They change, and each change has positives and negatives, but nonetheless, they are all quite beautiful.
Likewise, we evolve, grow, and change too.
As we become adults, we might come to expect more stability in our lives and sense of self, but because life doesn’t stay the same, we can’t expect that of ourselves.
We must allow ourselves the grace and compassion to grow, change, and learn so we can evolve into the best versions of ourselves during each season of our lives.
8. Alternatively, seek to regain your previous sense of self.
If you’re not at the point of developing a new sense of self and want to regain your former sense of self, there are a few tools you can use to do this.
First, take time to understand who you are now and how you fit into the world. Then, spend time alone and try journaling, practicing affirmations, increasing your self-compassion, and surrounding yourself with good people.
Next, increase your self-awareness, believe in yourself, set boundaries, spend time with your hobbies and interests, and watch how you begin to feel like yourself again.
How do I decide between a new and old sense of self?
Deciding if you should work toward who you used to be or redefine who you are now is a personal decision.
First, ask yourself questions like, were you living authentically before? Were you happy with who you were? Did you have healthy boundaries? How was your sense of self?
And then consider who you are now. If your former self isn’t in line with who you are now, it’s time to take actionable steps to redefine your sense of self.
On the contrary, if your former self is more in line with your authentic self, then take steps to get yourself back to that version of yourself.
Feeling like a shell of your former self can be a sad, isolating feeling, but there are things you can do to either change how you’re living or accept your current self.
You must understand, label, and acknowledge your feelings and start asking why. Why do you feel like this? Did something happen in your life to prompt this feeling? Were you living authentically before and now you’re not?
These complex questions can make a big difference in your personal development, so take some time to ponder them and answer them for yourself. It’s okay to change and evolve, but the trick is to live authentically while doing it. You deserve a full, peace-filled life that can only begin with self-acceptance and self-compassion.
Still not sure how to overcome the feeling of being a shell of who you were? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
Speak to a therapist about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to identify where these feelings are coming from and offer tailored advice so that you can work through them.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
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.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
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