If you have ever felt like a square peg being shoved into a round hole, then you know what feeling out of place is. You experience an overall lack of alignment—the feeling that you are actively wasting time, energy, and resources can be almost paralyzing.
I know this because I’ve experienced it first-hand—the anxiety, self-doubt, and worry that takes over, the way your mind can be suddenly flooded with negative thoughts and the curiosities about what could have been if you had made other choices.
Recognizing that you feel out of place can be scary, but like everything in life, it doesn’t have to be permanent.
Here are 5 steps you can take when you are feeling out of place.
1. Acknowledge That Your Feelings Are Trying to Communicate Something IMPORTANT to You
As a Spiritual Advisor, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the different ways that humans receive messages. Some people can pick up on the subtle and quiet messages whispered to them by the universe, while others have to be virtually bopped over the head with the information.
In the latter circumstance, the Universe will make sure the message is amplified until it cannot be ignored. You may feel conflicted about what your feeling.
You may have a stable job that you are good at but still feel off track and unsatisfied. You feel lost but it’s difficult for you to acknowledge that you are unhappy at your work and perhaps, you need to explore other options to feel fulfilled.
You are in a relationship that is unhealthy or toxic. But you are more afraid of being alone and having to put yourself out there, so admitting that you need to separate from that person is too difficult.
These realizations may be difficult and can take time. Release any embarrassment or shame you have around your confusion or fear. Humans are creatures of comfort.
It is not abnormal to experience some internal resistance when you realize that what your spirit wants and what is comfortable at the moment are out of alignment.
Recognizing that you feel off track is an important first step to getting back on track. It requires bravery and honesty to acknowledge that you may feel lost or confused. Give yourself credit for taking this incredibly important first step.
2. Take Time to Meditate on When You Started to Feel Out of Place or Off Track
Everything has a root, a cause, a starting point. If you are going to be able to move forward, it’s important to know where you are moving forward from.
Journaling is an incredibly helpful tool when used strategically. I’m not referring to the common and cathartic freewriting you usually associate with journaling, but instead, “prompt journaling.”
Prompt Journaling allows you to direct your attention very efficiently as you explore some questions.
Here are some prompts to get you started:
- I feel safe when…
- The last time I felt confident was…
- I want to feel…
- I deserve…
- I am worthy of…
- I noticed a change in myself when…
- The activities that make me feel good are…
- I feel joyful when…
- I feel full of life when…
- I enjoy…
- Write a letter to yourself a year from now.
- Write a letter to yourself 2 years ago.
Studies have shown that journaling can help manage anxiety and reduce stress because it gives you a healthy way to express yourself when faced with overwhelming emotions.
The act of physically writing helps you to get clarity by giving you space to prioritize your fears or concerns and providing an opportunity for positive self-talk as well as a judgment-free zone to recognize negative thoughts and behaviors.
3. Check in With Your Support System
Support systems are essential in helping you identify how, when, and why you got off track in the first place. Sometimes, it can be helpful to have an objective and external source to help you process some of the things you are discovering and realizing about yourself. It can be a lot.
Consider talking to your trusted friends and close family or people who you feel safe talking to and know will be objective yet honest with you.
The goal is to enlist the help of someone who can help you acknowledge the things that you may be avoiding. In some cases, it is best to do this with a trusted professional, such as a therapist.
In other cases, what you need is someone to help you organize your thoughts and create an action plan. In that case, you might enlist the help of a reputable coach or experienced mentor.
Having a support system that will hold you accountable and create space for you to go through the process is critical to you getting back on track. This will greatly reduce the negativity of feeling out of place.
4. Be Grateful
Gratitude is a balm for the soul. It can be the thing that gives us respite from the troubles of the mind and worries of the heart.
When we practice gratitude, the alchemy that happens in the brain is incredible. Studies show that spending time focusing on the things that one is grateful for can lead to increased optimism, feeling better about one’s life, organic desire to exercise, and reduced doctor’s visits.
Let me be clear. Gratitude is not about ignoring what is bothering you or sweeping things under the rug. Instead, gratitude asks you to become innately aware of the world around you and your current experience so that you can identify anything—no matter how small—that you feel grateful for.
It can be as simple as a sunny day, a delicious tangerine, water, or waking up. The thing you express gratitude for doesn’t need to be magnanimous. It can be simple, small, and unique to your experience. The goal is for you to reorient your thinking so that you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
5. Visualize Where You Want to Be
Once you have taken time to acknowledge how you feel, get curious about when it started, check in with your support system, and be grateful, the only thing left to do is to start to visualize where you want to be.
There is no point in doing all this work if you don’t know where you want to go from here. Get bold, dream big. Think (or journal) about where you want to be in a 1 month, 6 months, a year.
Draw how you want your life to look. Create a vision board. There are a lot of different ways you can give your vision life.
The reason we want to externalize these ideas is to give us something to easily refer back to when we get overwhelmed. At the moment, it is easy to forget what we are doing and why we are doing it. When you have access to an external representation of your goal. it is easier to have it anchor you when things get rough.
When you have a clear vision, it is easier to create a plan of action. Ultimately, that plan of action will help you take the action necessary to help you get back on track.
There is no shortcut to getting back on track when you feel out of place in life. You have to take a hard look at yourself and get really curious about what lead to these feelings.
You have to want to shift your focus and truly desire to reconnect with yourself. There must be a willingness to do the work. You have to believe that YOU DESERVE peace, happiness, satisfaction, joy—otherwise, visioning the life you want will be impossible.
Feeling off track is not the end of the world. In fact, it is more of a right-of-passage. Remember that it is not permanent, and the process can be sped up if you are proactive. You can do this!