“How could I have let this happen to me… again?”
“I feel so disconnected from myself. I barely look in a mirror, don’t remember the last time I put any makeup on or washed my face with anything but water… my self care is really poor… Part of me hasn’t given a shit about that until now. I also haven’t been paying much attention to what or how much I eat. My food choices are based mostly on impulse.”
I’ve heard these comments countless times from so many people that I have worked with in my psychotherapy and coaching practice. It’s always stated with the deepest angst and frustrated helplessness imaginable. Women and men alike from all walks of life, ranging from the mid-twenties to late sixties and up. It’s quite a broad-ranged age group that covers such a challenging dilemma.
How could this be?
One would think that the older we get, the more connected we are able to become to ourselves. No? Isn’t that logical? Wisdom improves with age, like a fine wine. Sound too good to be true?
Perhaps, it’s because life seems to throw all kinds of hurdles in our path over the years and most of us choose different ways to react to these challenges.
I use the word choice a bit loosely here because it implies that one is consciously aware of their decision to act or react in a particular manner, but for many, this is not the case. A difficult circumstance may presents itself, which triggers an “inner switch” from within. Before we know it, we find ourselves drifting into the midst of a thick fog of numbness, lost on an island of self-doubt and at times despair.
Our inner world begins to unravel, despite every attempt to keep the outside intact. We are still going to work, still taking care of others that dwell in our midst. We are feeling like a robot from without, yet drowning in a sea of self-doubt from within. Fear, anger, desperation and even depression, pull us further and further away from ourselves. Thus, the feeling of disconnection ensues and permeates every cell of our being, or so it seems.
Time passes and that numbed out feeling and behavior becomes a habit. We get so used to not looking into a mirror, that when we are forced to take a peek at ourselves in passing, it feels like a thunderous jolt to the entire body.
“Many women have commented that they, “don’t know who that person is staring at me in the mirror,” and that, “I’m so out of touch with myself that I don’t have a clue as to who I am anymore.”
“So, then if it’s not you, who is it?,” I would ask.
“I don’t know… a shadow of my former self,” is what some have reported.
How is it that we become so detached?
Part of the problem usually involves a reactive depression (defined as a mild or moderate feeling of despair, sadness, or discouragement, following a stressful event with decreased desire to function within daily task and activities) with low self-esteem, a lack of personal priorities and no self-discipline regarding one’s own physical health. We use the excuse of being busy as a central theme for not taking care of or paying mindful attention to ourselves. You have no clue of how many ‘legitimate’ excuses I hear every day from both women and men regarding why they are not even near the top of their own priority list.
When I ask them how they expect to continue doing the same behavior and hope for different outcome, they have nothing to say and generally have the “deer in the headlights” look on their face.
If you are sick and tired of feeling lethargic, depressed, with low self-esteem and unable create or embody a positive mindset that would allow you to prioritize your own needs and best interests, there is hope and a solution in sight.
- Find a therapist/life coach that you feel comfortable sharing with and start talking. Let their wisdom guide you to a place of peace and safety within.
- Declutter your living space. If your external environment looks anything like what you been feeling like on the inside, then it’s time to stop, take a deep breath, and begin to remove the clutter from your life. For many of us, when we go through bouts of depression anxiety and self-doubt, our living space reflects our chaos. I’ve gone through bouts of such disarray in my own life which would manifest in my closet and at times in my kitchen. When things go awry in our lives on Monday, let’s say, and we don’t put our clothes back where we found them after deciding what to wear, the domino effect kicks in. It becomes easier to do that again, as opposed to being mindful and respectful of our authentic selves. Before you know it, our self-discipline unravels and chaos ensues. Suddenly, we can’t find a pair of socks or a clean shirt to wear. And the spot we used to reserve for our jeans disappears from our view. The closet (and other rooms) have suddenly become an external manifestation of an unresolved internal battle raging on and on. There is only one way to put a stop to this. Pick a day and time to get started. Remove any distraction other than music and perhaps a book on decluttering to help guide you. Decluttering and organizing your closets, kitchen storage, desk area, and whatever other spaces have become a haven for chaos, will begin a profound healing process within you.
- Get to the gym, ASAP. Physical exercise is known to lift feelings of sadness and despair almost immediately.
- Clean up your diet. Get whatever support you need from a nutritionist or a knowledgeable friend whom you trust to help put you on the path towards making healthier food choices that boost serotonin and satisfy cravings you might have to over-eat or binge on junk foods.
- Decide to be grateful for being alive, breathing, your health status (and if it’s no good right now, decide how to improve it by creating a plan).
- Make a daily list of goals you want/need to accomplish by the end of each day, no matter how big or small.
- No excuses. Wallowing in self-pity and reactive depression will not accomplish anything positive for your emotional well-being. You did make the decision to get out of this funk right? You just told me that you fed up with status quo correct? Well let’s do this!
- Meditation is a healing practice that will allow you to find a quiet place deep within to connect with your authentic yourself. There are countless meditation practices you can research at Google University or you can sit back in a comfy chair, close your eyes, and begin to focus upon your breath. Just be with yourself and your breath for at least ten minutes. You can set a timer if you like and decide afterward if you wish to continue for longer. Notice how you are feeling when you’re finished and record any thoughts that may have occurred in a journal or notepad for later processing.
- Have mercy and compassion for yourself during this time. It takes a lot of focus and determination to turn your life around by changing thought patterns that you have ingrained within yourself. It may not go smoothly, especially in the beginning, because you are so accustomed to acting and reacting in a certain way. It takes time to unravel the tangled web of emotions and residual behaviors that defines your current way of living.
There are more things that I can suggest, but I think this is more than enough to get you started. If you are feeling better after mastering the action steps I’ve just outlined, then leave me a message in the comment section below, or drop me an email and we can have a chat about creating a new plan of action that will lead you to feel empowered and connected to yourself from within.