Feeling lost in life from time to time is normal for everyone, no matter what age you are or your background.
Though it’s normal to feel like this every now and then, there are times when feeling lost is overwhelming.
One of the best things you can do in a situation like this is to seek help, preferably from someone you trust like a friend, an organization like SAMHSA, or a professional.
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What does it mean to feel lost in life?
“People who know themselves grow themselves.” – Jim Cathcart, The Acorn Principle
Being lost in life means you’ve gone off track and can’t find your way.
It can also mean:
- that you’ve lost a sense of who you are.
- you lost your sense of direction
- you don’t have a purpose in life
- you haven’t set clear goals for yourself
I remember feeling lost at one point in my life and feeling scared. It was unfamiliar territory and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.
Looking back, I think part of the reason why I was scared was not having the courage to figure out why I felt that way.
I was afraid that if I took time off to find myself, I would lose the cushy and comfortable life I built with my family.
I also justified staying where I was because I invested so much time & energy into my education and career.
Because of this I started living my life on autopilot and developed anxiety that grew every passing day.
On top of that, I felt guilty for feeling this way because of my privilege and status in life.
When you’re feeling lost, you can also feel other negative emotions such as:
- out of control
When you attach other feelings to them like shame, guilt, self-blame, and embarrassment, you anchor them deeper into your mind & body.
It’s easier said than done to deal with feelings like this. They can take a lot of time and they can be emotionally taxing.
When you are ready and willing to face them, however, you can come out on the other side with more clarity and strength.
Reasons why you feel lost.
If you’re unsure of why you are feeling lost in life, the following list might help you become more aware of why you are feeling this way.
1. You don’t know where you came from.
There’s an old Filipino saying by Dr. Jose Rizal that goes, “A person who does not remember where they came from will never reach their destination.”
In the Philippines, this is used to describe a person who comes from humble beginnings and is now acting superior to everyone else.
It can also be applied to someone who feels lost because if you don’t know where you come from, you won’t know where you’re going.
Knowing where you come from gives you a baseline to gauge your progress and gives you a trajectory for where you want to be in life.
If you don’t know where you came from, even if you think you know yourself, you’ll have a hard time figuring out why you think or behave the way you do.
After my father passed away, I heard stories about him for the first time from my relatives.
It gave me a different perspective of him, which gave me a better understanding of my own thought patterns and behavior.
When you’re trying to gain a deeper sense of who you are, knowing where you come from can be your baseline.
It would be hard to forge a path for yourself and gauge if you’ve made progress if you don’t know where you came from.
2. You’ve had a major change in your life.
One reason why you feel lost could be a major change in your life such as
- changing careers unexpectedly
- losing a loved one
- major illness
- being disabled
- having children
- getting married
- getting divorced
- breaking up
- having a huge financial loss
A major change in your life can turn your world upside down and leave you feeling lost and vulnerable.
3. You’re not self-aware.
One reason why we may feel lost is a lack of self-awareness.
In my personal experience, I didn’t have a strong sense of myself because I wasn’t aware of myself.
I knew what I liked and didn’t like, but as far as knowing the reasons behind my thoughts and behaviors, I was clueless.
4. You’re not being yourself.
You may feel lost because you’re not being your authentic self.
This is not a bad thing and it’s actually a form of self-protection. Most of us want to feel accepted by others because it gives us a sense of stability & security.
We do this by adopting other people’s ideas & behaviors even though we don’t align with them.
However, if you’re compromising your own happiness for the sake of the group, then it feels like you’re losing a part of yourself.
5. You haven’t defined your values.
One reason you feel lost is you haven’t defined your values.
Your values are the things that are most important to you.
If you don’t have values to guide you through life, it can be hard to navigate the twists and turns along the way.
6. You feel like you don’t belong.
If you feel lost, you may feel like you don’t belong anywhere.
You might feel out of place, even within your social circles like your family, workplace, and church.
If you feel this way it’s not your fault and you are not alone.
7. You’re not in a position to figure out why you’re lost.
You may be in a situation where you can’t change your life right now even if you wanted to.
If you’re dealing with challenges it can be hard to find time, let alone figure out why, you’re feeling lost.
Why you need to find yourself again.
What if your lost feeling is trying to communicate something important to you?
Maybe it’s telling you that your values and beliefs no longer align with your current lifestyle.
Perhaps there is a need that is not being met and you have to figure out what it is.
It could even be a sign that it’s time to change and grow.
When you’re ready to find yourself again, use the following list to help you discover who you are.
How to find yourself again.
Here are some tools I want to share with you to help you find yourself again.
These are tools that have helped me find true self and live a life that feels more meaningful, authentic, and joyful.
1. Affirm your feelings.
You affirm your feelings by acknowledging them. Acknowledging your feelings validates them.
By accepting and affirming them, you hold space for them like a mother would with her child.
Affirming your feelings can help you get to know yourself and understand who you are on a deeper level.
2. Find your identity.
Finding your identity is another way to get to know yourself better.
Your identity is how you define or describe yourself.
Here are some of the ways I identity myself:
- dental hygienist
3. Define your values.
Values are the things that are most important to you in life.
My top 3 values are family, health, and creativity.
Here are some other examples:
If you feel lost in life, defining your values can help you gain more focus and direction.
They can also help you prioritize the things that matter most to you, guide your actions, affect your decisions, create meaningful goals, and plan your life.
4. Find your purpose in life.
Your purpose in life is the reason why you do the things you do.
Having a strong purpose in life can make you more resilient and recover from adversity and challenges quicker than someone who doesn’t.
The great thing about having a strong purpose is it helps you find your mission in life, which can give you direction and focus.
It can also make your life feel more meaningful and fulfilling.
You can state your purpose in life by figuring out your values and goals.
Combine them together with what you love to do and then create your purpose statement. Here’s an example:
My purpose in life is to help people thrive holistically through simple, daily self-care practices.
5. Do some shadow work.
Shadow work is bringing to light the things that you want to hide from others.
If you’re feeling lost, shadow work can help you find yourself by uncovering your shadow selves, or the parts of you that are hidden.
This can help you get to know yourself on a deeper level because you’re getting to know the sides of yourself you may not be aware of.
6. Follow your bliss.
Following your bliss is a great way to get to know yourself better when you feel lost because you can start at any point in your life.
It’s as simple as asking yourself questions. You can start by asking yourself questions such as these:
- What are my likes and dislikes?
- What do I love doing most in the world?
- What makes me forget the time?
- Is there something I am interested in that I’m trying to hide from others?
7. Morning pages
“Morning pages” is a style of journaling that was created by Julia Cameron, the author of “The Artist’s Way.”
Each day, I do my own modified version of morning pages almost as soon as I get up.
While I’m journaling, I’m not filtering or judging what I’m writing down so I get an honest “view” of my thoughts.
I have a clearer picture of what I’m thinking because I’m able to “see” what’s in my head.
8. Get help.
When you feel lost, you can always ask for help. Other people might give you guidance because they can see you better than you can.
They can be more objective and have a perspective that is unbiased.
If you’re brave, you can ask other people what they think of you or to describe you. You might be surprised at what they say.
9. Find like-minded people.
We are social creatures and gravitate toward like-minded people.
Some examples are clubs, sports teams, religious groups, social circles, and co-workers.
Finding people who are like you and support you can help you find yourself and be your greatest source of trustworthiness and comfort.
10. Listen to your inner guidance.
Listening to your inner guidance is a great place to start looking for yourself because it comes from your intuition.
Your intuition is that little voice inside your head that guides you. It’s also your gut reaction or gut feeling.
You can find out a lot about yourself by following your intuition.
Just remember that your intuition is your guide.
Use it to gain more awareness about yourself and how you think you would react.
11. Practice authenticity.
Being your authentic self can sometimes mean being a version of yourself that is not accepted by your group.
This is not easy because we all want to feel accepted by others even if it means being inauthentic to ourselves.
True acceptance feels more genuine and satisfying than gaining the approval of others because you’re embracing all parts of yourself, even your flaws.
Being authentic allows you to accept yourself for who you truly are.
One way practice authenticity is to step out of your comfort zone.
You don’t have to go way out of your comfort zone to find your authentic self. It can be as simple as getting a different hairstyle, trying on a new outfit, or learning something new.
12. Take a personality test.
The Myers Briggs Test is a fun way to get to know yourself better if you’re feeling lost.
The test is based on several personality types. You answer questions that group you into the personality that best fits your responses.
If you decide to take the test, remember to take it with a grain of salt because it’s not an absolute categorization of your true self.
Ayurveda is an ancient practice that originated from India and can help you find yourself through a holistic approach.
It’s an interesting method to get to know yourself better through your dosha, or your body type.
According to Ayurveda, your dosha affects your thoughts, personality, and behavior.
Like the Myers-Briggs personality test, this is not a definitive way to get to know yourself.
Rather, use it as a tool to create a healthy lifestyle and optimize your life.
Like Ayurveda, yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India. It is a philosophy and way of life that also takes a holistic approach to getting to know yourself better.
I won’t pretend to know all about yoga because it’s a lifestyle, discipline, and philosophy that is vast and I just started my own practice.
What I do know is yoga can teach you about your mind and body, how they are inextricably connected, and how they define who you are.
Finding yourself can be a lifelong process. I started my journey years ago and I’m still searching and continuing to learn more about who I am.
If you want to find more ways to become your true self, be sure to check out these helpful articles:
9 ways to find your true identity and discover who you are.
How to start a self-discovery journey with 5 powerful questions.
How to know yourself better in 10 different ways.