This Is How You Lose Yourself

There are a lot of articles, self-help books, Instagram quotes and the like about how to travel the world, meditate, and eat, pray, love to find your true self. There are twice as many people willing to tell or sell you their testimony on how, once lost, they discovered themselves at the end of a grueling search. We, the people, love a good hide and seek tale about one’s identity. As of late; however, I’ve been all about being proactive instead of reactive–focusing more on causes rather than effects, and from that focus came the question: How do we lose ourselves?

I began to think critically about the times (yep, plural) that I’ve felt disconnected from my spirit and found that these 5 things are how you lose yourself.

1. BEING IN RELATIONSHIPS THAT DRAIN YOU.

And no, I don’t just mean those of the romantic sort. I am talking about those friends who only call to dump their bad days on you, but who disappear when you’re in need. I mean that family member who has always mistreated you and who you forgive because “blood is thicker than water.” Hell, I mean that girl who does your hair and makes you wait three hours after your scheduled appointment time because she has personal issues that keep her from being professional. And yes, I also mean that man or woman who keeps you up all night in tears, makes you question your self-worth and can’t see anything in you worth respecting — all in the name of “love.” These are the relationships that deteriorate the most crucial connection you can have, the one with yourself.

2. FAILING TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE.

Often times when we feel the most broken or down, it’s because we are focusing on all of the things we do not have instead of the things we’ve already been blessed with. It is so easy to get caught up in the “what if-s” and the “when is it going to happen-s” that our present situation can feel anything but satisfying. We pick and prod over everything we are lacking in such great detail while barely noticing the multitude of wonder we have to offer.

3. MISTAKING DEPRESSION FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN DEPRESSION.

Depression is tricky. It has the uncanny ability to distort your reality and make you believe that your job/friends/lover/dreams/self are all worthless. And it will try its best to convince you that it will be cured by losing weight, moving to a different city, having less or more lovers, praying a lot or not at all, secluding yourself or keeping so many people around you never have a moment to yourself — oh, depression is a real shape shifter. And the truth of the matter is depression can only be dealt with after it is called by its name and treated as such. If you’re suffering from depression, try your best to face it head on — you won’t always win but you won’t always lose either.

4. PLACING YOUR SELF-WORTH IN YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS (OR FAILURES!).

Here’s the thing: sometimes life is absolutely amazing and other times, it is literally terrible. Ebbs and flows are a natural part of everyone’s life–even those who seem to have it all. But what I’ve found is that if I can detach my feelings about myself from my feelings about wherever I am in my life, I can hold on to the same amount of peace and joy in the bad times as I have in the good times. This takes practice, a lot of it, but it is so worth it. When the way I viewed me was wrapped up in whether an article I wrote went viral or whether I booked the role I wanted, I was on a constant roller coaster of loving myself and then hating myself, and that spilled over into my relationships–both professional and personal. I was teaching people to love me with the same conditions, and people whose feelings about me depended on what I could do for them surrounded me.

5. WALLOWING IN SELF-PITY.

This is a hard one to accept for many because it means taking a long, hard, critical look at yourself in the name of growth–and it can be uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is we as able-minded adults, those of us not suffering from mental illnesses that keep us from being able to think clearly, must be responsible for ourselves. It doesn’t matter where we come from or what we’ve been through, there comes a time when those things cannot be called upon as excuses for our unhappiness.

We tell the universe to keep dumping bad things in our path because we like them. We convince ourselves that we are powerless; therefore, handing over the baton of our lives to whomever and whatever we come in contact with.

The bottom line is that you cannot cover yourself in gasoline and be mad when you are set on fire. The gasoline can be the refusal to separate yourself from toxic relationships, ingratitude, or even a career that zaps your goodness, but one thing is for sure–you won’t dodge that fire for long. That fire can be consuming. Sure, there are those who are able to self-help book their way out of it before too much precious time is wasted, but there are others who spend their whole life trying to find their way back to themselves. That doesn’t have to be your story!

Iman MilnerComment