….So have you ever caught yourself saying or thinking …. “I’m lost!”
…. If we are completely honest, most of us have said that at some point!
….Usually, this thought is related to a relationship we are in, a job we are at, a place we are living or our health.
Sometimes it’s a really slow burn… years in the making until we can’t take it anymore…
(Dreading going to work, cancelling a date, having the “Sunday Night Blues”, losing productivity at work, procrastinating, changing school programs, gaining weight, having troubles sleeping, having physical symptoms of pain, picking fights, cheating, or avoiding conflict)
Other times it’s a big crisis that wakes us up…
(Terminated at work, A break-up, Major health diagnosis, Failing a course or program, Getting caught cheating)
Bottom line is one way or another, we find ourselves in the “wrong” place!
There are, in My Opinion, 6 Possible Reasons We Get “Lost”
We grew up with or had experiences of blurred boundaries and roles due to chronic family conflicts, a family member’s addiction, mental health or physical health problems, adults who were ill-equipped in some way, and we became a caretaker, we were exposed to shame or criticism, or we became the “good “ one to offset the other burdens in the family. So, we re-create the enmeshment by overaccommodating, overworking, over caring to others and we ignore our own needs.
We have had experiences of shame or criticism from family, school, peers, romantic partners, workplaces, illness, had previous experiences of failure or disappointment to self or others, or important people in our lives were distracted by their own problems which left us abandoned, so we end up not feeling good enough about ourselves to take risks and reach for what we really want, and we can even lose sight of what we really want.
3. Conflict Aversion
We were exposed to undesirable conflicts – yelling, name-calling, swearing, walking out, threats, leaving OR the opposite – avoidance, (the implicit message “ Don’t go There!”-…someone will get crushed if we touch the hard stuff) so we easily mismanage the inherent conflict that comes into our lives and we lose ourselves by over fighting or not fighting enough for what’s important to us.
4. Distorted Relationship with Control
We develop a negative relationship with control usually due to exposure to over or under control in your life from others’ rigid or overly high expectations of us OR a lack of support or supervision. We struggle in finding the appropriate boundaries and balance of power. We easily develop all or nothing thinking and ultimately give in because it feels easier at the moment OR we burn out because we have overworked or over fought at something and we can’t sustain our pathway so we lose ourselves from either settling or burning out. What a set of bad choices that is!
The experience of past trauma can usually cause the onset of intrusive images or memories, causing us to relive extremely serious exposures of abuse that increase our fear and anxiety, and sometimes dissociation where it becomes hard to stay present and mindful especially when a trigger, and hyper-alertness or hyper avoidance to particular situations occurs. This can hold us emotional hostage and our ability to be available and stable is compromised and ultimately we are unable to take charge appropriately in important situations and relationships in our life; the fear overrides the want and needs, leaving it sometimes completely impossible to find our way.
6. Grief and Loss
However we have experienced loss – a sudden loss, a significant loss, or unresolved loss, grief can overpower us and cause unrealistic fears of future loss, being alone, experiencing pain, and these can drive us to stay in something or someplace too long, or leave too early and when we do that we will lose ourselves…
So what can we do?
We need to find a way to force the mechanics of self-care, even before we feel like doing anything differently. Without good sleeping, good eating, regular exercise and at least one relationship even if it’s just with your therapist where you can have a positive interaction, if we can’t find a way to care for ourselves better, the symptoms will worsen. Get help with this if you can’t find your way to better routines.
Change Our Thinking
Get a personalized CBT program because what we think determines how we feel, determines what we do. Get a good CBT program so that you can reduce your generalized, self-critical, blaming, worrying, regretting, personalizing, stinky thinking thoughts, so that you can communicate more effectively to set and enforce better boundaries and make better decisions to get YOU closer to what we really want. When that happens, we are a whole lot happier and we WILL find ourselves!
Go after root causes; the cbt will help and give relief but ultimately you want and need to break the patterns by going deep to explore your strengths and your pain, figure out how to shift those negative meanings and associations and apply those shifts in your current life! This ensures that any communication or decision improvements you make STICK because it’s not just about finding yourself today it’s about getting yourself on a trajectory that sets you on a pathway to never losing yourself again or makes sure that you keep finding yourself no matter what lies ahead of you!