Sometimes it’s a slow realization – and sometimes it hits you like a ton of bricks, but the end result is always the same. You just don’t feel like your self anymore.
You may have been feeling like this for years, or you may have been feeling like this for just a few weeks or months – either way, it’s uncomfortable and the way forward isn’t always clear.
In this blog post, I’m going to look at what this means, how this happens and ways in which you can reconnect with this fundamental part of your self.
Please Note: I’m going to be using your self and yourself here with two different meanings – it’s not a typo 🙂
So what does it actually mean – not feeling your self?
The ‘self’ is the core essence of our being. It’s the part that recognizes our purpose in life and lights up when we do the things that we love doing. It’s also the part that recognizes when we aren’t doing the things we love, ignoring our purpose, or doing things that are not aligned with who we are or what we know is good for us.
Some people refer to the self as the spirit, the soul, or intuition – no matter what you call it though, the better we know, accept and find the things that align with it – the more fulfilled, joyful, and meaningful our lives are.
How do we lose sight of the self?
When we are children (the exception are those who suffered through early childhood trauma/abuse), we are intimately aware of the self, expressing as we need to and dreaming of all the things we’d like to see and do when we ‘grow up’ with no limitations or ‘reality-checking’. As we grow older, life happens and for some of us, this means a loss of the self.
There are many reasons why you could lose sight of our essence – I’ve listed a few of them below:
Losing sight of our selves in relationships
This can be by trying to be the ‘perfect partner’ or just by not paying enough attention to, or communicating what your own needs are. This is true for both romantic relationships and friendships.
Some lose their selves in the family structure
Doing what is expected rather than what aligns with your own wants and dreams, for fear of losing connection or a sense of community or belonging.
Starting a family
Having children is another way that people, mainly women, lose sight of the self – this is a very slippery slope if your self was already a distant memory in the relationship, to begin with. Society also puts a lot of pressure on moms to be totally self-less with their children and is quick to label those who dare to take some time for their selves as selfish. Looking at the word self-less, it means not having a self which is totally impossible and unachievable – and detrimental to a life filled with real meaning and joy.
Traumatic events or unresolved trauma
This is a big reason why we lose sight of our core self. If we’re living in a dissociated state or in high levels of arousal because of unresolved trauma, we’re totally cut off from our bodies, which means we’re cut off from our hearts, our sense of feeling grounded and safe, and from our ability to connect meaningfully with others.
We can also lose our self in work – this can be through working in jobs we hate, in very high-pressure environments, or with toxic people, or it can be through having no boundaries with work so that there is no clear distinction between what is work and what is your life.
Caring for someone
Living with, and/or caring for a sick or elderly person – I’d include in this category the families which support any individual struggling with addiction. It’s very easy to lose sight of the self when you’re focused on supporting someone who needs you – the contradiction here though is that if you’re not able to fully take care of your own self, you are way less effective at taking care of others and can lead to co-dependency.
What are the consequences of feeling disconnected from your self?
I’ve called these consequences and not symptoms because being disconnected from the self is not an illness – it’s a state of being that has long-lasting, negative outcomes.
- A general sense of unhappiness or even depression
- Feeling lost or uncertain about your life
- Feeling like you have no purpose
- Feeling like your life is meaningless and has no point
- Not being able to recognize yourself
- Unable to make decisions about just about everything, but especially around anything that has to do with yourself or your well-being.
- Feelings of stuckness and not knowing which way to turn or go in
- Not understanding fully how you found yourself in the situation you’re in
- Having an unhealthy pattern play out again and again.
What can you do about it?
You’d think that it’s one of the simplest things – to reconnect with that which is fundamentally part of us 🙂 But for many, we’ve been disconnected for so long, that we’ve almost lost the way back. Make no mistake, the path is there, we just may not be able to see it!
It can also be quite uncomfortable, that journey back…
Here are some of the ways I’ve found really useful for my own journey back, and which my clients have also found useful:
Reconnecting to the body and its sensations
I use mindfulness and Yin Yoga to facilitate slowing down. We’re always so BUSY, and in some cases, we use this as an excuse not to reconnect. Slowing down we can often see how reliant we have become on the incessant busyness which we fill our lives with. We also need to slow down and find the time to reflect on and do the things which bring us joy and delight – and to in some cases contemplate a change in career, location, or relationship.
Setting effective boundaries
To know where YOU end and your partner/parents/children/family/job starts. Without being able to set and maintain boundaries, it will be difficult to find and maintain the connection we have to our selves. Read this blog post on boundaries to find out more.
Engaging in self-care consistently is essential in coming back to and nurturing the connection we have with our selves. I’ve written a detailed blog post on self-care which you can read here.
Resolution of unprocessed trauma
Sometimes, life throws us things that are overwhelming for our nervous systems. If this overwhelm is then not fully processed, it gets stuck in our bodies and minds, causing all sorts of things to happen – in this context, a sense of feeling disconnected to our selves and in some cases, to those around us. Resolving this stuckness through somatic trauma work can transform your entire life!
Answering the question: ‘What do I want from my life, my relationships, and my career?’ I use coaching to help facilitate the answering of this question.
Finding a way back to our selves is profoundly healing. The process takes time, patience, and not a small amount of compassion. Yes, it can be uncomfortable and even very unsettling, but the benefits far outweigh this discomfort.
Coming back to the self is one of the biggest gifts we offer to ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities, as we start living a life that is bursting at the seams with joy, delight, purpose, fulfillment, and well-being!
If you feel like you may have lost sight of your self – take a look at my coaching program called ‘reconnect’ and get in touch if you’d like to take part.