I want to talk about something i’ve been seeing with my clients recently, and really it shows up as a common thread. When big changes or transitions come about, when the daily to do list slows down, many women notice that they don’t know who they are. How can you find yourself again?
They notice a feeling of not being whole, or feeling disconnected from their body, or not knowing what they want in life. It becomes difficult to identify because it’s the subtle art of knowing something is missing. Many of us can identify when there is something there we don’t like. There is a pain in the body, or a job that we are going to daily that we have to drag ourselves to. However, when something is missing, it’s almost like an ache or a feeling of looking for something, but not really knowing what that something is.
How do you know if you don’t know who you are if it’s subtle? How can you tell if you’re missing something like I described previously?
There are a few different things that may show up.
- You may not know what brings you joy, or what do you love to do. This can be for two different reasons:
- it can be because you have dedicated your life to your partner, or your career, or raising children, and during the process have given up or given away, or just pushed aside who you are as a person. We all do this in small ways sometimes, and yes, that is part of life. The problem becomes when this is a perpetual pattern when you have forgotten how to listen to what you want and voice that to others. Perhaps you always go to dinner at your partner’s favorite restaurant, or your children don’t like to hike so you gave up hiking. After years of practicing giving up what you love, you may have lost contact with what those things are. You may have forgotten how to listen to your heart.
- Similarly, boundaries (both energetic and emotional) play a role in knowing what brings you joy. As I’ve mentioned previously, we are a society that hasn’t been taught about energy and therefore, don’t have skills in how to manage our energy. If you haven’t learned how to manage your energy and perhaps there’s a hole or a tear, than an individual has very strong energy cords can then infiltrate your energy, attach, and as a result you may have difficulty in feeling your own energy and therefore who you are and what you love. Emotional boundaries are similar. If you don’t have practice in saying “This is what I will allow and this is not what I’ll allow,” you may not have had the space to learn what you love in your life.
- There’s a feeling of emptiness that doesn’t match your situation. You look at your life and you feel like you “should” be happy. Everything that you thought you ever wanted you have and yet, it feels like something is missing. I know a lot of women who struggle with feeling dissatisfied; and sometimes it’s not the whole life, but feeling dissatisfied with one portion of their life- career, family, etc. Often this comes back to following other people’s expectations unknowingly. Our parents state how family is a first priority, so we decide not to go back to school to follow our dreams of being a lawyer or to leave law.
- The third way you might know that something is missing is if you are numbing with food, drugs, alcohol, work (filling our days with busy-ness) or social media. This numbing or buffering is a process to keep you from feeling big emotions and typically keeps you from also really accessing who you really are. If you aren’t able to feel the big deep emotions of sadness, anger, and pain, you are equally not going to be able to feel the big joy, happiness, and gratitude. The big emotions (positive or negative) will be too much to feel.
- Finally, if you are feeling like you don’t know who you are, it can be because you are missing soul essences. In shamanism, it is believed that when you have a difficult or challenging situation in your life at any age that a soul essence may go into hiding because it isn’t safe at the time. This can leave you feeling stuck or empty, or like you don’t know who you are.
To get a sense for this I want you to pause here, and list 10 things that are joyful/nourishing to you that don’t involve food or alcohol, social media, or even Netflix! In other words, things that you love. This will help you identify how to find yourself again.
Notice not only what you love, but also how it feels as you write the list. What do you notice in your body?
Is it difficult to reach 10?
Was it easy?
How do you feel now that you’ve listed those 10 things?
It is a process to discover what you love and how to find yourself again
Here are a few of mine: the sound of rain at night as you fall asleep. A warm fire. A candle. A bath. A good book. The sun on your face. A deep breath and a kind word. Give yourself something from your list daily. Give yourself time to be with yourself, and I specifically recommend practicing mindfulness. The more present moment awareness you can bring to each breath, each day the more you show up for the part of you that is feeling big feelings, who wants to love the life she has, who is exploring what it means to be in THIS LIFE.
In my experience, there are several steps involved. First, you have to slow down enough to begin the process of listening. Listening to your body, mind, emotions, and energy. The practice of mindfulness is a great place to start. It also requires showing up for yourself in ways you may not have done before. When a younger part of you needs to rest, you rest, or play or whatever it takes to take care of this human. It may include adding in more and more joyful activities, or it may involve going back to that list of 10 things and building on it. Begin asking yourself, “what do i love? What do I enjoy? What feels delicious?”
And in the process of listening and practicing- in that space of mindfulness for yourself: that’s where you find yourself again.