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Published on June 19, 2019

How to Find Yourself When You’re Lost in Life

How to Find Yourself When You’re 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, and that you will never find yourself again. It just means that you are moving through a messy and beautiful process of transformation.

Yes, mess can be beautiful. It’s all a matter of perspective…

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.

When my brain took a hit in 2017, I realized that I had been suppressing my lost emotions for years. I’ve learned to NOT google anything more related to traumatic brain injuries. This quietly increased my anxiety and created more symptoms than I actually had (or maybe this is just what I do).

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 incident that re-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]

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I had survived and I thought that was enough for me. However, this proved to be wrong.

In effect, I became a master at dissociation. Let’s just say that the brain injury woke me up and said, “Time to face your trauma!”

I had no choice. I had to lose myself in order to find myself again.

How did I do it? Through movement. It 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.

Taking care of myself is no longer a luxury. It’s my top priority. My healing process continues to this day. For the last two years, I have been on a journey of radical self love.

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, 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’re 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.

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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? Feel anxious thinking about it?

Unplugging isn’t just about disconnecting from the digital world. Rather, it’s about coming back to yourself and focusing on what is important to YOU.

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 connect back with your environment and others.

I promise that it 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. I get it. Going against what everyone else does and wants for you is risky.

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.

If life was 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. It’s that simple. 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.

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.

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People get into trouble when they start allowing other people to dictate the direction of their lives.

Don’t let anybody tell you that the things you desire in life are too extravagant or unreachable. Stay in your own lane. The last time I checked, my self-worth isn’t defined by others.

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, you’ve got to break the habit of being yourself and challenge your internal narrative. If you are constantly saying, “Im 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”, or “DMN” for short. 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.[5]

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 of 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.

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.[6]

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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.

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.”

When you think about it like this, getting lost sounds like the best option! You don’t need to have all of the answers in order to enjoy life to the fullest. Stop worrying and start living.

Are you ready to let go of who you are to become who you want to be? Everything is going to be okay. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.

More About Finding Yourself & Getting Back on Track

Featured photo credit: Judeus Samson via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Women's Resilience Mastery Coach & Dance Movement Medicine Therapist

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person 13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

Have you ever heard the question, “what would you do if money was not a factor?” It is one of those questions that people often brush aside, because quite frankly, money is a factor. The doubters will mock you as naive or foolish, but deep down you know it is possible to start living your dream life. You know there is more to life than working and paying bills.

It seems as though most people are just trying to get by. They work because they need to make an income to support their life.

People not only settle in the workplace, but also in their relationships with their friends and family. You may even know people who settle by compromising their integrity and core values.

That is why it is not naive or foolish to start living your dream life, it is essential.

Living your dream life is more than being rich, it is the belief that you are living a life aligned with your purpose. If you are ready to free yourself of the fears that cause you to live your life according to the expectations of others, then follow the below 7 steps found in the book – Champion of Change, the 7 Instrumental Laws of Change:

1. Construct a Plan of Action

The foundation for you to create your dream life is for you to take the time and visualize what that life will look like.

This is more than the normal vision board you may have heard before. This form of visualization requires you to use all your senses. Olympians are well-known for their visualization practices as they prepare for competition. The reason they do this is because everyone is very talented by the mere accomplishment of qualifying for the Olympics.

To gain an edge, Olympians will visualize themselves competing in their actual event. Emily Cook, of the United States free style ski team is quoted as saying she engaged all her senses in her visualization. She moves her body as if she is skiing down the slopes, she feels the air as it blows through her hair, and she hears the roar of the crowd as she crosses the finish line.[1]

Olympians visualize in such detail because they understand they only have one opportunity every four years to compete. The best way they can be ready for the moment is by continually competing in their mind. Studies support this belief as they show you can literally gain muscle by visualizing yourself working out [2]

2. Focus Your Attention

If you want to start living your dream life right now, you are going to need to adjust the way you see the world. Your beliefs create your consciousness, and your consciousness creates your reality, and your reality is maintained by the way your mind filters information.

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Everyday, you receive millions of sensory inputs and your mind filters out most of them to keep you from going crazy. The ones you receive are the ones that your mind believes matter to you based on past experiences.

One of the most popular examples is when you purchase a new car. As soon as you purchase that car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. Now you probably know that everyone did not purchase the car the same day as you, but what happened?

Well, when you purchased your new car, you told your mind ,”this car matters to me”. As a result, your mind is now showing you the car that has always been there.

Your mind blocks out most of the stuff that is going on while you are driving to help you stay sane. Imagine if you were consciously aware of every line, tree, car, deer, squirrel, reflector and sign while driving.

The same way your mind can adjust your filters based on the action of purchasing a new car, you can take actions to create your dream life. As you take action, your mind will show you new opportunities that were always there (just outside of your previous filters).

    Learn more about how to focus here: How to Improve Focus: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain

    3. Put the Systems and Processes in Place

    Once you have the proper mindset to start living your dream life, you are ready to shift your focus to maintaining your early wins.

    The mistake most people make is they are excited in the early going, but they are working solely off discipline and willpower. Your willpower and discipline are exhaustible resources that will fade over time. That is why most people quit their New Year’s Resolution 30-days after starting. That is also why people who are on a diet will make nutritious decisions throughout the day, and fail miserably late at night.

    Each time you withstood the tempting call of sweets, the likelihood of you withstanding another call decreased.

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    This is why it is so important that you put systems and processes in place that limit the need for you to use discipline and willpower. In the case of our dieter, it would be better for them to trash all the candy they no longer want to eat.

    The reason is simple:

    Whatever food that is in your house, you are going to eat at some time or another. The only way to truly ensure you will not eat the candy is to throw it away.

    This is also true when it comes to you and your dream life. If you want to ensure that you follow through on your vision, you have to be willing to limit the ability for you to revert back to your previous life.

    If you want to stop relying on your willpower and start making things happen, these tips will help: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

    4. Accountability Is a Must

    When you are accountable to someone or a group, you will find yourself more motivated to continue. Deep down, we all want to be accepted by others. Even though this can work against you sometimes, this particular occasion is not one of them.

    When you proclaim your goal to other people, it improves the likelihood of you following through.

    You may be surprised to know, but you experience accountability on a regular basis.

    • If the CEO asks you to provide a report, you are going to make the best report of your life. You understand the opportunity and value of making a good impression with the CEO.
    • Now imagine if your coworker asked for the report. Will there be a difference in quality?
    • How about if you were going to a class reunion? Would that improve your commitment to get in shape?
    • Even when you know you are going to have company over at your house, you are going to clean better than if you knew no one was coming.

    Accountability works because you want to keep your word and make a good impression of yourself in front of others.

    5. Catalyst for Change

    There are things you can control and things that you cannot control in life. Do not allow the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty keep you from living your dream life. Everything is not going to go smoothly on your journey. You are going to face challenges and setbacks.

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    The good news is failure is a part of success. They are two halves of the same coin. What tends to happen is people spend so much time trying to avoid failure, that they never realize they are undermining their ability to find success.

    By understanding that failure is a part of success, you understand your goal is not to avoid failure, but to build on it: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

    Your dream life does not necessarily need a positive event to start. Oftentimes, it is the negative events (or perceived negative) and a sense of desperation that drives people to reach further than they ever have before.

    Your catalyst for change may be exactly what you wanted or it may be the worst thing that could have happened. Either way, your focus is on what to do next. You want to build on that event by stacking positive events on top of it.

    Positive events are anything that move you closer to your goal. In your case, anything that moves you closer to your dream life. Whether you quit your job or your boss fired you, it is all about what you are going to do next.

    Choose to respond to each situation by taking another step towards your dream life.

    6. Character Matters

    In a study between two schools on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, positive psychology experts created a list of character strengths they believed essential to success.

    Their list included grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.

    Some of the character traits were common with how most people view success; such as grit, curiosity or self-control. However, gratitude, zest, optimism, and social intelligence (compassion) were on the list, but their relation to success is often overlooked.[3]

    It is important to remember that change comes from the inside-out. Your core values are the prism through which you accomplish your goals.

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    7. Muster up the Courage

    Once you have completed the first six steps, you have everything you need to start living your dream life.

    Do not allow yourself to procrastinate on your transformation. The fear of change may disguise itself as a thoughtful plan to wait for more information or better timing.

    Keep in mind that you are not looking for the perfect situation, you are only looking to start. One you get started, you are going to be better equipped to make any changes.

    I often compare starting your journey like walking through a fog. If you stand on the outside of the fog trying to see to the other side, you are going to find it very difficult. But if you are willing take the first few steps, you are going to realize that you can see a few more steps into the fog.

    If you are willing to continue walking, before you know it, you can see clearly because the fog is behind you.

    You have an idea of what your dream life looks like and you have an idea of the effort it is going to take to make it happen. However, you do not really know how realistic your expectations are until you experience it.

    Final Thoughts

    There is a lot of work that goes into living your dream life, but you will find it well worth your time.

    Most people regret the things they did not do more than anything they have ever done. Therefore, do not settle for a life that is less than your dream life. Pursue your dream life with effort and resolve.

    More About Living Your Dream Life

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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