Have You Lost a Part of Yourself?

“To thine own self be true.” - Shakespeare

It’s easy to lose a part of yourself as you travel the highways and byways of life.

Have you ever felt that way? Many people do.

Maybe you’ve let go of a treasured passion like my friend Bill Gerlach.  As adult responsibilities edged into his life, he drifted away from the joy of making music.  Now he’s experiencing the door-opening power of reconnecting with what he loved.

Perhaps a part of you felt unwelcomed or suppressed as a child.  Maybe you learned to hide a special quality – inquisitiveness, friendliness, spontaneity, confidence or another trait – when it wasn’t honored by those around you.

Or you suddenly wake up one day and realize you don’t know who you are.  You feel empty. You don’t even like yourself.  You feel like running away.  You want your real self back, but who is that, anyway?

Then again, whole chunks of yourself – even your entire soul – can be overwhelmed or frightened away by severe shock, trauma, or loss.

Why am I painting all these scenarios?   Because I know what it’s like.  I’ve lost a part of myself too.

Whatever You Lost, You Can Get It Back

One day I came upon the photo pictured above.  That’s me as a child.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Questions started to pop into my mind. “What happened to that joy and exuberance?  What happened to that little girl? Who am I really?”

Trauma has altered my life dramatically.  Not one trauma, but several.  But I’m a survivor.  I managed.  I kept going, never realizing I had lost a part of myself along the way.

But then that photo got me wondering, “Who am I really?”  It started a bountiful process of exploration and deep healing that is still underway.

I may have lost a part of myself, but I’m calling her back.  I’m reclaiming all the lost joy, exuberance, confidence, power, and dignity.  Any and all parts that were lost.

Whatever you lost, you can get it back too.

4 Essential Steps to Rediscovering Yourself

It’s impossible to change history.  But we can rediscover ourselves.  We can reclaim our seemingly lost qualities and talents.  And even our very essence, our soul.  It is never too late.

Here are four essential steps to help you rediscover yourself.

1. Recognize the Loss

Are you living life on automatic?  That’s the essence of being lost.  Busyness conveniently covers the pain. But one day, a trickle of grace filters through.  A tiny light illuminates a slice of darkness.

When that happens, don’t hesitate for a moment!  Capture the grace, dwell in the light, and dare to ask:  “Have I lost a part of myself?”  The answer may instantaneously appear. Or, like me, the question may dance for awhile in the deepest recesses of your brain until clarity beautifully dawns.

2.  Identify the Missing Parts

What are you missing? Have you lost yourself altogether?  Or are you missing pieces and parts?  Try using some of the methods listed in part 4 – like writing, dialog, or art – to unearth the truth.

Questions for reflection:

  • Who am I? Is this who I want to be?
  • What am I missing?
  • Which parts am I missing?
  • What am I longing for?
  • What were my dreams as a child, a teen, a young adult?
  • What were my passions as a child, a teen, a young adult?
  • How do I want my life to look?  Today?  In 5 years? When I die?
  • What are my values?
  • What do I cherish most highly?
  • What brings me happiness, satisfactions, a sense of accomplishment?

3. Explore How You Got Off Track

There are so many ways you can lose yourself. From the voice of your own inner tyrant to the people and circumstances that touch you constantly throughout the day.  Any one of us can easily feel swept away by the countless demands, expectations, and overriding commitments that come to rule one’s life in a seemingly inescapable way.

Minute-by-minute, day-by-day, your true self may simply slip away.

Take some time to explore how you lost your way.  Here are some of the most common factors at play:

  • an event
  • a relationship
  • an unfulfilling job
  • family members
  • children
  • marriage
  • friends
  • strong emotions like worry, anger, fear, desire, obsession, depression
  • change and life transitions
  • a move to a new place
  • an accident
  • surgery
  • over-focusing on others
  • your blog
  • a major project
  • childhood experiences
  • trauma
  • combat
  • loss
  • putting on a happy face
  • living a lie
  • getting stuck in role

Recognizing what trips you up,  helps you to understand your vulnerabilities, where you can grow, and the changes you need to make in order to live congruently.

The purpose of the exercise is not to blame other people or external circumstances. You will never be whole or happy as long as you hang on to a hurt from the past.  Even if you can’t forgive in the present moment, forgiveness always begins with the wish to forgive. Make a wish to forgive and set the force in motion.  Then continue on your journey back to your true self.

4.  Reclaim Your Lost Self

Like Bill, reconnecting to a lost passion might be simple and fun.

But often, the process of rediscovering yourself will take time.  The lost parts of yourself need to be remembered, reclaimed, embraced, and nourished fully in order to sprout and grow.  Practices that utilize the right side of the brain may especially enhance your  progress.

Following are some approaches you might try.  However, please bear in mind that in serious trauma, any method can trigger flashbacks and distress.  When trauma is significant, it is advisable to work with a counselor and go at a gradual pace.

Image for Overcoming Trauma
Fearless

Rediscovering Yourself After Shock and Trauma

Trauma almost always involves a loss of self.  In recent years, scientific research has shed light on the somatic nature and neurophysiology of traumatic stress, once considered an intractable condition.

New and effective treatment approaches for healing trauma have emerged.  These include the use of techniques like breath and heart rate regulation, meditation, imagery, biofeedback, energy release work, hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Information Processing Techniques  (EMDR, EFT, TFT, TAT), cognitive behavioral therapy, and others.

You are not stuck with the impact of trauma. Trauma can be healed.

Ancient medical traditions also offer effective methods that can help release trauma.

According to Chinese Medicine, when a severe shock occurs the soul sometimes leaps outside the body.  You may be skeptical about this idea, but bear in mind that ancient medical traditions have been healing people for thousands of years. Whereas modern medicine has a track record of about a hundred.

This is a true story of a young child who fell into a hornets nest.  Stung more than 35 times, he was severely traumatized and subsequently developed grand mal seizures.  He was diagnosed by Western medical doctors with epilepsy.  His seizures occurred in clusters every few weeks.

With no relief in site, eventually he was treated by a highly experienced Doctor of Chinese Medicine using a ritual called a “soul retrieval.”  Now almost 20 years later, the seizures have never once returned.

In his book, Healing with Form, Energy, and LightTenzin Wangyal Rinpoche explains,

“…in many shamanic traditions, there is the notion of “soul loss.”  Although this is an imbalance of the elements, it is greater than the imbalances suffered in normal life.  It is a question of degree.  Soul loss is a profound loss of elemental qualities and a condition of extreme imbalance that usually, although not always, is caused by traumatic external situations and beings.”

The “elements” are earth, water, fire, air, and space in this tradition.  They are considered to be the “substance of all things and processes.”  He goes on to say,

“The same kind of inner damage can happen when someone loses a child, is raped, witnesses brutality, is subjected to brutality, goes through a war, is in a car accident, or loses a house – the catastrophes and calamities that fall upon us humans.  The shock to the soul overwhelms it with fear, loss or some other powerful emotions and the result is the loss of positive qualities, the loss of life-force and vitality, the loss of joy and empathy.  It may also result in physical frailty and the loss of sensory clarity.”

In time honored traditions, it takes profound training to perform a ritual like this. Like Western medical doctors, alternative healers vary in their abilities and effectiveness. If you decide to explore this type of healing modality, be selective.  Carefully check training and credentials.  Don’t hesitate to speak to former clients for a reference.  Almost anyone can beat a drum.  That doesn’t mean they can heal you.

The Paradox of No Self

From the highest spiritual perspective, there is no permanent self.

“Self” is just a verbal designation.  A construct we create to identify a conglomeration of thoughts, emotions, sensory experiences, and body parts.  While this is ultimately the truth, a positive and healthy sense of this “illusory” self is the best basis for personal and spiritual evolution.  As paradoxical as it may seem, often you need to find your “self” in order to ultimately realize the truth of no self.

Never give up!  Whatever part of yourself has been lost, you can call it back.

Have you ever lost a part of yourself?  How did you rediscover yourself?

Resources for Trauma Survivors

If you liked this article, please share the link.  Thanks so much for your support!  Sandra

One Powerful Word 2011, Yours & Mine

The idea of choosing One Powerful Word as your guidepost for the new year seems to have a highly positive magnetic charge.  There’s so much excitement and enthusiasm for this simple alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.

If you haven’t chosen your word yet, that’s OK.   There’s no rush.  Let it germinate and blossom in its own time.  You’ll find inspiration and simple tips for choosing and working with your perfect word in my original blog post – One Powerful Word:  A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions – and in this article too.

By the way, we cheat!  One word, two, or three – it’s all good.  It’s all OK.

Your Powerful Words

It was a supreme pleasure to hear your enthusiasm and read your chosen words in your comments.  Here are the words that you have either embraced or been seriously tempted by:

  • Balancing Serenity and Full Throttle Ahead
  • Bold
  • Compassion
  • Continuous and Never Ending Improvement (CANI)
  • Courage
  • Creativity – Express and Embrace
  • Decide
  • Fearless
  • Flow
  • Growth
  • Healing
  • Just Breathe!
  • Gentle
  • Kindness and Positivity
  • Love
  • Mindfulness
  • Minimalist
  • Nying je – the Supreme Emotion
  • Omipotent
  • Peace
  • Peace and Abundance
  • Present
  • Reconciliation
  • Rise and Shine, Sunshine
  • Simplify and Grow
  • Success
  • Team-Time
  • Trailblaze
  • Passion
  • Void
  • Yield

You will find more inspiration for finding and working with your special word in these insightful blog posts.

  • Lance at The Jungle of Life chose shine.
  • Galen at 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place chose yield.
  • Tess at The Bold Life chose love.

Or if you need more words, try these simple approaches:

If you’ve written a blog post on your One Powerful Word 2011 please leave the link in the comments.

My One Powerful Word 2011:  Healing

Almost all of us need healing in one way or another, don’t we?

It might be a small hurt from sharp words, a funny kink in an important relationship, a deep childhood wound, a severe trauma, or sudden serious illness that’s caused us to lose our ground.

But sometimes healing isn’t easy to come by.

Then the planets shift.  A karma completes.  Grace penetrates.  The time is suddenly and gorgeously ripe for healing.

I didn’t choose healing.  Healing chose me.

It all began gradually last summer, a month or two before my birthday.  In astrology, this is the time of the solar return when themes and issues in your life naturally shift.  It’s not the exact time of your birth time. It may be the day before or the day after and it changes each year.  As astrologer Mary Fortier Shea explains.

“A solar return chart is a chart erected for the time that the transiting Sun returns to the position of the natal Sun.”

“The significance of the solar return runs birthday to birthday, with a three month overlap at the beginning and end of each year.  The symbolism of the new solar return can be felt as much as three months before the birthday by very intuitive people.  Usually, at this time, one becomes aware of new directions, opportunities, and problems.  …On the other hand, the significance of the old solar return may not feel passé until three months after your birthday.”

This may be one reason that many people aren’t successful with New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s not a natural time to make changes for everyone.

Since my own birthday in September, I’ve noticed an increase in spontaneous occurrences related to healing.  For example, I happened upon a medical intuitive who graciously tuned in and told me the name of a specific remedy I need.  I didn’t know this person and didn’t ask for a reading.  It was a brief, chance encounter.  I may never see her again.

So HEALING is my One Powerful Word 2011

Profound healing.  Deep healing. Joyful healing.  Playful healing.

Healing encompasses faith, contentment, comfort and ease – the other contenders for my 2011 extraordinary word.  A single word doesn’t have to be limiting.  Like a jewel with many facets it can and most likely will  reflect different aspects of your transformative process.

What am I healing?

  • A frazzled nervous system
  • An overactive immune system
  • The remnants of trauma

My Healing Tool Kit

Here’s my healing toolkit:

  • meditation and mindfulness
  • loving kindness
  • faith and trust
  • breathing exercises
  • relaxation
  • rest
  • playfulness
  • visualization
  • nature
  • the elements
  • gardening
  • chi gong
  • expressive writing – blogging and journaling
  • eco-friendly conscious living
  • drumming
  • intuition and receptivity
  • NAET and other unconventional approaches to healing
  • acupuncture
  • meaningful relationships

Meditation itself is profoundly healing.  It’s the core of my approach to wellness and a primary focus in my life.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

What does healing mean to me?  This definition captures the essence of healing:

“Healing means to ‘to make whole.’  It, in fact derives from the same root as ‘health’ and ‘whole.’

from The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook – A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth by Glen R. Shiraldi

Recovery means returning to your former state of health.  That may not always be possible.

But healing – feeling whole again – always is. Here’s a toast to feeling whole again.  For me and for you!

Have you chosen One Powerful Word for 2011?  Please tell us in the comments and let us know how the process has been for you.

If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra