Personal Development

How to Cope When Feeling Lost

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"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." ~Henry David Thoreau

Being lost in our life's journeys is no different from being lost in real life. In some of our road trips, we start out fine until we lose our way and find ourselves unable to go further. When that happens we may panic and feel confused, scared and alone. In our distress and restlessness we become even more unable to find our way back.


It is easy to feel lost in our present society that's heavy on demanding activities, tight schedules and unnecessary expectations. Feeling lost may often come in the following ways:

  • When we're just passively moving along. When we don't plan and take control of our situations, we often end up allowing our situations to control our lives instead. Just imagine a coconut nut that's being tossed around by the ocean having no control over its destiny. This feeling of just coasting along could create a feeling of being lost.
  • When give too much of ourselves in a relationship. When we allow our partners to be the sole center of our universe and they leave, it feels as though the world has caved in on us. Commitment is necessary in any relationship but we shouldn't give too much of our time, strength and emotions to the extent nothing is left for us.
  • When we find no purpose in what we do. It is natural for us humans to look for the overall purpose in the things we do. It is not enough that we be told to do our jobs and not be able to see how what we do contributes to the overall goal.
  • When we have no real support. Having no person to confide our problems with develops feelings of loneliness. Many relationships today, especially in online social networks, provide no real emotional support because they are too shallow and one-dimensional.
  • When there are too many things in our minds. Feeling lost at work can happen when we have to process more information than we can handle. Sometimes, our worries from outside work can interrupt our concentration too.
  • When we allow media to influence our self-perception. Many TV commercials and newspaper ads create insecurities in us or play on existing ones in order to sell products. Unfortunately, we buy into these fantasies which eventually become our standards for ourselves.
  • When we're too busy for passion. The heavy demands and repetitive nature of many jobs today also trigger the feeling of being lost in some people. Unless you really love what you do, you'll burn out eventually and become unmotivated to go to work. If that's the case with you today, you'll need to reestablish your sense of passion by engaging in an activity that you really enjoy.

Things to Do When Feeling Lost

If you're feeling lost today, be it in your relationships, career or any other area in your life, don't ever give up because getting back on track is completely possible.

Ask for directions. One of the first things we do when we get lost while driving is we stop to ask for directions. It's the same in our personal predicaments"”we ask for directions or help from persons we can count on for sound advice. They could be someone who has been in our situation before, someone who has our best interests or someone who can tell us the truth even if it hurts.

Follow your instincts. We are naturally wired to fight for our survival. We are born with an inner radar that helps us determine the right direction whenever we are experiencing tough situations. When you're confused, pause and listen to your instincts.

Look for signposts. When no one is there to ask directions from, we keep an eye out for helpful signposts. In dealing with our personal situations, the signposts are individuals whom we do not actively seek advice from. Their help may come in the form of blogs, books and even tips from a career or relationship expert on the radio.

Stop looking in places you've already looked in before. When a solution you're trying out isn't working, drop it and move to the next one. It's not worth lingering on if it's already been proven that it can't work for you.

Take risks. There are times when our instincts and the people around us are not able to provide the guidance that we need for one reason or another. When that happens, it is time to think outside the box and choose a new path. Take on a new hobby, meet new people or just try things that you've never done people.

Finally, know that you are never alone. It is normal to feel lost; most people will actually experience it more than once in the course of their lives. What matters is that you learn from your circumstances.

If you have thoughts, suggestions or reactions about these ideas, please don't forget to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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About the author

Melina Jordan

Melina Jordan is a writer and blog manager at OK to Dieâ„¢, a self-improvement blog where Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy educates Americans on the importance of preparation for death and dying. Dr. Murphy is a board-certified emergency physician, blogger, public speaker and author of the famous end-of-life decision-making book It's OK to Dieâ„¢.
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