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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

How to Find Yourself When You’re Feeling Lost in Life

How to Find Yourself When You’re Feeling Lost in Life

Do you feel like you’re wandering through life with no sense of direction? Are you wondering how to find yourself?

Whether you’ve lost yourself in a relationship, a career, a bad habit, or simply feel lost in life in general, you are not alone. All of us feel lost at some point in our lives.

Just because you don’t have it all figured out doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or that you are incapable of finding your true self through the good and the bad. It just means that you are moving through a messy and beautiful process of transformation.

In February of 2017, my entire life was turned upside down. Literally.

A bad motorcycle accident left me with a brain injury. I had “lost” myself 10 years earlier when I fractured my back in a car accident. Doctors told me that I had a traumatic brain injury (TBI)[1]—a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury. They didn’t know if I would be able to walk again.

But I survived, rehabilitated myself, and kept moving forward with my life. I guess you could say that my “bounce-back-ability” was strong.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do the deep inner work to heal the post traumatic stress that the accident caused.

The thing about trauma is that it likes to store itself in your body. If you don’t deal with it, it comes back to slap you in the face when you experience an emotion or event that triggers the pain you once felt.

For years, I had tried my best to create distance from the emotions, thoughts, and bodily symptoms that I experienced from my first accident. I wanted to avoid my emotional pain at all costs, so I threw myself back into work and life.

What I didn’t realize is that ignoring bad memories actually makes them worse. Research shows that sometimes when we experience trauma, all of our energy and mental resources turn toward stuffing the memories down into the basement of our awareness. We attempt to avoid reminders and “move on” with life.[2]

I had survived, and I thought that was enough for me. However, this proved to be wrong. Ultimately, I realized that I had to lose myself in order to find myself again.

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How did I do it? Through movement, which became my medicine and my therapy.

Because trauma is stored in the body, releasing it must involve the body. By connecting with my body intelligence, I have become more mindful of what my mind, body and soul needs on a daily basis.

I’ve learned how to become a master of my emotions (which is still a work in progress), and even more importantly, I listen to what I need and protect my boundaries.

Losing myself allowed me to get back in touch with my body and come home to myself. I believe that all of us have the power to transform our mess into our message. It starts with embracing vulnerability and having the courage to show up and be seen, even when you have no control over the outcome.

Life is lived in the mess. If you aren’t in the arena, getting your butt kicked from time to time, you’re not living.

In my experience, if you want to discover who you truly are, you have to be okay with getting lost. Here are 4 ways that you can heal your inner world and find yourself when you feel lost in life:

1. Unplug to Connect to Yourself

In a society where we are constantly engaged with multiple forms of technology, it’s easy to feel disconnected from yourself.

Modern technology allows us to connect to anyone in the world whenever we want. It has become a tool through which we can obtain endless amounts of knowledge in a second. Unfortunately, it has also caused us to become more disconnected from ourselves, one another, and life in general.

Computer and communication technology gives us “virtual” reality which means “almost like or very similar to, but not quite the same as.”[3] In this way, technology has become an escape from the realities of life.

Have you ever done a digital detox for one day, one week, or even one month? Do you feel anxious thinking about it?

Unplugging isn’t just about disconnecting from the digital world. Rather, it’s about spending time on your mental health and focusing on what is important to YOU

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I encourage you to make it a daily practice of switching off mentally and emotionally from all forms of technology, even if it’s just for one hour. Remove all distractions and pay attention to your environment and others.

This will help you find the quietness that you need in order to go inward in a way that nourishes your mind, body, and soul.

2. Take Big Risks

Get real with yourself: are you playing it too safe right now? Any time that I’ve stayed within the boundaries of my comfort zone for too long, I find myself feeling bored and uninspired.

The biggest reason that so many people are unhappy is that they choose mediocrity over risk. They go with the safe and practical route because they don’t want to shake the boat.

The status quo is a much safer option. In fact, by nature, we seek it out. This idea is supported by advances in brain imaging technology which now verifies that we are wired to be risk averse.[4]

Unfortunately, playing it safe gets you nowhere. In my experience, this is the quickest way to feel lost in life, and it’s not the way to learn how to find yourself.

If life were always predictable, you would never change. Hence, you would never grow.

Change is the only constant in life. If you aren’t willing to ride the change train, you will get left behind. Being uncomfortable is the only way that we learn who we are and who we are not. That’s how we become the best versions of ourselves.

Take a look at these 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear.

3. Tune out the Noise and Dream Big

There will always be someone who doesn’t agree with your path in life. No matter what you do or say, there will be opinions and judgments. It’s up to you whether or not you get plugged into them.

People get into trouble when they start allowing other people to dictate the direction of their lives. If you want to learn how to find yourself, don’t let anybody tell you that the things you desire in life are too extravagant or unreachable. Staying true to who you are involves staying in your own lane and defining your own self-worth.

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In the words of the late great, Steve Jobs:

“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

When we begin to suppress our dreams, we take the first step into being comfortable with less than what we really want in life.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk and dream big. The only person that is holding you back is you, so get out of your own way.

Even the most successful in this world were ridiculed for their lofty goals and dreams. Did that stop them? No, and it’s not going to stop you either.

4. Challenge Your Internal Narrative

If you want to change your life and create a healthy relationship with yourself, you’ve got to start challenging your internal narrative. If you are constantly saying, “I’m lost” or “I’m unfixable,” that is exactly what you will continue attracting into your life.

Your inner talk correlates with your brain’s “default mode network” (DMN)[5]. The DMN is the root of your ceaseless “story of me.” It’s the part of you that’s always worrying about what might happen and what others might be thinking.

When you feel lost in life, it can be easy to get stuck in a mindset where you allow yourself to be comfortable with things that don’t make you fulfilled. If you fall into the trap of identifying as “lost” for too long, you might find yourself accepting this reality.

What does your inner voice sound like? If it’s negative, the good news is that you can reprogram disempowering belief systems that have kept you stuck in one place as you learn how to find yourself[6].

How to Practise Positive Self-Talk in Order to Find Yourself

    I encourage you to recite daily affirmations to remind yourself that your position in life is not permanent. With regards to reducing negative thoughts, affirmations have been shown to help with the tendency to linger on negative experiences for too long.[7]

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    When you are able to replace negative internal messages with more positive ones, you can create a more empowering narrative about who you are and what you can accomplish.

    Try to repeat the following phrase after you wake up tomorrow morning:

    “I am not lost. I am on a journey of transformation.”

    If this doesn’t resonate with you, make up your own affirmation and repeat it throughout the day whenever you feel lost.

    This article will inspire you: How to Break Free from Negative Thinking for Good

    Final Thoughts

    No matter how hard life gets, remember that losing yourself doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It means re-evaluating what is important to you.

    It’s an opportunity to start a new chapter in your epic life and create whatever you want. As Henry David Thoreau said:

    “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

    More to Help You Get Back on Track

    Featured photo credit: Judeus Samson via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Ashley Elizabeth

    Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

    How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide) 4 Signs You Have a Victim Mentality (And How to Break out of It) What Motivates You to Succeed in Life and Keep Moving Forward? 5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good For Your Mental Health 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

    Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of motivation that lists five categories of human needs that dictate individual behavior. These five categories refer to physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.[1]

    Motivation plays a big part in athletic coaching. I spent 44 years coaching basketball and each day at practice, I was trying to motivate our athletes to give their best effort. In this article, I will examine Maslow’s hierarchy and five areas of needs from an athletic perspective.

    1. Physiological Needs

    These needs represent the most basic human survival needs. They include food, water, rest, and breathing, and all four have importance in athletics.

    Food has had an evolution in the world of athletics. I cannot recall my coaches in the 1950s and ‘60s mentioning anything about food. As time went on, the pre-game meal became important. Steak seemed to be the meal of choice early in the evolution. Research then indicated pasta would be the better choice.[2]

    Today, I think most coaches prefer pasta. However, if the players are ordering from menus, some coaches believe the players should stick with their regular diets and order accordingly.

    The next step in this evolution was that the pre-game meal, although important, is not nearly as critical as the athletes’ overall nutrition. At our University of St. Francis athletic seminars, we invited nutritionists to speak and to educate our players on their nutritional habits.

    The ultimate change in food intake may be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady. He adheres to a specific, disciplined diet that has allowed him to play superb football at age 43.

    Water also has had an evolution in sports. It went from not being allowed in practices to coaches scheduling water breaks during the practices.

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    Rest is extremely important in all sports, and statistics validate its importance. NBA research found that during the course of the season teams win 6 of 10 games at home but only 4 of 10 on the road. In the NBA playoffs, the statistics change to 6.5 at home and 3.5 on the road. Many coaches believe rest is the key factor to these statistics because the players are sleeping in their own beds for home games.[3]

    Our St. Francis basketball team found the importance of breathing on a trip to play in a tournament in Colorado. In our first game, we were playing great and winning by 12 points early in the game. Then the altitude kicked in, adversely affected our breathing, and we lost the lead and eventually the game.

    In our second game, having learned our lesson, we substituted more frequently! Maslow’s idea of physiological needs plays a major part in the athletic arena.

    2. Safety Needs

    Safety needs include protection from violence, emotional stability and well-being, health security, and financial security.

    If a fight breaks out during a basketball game, there can be serious injuries. This is the reason a coach steps in immediately when there is any violence or dirty play in practice. The coach must protect the players. You drill your teams to play hard—never dirty.

    The importance of emotional stability has gained more credence in sports in recent years. Many teams hire psychologists to help work with their players. There is a great deal of player failure in sports and it is critical for the players to stay emotionally stable.

    Health security is much more prevalent in sports today than in my playing days. I once got a concussion during a basketball game. We had no trainers. The coach handled it by telling me after the game, “Sullivan, you play better when you don’t know where the hell you are!” He was right, and my medical treatment ended there! Games today have trainers available to protect the health of the athletes.

    Financial security is predominant in professional sports. Most players today use free agency to go where the money is because they consider sport not to be a sport at all. They believe it is a short-term business at their level. I personally appreciate the athletes who have taken less money so the team can retain teammates or use the dollars to bring in new players.

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    3. Love and Belonging Needs

    These needs can be summed up with two words: love and relationships.

    After teams win championships, you will often hear coaches say, “I love these guys” or “I loved coaching this team.” You can tell by their body language and the tone of their voice that they really mean it.

    I think coaches say this because the season can be a tough grind. Practices, scouting, film work, travel, and problems that arise take a toll on coaches. However, when you have teams that give all they have every night in practice, you do come to love them.

    ESPN did a 30-30 segment on the North Carolina State national championship team coached by Jim Valvano. I was especially interested in watching it because I knew a player on the team who used to come to our camps. Terry Gannon played a major role in their championship.

    The program was a reunion of their players. This was 20 plus years from their title, and if you were to take one thing away from the show, it would be how much the players loved each other.

    In the last analysis, sport is all about relationships. You can meet former teammates with whom you played 40 to 50 years earlier and that athletic bond is as strong as it ever was. Although you may have not seen each other in years, your friendship is so cemented it’s like you have been seeing each other weekly.

    David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, validates the relationship between athletics forges. Ted Williams is dying and three of his former Boston Red Sox teammates—Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio—make the trip to Florida to see him. Even though 50 years had passed since they played together, the bond among them never waned.

    Love and belonging epitomize the essence of sports.

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    4. Esteem Needs

    These needs are characterized by self-respect and self-esteem. Self-respect is “the belief that you are valuable and deserve dignity.” Self-esteem is twofold—“it is based on the respect and acknowledgment from others and esteem which is based on your own self-assessment.”[4]

    Often the players on the bench are the ones the coach respects the most because they work so hard in practices yet receive none of the glory. The best coaches never let the starters or stars ever denigrate the players on the bench. Coaches must always acknowledge the value and the dignity of those who play little. They often turn out to be the superstars of their professions.

    Some coaches will never get “it.” They think they can motivate their players by degrading them. They embarrass the athletes during games and they constantly berate their performance in practices.

    Great coaches are just the opposite. They are encouragers. They do push their players and they push them hard, but they always respect them. Great coaches enhance the self-esteem and confidence of their players.

    5. Self-Actualization Needs

    “Self-actualization describes the fulfillment of your full potential as a person.”[5]

    I believe three words are the key to self-actualization: potential, effort, and regrets.

    You often hear in athletics that a player has potential. It also is not uncommon for the person introducing the athlete to rave about his potential. I was fortunate to work with an outstanding man in the Milwaukee Bucks camps, Ron Blomberg. Ron had the best definition of potential that I ever heard: “Potential means he hasn’t done it.” Will he do all the work necessary to fulfill his potential?

    Effort is great, but it’s not enough. If you want to reach your full potential, you must have a consistency of effort in your daily habit. Only consistency of effort can lead to success.

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    John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said that success is becoming all your ability will allow you to be. He agreed with his friend, major league umpire, George Moriarty, even though he used to kid him. Coach told him he never had seen Moriarty spelled with just one “i.” He followed this with, “Of course, the baseball players accused him of having only one ‘eye’ in his head as well.”

    In his poem, The Road Ahead or The Road Behind, Moriarty wrote,

    “. . . for who can ask more of a man
    than giving all within his span, it seems to me, is not so far from – Victory.

    When your life is winding down and you look back if you can say you gave “all in your span”—that you consistently gave it your best effort—you will have reached your full potential and there will be no regrets.

    Final Thoughts

    Now that you’ve learned more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, consider reflecting on the last two needs (esteem needs and self-actualization needs) and ask yourself the following questions:

    • Are you doing all you can to enhance the self-esteem of those around you?
    • Are you doing all you can to self-actualize the potential you have been given?

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

    Reference

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