Feeling Lost? Here's What You Can Do to Find Yourself Again

Feeling Lost?
Setting priorities in your life and learning how to honestly categorize the challenges you face can help you reclaim your sense of self.
Are you feeling lost? It's a difficult feeling to describe, even if you wanted to try to explain it. Not that you would, because right now it seems like there's nobody to listen. Or perhaps you've tried to talk to someone - a friend, a therapist - but came away unsatisfied, as if you weren't able to express what it is you are (or aren't) feeling.
Feeling lost is different from depression. Depression sufferers frequently feel down, worthless and hopeless, and you don't feel any of those things. On the contrary - you are active in many ways, and your actions and presence are vital to the well-being of many - and that's the problem. When you are so needed in so many different directions, you eventually begin to lose your sense of self.
The Four Categories
The self-help books all say that you should carve out more time for yourself. They're right, but giving you a solution without giving you a blueprint is useless. If you knew how to take more "me" time, you wouldn't be in this situation.

You're in this situation because you are a people-pleaser. There are worse things to be. But the number one person you have to please is you, or you won't be able to please anyone else as much as you would like to. So as painful as it may be, you have to pare things down.

Life falls into four categories - things you love, things you can fix, things you have to put up with, and things you need to let go. The key is to fit everything into an appropriate spot - and let go of things that are dragging you down.
Things You Love
Man in garden
This category is easy - you already know the things you love. Your spouse, your children, your friends - easy, right? But you forgot some stuff. What about the things you love that have nothing to do with other people? Painting, gardening, rock climbing - whatever makes you lose yourself in a lovely way.

Things in this category should be the main focus of your life. The extra time you get from dumping the bad things should be devoted to the people and activities on this list. If you can combine the people with the activities sometimes (but not always), even better. Making this list a bigger part of your life will spearhead the reawakening of your soul.
Things You Can Fix
Man cleaning bathroom
Unfinished tasks and unsolved problems have a way of hanging over our heads and turning a minor issue into a major stress. Take care of these things now. Report due? Finish it. Dirty bathroom? Clean it. Argument with your best friend? Talk it out.

Often, the anticipation of these tasks causes a stress-paralysis that's worse than just tackling them head-on. This category only includes things that you can fix immediately (or at least get the ball rolling). Sometimes, parts of our lives can change categories and we must adjust our perceptions accordingly.
Things You Have to Put Up With
Overweight man
There are two types of things on this list. Say you hate how the tile in the kitchen always looks dirty, but there's still six months left on your lease. Your landlord is unlikely to retile just to suit your taste in decor, so this is just something you'll have to live with for a few months. No biggie, so stop stressing.

But say six months down the line you move into a new apartment with gleaming white kitchen tile that is blindingly clean and glistening - your tile issue just moved from the "live with it" category into the "fixed it" category.

This category is generally temporary, like a holding place for problems you may be able to solve in the future. Hate your job? Put up with it for now, but start looking around for a new one. Feeling fat? Own your own role in your weight gain, and make a commitment to reverse the trend. Sure, you'll have to be fat for a while longer, but slowly shrinking is better than slowly expanding.
Things You Should Let Go
Lonely man
Most things that don't fit into the other categories fit here. If there are parts of your life from which you derive no benefit, either emotional, financial, or otherwise, drop it. Just drop it. Letting go may be difficult at first, like you're shirking your duties, but you'll get over it.

This applies to relationships, too. Friends and family members who constantly drain you to the point where you no longer look forward to hearing from them, who are always negative and contribute no positivity to the relationship - let them go. Do it nicely, and explain that you simply cannot continue your friendship while they act this way. It is for the best, and after a period of adjustment, your life will be richer.

Dumping the unnecessary frees more than time. It releases a part of you that feels beholden to others with no expectation of joy. Your sense of self is no longer held hostage and you are free to explore what makes you "you".
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