Why Getting Lost is Part of the Journey – and what to do about it
by Wendy Keller, author, inspirational speaker
You know that feeling you get when your whole life is crashing down? That lost, overwhelmed “What the HECK am I supposed to do now?” thing that happens?
It’s awful. It’s scary. It’s where you think, “I’ve got no clue. I quit!”
It’s my personal theory that in that exact spot in your life, that how-low-can-you-go moment of pure resignation that ALL the benefits you’ll get from this arduous time are born.
I know that’s annoying of me to say. But if you take a deep breath and think about it, that does seem to be how life works.
We’d all strongly prefer for life to be sunshine and roses, plenty of money in the bank, smooth relationships, everyone we love to live healthy lives forever. I don’t know why it can’t be that way, but I sure to know that it isn’t.
In that moment of utter lost-ness (is that a word?), we throw up our hands in exasperation. We acknowledge there’s nothing more we can think of to improve or change the situation. We stop resisting What Is and accept just that it Is. And THAT is the beginning of recovering.
It’s OK if you don’t know how much more you can handle. It’s fine if you don’t know what to do next. Eventually, you’ll let go of how things should be and start to see possibilities based on reality.
Here are some tips to help you get through feeling lost, overwhelmed or flattened by life:
1. Recognize that it’s truly darkest before the dawn. You have to get lost to find your way, and a lot of other inscrutable conundrums and confusing sayings. When you relax into the Lostness, when you stop struggling against What Is, solutions have room to pop up in your life. The solution may not look like what you’d prefer, but if you’re panicked, yanking on the door trying to get it to open while your house is burning down, you might not turn around and realize you can jump out the window. It’s not ideal, but neither is the situation.
2. Put on your Thinking Cap. I’m not trying to be Mr. Rogers here – but I’ve noticed that most of us think the solution should look like X, but it shows up looking like Y. Take a notebook and force yourself to write down 25 things you CAN do to improve your situation. If you’re suffering from grief, the end of a relationship, financial loss, inability to get a job, whatever, list 25 things – as crazy as you want – that could be done to help you out. Brainstorm ideas. Get a friend to help you and come up with 50 if you can’t do 25 by yourself. They may not all be practical, but they will create a miracle. They’ll unclog your brain drain and get you started on looking at things from a new perspective. Once you do that, you might see some things you could try. Once you see them, you will try them. They may or may not work, but they will definitely lead to other things. You’re getting some movement. Pretty soon, you’ve got a direction to go, and once you have that, you’re not lost anymore!
3. Set yourself a time limit. Seems crazy, but agree to wallow in your overwhelm for an hour a day (or 20 minutes, or two hours, whatever.) Split your “wallowing” time in half. Spend the first half letting yourself ruminate on whatever’s really got you down. Then spend the second half either writing down things that are GOOD in your life at that very moment. That’s all. Like, “I can read. I can breathe without a ventilator. I know how to tie my own shoes and I can still reach them….” Doesn’t matter how thrilling the things that are good in your life are. The exercise is about forcing your brain to acknowledge that All Is Not Lost.
It probably took some time to get in the pickle you’re in. It will likely take some time to get, or you may never get out, or you may be out of it by this time tomorrow. You don’t know, and all you can count on is right now. It’s your life – grasp the steering wheel and force yourself to pay attention to where you’re going.
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29 thoughts on “Feeling Lost? How to find yourself again”
Thank you for this! I really needed to read something this inspirational today.
I hope this works. My life sucks and is falling apart. This might get me out of the hole. I may see a whole new me. Thank you Wendy. This is great advice.
Just Deb says:
I am a planner by nature. When one area of my life implodes there are usually 1 or 2 other areas that are secure. But in the last week or so every realm-employment, now former boyfriend, health, housing-ALL have CRASHED. I have never felt so lost as I have in the past week.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR BLOG-I don’t feel so adrift and alone.
Gee, Deb! That’s a LOT to handle so fast. Please, take time to take care of yourself. And to feel the feelings! I wrote a blog on “Scheduling your grief” (It’s in the queue under “Wendy’s Blog”) that applies to your situation.
Meanwhile, sending you wishes for love, joy and peace,
valerie gattoni says:
While reading this article I relived all the “Chit Happens” events that I have gone through over the past few years, too many to mention here and every word hit the nail straight on the head. I truly thought I was alone and a failure at everything I attempted. You have set me straight and I thank you for your comforting words. I no longer feel alone & helpless. The next wave of “Chit Happens” will be looked at and tackled in a new light. May the Creator Bless You Wendy ♥.
Thanks for your bittersweet comment. When my late son Jeremy was a baby, he was quite a drooler. Someone gave us a Onesie that said, “Spit Happens” on the front. Ha ha ha! Thanks too for your kind blessing. May your own life be filled with love, joy and peace.
Christina Theodosiades says:
I just wanted to thank you, although I have not been very active on your page . I still remember the first night I came across it. And I was pretty much in the condition of the women portrayed in the article here. Well,Since then I have come along way.By reading all you have endured and over come .I have returned from time to time to read some of your inspirational words, And they have helped in more ways than you could imagine. I have come to understand the power of being positive and also the power of positive words. which you have helped in that part of my ability to let myself heal . That was the hardest part. Now as I prepare myself for the future and the fight ahead of me. I just wanted to thank you for the little nudge you gave me. Goodnight and God bless.
I am humbled by your comments. I’m grateful you find my work helpful to you. “Positive words” are important but I believe they work best when they result in positive action – underneath which is the belief that we CAN affect our lives and emotional states.
Wishing you love, joy and peace,
Christina – I feel the same as you do, that coming to Wendy’s site for her positive words has helped so much in my grief recovery, and I liked your words of ‘letting myself heal’. That is where I am at, so so difficult, but as I read others’ stories and see that they have come through, the positive-ness of it all just has to sink in and propel me forward. Thank you Wendy.
thanks so much, Valerie! Such comments mean a lot to me.
Wishing you peace, love and joy,
I have list 7 family members in the past 10 years, 2 to suicide. Just when I was doing better, well, I thought I would never feel ok again. I have always believed that the Lord did not geive you more than you can handle, but I thought maybe he forgot how much I was handling! He never does though, and there is always something to be learned.
I just felt like the wind was knocked out of me, you know?
I uzed your suggestions to see where I am at today. Great suggestions!
I need a few tweaks, but I am doing better than I thought. Thanks Wendy. I love reading your articles. They are so inspirational!
Wow! Seven is a LOT to lose! I am intrigued by your comment that you used my suggestions to “see where I am at today”. It does indeed fluctuate, doesn’t it? Funny how that works – some days are easier than others. Glad you decided you’re doing better than you thought.
Wishing you love, peace and joy,
emery laus says:
What i have read just now is so wonderful. thank you so much wendy for giving me inspiration through your writings. May God bless you more!
Thank you, Emery!
Wishing you love, joy and peace,
Does not seem like thank you is enough. I have recently moved in with a roommate due to financial reasons. I am older woman who has lived by herself for about 30 yrs. I recently have gotten my heart broken by a man. My job is horrible as it is a negative work environment. Jobs today are not easy to come by. I have a friend who is pretty much on her death bed. I lost my 40 yr old brother 2 yrs ago to ALS. I am feeling pretty lost and like I don’t belong anywhere right now. My roommate, god bless her, sent me this. I am thankful. This has really helped and will use this information wisely.
Thank you for writing. Perhaps you can look at this roommate situation as a “blessing in disguise” because you have been so flexible and adapted your lifestyle to meet your reality – a lot of people refuse to do that. I admire your determination, including the fact that to survive, you’re willing to work in a job you dislike. Your roommate sounds like she really cares.
Sending you wishes for peace, love and joy,
The boost I needed today! Thank you!
Arr ayy says:
I’ve been facing this oroblem for few days now and I’ve never felt so Lost ever in my life. I’m no longer deoendent on myself. I used to be a positive person now all what I can think about is negativety ,
I don’t feel like myself and I cant seem to find the answer to anything around me! I feel stuck and distanced from my friends my family and myself. I’m scared and don’t know what to do to and I want to fix it but it seems so difficult!
At the risk of sounding like I don’t care (and I truly do care!) I can only say this about your feeling: Congratulations! Usually, this is indicative of you about to make a great leap of some kind in your life. A few days of this is the harbinger of a quantum leap in your mind, spiritual life or consciousness, therefore a similar leap in your external world.
Bravo! Stay with the feeling. Let us know what becomes of it in a week or two.
You have noooooo idea how badly i needed some advice like that! Im at that breaking point where i feel like running away….just want to leave everything behind and start a “new”
Sorry you’re having such a rough go of it presently! I hope things smooth out.
All the best,
It feels like I lost my life.like where did I go.Theres emptiness,and then theres too much.there’s a missing link in the chain,or someone pulled the rug out from under me.I used to have a very stressful job that I functioned well in.now any stress and i fold up.etc etc etc etc
Sorry to hear your plight. That’s really sad. Have you ever heard of “stress overwhelm”? Sometimes, that happens to people who are under constant stress for a long time. Can you take a week or so off and come back and gauge how you’re feeling then?
Thank you, I needed this. I feel so lost I don’t even want to get out of my bed. I have lost everything and have no motivation for anything right now. If I can just get motivated for this I guess I will be ok.
I read your interesting blog and I want to know how to overcome this problem of mine.
I have achieved all the things that I have written on my 10 years plan and then lost it all? Career fulfilled, married to a good responsible man whom I love, joined an international Entrepreneur Organization, got into magazines’ profile pages, competed in a piano competition, learnt to play the cello, learnt a new language other than English (English is my second language) , etc…
I was an over achiever, but I had 3 failed pregnancies, lost them all, lost my figure, lost my credibility in my career, out from the organization, have not played any musical instruments and lost my friends since I have not have the confidence to go out from my house. I think I am almost becoming a shut in person.
I achieved everything before I turned 30 and now I lost everything in my 30th year of life.
How can I gain all back? Or if not, how can I be content and start going out/begin my life or be optimistic again?
Staying at home as a shut in is depressing, but I really have no confidence to get out and have people looking at me or asking me “what happened” or just point fingers at me, I am afraid to face all that.
Just me says:
Hi. I stumbled across this website to find meaning behind the it’s ok post (above) I received. At first I thought of it is an inspirational piece from a friend to friend (grief). As time went on, I am not so sure why the distance other than I never listened nor took advice well.There are many factors why I couldn’t and wasnt able to do things. I am beginning to think I am a horrible person.
one of the op says:
Update: I orginally posted one above. Life has been so strange – I have never felt despair so deep with such sorrow.
I’m so sorry to hear this, Mary. It is such a pathetically slow healing process, but you CAN do it. Just stay committed, and you’ll see progress inch by inch.
Wishing you a life overflowing with love, joy and peace,