5 Ways To Go From Being Lost To Found
I have a sign above my desk.
I hung it up a year ago, and I see it every time I sit down. I placed it there deliberately; I wanted the reminder of where I once was, and how I once thought - and how far I'd moved on - every single day.
I wanted to catch sight of it when I was working, or reading, or creating. I wanted the reassurance that, although things might have once seemed to be at an end - the end is often the beginning.
Two years ago, I was at one of my lowest ever points. I honestly didn't think I would come through it. I've been through worse, without a doubt, but this time was different.
This time I had no energy left to fight. This time I had no coping strategies that helped; in fact they'd stopped working some time beforehand. I'd been running round in circles too much to even notice.
This time, I was well and truly burnt out.
I didn't know who I was, what I did - good or bad (although everything seemed bad), what I liked, what I wanted to do; or even if I wanted to be here.
I felt that I'd outlived my use, and I was now surplus to requirements. I couldn't see how anyone would want me or need me - silly, old, worn down, useless, me.
It took 12 months, some serious soul-searching and re-building, and a helping hand from my GP, for me to finally see that really the problem was very clear. I was lost.
I didn't actually know that was A Thing; being lost. I just thought that, being the driven soul I'd always been, I would always know where I was headed. That I would always know what goals I wanted to achieve, what people I wanted to meet, what opportunities I wanted to cultivate.
I didn't know that you could get lost so easily.
But you can.
And the great thing is that being lost isn't actually the Bad Thing you might instinctively think. Sometimes it comes from giving everyone and everything else your attention, and forgetting about you. Or spending a large part of your life with a label (foisted on you by others) that you now want to shrug off; but you don't know who the you under the label might even be.
Being lost comes in many forms, has many paths leading towards it - but there's one sure fire way out. Putting you first.
So, if you're lost, how can you find your way back, not just to the life you had before - but perhaps an even better one? And how easy is it?
Here are five of the strategies that worked for me.
* Take time to recharge your batteries, start to recognise yourself again, and link back to your creative mind. I was exhausted as well as lost, if I'm honest, and the one thing I learned really fast was that you can't possibly find who you are again if you're worn out. It takes time, care, love, and kindness TO YOURSELF to start to pick the pieces up and put them back together again. Don't even think about doing it until you're recovered. And creative thinking, which we all need in order to function, irrespective of our career paths (or ability to draw or paint!), comes from a rested mind.
* Do something you love. What really fires your imagination? What makes your very core sing with happiness? What makes you smile? And if you can't remember, for, sadly, some of us may be that lost, what currently makes a positive difference to your day? And do that. Submerge yourself in it. Let it envelop and hold you like a big fluffy blanket. Enjoy the feelings you get from doing something that makes you happy, commit them to memory, and store them away.
* Re-connect with your body. So here's something I hadn't reckoned on: whilst my brain had been busy racing away, making me work harder and faster, I'd lost the connection to my body. And when I came out the other side, I honestly didn't even recognise it anymore. It didn't look like my body, or at least, how I remembered it, it didn't - couldn't - do the same things, and it didn't feel the same. I felt totally disconnected. So one of the things I've been working on is restoring that connection.
Meditation, yoga, massage, rubbing lotion in after a soak in the bath, noticing freckles, wrinkles and scars and remembering the story behind them, even touching your skin whilst watching your hands, and feeling the sensation (I used to stroke the palm of my hand, and self-soothe); all of these things help to re-instate that sense of belonging. Of re-connection.
* Re-connect with your dreams. Once upon a time there was something you wanted really badly. It might have been something small, it might have been something huge. Whatever it was, re-connect with it. Toy with it. Let the mere thought of it roll around your mind, cloaked in delicious anticipation. Think about how good it would feel to have that accomplishment under your belt - and no instant dismissal here, please - just think about HOW GOOD IT WOULD FEEL! And then let that feeling swill around a little. Savour it for a minute or two, or more if you can. Re-connect again tomorrow, and let the feeling swill around a bit more. And bit by tiny bit, you'll start to find your way. It might be just a step. But a step is all it takes. And I'm not asking you to imagine anything more than taking a step right now.
* Remember that you have all of the choices, and all of the power, at your fingertips. If you want it all, that is. You truly do. You can choose to do whatever you want to; whatever makes you happy. Whatever makes you feel like a whole person. Whatever doesn't. Positive, or negative. Big, or small. You have choices - and with choices comes power. If today is about re-inventing yourself, then re-invent yourself. If tomorrow is about travelling the world, then travel the world. If next week is about putting yourself out there to find the love of your life, then put yourself out there. If next year is about going back into education and re-training, or just learning for the sake of learning, then go back into education. And if right now this second is about breathing gently, and just putting one foot in front of the other to get through, then breathe gently and put one foot in front of the other.
Life is yours, it's there; ready for you to grab it with both hands - or to push it away. The only person who will be affected by those choices, is you. No-one else. No matter how much you hate that person who hurt you, no matter how much you hate yourself; it's just you that will feel the pain.
Make a choice, take back your power, and start on the return journey to the essence of who you are, what you want, what you love, and what makes you happy.
You deserve every second.