Your senses of self, identity, and agency are the primary factors that determine whether you will feel lost or found.
The harder it is to live freely and draw boundaries around who you are, the more you will struggle to find peace. If you don’t know your purpose, it will be easy for a greater power to define and control you.
Why Do We Feel Lost?
Feeling lost is not entirely caused by you.
Since the industrial revolution, many societal problems have worsened. This deterioration has made it increasingly difficult for people to be stable, both spiritually and financially.
In today’s world people have to constantly switch jobs or shoulder multiple jobs, making it nearly impossible to maintain a work identity. Divorce rates have skyrocketed. Trust in the media and government has plummeted. The pandemic has further disrupted our connection to nature and humanity. Vices, such as substance abuse and addiction to social media and video games, have continued to fill this vacuum.
When society is lost, people share that fate. Lost people are more likely to feel anxious and frustrated and to harm others and the world. To break free from this oppressive common condition, you’ll need to invest more time in self-discovery than the average person because the average person is generally unreflective and functions with little or no self-awareness.
In addition to society’s effects, there are specific events in one’s life that can exacerbate the feeling of being lost. These events are often traumatic, and they can cause people to lose their sense of agency and control. Some common examples are:
- Someone breaking up with you
- A loved one dying unexpectedly
- Being a victim of assault or abuse
- Losing a good job
- Being forced to move
- Events that change one’s identity in life: losing parents means you’re no longer a child, having children means you’ve become a parent, etc.
If you are open to forms of self-discovery, these events do not need to define your life.
Spiritual and Philosophical Perspectives on Being Lost and Finding Yourself
By exploring certain spiritual and philosophical frameworks, finding yourself can become possible, and perhaps easier than you imagined. Let’s start with the events mentioned above. People often feel that these events cause them to become lost.
Consider this alternative perspective: These events are obstacles to knowing who you are. You are born with purpose and passion, but societal ills and traumatic situations prevent you from seeing your authentic self. The answer is already inside you. And whereas events in the world continue to change, by finding the truth that is always with you, you don’t have to feel lost in the change.
From a Buddhist viewpoint, feeling lost means losing connection with Buddha Nature, an enlightened mental state. Budha nature is your original nature. Bright. Free. Pure. And because it’s your original nature, you can never lose it. In a narrative sense, a lost hero cannot progress through the story. Therefore, guides of light help heros recover and find their way to wholeness and resolution. By discovering and studying these types of ideas, you’ll have more tools to help you identify that which binds and darkens your fundamentally free self.
How to Know If You’re Lost
You’re reading this article because you are at least worried about being lost, but perhaps you’re not completely yet sure of where exactly you are. Other than the events and societal problems mentioned above, there are common behavioral signs and stages to look for:
- Behaving in a way that doesn’t feel like you
- Feeling like the dark parts of yourself have the most power over you
- Not knowing what to do with your free time
- Lacking a sense of purpose, self, agency, or clear identity
- Being disconnected from healthy relationships or communities
And even if none of these descriptions sound familiar, if you’re reading this, it’s possible you’re dealing with a similar issue. Either way, you should be able to strengthen your spirit by following the advice in this article or consulting with a Spiritual Life Coach.
What to Do If You Feel Lost: 6 Ways To Find Yourself Again
The fact that you’re reading this article means you’ve acknowledged the problem, and that’s a crucial first step. Millions of people don’t even realize they’re lost.
Now comes the hard part: doing something about it. We recommend these methods.
1. Talk to Friends and Family Where There is a Mutual Love, Trust and Respect
There might be friends and family members in your life whose wisdom can help you find yourself. The relationship with this person should ideally be built on all three of the traits we mentioned: love, trust, and respect. It’s possible, for example, to love someone, but not trust or respect them. Even if this person has good intentions, it’s doubtful that their advice would be worth soliciting, much less following.
It’s also best if this person reciprocates your feelings of love, trust and respect. If someone doesn’t respect you enough to tell you the truth, they might waste your time with placations. Think of someone who has been both honest and supportive. And also, be sure to see whether or not they live by the advice they give—and make sure you love, trust and respect their way of living.
For those who aren’t certain they have at least one person like this in their lives, start by building a relationship with that type of positive foundation. And by any means, be for yourself a person that you can love, trust, and respect.
In the meantime there are other methods that don’t require another person.
2. Self-Assessment: Online Quizzes and More
There are aspects of finding yourself that can be fun! Here are some tools, practices and techniques for self-discovery and spirituality:
- Personality Tests
- Keeping a Gratitude Journal
- Writing down everything you’ve done each day and rating your feelings of engagement toward each item on a scale of 1-10
Set aside time and space to ask yourself big existential questions. If you’re new to meditation, use these articles to get started:
- What is the Goal of Meditation?
- How to Clear Your Mind for Meditation: 6 Actionable Steps
- 7 Tips to Help You Embark on a Journey of Self-Discovery
- 3 Meditations on Truth and Imagination
As someone who is already reading an article, you might be open to self-help books and literature. There are thousands of titles out there! We recommend starting with “Designing Your Life” or “The Artist’s Way.”
The pandemic has made travel less convenient, but it’s still possible to safely drive and fly to many parts of the planet. Discovery of the world can facilitate self-discovery, and travel creates opportunities to form new relationships.
6. Hire a Life Coach
An experienced Life Coach might be the best person to help you find yourself. Self-discovery can be a difficult journey, so there’s no shame in hiring a guide.
The Reward of Finding Yourself
Finding yourself is finding life. It is the greatest gift to yourself and those around you. Everything will become more enjoyable.
One of our clients felt lost after getting a divorce, moving, and becoming disenfranchised with her job. To find herself, she started a new life and studied Buddhism. These methods allowed her to slowly heal and reclaim the sense of self that had become obscured by her hardships. She gained autonomy and finally found a purpose beyond work.
If you put in the effort, you’ll have your own happy ending. Then, perhaps you’ll be one of the people your loved ones come to for guidance.