Have you ever said this phrase, “I just don’t feel like myself anymore”?
Maybe you aren’t quite sure why or what the gradual change had been, but you remember a simpler time when you were more carefree and adventurous. Or, perhaps it’s not that you noticed a shift of any kind, but rather that you’ve always felt like there was more to you that you could never access. Deep down, you know there is a deeper purpose, more joy, or greater talent that haunts you but you don’t know how to tap into it.
What do you do with that? Unfortunately, most people tend to bury it. They stuff that longing for more every day as they trudge through their career unfulfilled, attend all the activities they are “supposed” to attend half-heartedly, and complain about taxes or politics or their own busyness as an excuse for feeling defeated.
In my own life, I buried my dream of being a writer under all kinds of excuses and addictions. I’d say that I used to write because I was unhappy then and needed the emotional outlet that writing provided (implying I was presently happy and no longer needed to write). Then when I felt that soul longing for some way to express myself in a unique way, I’d find ways to drown out the calling with shopping, food, distraction with TV or some good ole fashioned self-reproach.
For twelve years I didn’t feel like myself and I claimed to be searching for her every time I tried something new to fill the ever growing hole in my life, but it was only adding to the clutter in my life. I created a life that allowed me to hide the very thing I was looking for.
After all, that feels like the safest thing to do; create a life that works, rather than one that lasts. We are responsible for so much in our daily lives that we crave practical solutions to ease the present strain of life. Dreams, gifts, and passions that arise from our hearts don’t seem to fit in the practical, streamlined plan for our family, finances, or—ironically—our faith.
I’m starting to believe that safe isn’t what we are meant for in life, because in all the years I spent running from my purpose I never felt safe. In fact, when we say we don’t feel like ourselves anymore, that is the most unsafe feeling we can have. How do you feel safe in your own skin if you can’t even recognize who you are?
The safest place you will find is living from the center of your soul, with all of its personality and unique purpose woven into every idea, decision, and experience.
Instead of burying that haunting feeling of the unreachable more, there might be a better way to get back to who you know you are. With some patience and persistence you can feel like yourself again—and what’s more, you can reach down and discover a whole new you in the process that you didn’t know you could be.
Learn to Feel Like Yourself Again
Instead of burying that haunting feeling of the unreachable more, there might be a better way to get back to your true identity.
Here are five simple steps to help reclaim your sense of self:
1. Find areas in your life to simplify.
One of the biggest reasons we can’t connect with our souls and live out the life we deeply desire is because we are buried underneath unnecessary complications. When we feel disconnected and unable to reach our best self, simplifying our schedule, clutter, expectations, and distractions is often the most courageous action we can take.
Are your expectations for yourself and others realistic and healthy? Sometimes, we need to take a step back and evaluate the source of our expectations. Are they rooted in comparison or perfectionism?
Is the financial strain of non-budgeted consumption casting a shadow over your dreams and hope for more out of life?
Maybe, it’s the accumulation of stuff that results from unrestrained spending and your time is consumed with organizing and maintaining it all.
Simplifying is a practice of evaluating our external and internal lives.
2. Take the time to slow down.
Busyness is no badge of honor we should hope to achieve. It steals our energy and joy for a life of meaning and greater impact. In fact, when we throw ourselves into the culture of busy we exchange our inherent purpose for anxious activity.
Without white space in our lives we can’t hear the whispers of our souls, revealing the mysteries of what we were made for.
Take inventory of your activities, what can be postponed or cancelled altogether? Are you agreeing to participate from a sense of obligation and people-pleasing or are you genuinely invested in the activity?
Perhaps a better question is this: What is keeping you from the life you want?
3. Perform a self-evaluation.
With less stuff to deal with and more time to spend on the meaningful, it’s important to evaluate what is in your heart. What is the more you are seeking? Maybe these questions can help get you started on your search:
If you had all the courage, confidence, time and resources to do anything in the world, what would you do?
What did you dream about doing as a child? Do you notice similar longings now as an adult?
What are you good at? What talents have others noticed in your life?
4. Strategize and come up with a plan.
It’s amazing how much we miss when we focus on the life happening around us and ignore what is happening within us. Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and where the world’s deep hunger meet.” I’ve seen a similar version of this sentiment that says your purpose is where your talents and passions collide.
Create a strategy of sorts for reviving your purpose. If you don’t feel like yourself, then you know at one point in time you experienced being you. The best way to recover your best self is to find where your deep gladness (your passion/talent) meets a need (for the world/partner/kids/co-worker).
5. Take baby steps by starting small.
After I simplified and removed busyness and comparison from my life I finally accepted that I was called to be a writer. The next logical question I had was, “what do I do now?”
I started small with the questions from Step 3 and put the pieces of my life puzzle together. For example, I recalled that I wrote a poem in high school that my mom shared with my youth pastor, who shared it with my youth group. I remember feeling a sense of purpose and longing to create more to share with others. When I thought of what others have said about my talents or gifts, I remembered several occasions being told I was gifted with encouragement.
Both memories brought deep emotions to the surface that reminded me of who I really am; a writer and an encourager. I started writing in my journal again, a habit I lost many years ago. A small habit which eventually gave me courage to create my blog, Simple & Soul—a website where I write to encourage and inspire simple living for the soul.
Need more help finding yourself through simplicity?
Soul Deep Simplicity is an e-course for you who know your identity has been compromised by the distractions of stuff, perfectionism, comparison, and busyness. Through a series of lessons and faith-based reflections, this course explores your soul for your true confidence and identity that’s buried underneath the ‘stuff’ of life. Uncover the real you with Soul Deep Simplicity.