When You Don’t Feel Like Yourself
“I don’t even know what my interests are anymore”. My client spoke those words in our first session, and although it didn’t surprise me, it still cracked a piece of my heart. She has spent the last 15ish years establishing herself in a career she isn’t sure she likes anymore, or even liked to begin with. Between advancing in her working life and raising her kids she didn’t leave any room for nurturing herself, which plays a big role in what she refers to as her ‘meaning crisis.'
There are seasons in our life in which we feel like we are wandering in the dark. We feel like we are not ourselves, something is not quite working, and we feel "off". Perhaps there is this sense of “There is something more. Something in me that wants to be expressed. Something more I’m meant to contribute.", or a feeling of being someone you are not, living someone else's life, or simply a feeling of being disconnected from yourself.
In a world that constantly pulls us into a million different directions, it's fairly easy to lose our connection with ourselves. A lack of work-life balance and overworking, putting everyone else's needs above your own, following 'shoulds', saying 'yes' to things that don't feel right and operating on autopilot, may all be reasons for why you have travelled a long distance from your heart.
So how do you come home to yourself when you feel so disconnected? Here are a few steps, mindset shifts, tools and practices to explore:
Practice Self Compassion. Give yourself grace knowing it's human to go through seasons of feeling lost. These thoughts/questions you're having can seem highly individual, and highly personal, because we each doubt ourselves privately, and therefore believe we’re alone in thinking this way. But they reflect a universal truth about what it means to be human, to be delicate and tender. To lose ourselves so we can find ourselves again. You can get through it, and you’ll be met with a stronger, more confident version of you on the other side of it.
Spend Time With Yourself. You may feel like you don't even remember how to do that, but I encourage you to push through this first hurdle, grab a pen and paper and think about big or small moments in your life when you felt truly connected to yourself, when you felt vibrant and alive. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? What was so special about that moment? These questions may spark ideas for things you could do to reconnect with yourself.
Restore and Nourish Your Body. Feeling like you are living someone else's life (for example, being in a job that isn’t a right fit for you) can take a toll on your health and well-being. If you're overworking or have a poor work-life balance – you’re probably feeling drained and depleted. You may do what most of us do when we feel this way – numb your emotions through food, endless scrolling through social media, alcohol… you get it. Any distraction that helps us check out emotionally in order to survive. On top of that, not being happy with where you are in life often interferes with deep, restorative, restful sleep. Focus on self-care – make sure you prioritise sleep and rest, make home-cooked nourishing meals and make space for movement. We take care of things we love, and showing up for yourself in these ways will help restore your relationship with yourself.
Bring Joy Back into Your Life. During challenging times our tendency as humans is to see everything in a negative light. Bypass your mind's negativity bias by filling up your cup, and doing things that bring you joy every day. It doesn’t need to be something big. It can be simple, daily little things. Think about what momentary, sensory experiences give you a sense of comfort, joy and appreciation. Is it the evening light that comes through the windows? The smell of fresh coffee brewing? Your child's laugh? Lighting a candle? A walk in nature? Listening to the birds early in the morning when the world is still asleep? Baking banana bread or apple pie? Listening to music? A hug from your best friend? Soak these moments up, and pay attention to them, as they already exist in your life. Where you can, invite more of those experiences into your life.
Take a Break from Social Media. Unplug yourself from someone else’s life and trade comparison with self-connection. If you're not in a great place with yourself now, the quickest way to make yourself feel worse is to scroll on social media. It's too easy to fall into the comparison rabbit hole and think that everyone else but you, has it all figured out. This may also free some time (social media can be a time-sucker) and mental energy to do activities that nurture your relationship with yourself.
Set Clear Boundaries. More often than not, feeling like you have lost yourself is a result of not having clear boundaries. If you have the tendency of pleasing others, you might abandon yourself in an attempt to serve others’ needs. Because you are afraid of missing out on an opportunity, letting people down or being perceived as difficult/inconvenient, you might be saying "yes" to everything and everyone. Start valuing yourself in relation to yourself (not in relation to others), start saying ‘no’ to what doesn’t serve you and prioritise and advocate for your needs.
These seasons of feeling disconnected are challenging and deeply uncomfortable. You may try to rush through them as quickly as humanly possible. But this is what I want you to know – the stuckness you’re experiencing now may be the gift that points you towards discovering your own unique voice, connecting with what brings you meaning and finding your song in life.
Rooting for you,