How to find yourself when you’re feeling lost in life

Feeling lost? Do you want to know how to find yourself again?

Finding yourself again may seem impossible right now, but there is hope. In our complete guide, we will guide you through step-by-step how to find yourself again.

“But exactly how do I find myself again?” your racing mind keeps pressing, needing an answer right now. “I’ve lost myself, and finding myself again feels hopeless.” Believe it or not, there is hope. You can find yourself again. Read on now to find out exactly how finding yourself again works.

Table of Contents

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1. Introduction

Finding yourself on the deepest level will radically transform your life.

“But finding myself isn’t easy,” you think. Actually, knowing that you’re feeling lost is a good thing! It means you’re in the homestretch. Congratulations are in order, because you are further along than most.

When you’ve lost a sense of who you are, it’s similar to the grieving process when you lose a loved one. The first stage of grief is denial, the stage most stay in their entire lives. Then there is anger and frustration, when you start to recognize that you are just going through the motions instead of being who you want to be. Then you bargain with yourself, thinking that something will come along, won’t it? Sure it will. But what if it doesn’t? No, it will. But then there’s depression, where you think, “I find myself dwelling on the negative. Nothing will change, because I’m not doing anything about it.”

And now here we are: acceptance. You have accepted that you’ve lost touch with who you are, want to get back something you lost, and you’re ready to find yourself.

2. Why Do You Feel Lost?

How to find yourself when you're feeling lost in lifeThere are several reasons why you can be saying to yourself, “I am lost”. You might feel like you are drifting along looking at yourself from a helpless lens while your body just does what you’ve trained it to do. Excitements are few, challenges are sparse, and the routine has taken over.

Falling out of touch with yourself happens when you buy into other ideas of what you are supposed to be or should be doing. This can happen whether those ideas come from friends, family, society, or even yourself. When you follow what you think you are supposed to be doing rather than what you want to be doing, it’s a path that leads to losing yourself. If you want to do something, but don’t because of someone else’s expectations, you are not living your own life. You lost yourself, and only your true self can lead you to a path of happiness, passion, validation, and independence.

Picture walking aimlessly into unfamiliar woods. The longer you continue walking in that direction, the more lost you become. That is what the path of not being your truest, happiest, and most authentic self is like. Simply recognizing and admitting to yourself that “I am so lost in my life” is extremely difficult. You overcame that. You did, not us. How do you move forward from this realization? We’re here to help you with the next step: finding yourself so you know how to get out of those woods.

The idea of finding yourself simply means accessing your confidence, natural and potential abilities, sense of self-worth, self-reliance, and independence. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Easier said than done.” But that’s true for anything (except for maybe onomatopoeia).

Learning how to discover yourself again doesn’t mean understanding where you are currently; it’s figuring out who you are and where you can go. So, let’s start by discussing how you can find yourself by figuring out how you got where you are.

3. Why is it Important to Find Yourself?

How to find yourself when you're feeling lost in lifeSelf-help expert Gretchen Rubin, author of the “New York Times” best seller Better Than Before, Happier at Home, may have put it best: “What I do for my work is exactly what I would do if nobody paid me.”

When you are finding yourself, you find what makes you truly happy, not just “happy enough.” You are here because your heart isn’t singing, and we’re here to give your heart the music it’s been looking for. Finding yourself opens up your potential to truly accomplish anything you set your mind to.

You may have heard the saying, “You made your bed, so now you have to lie in it.” What happens if you lift a bed and bring it out to the curb? Would it be a lot of work? Sure. But now that the bed (your life) is in the past, it’s time to make a new one, and it can be anything you want it to be. Other people won’t understand or won’t care to understand why you’re making a new bed. They’ll wonder what was wrong with your old bed. This is a mentality that causes us to lose our sense of self in the first place. What we’ve learned, society’s expectations, and the path that seemed to be paved for us at birth all create an avalanche that pushes you along and sweeps you up until you don’t know who you are anymore.

“What is the meaning of life?” It’s an age-old question with a timeless answer: to be happy. Being happy can only be accomplished by discovering yourself, and here’s how.

4. Where Do I Start?

How to find yourself when you're feeling lost in lifeMost online life coaches agree that a good first step for what to do when you feel so lost in life is to make a timeline of your life. Not only is it fun, but it is extremely beneficial. List your past achievements, your regrets, and moments that stick out as momentous, both positive and negative. List every major life event you can think of. For the negatives, consider what you gained from the experiences. For the positives, consider what felt good about them and what resulted from them.

Now make a list of your goals and dreams. It can be quite specific, like becoming a pilot, or very general, like simply wanting to feel more satisfied in your daily life. This will be useful as a reference point going forward, as well as something you can pull from when talking to a mentor or life coach.

This first initial exercise is essential for us to see what we look like on paper. A new perspective is what this is all about, and you will be surprised in the revelations that a timeline of life events can bring to the surface.

People who have found themselves will be able to make a list quickly and easily, and might even put it on their fridge with pride. That type of person is doing what they want and what they love, and feels passion in accomplishing both their long-term goals and their daily duties.

I had everything — a home, a loving husband, two gorgeous daughters, financial security. I wanted for nothing. For years, this life was welcomed.

I felt safe. But over time, safe stopped serving me. Safe became confinement, imprisonment — I was actually miserable. I was empty.

I was lost. completely lost, with no clue how to get home.

“Where was home?” I began to ask. I might as well have been sitting in the middle of the Sahara, not my beige Pottery Barn sectional.

My life was uncomfortably predictable — I knew what was going to happen next, in every moment of every day.

The stagnancy of my life was destroying my spirit. I was no longer myself, and I knew the journey from where I was back to my home was going to be a scary uncertain one, but at some point I had no choice. I couldn’t live separate from myself anymore, so I started walking without any idea where I was going.

That was 3.5 years ago.

Today, I’m writing this from home, from the same beige couch.

The difference? Me, and the thousand of miles I’ve traveled since. The thousands of experiences I’ve collected to bring me right back here, home — found.

There were many frightening moments, many moments I didn’t think I would make it. I made mistake after mistake, which catapulted me in the exact direction I was meant to go. I don’t regret any of it, because all of the wrong choices led me to the right place, every step of the way.

If there’s one piece of advice I would give every person, it would be to get lost.

Finding yourself is not a comfortable process, nor should it be. It is petrifying.

This period of confusion is the catalyst for questioning everything, for evaluating your life and your place in it. When you start asking the questions, you will find the answers.

Just be prepared — your answers may not be the answers you want, but they are always the answers you need.

If you already feel lost, listen closely. Your spirit is screaming, “Help! I’m bored and confused. This present circumstance is no longer fulfilling me. Start looking again. Search every corner. Try new things. Fail miserably and then try something else until you find me. Keep going until you laugh again, until you discover understanding, acceptance, happiness, joy, and most importantly, purpose.”

When you feel lost, you’ve lost your purpose.

I remember being consumed with guilt for feeling unappreciative of my blessed life. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that my external circumstance (no matter how perfect it may appear) is insignificant if my internal circumstance is broken, lost and void of aspirations. If I have no purpose, my surroundings will feel purposeless, too.

How do you find purpose?

Do something, anything. Do anything that is the opposite of what you are doing right now.

Get uneasy, get scared, become a beginner again. If you think you know it all, find something you know nothing about, and learn it well.

Observe how you respond and react. You will learn something new about yourself, not only about your character, but what turns on your light. Once you’ve found something that turns on your light, you’ve found purpose.

When you place yourself in foreign situations, you arrive in your most concentrated form. You will always bump into yourself in the unfamiliar.

The most difficult part of this process is the aloneness. You can’t rely on anyone else to guide you in the right direction. This is a solo mission. Doing it alone is the whole point of the journey.

Listen to yourself regardless of what others may say. All that matters is your encouragement, not others’ discouragement.

What got me through was trust. I trusted I was always where I was supposed to be, and I would end up where I was meant to be.

This is your one life. It would be a tragedy to never discover yourself.

You can’t discover yourself unless you look for yourself, so get lost.

By Rebecca Lammersen

*Fist published on elephant journal

Whether you’ve lost yourself in your job, relationship, your role as a parent or simply feel lost in life in general, you are not alone. It doesn’t mean your life is doomed and that you will never find yourself again. It simply means you are going through an incubation period and transformation. The key is not to get stuck in your current lost state and to tap into your creative power to create a life you love.

Here are seven tips that will help you out of this lost state and remind you of the power you have to create a life you love.

Remember What You Love To Do and Go Do It!

Remember What You Love To Do and Go Do It!

Do you remember the last time you had fun in your life? Do you remember when things felt easy and in the flow? It was likely because you were fully engrossed in the fun of the moment. As we grow up, we lose sight of how amazing life can be because we feel burdened by the responsibilities and mundane parts of life. It’s time to reconnect with what you love and to take action on it. No more excuses about not having the time, money, resources, babysitter etc. Make a commitment to do what you love and watch your life change before your very eyes.

Go On an Adventure

Go On an Adventure

Whether it’s a day trip, a solitary retreat, or a week-long drive along the coast, go out and explore the world. This will not only allow you to tap into the flow, but it will also give you the time and focus to really reconnect with yourself again. You’ll be away from the noise of your regular life and will be able to see and experience the world with fresh eyes. I promise, when you come back you will have far more clarity about where you are going than you had when you started.

Reconnect With Your Dreams and Dream Big

Reconnect With Your Dreams and Dream Big

What kinds of dreams did you have for your life before you lost yourself in the busy-ness of life? What have you since deemed impossible or improbable because of where you are today? Grab a journal and reconnect with the dreams you once had and better yet, come up with some new dreams. In a perfect world, what would you love to be, have, or do? What is your soul aching for? Once you reconnect with your dreams, you’ll have the desire and inspiration to begin to take action and suddenly you will have found yourself again.

Expand Your Comfort Zone Regularly

Expand Your Comfort Zone Regularly

It’s time to get uncomfortable by trying new things and meeting new people. Growth doesn’t happen by staying in your bubble of comfort where everything is familiar. Challenge yourself to do something that is slightly terrifying, yet invigorating. That is what I like to call the zone. It’s the space where you are stretching yourself just enough to continue to grow and evolve. What’s the first thing that came to mind for you? Go do that!

Get Quiet and Listen

Get Quiet and Listen

Everyday there are signs, messages, and guideposts that will inspire you to act, but you only notice them if you are open. With all the mind chatter and busy-ness we have these days it can be difficult to recognize the signs that are all around, so it’s important to get quiet and listen. Pay attention to the signs on the road, songs on the radio, and the people you meet in the street. There are messengers all around with Divine guidance to help you move forward on your path. Your key to finding yourself may very well be on a billboard or come to you as a thought in the shower. Listen up, pay attention, and then follow through on your inspired action.

Remember You Have the Power to Be, Have, and Do Anything You Desire

Remember You Have the Power to Be, Have, and Do Anything You Desire

Sometimes the feeling of being lost is all-consuming and you forget that you get to choose what you think and how you feel. You are given a great amount of power to create the life you desire and get the answers you are looking for. Whether you use affirmations, mantras, meditation, yoga, journaling or something else, it’s important to focus on the beauty and joy around you. When you do that, the Universe sends you more of the same, including the answers you are seeking.

Ask for Help

Ask for Help

There are so many people in the world whose purpose it is to help people like you. Reach out and ask for help. You don’t have to figure this out all on your own and sometimes simply having a chat with someone can provide the insight you need to move forward with ease. Whether it’s a life coach, mentor, friend, counselor, or the divine, ask for help and be open to the guidance and tools that come your way.

You might think you’d know if you were lost. Unfortunately, though, that isn’t usually the case. The majority of people who have lost their purpose in life or their reason to keep living aren’t completely aware of it because they either willfully ignore the facts or do all they can to distract themselves from the truth.

It’s not easy to accept and admit to yourself, or to anyone else, that you aren’t exactly sure what you are doing with your life. When we look at others, they all seem to have direction, purpose. This isn’t true, either. I’d have to say that the majority of people in the world are lost wanderers, emotionally and either passively or aggressively doing harm to themselves.

It’s okay to be lost in life; you are born lost. The purpose of life is to find your destination and in doing so, find the path that will take you there. If you are lost, admitting it to yourself is the first step. Here are 15 signs that you may need to find a roadmap:

1. You Wake Up In The Morning Wishing That You Didn’t Have To Get Out Of Bed

Our life is basically split into two segments: awake and asleep. If you prefer living in a dream world, or in a state of unconsciousness rather than being present and aware, then take it as a warning: Something isn’t right. You may enjoy sleeping, but you should be excited to wake up and start a new day, every day.

2. Your Favorite Hobby Is Drinking And/Or Doing Drugs

Don’t get me wrong, drugs and alcohol are fun. But they are also a detachment from reality; they warp your senses and your experience of the world. This is fine from time-to-time and may even be beneficial, but when it becomes a regular habit, what you are really doing is running away from reality. What’s so wrong with your reality that you feel the need to escape it constantly?

3. You Treat The Opposite Sex Like Objects

Human beings are not objects; they are living, breathing people. One may argue that there is always some sort of objectification when it comes to sex and/or relationships, but complete objectification is not acceptable or advised. Intimacy is something we all need. If you treat your partner like an object, then you are missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures.

4. You Don’t Have Any Real Friends

Real friends are hard to come by, but we should all have at least one. Having someone to talk to who is willing to listen is very important, especially when life throws us curveballs. If you don’t have any friends, then you aren’t living a life that’s suitable for you. You need to change some aspect of it so you can come into contact with people who are worthy of being in your life.

5. You Don’t Keep In Touch With Anyone In Your Family

Friends may come and go, but family is forever. I understand that not all of us were lucky enough to have been born into a sane family, but maybe you are the one that is a bit screwy? Maybe you could try to understand their views a bit better? Family bonds are important because they basically decide the strength of your bonds with your future family (assuming you plan on starting one).

6. The Last Time You Partook In A Physical Activity Was… You Can’t Remember When

We are animals. Animals need to move regularly. If you don’t, then the rest of you – your mind – won’t function properly. Then you’re left with a poorly functioning body and mind. There’s no more left of you to screw up!

7. You Hate Yourself

Some of us don’t like ourselves very much. There is always a good reason, but not always the reason you have in mind. More often than not, we hate ourselves for hating ourselves. It starts with us being told we are ugly or dumb, and once we are convinced of such criticisms, we hate that we believe the same garbage that others are spewing at us. If you don’t love yourself, no one else will be able to. You’re fine just the way you are. Be happy in your own skin.

8. Your Mood Changes From Angry To Sad And Happiness Seems Like A Fairytale

Mood swings are often brushed off as chemical imbalances. But why are you chemically imbalanced? Unless there is something physically wrong with you, it’s your actions, habits and/or environment to blame. If you think hard enough, you will surely figure out the culprit. I do have to warn you, though, more often than not it is simply the way you perceive situations and people that makes you moody.

9. You Don’t See A Point To Life

This is the most obvious sign that you are lost. There is always a point; you just have to find one.

10. You Don’t Have Respect For Anyone

We are all interconnected in one way or another, whether it be by ancestors or by some spiritual force or energy that every religion and culture has a name for. Regardless of what you believe, we are all made up of the same atoms that cycle through. If you don’t respect others, then by default, you don’t truly respect yourself.

11. You Have No Dreams

I’m not talking about the kind you have after you doze off; you can’t not have those. I’m referring to goals. There always has to be things you want to do. That’s what living is: doing. If you don’t want to do, then you don’t want to live.

12. You Don’t Believe In Love

I may not be able to define love or to explain exactly what it is or why it exists, but I know that it exists. Romantic love may very well only have been made up by human beings, but we made it up to explain the way we feel. Therefore, it exists.

13. Laziness Is No Longer A Habit, But A Way Of Life

Humans are innately lazy. We are literally programmed to do less in order to save our energy for when we really need it, like when our life depends on it. Unless you live in the jungle and have to run away from predators on the regular, you have no excuse to be lazy on the regular. Fight the urge!

14. You Believe Yourself To Hold Little To No Worth

You are only worth as much as you believe yourself to be worth, and for one simple reason: You always end up living up to your expectations.

15. You Just Want It To All Be Over

This is a very dangerous place to be. Most of us are likely to feel this way at least once in our lives, but if pushed too far, we fall over the edge. If you want things to be over, all I can recommend is cutting whatever ties are adding no value to your life or those that are worsening it – friends, family, career, location – at least for the time being.

Get away from it all for a bit. If you physically move, you can always move back. There is abundant room for improvement in our lives and it can always be achieved. always.

Lately, you’ve been feeling lost.

A loved one passed away. Your relationship ended. You were overlooked for a promotion. You failed an important exam. An opportunity fell through. Your life is taking a direction you didn’t think it would.

You are dumbfounded. You feel numb. You feel helpless, maybe even hopeless. Everything has a gray hue.

Or you aren’t sure why you feel lost. But you do. You feel utterly aimless, like you’re floating from random task to random task.

“Feeling lost feels a lot like depression*,” said Carolyn Ferreira, Psy.D, a psychologist in Bend, Ore., who helps people rebuild relationships and recover from trauma and addictions. You might feel unmotivated and uninterested in your hobbies, she said. You might feel “like life is meaningless.”

You also might feel like you’ve lost sight of the person you want to be, said Danielle Kepler, LCPC, a clinical therapist based in Chicago, Ill., specializing in adults who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and life transitions, as well as couples with relationship issues.

You might no longer recognize yourself.

It also can feel like you’ve always felt this lost, and you always will, Kepler said. “You might struggle to remember a time when you felt like your ‘old self.’” You may “see no way out of it.”

Thankfully, there is a way out. There are many ways. Consider giving these a try.

Acknowledge and accept how you’re feeling. Denying our emotions usually just leads to self-destructive behavior. “When a person acknowledges their feeling of being lost emotionally, they can then attend to it,” said Colleen Mullen, PsyD, LMFT, a psychotherapist and founder of the Coaching Through Chaos private practice and podcast in San Diego.

Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel sad and disappointed and helpless, she said. “These are natural consequences when our life path changes abruptly in a direction we did not want.”

It also can help to write about your feelings. Write about how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling this way. Describe your physical sensations. Document your thoughts. Get it all down on paper.

Take compassionate care of yourself. After you’ve acknowledged how you’re feeling, Mullen suggested soothing yourself with practices such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.

Also, be kind to yourself. For instance, when thoughts like “Oh, I can’t believe this is happening,” or “I don’t know why I am even trying” arise, you might tell yourself, “I can handle this,” or “If I’m overwhelmed, I can take a break,” she said.

“Remind yourself that although you may feel your circumstances are out of your control, you can still control how you react to them.”

Keep engaging in activities that make you feel good. “Any movement you make when you feel lost will feel like progress,” Ferreira said. For instance, you might keep your nourishing bedtime routine, and your weekly lunch with your best friend (because you always feel better after talking to him or her).

Reflect on your values. What matters to you? What’s important? Ferreira suggested working through a values worksheet (which you can find online). “Pick one or two values that resonate with you and do something that is in line with that.” She shared this example: One of your values is justice, so you start volunteering at a local non-profit.

Kepler suggests clients think of someone they greatly admire. This might be a mentor, colleague, or friend. She asks them to identify the specific qualities they admire. For instance, maybe you admire your colleague’s friendliness and kindness and ability to assert themselves, she said. “These are often values that the client themselves feel are important; it’s just somewhat easier to identify them in other people than themselves.”

Attend inspirational events. You might see a motivational speaker, attend a guest lecture at a university, or check out a business networking event, Ferreira said. “Attending an inspirational event can help you remember what you’re passionate about.” It also can help you connect to like-minded people, she said. And “sometimes just the energy in the room from such an event can be enough to get a person going again.”

Seek out helpful resources. Consider working with a therapist, or joining a support group that focuses on what you’re struggling with, Mullen said. She also suggested researching whatever issue you’re trying to navigate. For instance, if you’re struggling with grief, look for memoirs and self-help books on the subject.

Even though it might be painful and frustrating and exasperating, feeling lost can become an opportunity to grow. “Feeling lost can redirect us toward what really matters to us,” Ferreira said. It can inspire us to take a trip and savor new experiences. It can inspire us to take a different job, which starts to fulfill us. It can inspire us to join a support group where we find our tribe.

Feeling lost can be the first step in creating a more fulfilling life. It can be the first step in reconnecting to ourselves. Give yourself the space and resources to find what you need.

* How can you tell the difference between feeling lost and having depression? According to Ferreira, you might have depression if you don’t have an appetite, don’t care about eating, or are eating too much or are sleeping too much or not at all. “If feeling lost turns into feeling it would be better if you weren’t here, then it’s time to seek professional help,” she said.

Last medically reviewed on September 3, 2017

That’s how you find yourself.

How to find yourself when you're feeling lost in life

Many around me may be thinking, “Yeah, easy for you to say. You don’t have a crappy job that makes you not want to get up in the morning. You’re not in a toxic relationship that encourages you to take the long way home. You don’t have to worry about feeding your kids. You take pictures of your butt and play with your phone for a living.”

Yes, but not really. I did get up at 5 a.m. and have been writing my little yellow ass off all day save for a quick workout, lunch, and a meeting. But let’s back up a bit. The truth is, I’ve lost my way for most of my life. I lost my way when the screenwriting thing didn’t work out. I lost my way when my marriage went south. I lost my way when I got thrown into non-profit when what I really wanted was a private practice. I lost my way after all my expired relationships. I lost my way after multiple failed businesses.

I’m going to flip the script and explain this like it’s a workshop, so you can do this little exercise yourself. I think it can be helpful in connecting dots and seeing power in your story. So let’s turn your screen into a whiteboard for a sec.

Okay, these are the macro ways I lost my way in my life. After reading this post, write down the big events that caused you to lose your way.

  • Failed screenwriter.
  • Failed marriage.
  • Failed private practice.
  • Failed businesses.
  • Failed relationships.

In looking back, these were pivotal turning points in my story. Let me explain why.

Failed screenwriter. This is what caused me to change careers and become a therapist. Sure, one could argue that if I was a successful screenwriter, I may be just as happy if not happier today. Possibly. But I highly doubt I would have the sense of purpose I currently do.

Also, that business is feast or famine. So if I was successful, which would have meant selling screenplays and pitches for the price of houses, I don’t think I could have handled it. Knowing myself, I would have been what I would many years later encourage men to not be in a book—a double douche. I would have had a huge ego and expensive toys. I would have been a total boy and empty inside. Pretty sure of it. I also would not have handled the downfall of that success, because the entertainment business is fleeting.

Failed marriage. This is what threw me into a rebirth. I was a total man-child before my divorce. I would have never crossed that great divide from boy to man. And I would have never started my blog, which would later become my career, mission, and purpose. This domino needed to fall to start my Hero’s Journey, to push me into the unknown, to slay my dragons, to find myself, my voice, and my message.

Failed private practice. It wasn’t that I failed at it. It was that it never came because life threw me into non-profit. Actually, it did come but a little later and in a way I did not expect—an online private practice. The non-profit allowed me to learn about the power of a safe space, which would be the foundation for my first book. It also gave me a front row seat in seeing that we live in a fatherless nation which would be the fire behind my next book. Meanwhile, the online practice forced me to work with clients in unconventional ways which would be the model of my life coaching course, a sister company I would start with partners many years later.

Failed businesses. I’ve tried so many things. And the ones where I was just chasing money all failed. Period. We don’t have to go through them, but through all these experiences, I learned about business, partnerships, how to work with others—collaboration, sticking up for myself, everything I needed for when I started building something that really mattered. That wasn’t about money but rather passion and purpose.

Under all the events that made you lost, write down what you learned from that event and/or how it positioned you. Or repositioned you. No matter how small or big. Everything ripples.

Then pull back and ask yourself if you’re able to see how losing your way is how you actually found yourself. If you feel like you haven’t found yourself yet, that’s okay. If you’re unable to connect dots or make sense of your story, that’s okay. When I was in the trenches, I couldn’t see what I see now. And if I read this article, I probably would give it the finger. I get it.

But here’s the thing. It’s in our not knowing and feeling lost that our crazy thoughts and anxiety are born. This feeling of being lost, whether it’s your career, business, relationship, marriage, or your day, is what sets you into a tailspin, a panic state that lowers your frequency.

We drown in our not knowing. But it’s also in the unknown or “lost” that our courage is tested. For many, born. Know this as you step into your deep end. As you feel the floor disappear. And life forces you to start swimming. Because that’s courage. Not sitting in shallow water with your old self because it feels good.

You practice courage by leaning into the unknown and being okay with it. Instead of focusing on your swim, focus on everything you know how to do and who you’re learning to be. Because your life is not a swimming pool. It’s an ocean, and the island is getting to a place where your story starts to make sense. That’s the island. Not the things. And when you’re there, you’ll trust your path and be curious about the unfolding like you’re watching it with popcorn.

Self-discovery requires getting lost. That’s how we learn about ourselves, who we are, what we are meant to give, who we’re supposed to meet, what we’re supposed to learn from them, and where we’re supposed to go. That’s how we become. If life went exactly as we planned or wanted, we wouldn’t change because we wouldn’t need to. And that isn’t life. That would just be accomplishing goals without internal change. And without internal change, there is no fulfillment or meaning. Sugar, no substance. It’s skin without love.

Life is lived in the mess. The underbelly. The building. The falling. The breaking. The grit. The standing up. The dusting off. The shine is not life. That’s the reflection of hard work and determination. Life is the journey there. And it’s not a straight line. That is one of the greatest misconceptions about life. It’s actually squirrelly with many many loops. And that’s what makes life a journey instead of a destination.

If you feel lost, know that this is the process and you’re on your journey. To explore. To learn. To evolve. Without this process, you (a stone) will never become a diamond.

So lean into your broken heart. Your transition. Your rebirth. Your new beginning. Your resistance. Let go of what you need to let go. Forgive who you need to forgive. Face your dragon. Squash your judgment. Toss your blueprints. Hold on to your dreams. And keep moving forward. Even if you’re crawling. Because if you’re moving, you’re alive and if you’re alive you’re on your journey.

Losing your way is how you will find yourself.​

If you want to be a life coach, check out JRNI COACHING.

Lately, you’ve been feeling lost.

A loved one passed away. Your relationship ended. You were overlooked for a promotion. You failed an important exam. An opportunity fell through. Your life is taking a direction you didn’t think it would.

You are dumbfounded. You feel numb. You feel helpless, maybe even hopeless. Everything has a gray hue.

Or you aren’t sure why you feel lost. But you do. You feel utterly aimless, like you’re floating from random task to random task.

“Feeling lost feels a lot like depression*,” said Carolyn Ferreira, Psy.D, a psychologist in Bend, Ore., who helps people rebuild relationships and recover from trauma and addictions. You might feel unmotivated and uninterested in your hobbies, she said. You might feel “like life is meaningless.”

You also might feel like you’ve lost sight of the person you want to be, said Danielle Kepler, LCPC, a clinical therapist based in Chicago, Ill., specializing in adults who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and life transitions, as well as couples with relationship issues.

You might no longer recognize yourself.

It also can feel like you’ve always felt this lost, and you always will, Kepler said. “You might struggle to remember a time when you felt like your ‘old self.’” You may “see no way out of it.”

Thankfully, there is a way out. There are many ways. Consider giving these a try.

Acknowledge and accept how you’re feeling. Denying our emotions usually just leads to self-destructive behavior. “When a person acknowledges their feeling of being lost emotionally, they can then attend to it,” said Colleen Mullen, PsyD, LMFT, a psychotherapist and founder of the Coaching Through Chaos private practice and podcast in San Diego.

Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel sad and disappointed and helpless, she said. “These are natural consequences when our life path changes abruptly in a direction we did not want.”

It also can help to write about your feelings. Write about how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling this way. Describe your physical sensations. Document your thoughts. Get it all down on paper.

Take compassionate care of yourself. After you’ve acknowledged how you’re feeling, Mullen suggested soothing yourself with practices such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.

Also, be kind to yourself. For instance, when thoughts like “Oh, I can’t believe this is happening,” or “I don’t know why I am even trying” arise, you might tell yourself, “I can handle this,” or “If I’m overwhelmed, I can take a break,” she said.

“Remind yourself that although you may feel your circumstances are out of your control, you can still control how you react to them.”

Keep engaging in activities that make you feel good. “Any movement you make when you feel lost will feel like progress,” Ferreira said. For instance, you might keep your nourishing bedtime routine, and your weekly lunch with your best friend (because you always feel better after talking to him or her).

Reflect on your values. What matters to you? What’s important? Ferreira suggested working through a values worksheet (which you can find online). “Pick one or two values that resonate with you and do something that is in line with that.” She shared this example: One of your values is justice, so you start volunteering at a local non-profit.

Kepler suggests clients think of someone they greatly admire. This might be a mentor, colleague, or friend. She asks them to identify the specific qualities they admire. For instance, maybe you admire your colleague’s friendliness and kindness and ability to assert themselves, she said. “These are often values that the client themselves feel are important; it’s just somewhat easier to identify them in other people than themselves.”

Attend inspirational events. You might see a motivational speaker, attend a guest lecture at a university, or check out a business networking event, Ferreira said. “Attending an inspirational event can help you remember what you’re passionate about.” It also can help you connect to like-minded people, she said. And “sometimes just the energy in the room from such an event can be enough to get a person going again.”

Seek out helpful resources. Consider working with a therapist, or joining a support group that focuses on what you’re struggling with, Mullen said. She also suggested researching whatever issue you’re trying to navigate. For instance, if you’re struggling with grief, look for memoirs and self-help books on the subject.

Even though it might be painful and frustrating and exasperating, feeling lost can become an opportunity to grow. “Feeling lost can redirect us toward what really matters to us,” Ferreira said. It can inspire us to take a trip and savor new experiences. It can inspire us to take a different job, which starts to fulfill us. It can inspire us to join a support group where we find our tribe.

Feeling lost can be the first step in creating a more fulfilling life. It can be the first step in reconnecting to ourselves. Give yourself the space and resources to find what you need.

* How can you tell the difference between feeling lost and having depression? According to Ferreira, you might have depression if you don’t have an appetite, don’t care about eating, or are eating too much or are sleeping too much or not at all. “If feeling lost turns into feeling it would be better if you weren’t here, then it’s time to seek professional help,” she said.

Last medically reviewed on September 3, 2017

How to find yourself when you're feeling lost in life

We’re all guilty of losing ourselves a little when we’re in a new relationship.

You’re dating someone new, and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. There’s butterflies! And every thing seems to be made of cotton candy and rainbows! You want to spend every free moment you have with them. WHICH IS COMPLETELY NORMAL. You’re still getting to know them! It’s an adventure every time you see them.

But at what point does it become a problem?

I, personally, have a habit of dedicating all my free time to the person I’m dating in the beginning of a new relationship. Like I mentioned before, it’s normal. It’s new. You’re infatuated. But here’s where it becomes unhealthy for your lifestyle.

As time went on and the novelty wore off, I continued my all-consuming devotion to spending time with my significant other. I spent free evenings during the week with him, spent holidays with him, ran errands with him, hung out with his friends on a Friday night, spent the weekend at his house (every weekend), went out on the town with him, and even started to pick up on his daily habits. In return, my life changed drastically.

I didn’t know where he ended and I began. We had meshed together and not in a healthy way. My relationship with my mother became strained. She’d complain that I was never home, that I spent too much time with him, and she had begun to see changes in me. I hardly saw my friends anymore. School which was my number one priority before meeting him quickly took a backseat. I stopped going to the gym because at the time it was just more time I could be spending with him instead of by myself. If I wasn’t in class or work, I was constantly trying to be around him. And if I couldn’t be with him…well it led to some dark times. If he had plans that didn’t include me, I felt alone. I had no hobbies. Who was I supposed to hang out with? I hadn’t seen my friends, as I would choose to see him over them numerous times. I had fallen off my fitness routine. Work could only distract me for so long. I felt myself becoming a recluse. If he and I didn’t have plans, you could find me in bed watching Netflix, routinely checking my phone for a text from him. My mood was constantly shifting, from high to low, at the drop of a dime.

It wasn’t until our relationship had run its course that I realized just how lost I was. I found myself not knowing what I liked, what I enjoyed doing, it felt like I was a complete stranger. My life seemed empty without having him there to guide me in what WE liked doing. I had given him so much power over me that I had lost my sense of self completely. It was heart wrenching to realize how much this relationship had affected me.

Reconnecting with myself was a struggle. Not everything I used to do has the same interest to me now. It has been a lot of trial and error. But after vowing to never let myself lose myself in a relationship ever again, I had the determination to figure out what exactly it is that I want out of life and my relationships. Through my eyes. The following are some things I realized I had “lost”. Maybe being aware of them they too can help you stay true to your true identity while being in a committed relationship.

Your ‘Me’ Time/Keep Your Routine

Know where he ends and you begin. Take time away from the relationship to enjoy the little things that made you happy before him. Try not to forget about those little activities or rituals that you did to make yourself feel great. Those things will be the activities to keep you happy if he, heaven forbid, no longer does.

Your Future Goals

At 24, I’ve learned to accept that boys will come and go. But one thing that won’t are the goals you’ve set for yourself. Whether that means being accepted into grad school, becoming a personal trainer, or volunteering. These should remain priority in YOUR LIFE. He comes into the picture as support. Your significant other should be your biggest fan, remember that.

Your Family

Not only is it important that your family and your significant other get along well, but it’s also important to spend time with your family without bringing him along. A little separation goes a long way. Sometimes your family doesn’t feel like sharing you with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Remember they’ve had you to them selves all your life, they may not be accustomed to sharing you with someone else. And even if they are, everyone enjoys a little one on one bonding with their loved ones.

Your Girls Night

Seriously. This is huge. I have my circle of girls who I have been friends with since we were little kids. They’ve been there through it all, even this failed relationship. It’s something that I had set little value to when I had options (my ex-boyfriend), and it hurts my heart. These girls are more sisters than friends, I should’ve treated them as so.

Your Freedom

Most importantly, remember you are your own person. You are not half a person without your boyfriend or girlfriend. You are whole as is. The last thing you want is for one person to “wear the pants” in your relationship. That’s not how a healthy relationship works. Maintain your freedom.

Remember, know where he/she ends and you begin, always. You’re worth living an amazing, individual life. Your man doesn’t need to complete you, because you’re already complete.

Have you ever felt like you lost yourself in a relationship? What did you do to get back to feeling like yourself again? Let’s chat in the comments section.

That’s how you find yourself.

How to find yourself when you're feeling lost in life

Many around me may be thinking, “Yeah, easy for you to say. You don’t have a crappy job that makes you not want to get up in the morning. You’re not in a toxic relationship that encourages you to take the long way home. You don’t have to worry about feeding your kids. You take pictures of your butt and play with your phone for a living.”

Yes, but not really. I did get up at 5 a.m. and have been writing my little yellow ass off all day save for a quick workout, lunch, and a meeting. But let’s back up a bit. The truth is, I’ve lost my way for most of my life. I lost my way when the screenwriting thing didn’t work out. I lost my way when my marriage went south. I lost my way when I got thrown into non-profit when what I really wanted was a private practice. I lost my way after all my expired relationships. I lost my way after multiple failed businesses.

I’m going to flip the script and explain this like it’s a workshop, so you can do this little exercise yourself. I think it can be helpful in connecting dots and seeing power in your story. So let’s turn your screen into a whiteboard for a sec.

Okay, these are the macro ways I lost my way in my life. After reading this post, write down the big events that caused you to lose your way.

  • Failed screenwriter.
  • Failed marriage.
  • Failed private practice.
  • Failed businesses.
  • Failed relationships.

In looking back, these were pivotal turning points in my story. Let me explain why.

Failed screenwriter. This is what caused me to change careers and become a therapist. Sure, one could argue that if I was a successful screenwriter, I may be just as happy if not happier today. Possibly. But I highly doubt I would have the sense of purpose I currently do.

Also, that business is feast or famine. So if I was successful, which would have meant selling screenplays and pitches for the price of houses, I don’t think I could have handled it. Knowing myself, I would have been what I would many years later encourage men to not be in a book—a double douche. I would have had a huge ego and expensive toys. I would have been a total boy and empty inside. Pretty sure of it. I also would not have handled the downfall of that success, because the entertainment business is fleeting.

Failed marriage. This is what threw me into a rebirth. I was a total man-child before my divorce. I would have never crossed that great divide from boy to man. And I would have never started my blog, which would later become my career, mission, and purpose. This domino needed to fall to start my Hero’s Journey, to push me into the unknown, to slay my dragons, to find myself, my voice, and my message.

Failed private practice. It wasn’t that I failed at it. It was that it never came because life threw me into non-profit. Actually, it did come but a little later and in a way I did not expect—an online private practice. The non-profit allowed me to learn about the power of a safe space, which would be the foundation for my first book. It also gave me a front row seat in seeing that we live in a fatherless nation which would be the fire behind my next book. Meanwhile, the online practice forced me to work with clients in unconventional ways which would be the model of my life coaching course, a sister company I would start with partners many years later.

Failed businesses. I’ve tried so many things. And the ones where I was just chasing money all failed. Period. We don’t have to go through them, but through all these experiences, I learned about business, partnerships, how to work with others—collaboration, sticking up for myself, everything I needed for when I started building something that really mattered. That wasn’t about money but rather passion and purpose.

Under all the events that made you lost, write down what you learned from that event and/or how it positioned you. Or repositioned you. No matter how small or big. Everything ripples.

Then pull back and ask yourself if you’re able to see how losing your way is how you actually found yourself. If you feel like you haven’t found yourself yet, that’s okay. If you’re unable to connect dots or make sense of your story, that’s okay. When I was in the trenches, I couldn’t see what I see now. And if I read this article, I probably would give it the finger. I get it.

But here’s the thing. It’s in our not knowing and feeling lost that our crazy thoughts and anxiety are born. This feeling of being lost, whether it’s your career, business, relationship, marriage, or your day, is what sets you into a tailspin, a panic state that lowers your frequency.

We drown in our not knowing. But it’s also in the unknown or “lost” that our courage is tested. For many, born. Know this as you step into your deep end. As you feel the floor disappear. And life forces you to start swimming. Because that’s courage. Not sitting in shallow water with your old self because it feels good.

You practice courage by leaning into the unknown and being okay with it. Instead of focusing on your swim, focus on everything you know how to do and who you’re learning to be. Because your life is not a swimming pool. It’s an ocean, and the island is getting to a place where your story starts to make sense. That’s the island. Not the things. And when you’re there, you’ll trust your path and be curious about the unfolding like you’re watching it with popcorn.

Self-discovery requires getting lost. That’s how we learn about ourselves, who we are, what we are meant to give, who we’re supposed to meet, what we’re supposed to learn from them, and where we’re supposed to go. That’s how we become. If life went exactly as we planned or wanted, we wouldn’t change because we wouldn’t need to. And that isn’t life. That would just be accomplishing goals without internal change. And without internal change, there is no fulfillment or meaning. Sugar, no substance. It’s skin without love.

Life is lived in the mess. The underbelly. The building. The falling. The breaking. The grit. The standing up. The dusting off. The shine is not life. That’s the reflection of hard work and determination. Life is the journey there. And it’s not a straight line. That is one of the greatest misconceptions about life. It’s actually squirrelly with many many loops. And that’s what makes life a journey instead of a destination.

If you feel lost, know that this is the process and you’re on your journey. To explore. To learn. To evolve. Without this process, you (a stone) will never become a diamond.

So lean into your broken heart. Your transition. Your rebirth. Your new beginning. Your resistance. Let go of what you need to let go. Forgive who you need to forgive. Face your dragon. Squash your judgment. Toss your blueprints. Hold on to your dreams. And keep moving forward. Even if you’re crawling. Because if you’re moving, you’re alive and if you’re alive you’re on your journey.

Losing your way is how you will find yourself.​

If you want to be a life coach, check out JRNI COACHING.