Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


You Are Meant to Lose Yourself

That's how you find yourself.

Source: Unsplash

Many around me may be thinking, “Yeah, easy for you to say. You don’t have a crappy job that makes you not want to get up in the morning. You’re not in a toxic relationship that encourages you to take the long way home. You don’t have to worry about feeding your kids. You take pictures of your butt and play with your phone for a living."

Yes, but not really. I did get up at 5 a.m. and have been writing my little yellow ass off all day save for a quick workout, lunch, and a meeting. But let’s back up a bit. The truth is, I’ve lost my way for most of my life. I lost my way when the screenwriting thing didn’t work out. I lost my way when my marriage went south. I lost my way when I got thrown into non-profit when what I really wanted was a private practice. I lost my way after all my expired relationships. I lost my way after multiple failed businesses.

I’m going to flip the script and explain this like it’s a workshop, so you can do this little exercise yourself. I think it can be helpful in connecting dots and seeing power in your story. So let’s turn your screen into a whiteboard for a sec.

Okay, these are the macro ways I lost my way in my life. After reading this post, write down the big events that caused you to lose your way.

  • Failed screenwriter.
  • Failed marriage.
  • Failed private practice.
  • Failed businesses.
  • Failed relationships.

In looking back, these were pivotal turning points in my story. Let me explain why.

Failed screenwriter. This is what caused me to change careers and become a therapist. Sure, one could argue that if I was a successful screenwriter, I may be just as happy if not happier today. Possibly. But I highly doubt I would have the sense of purpose I currently do.

Also, that business is feast or famine. So if I was successful, which would have meant selling screenplays and pitches for the price of houses, I don’t think I could have handled it. Knowing myself, I would have been what I would many years later encourage men to not be in a book—a double douche. I would have had a huge ego and expensive toys. I would have been a total boy and empty inside. Pretty sure of it. I also would not have handled the downfall of that success, because the entertainment business is fleeting.

Failed marriage. This is what threw me into a rebirth. I was a total man-child before my divorce. I would have never crossed that great divide from boy to man. And I would have never started my blog, which would later become my career, mission, and purpose. This domino needed to fall to start my Hero’s Journey, to push me into the unknown, to slay my dragons, to find myself, my voice, and my message.

Failed private practice. It wasn’t that I failed at it. It was that it never came because life threw me into non-profit. Actually, it did come but a little later and in a way I did not expect—an online private practice. The non-profit allowed me to learn about the power of a safe space, which would be the foundation for my first book. It also gave me a front row seat in seeing that we live in a fatherless nation which would be the fire behind my next book. Meanwhile, the online practice forced me to work with clients in unconventional ways which would be the model of my life coaching course, a sister company I would start with partners many years later.

Failed businesses. I’ve tried so many things. And the ones where I was just chasing money all failed. Period. We don’t have to go through them, but through all these experiences, I learned about business, partnerships, how to work with others—collaboration, sticking up for myself, everything I needed for when I started building something that really mattered. That wasn’t about money but rather passion and purpose.

Under all the events that made you lost, write down what you learned from that event and/or how it positioned you. Or repositioned you. No matter how small or big. Everything ripples.

Then pull back and ask yourself if you’re able to see how losing your way is how you actually found yourself. If you feel like you haven’t found yourself yet, that’s okay. If you’re unable to connect dots or make sense of your story, that’s okay. When I was in the trenches, I couldn’t see what I see now. And if I read this article, I probably would give it the finger. I get it.

But here’s the thing. It’s in our not knowing and feeling lost that our crazy thoughts and anxiety are born. This feeling of being lost, whether it’s your career, business, relationship, marriage, or your day, is what sets you into a tailspin, a panic state that lowers your frequency.

We drown in our not knowing. But it’s also in the unknown or “lost” that our courage is tested. For many, born. Know this as you step into your deep end. As you feel the floor disappear. And life forces you to start swimming. Because that’s courage. Not sitting in shallow water with your old self because it feels good.

You practice courage by leaning into the unknown and being okay with it. Instead of focusing on your swim, focus on everything you know how to do and who you’re learning to be. Because your life is not a swimming pool. It’s an ocean, and the island is getting to a place where your story starts to make sense. That’s the island. Not the things. And when you’re there, you’ll trust your path and be curious about the unfolding like you’re watching it with popcorn.

Self-discovery requires getting lost. That’s how we learn about ourselves, who we are, what we are meant to give, who we’re supposed to meet, what we’re supposed to learn from them, and where we’re supposed to go. That’s how we become. If life went exactly as we planned or wanted, we wouldn’t change because we wouldn’t need to. And that isn’t life. That would just be accomplishing goals without internal change. And without internal change, there is no fulfillment or meaning. Sugar, no substance. It’s skin without love.

Life is lived in the mess. The underbelly. The building. The falling. The breaking. The grit. The standing up. The dusting off. The shine is not life. That’s the reflection of hard work and determination. Life is the journey there. And it’s not a straight line. That is one of the greatest misconceptions about life. It’s actually squirrelly with many many loops. And that’s what makes life a journey instead of a destination.

If you feel lost, know that this is the process and you’re on your journey. To explore. To learn. To evolve. Without this process, you (a stone) will never become a diamond.

So lean into your broken heart. Your transition. Your rebirth. Your new beginning. Your resistance. Let go of what you need to let go. Forgive who you need to forgive. Face your dragon. Squash your judgment. Toss your blueprints. Hold on to your dreams. And keep moving forward. Even if you’re crawling. Because if you’re moving, you’re alive and if you’re alive you’re on your journey.


Losing your way is how you will find yourself.​

- Angry


If you want to be a life coach, check out JRNI COACHING.

More from John Kim LMFT
More from Psychology Today