Feeling lost and confused? How to free yourself

Feeling lost and confused happens to everyone one or more times (usually more)  in their life. It’s an excruciating experience. Being directionless is mentally agonizing. This is because when you have no plan for your future because you’re unclear about your next steps, you’ll be paralyzed when it comes to taking action and making progress. You’ll feel and be totally stuck. So what do you do to gain some mental relief? How do you free yourself from feeling lost and confused? Read on…

Feeling lost and confused

Feeling lost and confused?

Feeling lost and confused? How to free yourself

Like a seasoned surfer that surfs the waves you need to do the same. You’d never see a surfer trying to surf against the wave, against the current? That would be illogical. It would be totally ridiculous.

So the first thing to do when you’re feeling lost and confused is allow yourself to feel that way. Don’t resist it. Just be in the space of being lost and confused. Do your best to stop trying to solve your problem. You will want to because people are inquisitive. Humans like to know WHY. We like to solve things, especially our problems. Though, when you find yourself trying to force yourself out of feeling lost you’ll make it worse.

The first thing to do is to get that you feel lost and confused right now. Know that it’ll will pass soon. Surrender to how you feel. Continue to engage in your regular life. Do your best to relieve your mental agony by pursuing activities you enjoy. Having some fun just for the sake of it is a good way to handle feeling lost and confused.

Consider what you used to do for fun when you were a kid. Paint? Sing? Dance? Play a sport? Pick one activity and go do it. It’ll connect you to you and may drum up some inspiration. It might even be the thing that frees you.

Feeling lost vs. feeling lost and confused and totally in the dark!

There are two types of feeling lost. Sometimes you find yourself feeling lost simply because you haven’t decided what your next actions are. Sometimes it takes simply considering your options and choosing your next action. When you start to take new actions you’ll feel better. You’ll gain traction.

But sometimes, it’s far worse. You feel lost and totally and utterly confused. No matter what you try to do you have no idea where you’re going in life. The more you try and solve the problem, the more you entertain ideas and mentally visualize possible futures, the less clear you feel. The experience is one of being completely in the dark or in a fog in your mind. You question everything. You question your future, your past, the actions your taking now. It feels like a full on existential crisis.

There’s a term for feeling lost and confused that many spiritual leaders use: “the dark night of the soul”. When you’re in a dark night period it’s suggested that it’s because you come out of a major period of personal transformation (many times it comes after a major personal failure or loss). It’s like you’re shedding a piece of who you used to be and a new, more advanced and full of wisdom you is going to emerge.

What this means, is the dark night stage you’re experiencing is a GOOD THING even if it doesn’t feel like it.

What to do about feeling lost and confused

Once again, the best way to get through it is to surrender and wait it out. It’ll pass. The sooner you surrender the faster you’ll speed the process. The faster you’ll get to feeling great again. And when you are feeling great you will be bursting with ideas and inspiration and power!

Surrendering doesn’t sound fun though, does it? Especially when it feels so excruciating when you don’t know what to do. Or if you are depressed. So how do you relieve the mental agony? Here are three tips…

Step 1: Believe in something bigger than yourself

Anytime you feel yourself being pulled down by the negative emotions you’re going through that’s when you have to dig deep and conjure up some major belief. Believe that this stage will pass like all other periods in your life. Emotions are transient. They don’t last forever even it feels like they will.

Believe that when the fog clears you’ll wake up one day with major inspiration. Believe that a more powerful you is emerging. If you’re able to grasp onto these beliefs it will help. If these beliefs don’t work for you think of some empowering ones to have. You might want to simply keep saying to yourself :”this will pass soon”.

Step 2: Be a tad more selfish than usual

Do what you got to do to feel better. That might mean sleeping in one day (or more than just one). It might mean having some alone time away from friends and family. It might mean sitting on the couch watching reality TV and eating some ice cream and crying. Allow yourself to feel the negative emotions. Don’t indulge them but feel them. Let yourself purge. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Let yourself be human.

It’s okay to fall off your “keeping it all together wagon” sometimes. Just don’t get stuck in it. DON’T pity yourself. DON’T be a negative tornado around other people. And communicate with the people you love. Tell them: “I’m feeling a bit directionless and uncertain right now I might need to have more alone time than I usually do so I can work through it”, or “I’m sorting out what’s next for me and it doesn’t feel great. If I’m being too negative please know I’m working through something and it’s not about you. I won’t feel bad if you need some space away from me right now”.

DO take positive actions – like going for a massage or taking a bath – to lesson the emotional sting. Go an get lost in an activity.

Step 3: Ask empowering questions

You’re in control of what you say to yourself and other people. Be aware of what you ask yourself. Most people in a dark night stage find themselves asking questions like:

  • “Why is this happening”
  • Why me?”
  • It’s all their fault”
  • Will this ever end?”
  • “Am I depressed”.

If you ask yourself a disempowering question you will get a disempowering answer. You’ll reinforce your negative swirl.

Instead, ask: What’s next for me?

A better question to ask is: “what’s next for me?”, “Universe (or whatever God you believe in), what would you have me do right now?”. Ask positive questions. And remember: The quality of your questions match the quality of the response you get.

If you’re feeling lost and confused, today take one action forward. Action is the fastest way out of feeling lost. Any action. Action equals new results and it will move you forward when you’re stuck. So, if you cling to any advice in this article let it be this: Take one new action.

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Feeling lost and lonely? Here’s what to do about it…

At one point in your life, you will find yourself feeling lost and lonely. You won’t know what to do and it will feel excruciatingly miserable. It feels terrible because happiness is linked to making progress. You feel great when you’re moving in a forward direction towards what you’d like to achieve in your life. When you’re not, it’s mentally agonizing. Feeling lonely, as well, only makes it worse.

And of course, feeling lost and lonely is usually a matched set. This is because no one wants to talk openly about it. It’s common to share about your triumphs when life is great. But, when life is directionless the inclination is to hide how you feel (and hide from people) until you sort it out.

If you’re suffering in silence and googling for clarity, this article will provide you some immediate relief.

Here’s a step by step method to your way back…

Feeling lost and feeling lonely?

Feeling lost? Feeling lonely? It’s temporary.

Surrender to how you feel

When you feel lost you can be damn sure you’ll do your best to think your way out of it.  You’ll immediately start asking yourself why you feel the way you do . You’ll come up with reasons to validate why. Then, you’ll start trying to figure out what you need to do to feel better and gain some traction in life.

But here’s the kicker about feeling lost: Sometimes you know WHY you feel the way you do. And, you’ll have some ideas of WHAT to do, but you can still feel foggy and unclear. You’ll still find yourself grappling and you will still feel confused and uncertain about what to do.

The first thing to do is accept where you’re at. Accept the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts your having. Surrender to this moment in your life. Stop fighting it. Stop trying to figure things out. Just do your best to BE with the way things are, without the need to fix it.

Relinquish control and get immediate peace

When you force change to occur, you’ll create resistance. If you have thoughts like “I shouldn’t feel this way” or “I need to do something about this” you are trying to force too much. Relinquish control and you’ll get some immediate peace.

The more you try and force yourself to feel better the worse you’ll make the situation. Anytime you try and force situations and emotions to change you’ll create resistance. This will extend your period of feeling lost. You don’t want to do this.

When you’re feeling lost and lonely, accepting where you’re at probably doesn’t inspire you too much.

But the best thing to do is say to yourself: “Where I’m at right now in my life is the perfect place for me to be. Clarity is soon to come.” Do your best to chill out and be in a state of wonder. Wonder what’s next to emerge in your life. Start to be inquisitive. Try on ideas and possible future pathways in your mind like you’re shopping for clothes that fit.

What you resist persists. So surrender and get that this is jus at period you’re in right now. It will pass as all stages and emotions do.

Don’t make rash decisions

You might feel like making some radical changes when you feel lost and alone, such as: Break up with a partner, quit a job, move across the country. Don’t do anything major. Carry on with your regular day-to-day life as best you can. Distract yourself from your negative thoughts. Refocus on new projects and other people. Your sense of feeling lost will fade. Clarity will come. Wait it out.

Decisions need to be made only when you feel good. When you make decisions when you’re in a negative state you’re reacting to life versus taking an active approach to life. Decisions made when you feel bad will never turn out well.

Share authentically

You’re innate ability to share is a gift. Sharing is a bridge out of the darkness of your mind. It builds connections with others. It creates an access from you to the world. Sharing helps inspiration, hope, belief and love to flow to you.

There’s strength in sharing authentically about how you feel with people you trust and love, and sometimes even strangers.  The catch is you won’t feel like sharing about the fact you’re feeling lost and lonely. Do it anyways! (You can still do something even if you don’t feel like it. It’s like getting out of bed on a Monday morning when you feel like sleeping in).

But if you’re brave enough to say to a few people “you know, I’ve been feeling a bit directionless at this point in my life”, you’ll likely get some immediate relief. You’ll likely see you’re not alone in your experience. You’ll see how people are willing to help. You may even get some inspiration. Perhaps a new opportunity will show up. Or, you’ll connect with someone on a deeper level.

Lastly, share authentically but also make sure you’re not sharing over and over with the same person or being super negative. Sharing about your struggle is different than bitching complaining. Don’t be an energy sucker for other people.

Take care of your physical health

Crappy food. No fresh air. No exercise. This will certainly NOT help.

Focus right now on taking care of your body, mind and spirit. Do what you need to do to feel good. Make sure you’re not overloading on sugar, caffeine, or fast food. Get outside. Move your body. Eat well. Nourish yourself.

This includes feeding your brain with positive information and knowledge. Listen to an audiobook that inspires you. Evaluate the content you take in daily. Weed out the crap.

Watch what you say!

Pay close attention to the language you use when you’re with others and what you say to yourself. Shift the jargon you use so it’s lighter and more objective. For instance if you keep saying to yourself and others: “I feel like shit. I don’t know what to do”, a slight change to: “I haven’t been feeling to best. I’m seeking inspiration” will take the sting off of the way you feel and help you’re focus shift. It will help you remain open to new possibilities during an uncomfortable time.

When you speaking negatively you train your brain to carve out and speed up more negative pathways. So take control of your language, make some slight changes. It will help you to start thinking more objectively and to be more open minded.

Feeling lonely? Go be around people

Loneliness is voluntary. When you feel alone, go be around people. Call someone. Go on the Internet and connect with someone. Simply putting yourself in an atmosphere of people — a shopping mall, a farmers market, a beach, a Starbucks — can help pull you out of your funk.

You also might have moments where you want to be alone. Go be in nature and think. Sit quietly. Take a bath and feel the warm water on your body. Do whatever you need to do to feel good.

Have more fun

Reconnect with your inner child. Play. Do something pointless and random that you like to do for no reason at all. Getting lost in fun will help you find yourself.

Try an adult coloring book.
Listen to a genre of music that’s new to you.
Borrow someone’s dog or cat for a weekend.
Eat food you never tried.
Seek out new people and experiences.
Do cartwheels in the park.
Go fishing.

Finally, here is the bottom line on feeling lost and lonely. It’s temporary, and therefore it will not last. You will find yourself and your passion again. You can give up feeling lonely and rejoin the world. Re-read this guide and apply the advice and you’ll get there sooner.

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Feeling lost? Why it’s normal and how to find yourself again

Okay, so you’re at a point in your life where you’re feeling lost. And, you are stuck and don’t know how to find yourself again. Feeling lost sucks because it is emotionally excruciating. But, there is some really good news about finding yourself in Nowheresville. First of all, it’s totally normal. So take a moment now to breathe a sigh of relief.

The even better news is feeling lost is useful. This is because feeling lost usually comes before feeling found. Before becoming a new you. Before learning something profound and moving into a new (and usually much better) stage of your life. It’s part of the evolution of you living your best life.

You can’t avoid feeling lost. It will happen to you at least once and probably many times over the course of your life. It’s inevitable. Though, feeling lost is less painful when you know how to handle it. So read on to learn what a feeling lost crisis is about, and how to free yourself. Read on to learn how to find yourself again.

 

Feeling lost? Here’s why…

When you feel lost in life the first thing you’ll do is ask yourself: Why do I feel lost? People desperately need to know WHY. It’s part of the machinery of being human. We’re inquisitive. And we become especially so when we find ourselves in a negative emotional funk. This is because we are desperate to get out of it. We think if we can figure out WHY then we can easily solve our problem of feeling lost.

Below are some of the varied theories on the experience of feeling lost. The the more concrete neuroscience explanation follows. However, these reasons may help you think a bit more objectively about your current situation so you can gain some quick relief.

Popular theories on feeling lost that may make you feel better

You’re getting closer to becoming your authentic self and having what you really want in life

Many spiritual leaders call periods of feeling lost the “the dark night of the soul”. It happens when you are thwarted in achieving what you want and you don’t know what to do next. You are in a space of shedding the you you were. You’re heading towards a new phase of life. So you’re in a dark place. You’re in an in-between phase. Inevitably it will pass. The “dark night of the soul” theory suggests the only thing to do is wait the period out and it will pass. The negative feelings are like a purging you have to go through. But it’s good as it will have you become a stronger deeper person and the next evolution of you will unfold.

You’re on the verge of a breakthrough!

A more progressive life performance coach approach to feeling lost would say that it’s just “the breakdown before the breakthrough”.  You have to get what doesn’t work before you get what does. Feeling lost is part of the process of feeling found. When you feel lost you’re in a breakdown mode. This will inevitably lead to a breakthrough. So feeling lost is good news because you’re on the brink of clarity!

It’s part of the natural ebb and flow of life

A Buddhist would say feeling lost is totally normal and part of the natural ebb and flow in life. Buddhists talk about impermanence. Life naturally goes through ups and downs. And once again the down comes before the up. You have to feel lost before learning how to find yourself again!

For the 20 somethings and 30 somethings reading this….

Feeling lost can happen at any stage of life however people experience more feeling lost during the 20s and 30s. This is because you’re at a point in life where you’re defining who you are. There’s even a name for it: The quarter life crisis.

The psychology behind feeling lost and why it feels so terrible

If I interviewed a group of people that were all experiencing a sense of “feeling lost” the reasons I’d get back would be varied. The reasons could range from: “I don’t know what to do with my career” to “I can’t figure out what my purpose in life is” or “my partner left me and I can’t find anyone to share my life with”.

Feeling lost is a subjective experience. People use different words to describe it. Depending on your external circumstances and your stage of life your reason will be different than your neighbor down the street.

But beneath the layers of reasons anyone gives there are only two possible core issues at play. Think of your reasons as branches on a tree with a bigger, deeper issue at the root.

Feeling lost – Root of the problem #1: You have a vision you have for your life but you have no damn clue how to achieve it

Quite often feeling lost happens when you’ve tried to get what you want for a long time and been thwarter. You may have even gotten quite creative about finding new ways to have what you want and failed. When life doesn’t go the way you plan (and if it’s been many times) you go into a space of, “Shit. What now?”. You then start to question everything.

If you’re feeling lost right now you may easily be able to tell me what it is, deep down, that you really want. You have a big dream but you have no clue what to do to get it so your next actions to take are muddy. You are paralyzed because you simply have no idea what to do to get to where you want to be.

When you don’t know how to get what you want you then start to question if you even want it! You start to consider new options for your life. You start to consider taking totally new pathways. This can leave you feeling even more confused. Even more in the dark. Even more stuck unable to feel confident about taking any new actions and to move forward.

Feeling lost – Root of the problem #2: You haven’t decided what you want your future to look like

When you look into the future and ask yourself what you want, if your answer is: “I don’t know” then you’re lost because you haven’t decided what you want and therefore are not taking action and not moving forward. This often happens when your circumstances change suddenly or without your desire for them to change. For instance, being fired from a job or breaking up with a long-term partner.

Remember this: The future your heading towards is always dictating how you feel in the now and the actions you will take now.

So, if you haven’t decided where you’re going, you won’t be going anywhere. Once again, you’re paralyzed. It’s like having a treasure map with no X marks the spot on it. If you have nowhere to get to then you have no reason to do anything.

When you’re not clear about what you want to achieve and do next in your life you’ll feel horrendous, because you’re paralyzed around your next actions. You simply don’t know what to do. When o are in this state you can’t possibly find yourself again.

The truth about both versions of feeling lost 

Happiness is linked to progress. When you’re progressing – taking action towards what you want – you will feel good. When you’re stuck in a place of “I don’t know what to do next” you’ll feel bad.

So, when you are in a space in life where you aren’t sure what to do next you’re in limbo. You’re stuck in an in between place of what you were doing and had wanted and you haven’t decided what’s next.

How to put an end to feeling lost and find yourself again

The most basic pathway out of both modes of feeling lost is to DECIDE what to do and then go DO it. That sounds easier than it is. Because often your unclear or afraid of the unknown and it messes with your ability to decide. You’ll likely find yourself to external support systems for guidance. Wisdom from people in your life (or on the web) can help you but no one can decide for you.

In order to decide you’ll need to go internal. You’ll need to consult with yourself and ask yourself some deep questions. You’ll need to consider what you’d like your future to look like and how to get there from where you are. Then, you’ll need to decide on some safe actions you can take now that won’t ruin what you have built.

For the 4 steps that will free you fast, read What am I doing with my life? 4 Steps to clarity

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What am I doing with my life? 4 Steps to clarity

When you find yourself asking the question: “What am I doing with my life?”, it’s a signal you’re not happy with what you’re doing. You’re not happy with the direction your life is headed.

If you were happy and fully aligned with your current path, you wouldn’t question it. What do you do about it? Start by noticing it, and take the hint. What you’re doing with your life is misaligned with what you authentically want.

And, when I say “what you authentically want”, I mean you should understand what you truly want for yourself, in your gut.

Get honest with yourself and start to pursue what you really want for yourself. Everyone knows what they really want deep down inside, but some are afraid to speak it out loud.

For example, someone may grow up being told they should study to become a lawyer. They pursue this career because they have been told that it’s the right thing for them by their parents and family. Even though inside they know would rather become an actor. Wanting to be an actor, but becoming a lawyer instead, is not following your heart. And so when that person becomes a lawyer, chances are it won’t make them happy, because it is not authentically who they really are.

Girl pondering "what am I doing with my life or "what should I do with my life"

Are you asking: “What am I doing with my life?” or “What should I do with my life?”

“What am I doing with my life?” 

When you question “what am I doing with my life?” you can be 100% sure that the answer is: Not what you want to be doing! You’re questioning your current life situation for one of two reasons:

  1. You don’t know how to get what you want so the path forward is unclear. This has you waffle about what to do. Quite often you’ll then question if you even want what you thought you wanted in the first place!
  2. You are in a career or relationship or environment that is authentically not connected to who you are and what you want to be and what to want to contribute to the world. The authentic you cries out.

Why the “What am I doing with my life” problem is a good one to have

Some people ask the question“What am I doing with my life?”

Other ask these variations: “What should I do with my life?”or even make the statement: “I don’t know what to do with my life.”

However you pose the question, if it keeps haunting over and over, it’s a signal that there is a major opportunity to change direction, to redesign your life, seek peace and happiness, and move closer to what you do want.

You have a set of beliefs and values. You have a mission to achieve in life. Whether you are confident about what that is or not. This questioning state you find yourself in is a signal to re-evaluate and make some small or big changes.

The best way to think of what’s going on is to consider that you have an internal elastic band built into you. When you get further away from what you want and value your elastic band stretches. This creates resistance. The “what am I doing with my life?” questioning is a sign resistance is occurring.

When you’re in line with what you deeply want your elastic band will move back into place and you’ll feel whole. You’ll feel at peace.

So, now is your time to take stock of where you are going and to listen to your internal barometer.

What to do to gain clarity to be confident about what to do next

Okay, so you’ve heard the signal, now what? You know you’re in an internal conflict and need to make some external changes. But what? But how? You’ll likely have a lot of these questions. And you’ll want someone else to answer them for you. It’s helpful to seek guidance from a life coach, therapist, friends or family, but here’s the thing: You’re the only that can figure it out!

This is your life and you are the only one who can make the decisions you need to make. So what you really need is clarity. And you can bet, you’ll struggle and look for it externally. But,what is more effective is doing some internal work.

Here is what to do. Take this to heart, get serious about it and you’ll gain clarity with velocity…

Step 1: Empty your head of all the noise

When you start to notice that you have a lot of “what am I doing with my life?” thoughts you will immediately start asking yourself WHY. People are inquisitive by nature. It’s part of being human and you will naturally go to a place of :”Why do I feel this way?”And then you’ll start to ask: “What should I do?”. 

Then, you’ll start entertaining a whole lot of thoughts about why and what. You’ll struggle with what to do next. And, you’ll look externally for answers to get clarity. This is a common trajectory. If you start doing this, you can bet you’ll get nowhere. You’ll find yourself going around in circles. At this point, some people start to make silly decisions, that don’t move them in the right direction.

When there is a lot of mental chatter in your head, the clarity you seek remains elusive. What you need is to get to place of nothing, so you can create something new. New ideas and new inspiration only emerges when you get your mind to a place of nothing. To have it be blank.

Really, take a moment to think about this. When you are feeling deep joy or happiness, what are you thinking about? Your mind is either blank or fixated on one object (like the blue sky outside). Mentally the space of your mind isn’t full, it’s empty. And in that space only then can new things show up.

Or think of it this way…An artist will have more ideas when confronted with a blank canvas versus looking at a painting they’ve been working with for months but haven’t gotten anywhere with. And sometimes just looking at a blank canvas will give them the inspiration of what they need to do with the old canvas. If they keep going back to the old canvas they will draw inspiration from what the filter in front of them without event noticing it.

How to get to nothing

So, when you are in a head space of “What should I do?“, just notice it, be aware of it, and then do whatever you need to do to stop thinking about anything. Do something fun. Or do something physical, like go for a run or a walk. Go be in nature. Talk to other people and get out of your own head. Focus on a work project. Listen to an audiobook. Do whatever you need to do to forget everything you’ve been thinking about. That’s when the ideas will pour in.

This isn’t some woo-woo advice, it’s backed by neuroscience. You’re brain is always running on two modes of activity. When you’re not focused on any task or problem your brain goes into a mode of thinking called your Default Mode Network (DMN). This is where important connections take place and inspiration pours in.

So Step 1 is to do what you need to forget everything your thinking about. This might take trying a number of things. Go get lost in something. Get your mind to a blank canvas, and ideas will start to pop up.

Step 2: Listen and evaluate 

Listen to the ideas that start to pop into your mind. Capture them by writing them down somewhere. Start to play with them. Consider them and evaluate them.

A great way to evaluate ideas you have is to imagine yourself in the near future doing what you think you might want to do. Mentally try on different things. When you visualize (daydream in other words) it activates the same circuits as if you were physically take those actions.. You can use visualization start to see what actions inspires you and excites you and lights you up.

Eventually you will have some clarity. There will be ideas that speak to you. Ideas that you get stuck on. Ideas that make you feel awesome just thinking about them. Those are the ideas to build on.

Step 3: Create a smart strategy

Once you have some ideas of where you might like to steer your life, the changes you need to make and the actions you need to take will show up. They’ll start to become obvious to you.  At this point play with your options. Share your ideas with other people. Crowdsource! Ask them for their thoughts and advice. Test the water some more around what you think you should do before you create a solid plan of action and start a To Do List.

Questions to consider when asking: What should I do with my life:

  • What’s the big picture outcome I have for my life? 
  • Why is this important to me?
  • What can I do now to fulfill on this plan?
  • What current needs do I need to meet? (For instance you might want to completely change careers but you have bills to pay so you need to be able to manage these two things)
  • What are the obvious things I can do right away?

Zoom in from your big picture of what you want to achieve 3 months and 6 months out. Consider the actions you need to take to accomplish what you want.

The “What am I doing with my life” transformation exercise

One of the best ways to do this is:

  1. Simply draw a horizontal line on a piece of paper.
  2. Write down what you want at the end of the line.
  3. At the start of the line, write down where you’re starting from now.
  4. Then, chart out the obvious actions you need to take.

Pick the pathway that inspires you, the one that makes you feel confident and satisfied immediately, because you’ll be moving in the right direction but also fulfilling on what you need to do now to make a shift.

The question: “What should I do with my life?” will start to become answered.

Step 4: Take action

Once you know what to do, take one small action. This will give you relief. You’ll start to move your life in a new direction. You’ll begin to make progress versus staying stuck and feeling lost or hopeless. Remember that action leads to progress and progress is good. Action will also create momentum. You’ll gain traction and keep moving forward.

As you progress remember that the thought “what am I do with my life?” is a signal. It’s a sign you need to stop, evaluate and gain clarity on what you need to do to proceed.

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