But everything doesn’t have to be gone... gone…. gone…. (whoaa….. Ohhhh…… ohhhh….... oooohhhhhh).
Lostness comes in a lot of different forms, and it can feel really raw and unmanageable. Even though it happens to all of us at one time or another, it can sometimes be really lonely too.
You might want to retreat from the world until you can work out what to do next (and there’s a good reason for this, as you’ll see by reading on). You will probably need more than the usual amount of support from others, and you may just feel like giving up.
But take heart. You can do several things to start forging a path through the wilderness and start making decisions that are right for you.
- Give yourself thinking space. If you feel like retreating into a cave, it’s probably because you need headspace, which is hard to get these days. Your mind and emotions need space to understand what is going on and absorb it so they can help you work out what to do next.
If you can, schedule a day (or three!) in a nice location, preferably in nature, to get some time to yourself and then do as little as possible. Turn off your phone, minimise distractions, and let your mind do more of the uncomfortable work of adjusting to your current situation. Only then will you see a way forward.
If you can’t get away for a retreat, regular meditation can help massively. When The Happy World Company team discussed their most valuable tools to draw upon when feeling lost, meditation was top of the list. If you’ve never tried it, experiment with a few free apps until you find one you like. Spending even 3-5 minutes a day will bring enormous benefits.
And don’t worry if your thoughts are racing, muddled, conflicted or fiery -- it’s all part of the process… just notice these thoughts and don’t try to change them. Don’t worry… your mind is doing what it needs to in order to get to the bottom of things.
2. Get support. Turning to friends, parents, and trusted advisors can be the difference between slogging through the swamps without much hope or managing to come through a hard patch thriving. They key is to go to people who will listen, let you express yourself, and ask questions rather than offer quick or neat solutions. You need people who will help you find your own way through, not remarks like ‘I told you so.’
The good news is that you can also hire a coach, as coaching is all about giving this kind of support. It’s a bit like having a counsellor and best friend rolled into one, whose main role is to ask you questions and not judge you. At The Happy World Company we work with you to change the fear-based thoughts into life-serving ones. More details on how coaching can benefit you at the end of this article.
3. Look for what is obvious. If you’re facing a big decision, it helps to nail down some definites. Thinking about buying a house? Be sure you’ve done the homework to know if you can afford it. This kind of broad brush thinking can bring things into focus (especially when the details are overwhelming). Thinking about splitting up with a partner? Ask yourself what you can’t live without in a partner, and what you’re willing to put up with. Hesitating about taking that new job with a long commute? Consider what is more important -- career progression or being near home. It helps to know what you aren’t happy to tolerate.
Happy World founder Nerea Carryon says the best decisions are the ones that are easy to make, that feel automatic and ‘right’ -- following your gut instinct. Nerea says, “if you follow your gut instinct (as long as it doesn’t take you over a cliff of course!) then this helps you progress and learn -- even a bad decision when you look back on it was something that taught you a lot, so that next time you can make a better decision to take you forward.”
Listening to your intuition can be difficult for some people, especially if you feel you don’t know yourself very well. Knowing your Core Values is a powerful tool to help you make decisions that will ground you in your way of life. We do a lot of work on values, during our Life Life your Way training. Once you know these, decisions become so much easier.
4. Change your perspective. Try looking at it through someone else’s eyes. What would your grandmother say? What would a child say? Go for a walk and find a beautiful scene to contemplate… what do you sense now about the importance of this decision?
So many people have one place or posture to be when they make an important decision, but this can lock them into circular thinking. Our bodies can help us know what feels right, so don’t get stuck in one body position when facing a problem.
Our motivational coach Laura actually suggests her clients to change their body and orientation to the problem to get a different view on things. They can for example, lie on the floor and imagines gazing up at the problem in a clear sky. Or stand on a chair and look down on it as if it was a small toy or plaything. She invites the client to be beside the problem so that their focus is not on the problem itself or the consequences of the decision -- what does their peripheral vision tell them?
Ever wonder why you get your best ideas in the shows? Shifting your body and perspective really helps; Gran was right… go for a walk and clear your head (at the very least!)
5. Use your resources to create what you really want. We often get trapped into binary thinking. ‘If I don’t take that job, my career prospects will be ruined, but I can’t stand the idea of commuting such long distances,’ you might say. If things feel so black and white, it’s no wonder we struggle to be happy, as we were born to live in full colour! First, think about your ideal scenario… get clear on that first, and then get creative to see how close you can come to that ideal.
Someone recently rang me to ask about advice on how to sell their business. This lady seemed really stuck. ‘I’ve tried everything, and I’m not sure what else I can do.’ Through the conversation, it turned out that she had two promising leads for purchase of her business, people she wanted to sell to and who seemed very interested in buying it from her, but the discussion had been stalled when an obstacle cropped up in both instances. Obstacles will always crop up! With a bit of creative thinking, we were able to see two possible scenarios where the obstacles could be removed or otherwise managed in order to help create a good ending for both parties. What may seem like a dead end or a hard and fast rule may not be … question it, push for a different response, and see what gives way.
6. Take the plunge. Actually, sometimes the only way to get past a difficult decision is to push forward and make the best one you can. You might just have to go over the cliff after all.
Do this with your eyes open, knowing the consequences as best you are able -- do the homework by getting facts and figures, listen to your trusted advisors, and check-in with your gut instinct. After all this, jump in and enjoy the ride. At the very least you will learn things and take a journey that would have stalled if you hadn’t made the decision. Now you’re going somewhere, getting along your path and finding out where it takes you.
We have several opportunities for you to get to know yourself better which will equip you to make better decisions now that will have positive effects for your future. If you’d like to connect with someone who can support you you see your way out of your wilderness, try a free online coaching session.
On 25th June our regular Live Life Your Way event is a full day to spend exploring your choices, practicing being bold, and working toward embracing life and living it fully. So come along and lose some of your lostness. Our special focus this time is on relationships -- discover which ones will work well for you and which will not!
Heidi is a writer and editor who uses storytelling and journalistic tools to create great messages that make the world a better place.
Contact her on writerwithboots [at] gmail.com