Knowing that you’re feeling lost is a good thing. It means you’re in the homestretch. Congratulations are in order, because you are further along than most.
When you’ve lost a sense of who you are, it’s similar to the grieving process when you lose a loved one. The first stage of grief is denial, the stage most stay in their entire lives. Then there is anger and frustration, when you start to recognize that you are just going through the motions instead of being who you want to be. Then you bargain with yourself, thinking that something will come along, won’t it? Sure it will. But what if it doesn’t? No, it will. But then there’s depression, where you think, “Nothing will change, because I’m not doing anything about it.”
And now here we are: acceptance. You have accepted that you’ve lost touch with who you are, and you’re ready to find yourself.
2. Why Do You Feel Lost?
There are several reasons why you can be saying to yourself, “I am lost”. You might feel like you are drifting along looking at yourself from a helpless lens while your body just does what you’ve trained it to do. Excitements are few, challenges are sparse, and the routine has taken over.
Falling out of touch with yourself happens when you buy into other ideas of what you are supposed to be or should be doing. This can happen whether those ideas come from friends, family, society, or even yourself. When you follow what you think you are supposed to be doing rather than what you want to be doing, it’s a path that leads to losing yourself. If you want to do something, but don’t because of someone else’s expectations, you are not living your own life. You lost yourself, and only your true self can lead you to a path of happiness, passion, validation, and independence.
Picture walking aimlessly into unfamiliar woods. The longer you continue walking in that direction, the more lost you become. That is what the path of not being your truest, happiest, and most authentic self is like. Simply recognizing and admitting that you are lost is extremely difficult. You overcame that. You did, not us. We’re here to help you with the next step: finding yourself so you can get out of those woods.
The idea of finding yourself simply means accessing your confidence, natural and potential abilities, sense of self-worth, self-reliance, and independence. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Easier said than done.” But that’s true for anything (except for maybe onomatopoeia).
Finding yourself doesn’t mean understanding where you are currently; it’s figuring out who you are and where you can go. So, let’s start by discussing how you can find yourself by figuring out how you got where you are.
3. Why is it Important to Find Yourself?
Self-help expert Gretchen Rubin, author of the “New York Times” best seller Better Than Before, Happier at Home, may have put it best: “What I do for my work is exactly what I would do if nobody paid me.”
When you are finding yourself, you find what makes you truly happy, not just “happy enough.” You are here because your heart isn’t singing, and we’re here to give your heart the music it’s been looking for. Finding yourself opens up your potential to truly accomplish anything you set your mind to.
You may have heard the saying, “You made your bed, so now you have to lie in it.” What happens if you lift a bed and bring it out to the curb? Would it be a lot of work? Sure. But now that the bed (your life) is in the past, it’s time to make a new one, and it can be anything you want it to be. Other people won’t understand or won’t care to understand why you’re making a new bed. They’ll wonder what was wrong with your old bed. This is a mentality that causes us to lose our sense of self in the first place. What we’ve learned, society’s expectations, and the path that seemed to be paved for us at birth all create an avalanche that pushes you along and sweeps you up until you don’t know who you are anymore.
“What is the meaning of life?” It’s an age-old question with a timeless answer: to be happy. Being happy can only be accomplished by finding yourself, and here’s how.
4. Where Do I Start?
A good first step to finding yourself when you’re feeling lost in life is to make a timeline of your life. Not only is it fun, but it is extremely beneficial. List your past achievements, your regrets, and moments that stick out as momentous, both positive and negative. List every major life event you can think of. For the negatives, consider what you gained from the experiences. For the positives, consider what felt good about them and what resulted from them.
Now make a list of your goals and dreams. It can be quite specific, like becoming a pilot, or very general, like simply wanting to feel more satisfied in your daily life. This will be useful as a reference point going forward, as well as something you can pull from when talking to a mentor or life coach.
This first initial exercise is essential for us to see what we look like on paper. A new perspective is what this is all about, and you will be surprised in the revelations that a timeline of life events can bring to the surface.
People who have found themselves will be able to make a list quickly and easily, and might even put it on their fridge with pride. That type of person is doing what they want and what they love, and feels passion in accomplishing both their long-term goals and their daily duties.
How to Effectively Find Yourself
1. Conventional/Traditional Methods
Take Responsibility, Then Accept It
If you are here and reading this, then chances are that you are taking responsibility for your life. Recognize that you became lost, that you let yourself stray from your true self, and accept it. It happened, it’s done, and it is time to get over it. There is no way to find yourself and realign your perspective without accepting that you are lost in life and that finding yourself is essential. Do not stay stuck in the past. Being stuck in the past is what makes people lose their sense of self in the first place. Accepting that you are feeling lost is the first step to taking the responsibility upon yourself to make a real change. Realize that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Do not confuse self-acceptance with the more common term known as self-esteem. Low or high, self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and our accomplishments. Self-acceptance, on the other hand, is our ability to accept negative things about ourselves. Accepting who you are is a vital step towards finding yourself, because you cannot fully know yourself until you recognize aspects about yourself that you don’t like. Denying these characteristics their rightful place in your psyche means that improving upon them or shedding them is impossible.
Since childhood, we have been told how people view us. Parents may have let you know that you were capable of this, but not of that. Romantic attractions may not have been reciprocated. Grades throughout school may have made you feel that you weren’t smart.
We all have negative characteristics that are easily overshadowed when we place a heavier emphasis on the positive. When we identify both the negative and the positive characteristics and see them simply as parts of ourselves, we can strengthen the positive characteristics by applying them towards goals, and work on weakening the negative by avoiding environments where they’re most likely to come to the surface.
Take Small Steps, but Dream Big Dreams
A big part of finding yourself is figuring out what your true calling in life is. The best place to start is to narrow in on goals that you feel best fit your passion, and gradually work up to completing them. A few examples might be running a 5K, painting a portrait, or writing a book. You could start by walking a mile, taking a painting class, or writing an outline, respectively.
Discovering one’s true calling is a gradual process. Take small steps towards your larger goals, because practice makes better no matter what the goal may be. Remember that there is no such thing as perfect, and, more importantly, no such thing as a waste of time. Keep improving, keep working towards big dreams, and never consider a dream too big. Be realistic about what you can do today, but be as bold as possible about what you can be tomorrow. As you complete goals, it will become easier, but the goals themselves also become more focused, each leaning closer towards finding your true self and your true calling.
Take Note of Those You Admire and Don’t Admire
Look at other people as a mirror and take note of the qualities you admire about them, as well as those that you don’t. Attempt to reflect the positive attributes and work towards shedding the negative attributes. You will grow as a result, and your true self will surface gradually as you express what you want to express and rid yourself of the toxicity of negativity.
Being more aware of what other people project will heighten your sense of awareness, leading to stronger social skills. Not only will it better your ability to read people, it will also strengthen your sense of dictating how others perceive you.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
When you are healthier, you feel healthier. When you feel healthier, you feel better in general. We all have a certain level of vanity, but it is an unshakeable part of our psyche that can be shifted in a positive way. You are not the clothes you wear or the car you drive, but your body is part of you.
Starting with a clean slate can be hugely beneficial. Exercising regularly, eating healthy foods (with the essential caveat that you indulge now and again), dieting, and quitting vices like smoking or heavy drinking can help shape your path towards finding yourself.
You will have a clearer mind, while looking and feeling better, and the combination of will provide the groundwork for moving forward and making positive steps towards finding yourself.
Write In a Journal
A great first step towards finding yourself is to list out all of the most impactful moments of your life. There is no way to figure out where you are going without formulating where you have been. But after that first journal exercise, continue to write in your journal. Put it in a safe place where it is highly unlikely someone will open it. Write down your daily or weekly events. If you are not sure what to write, just start writing and your words will find their sense of direction, guaranteed.
Because you are writing for your eyes only, it will become easier and easier to open up. Start with something mundane, and you will eventually uncover something profound. Do not hold back either, because self-consciousness will stifle what you may otherwise be able to uncover. Writing in a journal is also a great tool for increasing your self-awareness and acceptance.
Ask Yourself Questions
Ask yourself as many questions as you can think of. This is actually a great jumping off point for your journal, but it can be done when in traffic, while browsing the web, while doing the dishes, or at any other moment.
Who am I? What do I want? What is something I could do today that will make me feel accomplished? What is something I can do today that will benefit me tomorrow? Where am I going? There is no wrong question, and there is no right answer.
When you start asking yourself questions, you are developing a habit that will not only translate into finding yourself as a whole, but improve your problem-solving abilities. When you can answer profound questions about yourself, you can answer conquer any challenge.
Do More of What You Love
Having a job that does not fulfill you in a passionate way becomes a lot easier to swallow when you have something that you love to look forward to. Start experimenting in the kitchen, take a design tutorial, read up on how to write a screenplay, grab an instrument, or start home brewing. Find the time to do whatever makes you excited.
Even prodigies have to practice and practice in order to better themselves, and natural ability must be supplemented by determination. You could very easily strike gold with an idea, segue the passion into the career, or just get into the habit of doing more of what you love. Nothing that makes you happy is a waste of time, and embracing things that excite you is a major stepping stone to finding yourself.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
The routine, repetition, monotony, and lack of change in your life can all contribute to and deepen the path towards becoming lost. Step outside of your comfort zone and experience something new, visit a place you have never been, or do something you would have otherwise avoided.
You do not need to limit that to big things like traveling to a different country or going skydiving. Some simple examples include going to an experimental jazz show, walking to a new neighborhood, traveling to a nearby small town, or striking up a conversation with a stranger.
Honing your ability to think on your feet and accessing your ability to meet any unforeseen challenge helps you find your true self.
Get Lost, Literally
Getting out of your comfort zone is a conscious decision where you decide to try something or be somewhere new. Taking that a step further, walk outside of your house or step off a plane and get lost. Wander aimlessly. Do not take out your phone and figure out where you are. If your first instinct is to take a right, take a left instead. Get into the car and just start driving. Get off a highway ramp into an unknown area.
Sound scary? Good, it is meant to be! But it is also meant to be very rewarding. Right now, you are feeling lost, and you are in search of yourself. Take your physical body and literally get lost. It is a therapeutic exercise that reminds us that no matter how lost we get, we can always find our way back. This literal exercise will translate into a more figurative realization when you are trying to find yourself. As an added bonus, it should get you out of your comfort zone as well.
Consult with a Life Coach
A third party perspective is a very beneficial tool when attempting to find yourself. We strongly encourage seeking guidance from people you know that inspire you, but that often comes with the hiccup of a biased perspective. Another problem is that a good conversation is a back and forth between two people, so it is easy to get off track or end up talking about the other person rather than yourself.
A life coach is there for you and only you, using their unbiased, third party perspective and seasoned expertise to really connect with you and make a difference. They can clarify things and help develop strategies that lead to finding yourself. There are tons of life coaching resources, but Life Coach Spotter’s many coaches are certified, and services includes a free, no obligation consultation.
Pick Up Hobbies and Learn New Skills
Don’t be afraid to try a new hobby. Discovering what does not interest you will help you zero in on what does, and any opportunity you can take to challenge yourself helps you find yourself.
There are plenty of adult classes in most areas, and thanks to the Internet, there are countless classes on every topic imaginable online. Whether it is something that you can see yourself pursuing as a career, something that you want to do purely for fun, or something to better yourself physically, the only regret that you will have is not trying.
Reconsider Your Career and Relationships
On the topic of trying something new, consider the career you are in and the relationships that you’re a part of. Decide if your career and relationships are positive or negative. If something is just a means to an end, then it is more than likely a negative.
Deciding if your career is part of the reason you became lost or if you are in an unhealthy relationship is best done under the guidance of an online coach. Letting go of something that is comfortable is difficult. It is easy to decide that an unhealthy thing is positive when considering it from a personal, narrow perspective.
2. Unconventional Methods
Really Open up to Those Around You
It is amazing how therapeutic it is to get things off your chest or discuss deep issues or truths with people. By having discussions about things outside of the weather, work, school, or whatever mundane topic is considered proper dinner conversation, you will learn things about yourself and the people around you.
Opening up can lead to a deeper connection with yourself and others, as well as lead to new ideas or ways of thinking that can be incredibly beneficial. Not only is it another way to step outside of your comfort zone, it also builds up your ability to truly be yourself around people.
Express How You Feel
One of the biggest frustrations when one feels lost is that sense of hopelessness that nothing is going to change, and the thought that no one cares about the way you are feeling. There is also a fear of confrontation that can cause you to bottle up things that bother you until you reach a bursting point.
It is important to express yourself and have a say in your surroundings and environment. When you are able to tackle the fear of saying how you feel, it makes formulating how you feel and who you want to become much easier on a personal level. If you can express a problem to another person, surely you can express it to yourself. If the person does not respect your wishes, that can be seen as a productive thing, because now you know that they do not respect you, and it is time to rethink their value in your life. Assertiveness is not easy, and a life coach can help you decide whether a compromise can be made.
Some people scoff at the concept of meditation, but centering your mind and attempting to clear it not only relaxes you, but also can clarify or put into perspective problems and obstacles. Most people who say that meditation is a joke have never tried it. If it does not work for you, that is completely fine, but trying new things and keeping an open mind are crucial building blocks to finding yourself (and maybe some inner peace, too!).
Rekindle Past Friendships
People lose touch all the time for no other reason than they simply didn’t make the time to connect. Reach out to an old friend that you have lost touch with. Give them a call rather than sending them a text or a message on social media. Try and meet up with them for some coffee, lunch, or a drink.
This is especially beneficial if it’s a friend from back when you felt that you knew yourself. Triggering that nostalgia can be exceptionally beneficial. If you want to take it a step further, you could try and get a group of old high school, college, or work friends together for a night at the bar or over to your house for a casual party.
Do Something Crazy
Whether you make stupid faces in the mirror to crack yourself up or try bungee jumping off of a bridge, letting go of your inhibitions and acting a little crazy loosens you up and clears negative energy. Someone could say to you, “You quit your job? That’s crazy!” And you can laugh in the face of their judgment, recognizing that your job was toxic on your path to finding the real you.
Whether it seems crazy to the lost version of yourself, or crazy to other people that can’t understand why you made such a leap, if it feels right, it is an important part of your journey. Simply embracing the fact that you are lost and that you need to find yourself may seem like a crazy path to some, but doing what is right for you is never crazy.
Embracing spontaneity is similar to doing something crazy, but with a particular emphasis on repetition. When you pass by a store, go inside. If you weren’t planning on going out, but see a concert or a movie or a play being advertised, go see it. If someone wants to go grab a drink, think, “Why not,” instead of, “Why?”
We always hear that being spontaneous is a positive characteristic, but it doesn’t have to be a personality trait. Anyone can be spontaneous simply by going out and doing something. Seize the day, seize every moment, and find excitement in the smallest of places. By challenging yourself to let go of the hesitations that led you to losing touch with yourself, you can discover things about yourself that were buried deep, and be more willing to say yes, both to yourself and to others.
Forgive Yourself for Everything
Your past is in the past for a reason. Whatever you have done, whatever skeletons you might have in your closet, forgive yourself for them. Your biggest critic is yourself, and the sooner you are able to let go of past transgressions or missed opportunities, the sooner you will be able to take on virtuous endeavors and take hold of new opportunities.
Dwelling on the past is unhealthy, can cause someone to lose himself or herself, and hinder your progression in a very dramatic way. It is very similar to forgiving people that you have grudges against. When you dislike someone for a past transgression, you are filling up valuable brainpower and energy on unproductive vindictiveness. The same goes for how you think of yourself. Love yourself wholly and completely, faults and regrets and all.
The safest way to forgive yourself is to talk to a third party bound by confidentiality, like a therapist or a life coach. Therapy sessions not only help figure out what specifically you may be feeling guilty or regretful about, but also ways in which you can forgive yourself for them.
Live in the Moment
Laugh, sing, dance, daydream, watch, listen, feel, enjoy. Any verb that triggers an image or experience that excites you is one that you will want to try and perform on a daily basis. Every single SECOND of life is a gift. It is up to each of us to make the most of every second.
Someone passed away a second ago, and you are experiencing a second in time and in life that they did not get to experience. If you don’t owe it to yourself, you owe it to all those that it’s too late for. Consider every moment a beautiful wonderful miracle of existence. Washing dishes? Lose yourself in reliving a vivid sexual experience. Stuck in traffic? Blast the radio and sing full volume. Go outside when its nice out, and brave it when it’s not. Take some chances, make some mistakes, but for the love of God, enjoy your life!
What Finding Yourself Can Accomplish
1. Understanding Who You Were
The first step to finding yourself is to figure out who you are now by writing down how you got here. Your true self will be much different from who you were when you were lost. The way you feel when you find yourself will become a foundation that you can pull from to avoid feeling lost again.The methods set forth are meant to be habit forming, and in the same sense that you lost yourself without realizing it, you will continue to find yourself without realizing it. It will start as deep focus, and slowly transition into a subconscious continuation.
2. Building On Objectives
You may have a list of goals that you want to accomplish. These goals are important benchmarks in envisioning what you want to accomplish and who you want to become. As you achieve goal after goal, you will start to feel more confident, have a well-rounded list of accomplishments, and feel as though you are living a life that matches who you are and your full potential. Each accomplishment is a building block, and each objective you face will be met with an increasingly assertive stride. Eventually you will feel like nothing can stand in your way, and no goal or dream is out of reach. And you know what? You’ll be absolutely right.
3. Sticking with It No Matter What
Someone who has found himself is not ruled by fear or clouded by judgments from themselves or the people around them. They have recognized that they were lost, and recognized that a change needed to be made.
People who have found themselves have recognized that finding their true calling was necessary, because they only have one life to live. It is never too late, it is never too soon, it is never the wrong time. First you have to trust in yourself and believe that it is possible. Soon you will know that it is possible. Eventually you will prove to yourself and everyone around you that anything is possible. When you find yourself, you will stay on track no matter what, because you will find that there is no other option.
4. Changing Your Perspective
Going through the motions needs to become a thing of the past. That feeling of being lost is all a matter of perspective. Your perspective now is that you do not know who you are, what you are capable of, and what the future has in store. Where you are now and where you have been is the focus.
When you find yourself, your perspective on life, its purpose, other people, yourself, your past, and your future will change in a more positive way than you could ever imagine. It will fill you up and elevate you to a new level of understanding: that you are you, and you are awesome.
5. Using the Change in Perspective
With this change in perspective, everything that comes after it will become easier and easier. Even if it’s a new challenge, a challenge of a level that you have never seen before, your new self will meet it with the gusto and internal braggadocio of a champion.
Right now you are feeling lost, so obstacles, goals, and dreams seem like crossing an ocean. Using your new change in perspective, it will be like jumping over a puddle, and you’ll stop to splash around in it too, because the reward comes in two parts: the act of accomplishing it, and the accomplishment itself. You will not become another person when you find yourself. You are the same person, but the best version of that same person possible. That comes down to a new perspective and regular action.
6. Becoming Who You Want to Be
This may be obvious, but it is certainly worth noting. Throw out the term “a new lease on life.” Leases expire. You earned a new life, and it is yours for keeps. When you have found yourself, the idea of becoming lost again will seem impossible, and that is because it will be. The idea of finding yourself and unlocking your true potential seems like a challenge, and it is. However, everything is surmountable with the right strategy and focus.
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