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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Fill the Void in You When You Feel Lost And Confused

How to Fill the Void in You When You Feel Lost And Confused

Feeling empty, lost, and confused can be terribly unsettling, especially when others around you might not feel the same. You are in a secure, well-paying employment. You and your family are generally healthy. Your relationships are sound and healthy. Yet, you feel at a loose end and you can’t pinpoint why—you feel like you’re unable to fill that void.

Having these feelings makes you feel guilty and ashamed. You don’t think you have a right to feel this way. Yet, you do.

If you have been feeling lost or a sense of emptiness—unable to fill that void—and confused as to why, recognizing this feeling serves as an incredible starting point from which to instigate change. That void, emptiness, or confusion is a signpost, and that signpost is telling you it’s time to pivot and change course.

Here are ways on how you can fill the void in you when you feel lost and confused.

1. Acknowledgment and Validation Must Come First

Many of us have not been taught to live life by our own design. Having the freedom to even entertain choice is a grand luxury for a lot of us. Not having the necessary resources and opportunities may have left you kissing goodbye to the goals you had.

Someone may have once said to you that you’re living in a dream world—that to get through life you need to stop chasing fantasies. You need to maintain a level head, get your feet back on the ground, and ‘get real’.

Now, it’s time to get real with what you’re feeling and experiencing.

One of the hardest things to face is that you feel this void. However, honestly acknowledging that this feeling exists within you can bring you catharsis. Recognition of the discomfort and validating its existence can be incredibly liberating and empowering in itself.

Through self-acknowledgment, you start to soften resistance you might have held if you were in denial. What you now need to be ready for is leaning into the other layers of discomfort you might be experiencing. On a deeper subconscious level, your emotional intelligence is telling you something’s amiss, missing, or in misalignment. It’s time to learn to really tune into and listen to your own story of how you got to be where you are now.

2. Learn to Recognize if Your Needs Are Being Met

In 1943, humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow first published his paper The Theory of Motivation. According to Maslow, our choices, actions, and behavior are based on primarily meeting core, basic needs. But as these are met, we move to satisfy more advanced that are higher on our priorities list. This came to be known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.[1]

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Over time, there have been debates about which needs are basic and which are more advanced. However, there is minimal controversy about the existence of core emotional needs that we all need to satisfy to live as emotionally and mentally healthy and content human beings.

3. Love, Social Acceptance and Belonging, Validation—We Matter

Being part of a community where we feel embraced and loved on some level is essential for all of us. We need to feel bonds—a sense of genuine connection and mutual respect with those who you believe matter most.

Whenever you think about your relationships and friendships, which of these features are present?

Outside of personal relationships, many of us seek recognition in some form in our work, careers, or individual projects. Being seen and heard often comes through how we serve others in our vocations.

Purposefulness and having a role that matters in our communities validates our existence and gives us feedback that we are important and have value.

Ask yourself how you define what types of bonds are important to you.

  • How do you know the bonds you seek are there?
  • Are they strong enough?
  • Are they deep enough?
  • What are your measures of knowing this?
  • Are you experiencing enough of this to feel contented—that you are ‘ok’?

If not, you might need to consider ways to invest in increasing the quality of connectedness. Also, recognize that it is as much about you receiving investment from others into your relationships as it is you making deposits into them.

When you look through a magnifying glass at each of your relationships, you’re qualifying and quantifying your emotional portfolio. Look at your working relationships. Look at your family and friends. Look at your intimate relationships. If you identify there’s been a void, you now have potential opportunities to start turning things around to fill that void.

4. Take on Challenges That Allow You to Feel a Sense of Achievement

One main reason you might have this feeling of the void is that you have an absence of opportunities that allow you to experience a sense of accomplishment and personal growth.

Having grand goals with complex mind maps of action steps is not the missing ingredient here. However, it’s highly likely you derive greater emotional and mental satisfaction from exerting some level of effort to achieve some sort of change or result.

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A degree of challenge in the journey allows you to experience more personal satisfaction when you overcome it. Your confidence will grow as your skills expand. You start recognizing you have the capacity to achieve different things—more things if you choose to.

A complete absence of challenge can leave us feeling lost and empty. If you feel bored and stagnant, it’s time to look for inspiration to fill that void.

Schedule and dedicate time to explore and experiment. Reconnect with your childhood playfulness to test and try new things or experiences you might have always wanted to do but never made the space or time for because you had to be an “adult.”

As you might start creating a list of next adventures and pursuits, take two approaches:

  1. Allow yourself money, time, and space to experiment and explore.
  2. Allow yourself money, time, and space to identify and start something where you can experience gradual progress and personal growth.

Ensure that your list energizes you and brings you a sense of fulfillment that is independent of anyone else’s approval, participation, resources, or decision-making. Let it be yours to own and control alone. Let it validate and allow you to feel good about yourself.

Also, be wary of putting pressure on yourself to follow through with a new pursuit until the end. Have you ever started and not finished something because you lost interest? Accept that.

Recognize that the dwindling inspiration to follow through could be a sign what you’ve selected turns out to be an ill fit. However, be mindful of being flippant and make sure to commit to giving due effort to something before deciding to opt-out or continue.

5. Build Enough Certainty and Security in High-Priority Areas of Your Life

Life can feel empty, even though you may find yourself chasing your tail daily.

In a world where we are constantly ushered to move faster, produce more, and do so with fewer resources, feeling a sense of certainty and stability have become highly prized commodities. Proverbially spinning all the plates in harmony becomes harder and harder. Emotionally and mentally, we feel less and less secure—we feel less safe.

Self-disappointment can creep in as goals that hold more fun and pleasure always seem to get pushed to the wayside. Stephen Covey’s Circle of Control (aka Circle of Influence) can greatly help us recognize how to direct our thinking and efforts in ways that best serve us.

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Imagine a target with three concentric rings. The outermost ring represents things that we feel concerned about because they influence us. However, we basically hold no control over them. The middle circle represents the things we influence. This might be our work circumstances and how we contribute to relationships. We still don’t have full control as others are privy to also influence outcomes, decisions, and actions that are taken.

The center circle—the circle of focus—is the place where you have the most power to be effective. Only you can control your thoughts, your decisions, your behavior, and your actions.

When you feel lost and confused, go back to working on your center of focus. When you do, expect to be liberated but also feel the weight of accountability you didn’t realize you have. You’ll discover what thinking patterns, decisions, and actions you took got you to where you are now.

As you start identifying and exercising better ways of thinking, you can consciously make decisions and different action steps that you feel much better about.

6. Contribution and Service to Others

It’s time to change your perspective and shift and lift your mindset. Research has shown that certain parts of our brain’s reward centers are more activated when we give support and serve others compared to when we receive support.[2]

Engaging even in just small scale, short-term activities that temporarily take your focus away from your problems gives your brain a rest from feeling the weight of confusion and frustration you’ve been drowning in.

Choose something that allows you to exercise your natural gifts and abilities. It might be helping a neighbor or relative out to do domestic projects in their home. It might be helping to organize or coordinate an event to ease the toll you can see it’s taking on someone you care about. In doing so, you are reconnecting with your sense of purposefulness and value by doing something meaningful for others.

As you operate in this newly awakened mindset, check to see if the void you’ve been feeling and experiencing looks different through this new lens. More selfless acts of service help to widen your perspective. The weight of emptiness and confusion you might have felt may start to feel less heavy. With some of the mental and emotional toll lifted, you’ll be in a better mental state to explore ways to claw out of the swamp of stagnation.

7. Practice Daily Gratitude and Review Your Life

For gratitude practice to be effective in helping you fill the void, it needs to be relative to your situation and involve identifying things that are important to you.

Yes, you can be thankful for having a roof over your head, having food to eat, nice clothes to wear, and relationships with people who love and respect you. However, such recognition can often guide you to complacency and feeling guilt for feeling ungrateful even amidst our quality living conditions.

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Exercise retrospect to contemplate:

  • What obstacles have I managed to overcome to get me here?
  • What skills and attributes do I possess that enabled me to overcome those obstacles?
  • What unique traits and characteristics allow me to have developed the connections I have with people I love and respect?
  • What accomplishments do I have a license to be proud of? (These include work-related feats, recognizing personal skills and talents, overcoming challenging situations, and personal growth in relationships.)

Don’t simply exercise gratitude for tokens and trophies of achievements. Expand your recognition of your efforts and experiences that these symbols represent.

Review the current state of play in each of the main areas of your life — which we call the Wheel of Life (i.e. work/career, finances, intimate relationships, friendships, personal growth, health and fitness, spirituality), and check your level of gratitude for where things currently sit. Then, ask yourself for each area: where do you want to go next?

You might find inspiration and reminders of goals you set but had lost sight of or forgotten. Confusion can quickly transform into better clarity. Before you know it, you’ve got plans and a new-found excitement to get started.

8. Be Wary of Seeking Quick Fixes to Fill the Void

Many of us feel that we operate best in productivity mode. We are making something, creating something, achieving something, and changing something. We’ve been conditioned to think that there is something wrong with us if we are not. Constantly trundling and moving on to the next thing at lightning speed without much thought is often what leads us to where we are.

As you make changes, be wary that should you start doing things that primarily replenish your emotional and mental tanks first. You might be met with disapproval, judgment, and opinions (potentially unwelcome) from others. Changes that better serve you may upset the normal rhythm others are used to experiencing with you.

Manage your expectations of yourself and exercise gradual consideration where you see changes are required. Give yourself and those around you time to adjust. Friendships and relationships may change. Some may disappear altogether, while others become strengthened.

Just as the accumulation of time and experiences has led you to feel a void in your life, so will the accumulation of time and new experiences be required to fill it. However, this time, you’ll be doing so by your own design, not by default.

Final Thoughts

It is normal to feel lost and confused at some point in your life. What matters is how you face challenges along the way. These tips can help you fill the void whenever you feel like life’s not working out.

It needs to be said that if you have felt chronic emptiness and have found it increasingly difficult to do what you normally find quite simple and easy, it may help to consult a medical and/or mental health professional. There may be other physical and mental health-related changes developing from sources that aren’t easily visible.

More on How to Live a Meaningful Life

Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

Reference

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Malachi Thompson

Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

I Hate My Life: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Stop Hating Life

I Hate My Life: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Stop Hating Life

Hating life is a bit of a misnomer it seems: in the media, in education, in every aspect of our lives, we’re shown visions of a perfect world, one where everyone is happy and life is a decades-long dream. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Life can and is hard and tough and painful at times. I have first-hand experience of this: Years ago, I was a recent university graduate, unemployed and aimless. All of this was having a knock-on effect on my social and mental wellbeing—I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t seeing my friends as often. I was snappy to family members and I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning…

That doesn’t mean it can’t change.

Life goes through ebbs and flows all the time and the key to getting through it all without cutting off your social circle and eating your local grocery store out of Ben & Jerry’s, is to cultivate some techniques and methods of going through life with some stability and grace. It’s not a guarantee against life’s hardships but, take the steps you want to use and you won’t hate life.

If you want to stop hating your life and start falling in love with it, take these steps:

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Seriously, you’re obviously going to be grouchy and more inclined towards the more miserable side, if you’re not getting your recommended seven or more hours of sleep a night.

Start checking in how much you sleep and then start making steps to go to bed earlier and sleep for longer. It might cure every problem but at least you’ll be well-rested and less likely to nap throughout the day. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, try these 10 Best Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Feel Rested

2. Eat Healthily

I have had a real issue with eating healthily for years and it wasn’t until I was hospitalised a few years ago (for a condition unrelated to my eating for the sake of disclosure), that I really started to look at what I ate and how I viewed my body.

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I’m absolutely an advocate of body positivity and loving your body at any size and while I haven’t lost any huge amount of weight, eating a hell of a lot healthier improved my mood and made me feel better.

In short, it’s absolutely okay to have a pizza and a soda as a treat, but just have something healthier tomorrow.

Here’re some inspirations for you: How to Find a Healthy Eating Plan That Actually Works for You

3. Write It All Down

Sometimes the best thing you can do is let it all out. Keeping things that are making you hate life all bottled up is neither helpful to getting out of that cycle nor healthy for your overall wellbeing.

Grab yourself a notebook, a journal, a diary, a bit of paper, whatever, and just start writing down how you feel. As soon as you’ve done that, start thinking about what you could do in theory to stop this from happening or to stop you from feeling like this.

4. Get Some Fresh Air

It’s underrated and we all take it for granted, but really, getting out of your home and going for a walk can be really beneficial. It gets you outside in the (hopefully) sunshine and getting to see the whole of life as you walk around can be really grounding and calming.

Believe me, if you’re stuck inside mulling over on the bad things of your life, grab a pair of sneakers and go for a walk. Plus, it’s free. Can’t say better than that, can you?

5. Get Some Exercise

This is practically a Part II of the previous step, but as someone who used to look at the gym as something people did when they were feeling particularly masochistic, I can actually say I enjoy it now.

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You don’t even have to subscribe to a fancy gym—go for a run around the block with your headphones in or lift some heavy boxes to build up muscle tone.

Bonus: Doing all that heavy lifting of boxes or incorporating exercise into chores will make your house cleaner and look even more awesome, as well as making you look and feel better.

6. Treat Yourself

Hating your life can be exhausting, and I mean that literally. It drains the energy from you until all you want to do is lie in bed with a pint of ice cream and the last five seasons of a TV show on Netflix.

Therefore, a good thing to keep your spirits up can be to treat yourself.

Life is too short, after all, to deny yourself some treats. Go see that movie that looks awesome in the cinema, grab a gelato with a friend, paint your nails, whatever makes you happy, do it. You deserve it.

Here’re more ideas to inspire you: 30 Ways To Treat Yourself No Matter What

7. Cut out Those Negative Triggers

Chances are that if you hate life, something is setting off those triggers in your head. Until you’re able to deal with them without turning all misanthropic, the best thing might be just to get rid of all of those negative triggers.

If you’re suffering from what AllGroanUp refer to as “Obsessive Comparison Disorder” (i.e. obsessively checking out the lifestyles of all your “successful” friends), then stop using Facebook and Twitter as much.

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Social media can be a fantastic way to connect, but it can be also be a toxic environment for neuroses and comparisons to breed.

Trust me, I know. If it sets you off, cut it out.

Here’s How to Quit Social Media for a Happier and More Focused Life.

8. Dance

Yes you can dance. No, really, you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re not some breakdancing dynamo or ballroom extraordinaire, everyone can dance. It’s programmed into the human race, the ultimate expression of emotion.

Dance like no one’s watching, dance like you don’t care. Tap your feet, sway your hips, go as mad or as wild as you want to to your favourite songs. Nothing quite shakes the cobwebs off than losing yourself in rhythm and dance to a song you love.

9. Get Organized

A great way to start moving forward and looking at what you can change in your life to make it better, is to get organized.

Spend a weekend going through your home and clearing the unnecessary stuff out of it. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need or don’t want anymore and start to give everything a space.

It doesn’t have to look like it’s stepped off the pages of Good Housekeeping, but clearing a lot of space and making sure that your home has a bit of harmony can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.

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10. Pay It Forward

Life is a mystery and it can be a minefield to get through. Sometimes you stumble, sometimes you fall. The important part is to pick yourself back up and keep walking forward.

Paying it forward is simply helping others. Charity is something that is often thrown around as an accessory to human behavior—how many celebrities have you read about who have done something heinous, but are defended by the phrase “but [they] do charity work”?

Go volunteer! If you think you’re at breaking point, go help other people.

People in the world out there will be going through the same things that you are going through; and while you might not run into someone who’s going through the exact same circumstances, you will be helping people who need help.

Helping out a soup kitchen, or at a church bake sale, or at a homeless shelter or wherever needs help, can make a huge difference to the lives of those individuals involved. And believe me, it’ll do a hell of a lot for your state of mind .

A great idol of mine, Audrey Hepburn, once stated that we have two hands: one for helping ourselves, and one for helping others. That’s a fantastic sentiment and one I think will help people who hate their live.

If you go and help other people, you’re having such a positive ripple effect on the world that some of it will come back to you one way or another, and it will get better.

More Positive Vibes to Motivate You

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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