“I am losing myself.” Ever felt that?
You are hungry to reconnect with the more confident person you once were. You yearn to reclaim your sense of self.
This episode is not what you might expect. No, you didn’t lose yourself: You pushed pause on discovering yourself.
Find out where things got stuck in this episode.
What You’ll Discover in this Episode:
- Why “losing yourself” is a flawed metaphor
- Learn a simple 4-part process to reclaiming yourself
- Identify where you are in this process
- Understand where to start
- And more
It is time to stop the feeling of paralysis from losing yourself and start engaging in the process of reclaiming you.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour, this is Sundae Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-oriented coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations and I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
She came to me and she said “Sundae I have completely lost myself, I’ve stopped doing my hobby. I’m an artist and I just dropped it. I stopped speaking up in my marriage, I mean I let my husband get away with stuff that I never used to accept and I stopped saying yes to leadership opportunities at work when I know I’m so capable.”
She goes on to say to me “Sundae, I don’t know how this happened, I mean okay I’ve been living abroad for a lot of years and our kids are getting bigger, but somewhere along the way I gave up, I gave up on me.”
“I’ve lost myself.”
This story in many many versions presents itself to me from individuals who are hungry to reclaim their old sense of self. They feel like they’ve lost something, they don’t know who they are anymore and each and every time, even though the circumstances may change, they say “I am losing myself.” And lovingly I’m going to say you’re wrong, you didn’t lose yourself, you stopped discovering yourself, you got stalled and I’m going to show you how in this episode.
Make sure you stick around to the end because we are at the start of a four-part series on what I call expat quicksand, places where you get stuck.
The first is about connection, and that’s what this week is all about. The other areas of quicksand as you’ll find out in episode 127 is about getting unstuck, purpose and direction.
So this week we’re looking at what is most important for change, and that is connection, in fact reconnection with yourself.
So to get us started we’re going to look at four signposts for you to reclaim yourself, to rediscover yourself. And for you to do this I want you to imagine a cycle, think the reduce, reuse, recycle symbol. That, except there are four signposts I am going to give you when it comes to reclaiming yourself, rediscovering who you are. And this is the process for you to stop feeling like you lost yourself.
Okay, so trust me, have a listen to what these four points are and you will see yourself in one of them and by the time you’re done you’ll understand which direction you’re going in this cycle and where you’re stuck.
So let’s get started with the four signpost cycle of reclaiming yourself.
The first one I call, learning what you want. Learning what you want is really the beginning of everything and what that means is, knowing in your whole body what you want. So the thing is what I hear most people do is you have to know what you want right? Well, what do you want and then go get it, how are you gonna get it? But there’s a step before that, and that’s what I call this learning what you want. It is knowing how to know, knowing how to know. Because here’s the thing, by the time I work with one of my clients, they don’t even know what they want anymore.
So one of my clients, for example, she said “Sundae, I’ve spent so many years of my life cooking dinner for my family so that my kids would eat it and my partner would eat it, I forgot what I like to eat.
What do you do on the weekend? You organize your weekend based on the family and what they want, actually what will probably tell your kids most, and you forgot what you want. So knowing what you want sounds like the start, but it’s not, the start is knowing how to know and that’s what I call learning what you want.
So here’s the thing, it’s that learning what you want by getting out of your head, getting out of the shoulds and the coulds, like in your head is: “What should I make for dinner? What could I make for dinner? What should we do this weekend? What could we do this weekend?” And shutting that down for a moment and allowing space to feel in your body what you want.
Okay, and I say this because I spent a lot of years of my life from the shoulds and coulds. I kind of ignored my body and did what I could do or should do etc etc, and actually shutting down the knowing in my body and forcing through, by working too much or caffeinating, or ignoring that it was tired or whatever it was. That I completely missed access to all this wisdom and that my journey with this started in, what was it, 2013 I think, when I started to practice things which helped me know how to know, and so it felt really whoo whoo for me in the beginning, like this whole mind body connection. I was like, yeah, but let’s let’s focus on doing it but you know accomplishing.
So I have to be honest, for those of you who are listening right now and you’re like “Knowing how to know, what do you mean? Or listening with your body, it sounds whoo whoo.” I’ve been there, I judged it. The only reason I actually started these practices is because I was a student, I was taking a course and it was part of my training and I was just being a good student. I was just like humoring the teacher and being the good student to try to get the A in the class type of thing. And along the way I realized I’d been missing out, completely unlearning what I want. And this is the interesting thing, learning what you want requires you to shut down the shoulds and the coulds, it requires you to use as a litmus test, “Is this what I really want or is this what my family wants? Is this what I want or is that what society wants? is this what my body says yes to or is it what feels like is expected of me?”
Honestly, this is the most important place to start and it is the place that I realized people need the most help in. So learning what you want is another way of knowing how to know and that’s the start. So if you feel like you’ve lost yourself, and you don’t know how to know or you don’t know how to learn what you want you’re disconnected from the true inner deep belly desires of what brings you joy, what feels nourishing, what feels rewarding, this is absolutely the place to start.
Learning what you want is knowing how to know and that starts with your body.
So if this is you, I’ve got a tip for you. If you know you’re not doing this the simplest strategy I can offer you, and there’s so many, but one I can offer you, is to stop and just take a deep breath, get back in your body, get quiet, take a deep breath until you can feel your heartbeat and you’ve shut all that other stuff down for a moment and you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m here, this is my body.”
And you can practice a lot of things with learning what you want knowing how to know, but all that’s important for me right now is that you get, are you doing this well already or not, if you’re like “Sundae, I’m totally in tune with my body, I know what I want and I can discern between shoulds and coulds.” Then you’re rocking it on this phase. If this sounds like a foreign language to you, probably where you want to start.
So learning what you want, that’s where you know step one in this cycle the signpost of reclaiming yourself starts with that.
The next one is knowing what you want. Knowing what you want is after you’ve done the work to get connected with your body and understand deep in your belly what feels right for you and allowing yourself to name that. Then it’s knowing what you want. And here’s the thing, if you don’t know what you want, you’re not doing the work to learn that, and you don’t know what you want anymore because you’re not doing the work. But once you’re at knowing what you want, you can celebrate because you’re feeling in your body and you land on it. So if you’re like, “I totally know what I want.” You’ve got it, the thing that you want, you can name it. Boom, you’re in knowing what you want, you’re there, you’ve done the work from learning what you want.
And now you’ve moved in this cycle to knowing what you want when you feel it in your body. You’ve landed on it, you can name it, maybe it is what you want to do in your free time, maybe it is the direction you want to take that’s new professionally, maybe it is the thing you want to create more of in your life around your relationships, that is when you know what you want, and you have moved from learning what you want to do, that discovery sort of messy teasing out process and boom you’ve named it.
Okay, that’s an important part of reclaiming yourself, you can celebrate that you know what you want.
So here’s the thing, watch out for this, maybe you know what you want, but there’s a part of you that feels guilty for wanting it. So, you know in your body what you want and you feel shame for wanting it or you kind of wouldn’t mind having permission to want it. So if that’s you, you’re stuck in this discovery process of yourself in the knowing what you want. Because you’ve done the work to understand your body and now you can name it, but without that permission to want it you’re not going to take the next step and the next part of the cycle is expressing what you want.
You express what you want to yourself or to others.
So one of my clients really wanted to start her own business, and she knew it, she’d had that idea for years, but she wasn’t saying it. It felt scary and the step to move forward in this process is expressing what you want.
One; to yourself is where you do give yourself permission to want it, you say it to yourself like “It’s important to me to start my own business, it’s important to me to have my own thing.” Whatever that thing is, and you can do that without guilt without shame.
I know a lot of people that I work with have financial security, their partner might have the lead assignment and their finances are taken care of, they’ve got healthy kids and the kids are doing well and things are fine. They don’t have a lot of material needs because those are met and they have a pretty happy relationship and they’re not happy, something is missing inside. So they aren’t at this phase where they’re expressing what they want because they feel shame like “I shouldn’t want more because I have more than most of the planet.” When you think about “I have enough food, I have shelter and health, I have access to healthcare.” Like privilege extreme, right? And how dare you want more when you already have so much.
And the thing is there’s something from a soul level that’s hungry, something that wants to get created, a business, a passion project, a non-profit endeavor, something artistic. And you’re afraid to express it to yourself, so the first one is expressing it to yourself, giving yourself permission to want that and then to express it to others.
And why don’t you do that?
So this woman who says “I want to have my own business.” When she was afraid to share it with her partner, because she was afraid of the conflict. “If I want to start my own business, one we have to invest in it, two I won’t always be available at the drop of a hat while you do your thing.” You have a pattern of acquiescing to others wishes without expressing your own like “Hey Mom, I want to do that.” and “Honey I want to do that.” and then it’s like, “Oh, there’s no space for me to have a want, so let’s have everybody else’s wishes get met and not mine.”
Right, you’re stuck and people-pleasing and you’re avoiding conflict. If that’s where you’re at you’re not fully living in this part of reclaiming yourself, you’re not expressing what you want to yourself or to others. And the other thing is you might have given up on yourself, you’re not expressing what you want to yourself and others because what you want feels like it’s not going to happen anyway. Right, like maybe you know exactly how you want to spend Mother’s Day, but you’re afraid to articulate it because you think “Oh it’s not going to happen.” You know what kind of vacation you would like to go on but you don’t say it because you feel like you don’t deserve it. So you’ve actually given up on yourself you’ve given up on what feels nourishing for you, you’re not expressing what you want to yourself or to others so you sweep it under the rug.
And the last thing that I see happening with people who are struggling with really living in this phase of reclaiming themselves, expressing what you want to others or to yourself, is that you’re afraid of success.
So I think it was two weeks ago, I was on a call with a client, she goes “Sundae coaching with you, it’s kind of masochistic because when I tell you what I want you make me go get it.”
And she’s right.
It’s like “Well, I’ve expressed it, it is what I want and now I gotta go do it.” That feels scary, right? It is so much safer to have a dream, than to work to achieve the dream.
Listen to that.
We know that, it is so much safer and easier to have a dream and not take action because pursuing a dream is freaking hard work. You will meet your limits, you will confront yourself, you will fail, you will get knocked down and you’ll get up again and you’ll succeed and you’ll learn and you’ll grow right? So there’s this scary part, I know this is so counter to what every single self-help person says, but I’m just telling it like it is seriously, like when you express what you want to yourself and others, it requires accountability and it feels scary because now you might make it, you might be good enough, you might get more than you think you deserve and that feels counter-intuitively scary. So it’s like facing the potential of “What if I succeed?” It does feel safer to have a dream then to achieve a dream, to do the work for the dream.
So if this resonates with you you’re in that space of working out how to express what you want to yourself and others.
And then the next step, the fourth signpost here of rediscovering yourself, of stopping this process of losing yourself and reclaiming, is taking action to get what you want. So you’ve done the work to feel in your body, to learn what you want, you know what you want and then you’ve named it and now you’ve expressed what you want to yourself and to others. Now it’s action time, go time. Now, you have to do the work to get what you want and that is different than just talking about it.
I’ve had things I wanted and I talked about it for years until I finally realized I was full of bullshit and I didn’t take any action on it. I’m like, “Okay Sundae step up.” If you’ve listened to my podcast about the Djembe, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m gonna play the Djembe, I want to play the Djembe.” I didn’t play the Djembe for a whole year and I heard myself spew this crap again, and I was like “Sundae, I’m so sick of myself talking about it when you get back to Burkina you’re going to get that teacher to teach you Djembe.”
So are you the one who’s saying what you want over and over and over and over to yourself and others, but you’re not taking action? if that’s you, the next step is to actually take action.
So that’s the fourth part is taking action to get what you want.
And the thing is we’re human, you know, places you get stuck is that you doubt whether you can really do it. It feels scary or you get stuck in overwhelm because there’s so many pieces of this puzzle you don’t take action and the simple answer is all you do is the right next step.
If you doubt whether you can do it, you just do the next thing and watch what works and what doesn’t. We know this cognitively, this is not rocket science and it’s exactly where we get stuck because knowing isn’t the same as doing and taking action is all about the doing even if we’re scared, even if we have doubt, even if it feels overwhelming, even if we don’t know if it’ll work out, that’s taking action to get what you want. And that is such a critical piece in stopping this feeling of paralysis of losing yourself and engaging in the process of discovering yourself.
And the thing is, remember this is a cycle. So I really take issue with people saying I found myself, I lost it or I found it. No, I’m sorry these are not car keys. You don’t just lose her find yourself, this is a process.
So here’s the thing, remember the cycle that we mentioned, you know, the recycling sort of model, but now we’ve got learning, knowing, expressing and taking action. This is the thing it’s going clockwise or counterclockwise, your are in the process of losing yourself or you’re in the process of discovering yourself depending on which direction you’re going.
So what I want you to do is go back and think of these four areas, which one resonated with you most? Which one? was it the knowing how to know, the learning what you want in your body? Is it naming it, knowing what you want and having a name for it? Is it expressing what you want to yourself and others? Or is it the action part? Okay, whatever you’re at, think about it, are you slipping backwards where you used to know what you want and now you don’t anymore? Were you for example an action taker and now you’re just talking about stuff? Then you’re going counterclockwise in this process, that means you’re in the process of losing yourself and it might be happening super fast or it might be super slow, to where you don’t even recognize it’s happening. Or maybe you are in the process of rediscovery, maybe you were going counterclockwise and now you’re like bringing it to a halt and working really hard to move it clockwise. Maybe you’re stuck, all you’re doing is naming what you want, but you’re never telling anybody about it, you’re never naming it for yourself or others, then maybe your stalled in the process.
As I said, I don’t think we either lose or find ourselves, I think we’re always in constant discovery of who we are, because who we are is always changing, we’re aging, our family is growing, we’re losing professional qualifications, we’re gaining them or getting wisdom or getting knocked over by tragedy.
All of these things are always changing us.
So it’s not a “I’ve found myself.” or “I’ve lost myself.” We are constantly in discovery of ourselves and this is the process as I see it based on ten years of working with my clients and just being a human.
So I want you to embrace this idea of discovery of yourself now, no matter where you’re at. Look at where are you in that discovery process and have an honest view. “Am I going counterclockwise or am I going clockwise?” “Am I going backwards or am I going forwards?” There’s no judgment, no judgment either way, it’s just recognition of “What’s happening in my life? Is it moving in the direction that feels right for me? Am I okay where I’m at now?” And if the answer is yes, that’s perfect. Are you hungry to nudge the cycle one step? That’s all I want you to ask yourself. This is an ongoing process, you can decide how fast you move and when you pause
So it’s not that I found myself or I lost myself, It is about becoming, it’s about rediscovering who you are now based on your circumstances. Because the thing is, there might be times in your life that you have a firm grasp of who you are and you have your family circumstances etc, and you’ve accepted your life and where you’re at, but you forgot that things have moved on. Like when you have babies, you’re like, “Okay and date nights are limited, time for myself limited.” But obviously when your kids five and you had three date nights in five years, like “Whoa, wait a minute, maybe who I was then and what felt right then is actually not matching the circumstances anymore.” I just had a client who has been married for over 20 years and had tons of kids together and she was not happy. She’s like, “I don’t get it, I created this, I said yes to my marriage, I said yes to these kids, I’ve said yes to life abroad.” And now what she wants more, and she felt like “I should be happy because I created this.” And she that was who she was becoming and now she’s ready to go one more step and learn “Who am I now in this family, as a woman, as a mother, as a professional, and am I taking the steps to continually discover myself or am I stuck?”
Maybe circumstances have changed in your family, maybe your parents health is declining or maybe your kids are getting more independent, all reasons for you when your circumstances have changed to relook at these for signposts and ask yourself “Where am I? Am I going in the direction that feels right? Have I paused and do I feel good about what I’m doing to show up for the next step?”
Allright, so take a good look at the cycle where you are, remember learning is knowing how to know deep in your bones.
Knowing is naming it.
Three is expressing it to others and yourself.
And four is taking action.
Wherever you get stuck, wherever you’re at, there’s no judgment. But think about what is the right next step for you to move along in that cycle? If you want to get moving in again, if you want to do the work in the areas I understand that you might go “Yeah, I want to do this, but I don’t know how.” That is what I’m here for, that’s my job to help you know what you want, own what you want, share what you want and take action and just do the right next step.
It is time to discover, rediscover yourself, reclaim your process and how you re-establish connection with yourself.
And I want to be by your side every step of the way.
For example, stay tuned for next week because I’ve got more on connection.
And don’t miss the free training coming up in June when we talk about how to stay connected with your partner even in difficult situations, difficult transitions.
This is all part of the four-part free workshop series, and if you want to be part of it you can sign up by going to the show notes and follow the link.
I want to be here for you in your process of rediscovery because let’s ditch this idea of “I’ve lost myself.” And let’s embrace this idea of “I’m ready to rediscover.”
Stick with me and I’m going to help you on that process. If any of you are listening right now and you’re like “Sundae, oh my God, I so need help with this.” Don’t hesitate to send me a personal email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will connect with you.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour.
This is Sundae Bean and thank you for listening.
I’ll leave you with the thoughts from KL Toth author of A Test of Faith, “One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.”