Updated: Dec 2, 2019
"To find yourself, think for yourself."
I woke up one day and thought to myself, "Who am I and how did I get in this life that I don't recognize?" I was lost. I don't even remember when it happened, so I gather it must have happened slowly over many years. Like a pinhole in a bike tire, too small to see but the air slowly leaks out until there is no air left at all and the bike cannot hold your weight. It's an odd feeling, not know who YOU are and not identifying with the life you lead. It reminds me of waking up from a deep sleep while traveling in a car or airplane and for a split second you are disoriented and lost. The only thing is that this feeling of being lost doesn't just last a split second; it can last for years.
When we feel lost is usually a result of spending years on autopilot. Perhaps we have been living for someone else or playing a part in our world and not being true to ourselves. We may not feel valued in our life. Not being present in our lives but just going along with the daily routine, until something happens that wakes us up abruptly. Life slapped us on the face, maybe our relationship ends, we lose our job, lose a loved one, get sick, our kids move out, or we find ourselves in a state of depression. It is a frightening and frustrating feeling of being lost. You don't know what to do, or where to go to find yourself. You may not even know who "yourself" is any more or how long we have disappeared.
It can be a long journey to discover yourself again, but you are worth the effort. Start the process of rediscovery by asking yourself some tough questions. I say tough, not because you need a Ph.D. to know the answers, but because the answers are not always clear and may be in a box in the attic of your spirit. With each question, you answer the closer you get to finding your authentic self. To help you uncover your authentic self, listen to your soul, guidance, inner voice, whatever you call that little voice that whispers your truth. You must quiet the chatter of the mind to hear it. You can do this by meditating or walking in silence and reflecting or sitting in a chair with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing.
Question 1: What do I enjoy doing? What brings me joy? Some may know this right off the bat. You may like to read, exercise or garden. For others, it may have been a very long time since you asked yourself what you enjoy or did what you like. If this is the case, think back to before you were lost and recall the things you enjoyed.
Question 2: When do I feel calm and at peace? In our GO, GO, GO society this may seem like an odd question to ask if you are trying to "get ahead" in the world. But, if you can not find calm and peace, you can not tap into your authentic self, which holds the truths of your path. This time of serenity could be a Yoga class, a run, a long bath or sitting in a park on a sunny day.
Question 3: What is my ideal reality? Did deeper than a blanket statement like, "to be a millionaire." Try to see in your mind's eye, your future self. What life is the future YOU living? See the detail in the picture, where you live, who is with you, your health, and your career.
Question 4: Am I happy? Why or why not? Happiness can elude the best of us. Look deep into the WHY. If you can not identify the WHY, then you can not improve the unhappiness or be grateful and duplicate the happiness.
Question 5: What needs to change for me to be happy? Looking at the big picture of your life can feel overwhelming. It is easy to think, "I don't know." Be patient with yourself, and this may take time to identify what exactly needs to change. Go back to Question 2, and go to a quiet/peaceful place daily to reflect on what you need to find yourself. It is the quiet of our minds that our answers reside.
Question 6: What steps can I do to make a change and get closer to finding myself again? Try not to get overwhelmed by laying out action steps. Start small. Go back to Question 1, What brings me joy? Start by committing more time to do the things that bring a smile to your face. If your job is a source of unhappiness, think of the steps you will need to take to change careers. When we take action, we become closer to our true north and become more confident. When we feel optimistic, we believe in who we are.
Be patient and loving with yourself. The last thing you need is to beat yourself up on why you feel lost. You feel lost because you are. If you found yourself literally lost in the woods, you wouldn't sit down and yell at yourself about how could you let this happen. You would try to find your way home.
Now is the time, to find your way home.