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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
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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.

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More on How to Live a Meaningful Life

Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Malachi Thompson III

High-Performance Consultant

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

20 Invaluable Things Money Can’t Buy

20 Invaluable Things Money Can’t Buy
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George Lorimer contends,

“It’s good to have money and all the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.”

In reality, everyone likes money. It has enough power to determine happy or sad moments for some people. This happens partially because money can trigger your emotions. However, there are many invaluable things money can’t buy.

Money will allow you to experience the luxury of things like a Tesla, an estate, or first-class tickets to anywhere in the world. But, money cannot buy you everything. There are aspects of your life, yourself, relationships, and encounters that forever will be priceless.

So, what are 20 invaluable things money can’t buy?

1. Love

You must have seen this one coming because of how much it is preached throughout life.

Love is a genuine action with beautiful emotions that develops between people who know each other to an extent.

People fall in “love” for different reasons. Love is unconditional and keeps people in connection with each other.

Money may earn you attraction and attention, but love? Not at all.

2. True Friends

Everyone likes to have money because there’s almost no way to survive if we didn’t have a cent or two. And it’s only normal for people to associate themselves with people who are making efforts to make the money.

But sometimes, people are only attracted to what you have and what you can give; not who you are.

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It works just like love. When your money runs low, true friends should remain.

3. Family

We all know that family consists of a father, mother, and children, so let’s consider the individual elements.

A father is only a father as a result of the relationship between him and his child. Can money buy a relationship?

The same concept applies to the mother and child and if a relationship with a father cannot be bought, then neither can one with a mother nor child be bought.

Even if it’s an extended family, you still have to have a relationship with someone who connects you to the other person. It’s not rocket science.

4. Wisdom

Someone defined wisdom as “the mother of knowledge,” and how does one acquire knowledge? He or she receives it from experience.

So, if you cannot buy experience, then you cannot buy knowledge. And if you cannot buy both, then wisdom is definitely out of your league. You have to study, meet people and just experience life to earn it.

5. Happiness

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt,

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

    Mrs. Roosevelt even acknowledges things money can’t buy. She emphasizes that money can’t buy happiness.

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    Despite all the money a person may have in the bank, he or she still may not have the happiness that we all crave and deserve. Money cannot afford happiness.

    6. Health

    Money can help us afford the best health care services, but health itself? Not exactly.

    We’ve seen millionaires and billionaires lose their lives to a range of diseases that all their money put together could not cure.

    The Dalai Lama said,

    “What surprises me most is ‘man’ because he sacrifices his health to make money then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.”

      So, besides the fact that it doesn’t buy us health, sometimes the pursuit of it takes good health away from us.

      7. Long life

      During birthdays, we wish people a long, prosperous and healthy life. Money would be the best gift to send to loved ones to buy these things.

      But since you can’t, you wish these individuals the best life has to offer. You may also give them fun and loving experiences without money.

      8. Time

      The universe has been impartial enough to give us all 24 hours to do whatever we want to. But nobody, with all his or her wealth, has been able to purchase an extra hour, not even a second.

      9. Respect

      They say it is reciprocal. In other words, you can only get respect when you give respect and the last time we checked, there was no money for respect.

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      So if you can’t give something in any currency, then you can’t receive it in any currency either.

      10. Character

      Character is the sum of a person’s attitude. Attitude has to do with the way you behave and although money can influence a person’s character, it cannot buy a good one.

      11. Confidence

      Any “confidence” built on money really isn’t confidence. It’s a shade of pride and usually ends in sheer show-off. That, dear friend, is not confidence. Confidence is a quality you build with time.

      12. Beauty

      There are countless beauty products in the market and all of them cost money. These beauty products can only enhance beauty by covering up blemishes and some go as far as altering some features of the body.

      But none has been able to change the natural beauty of anybody. If you consider surgery, then you are still altering the natural features, not changing it. You can’t buy good looks from your mother’s womb. It’s just not possible.

      13. Sense of Humor

      Some individuals are born with the gift to make others laugh. Most of the comedians around became wealthy as a result of their sense of humor.

      The humor did not come after the money. Nobody became funny overnight because of a swell in their bank account.

      14. Trust

      Why do you trust people? Because they’ve proved themselves to be trustworthy by character. Their character earned them that trust.

      15. Talent

      Talent is a natural skill that has to be discovered and honed. Just like beauty and every other thing that comes naturally, talent cannot be purchased.

      16. Purpose

      People attend conferences and seminars to help them discover their purpose in life. These conferences may be free or paid but the money did not buy them the purpose.

      They already had the purpose way before realizing that they needed to find it. Lots of poor people discovered their purpose and leveraged it to become rich. This goes on to illustrate that money can come as a result of finding purpose but it cannot get you the purpose.

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      17. Satisfaction

      If there’s one thing that money can never buy, it is satisfaction. Even if money finds a way to get any of the other items on this list, it can never afford satisfaction. Money increases our desire for more money. The more the money, the more the hunger.

      18. Empathy

      Never have we ever heard of a man who bought the ability to empathize and never would we ever because empathy is a feeling. Feelings cannot be bought.

      19. Peace

      Why do people employ sophisticated security systems? Because they want to have peace when they go to bed but even with all of that, peace has never been received in exchange for money. It comes as a result of a clear conscience and a good heart.

      Ironically, money may bring enemies which would end up disrupting your peace.

      20. A Good Name

      A proverb says “a good name is better than silver.” This is like comparing two different things: a name and silver (which could be referred to as money).

      What is a “name?” It is a form of identity and how is it received? Your way of life and character helps people to receive you.

      Conclusion

        Overall, these things are invaluable and confidently show that money can’t buy everything.

        While this is the case, money is necessary, so don’t quit your job just because it can’t buy you happiness. And do spend your money and time wisely.

        Also, go out of your way to make people happy. Their money can’t provide this needed emotion. Do not lose or mismanage your health trying to get money.

        More About Happiness

        Featured photo credit: Yingchou Han via unsplash.com

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