Have you ever had the distinct feeling of disconnect and uncertainty that just isn't quite like you? Maybe you've noticed an odd feeling of being uncomfortable in your own skin? It's hard to describe, but you just feel different? Maybe you don't even recognize yourself anymore?
To me, ‘feeling like yourself’ is an experience of attunement to one’s emotions, as well as having a sense of familiarity, regularity, and predictability of one’s thoughts and feelings.
Some may notice this as self-confidence, general positivity, certainty, contentment, and a sense of peace or ease.
‘Not feeling like yourself’ is a tricky situation to be in. Usually this feeling is indicative of something important going on in the individual’s life, but this can be challenging to pin-point. Common experiences of this range from major life events or changes in roles (i.e. moving, starting a new job, experiencing a breakup, getting married, having a baby, surviving a trauma, grieving the loss of a loved one, etc.), to feeling disconnected from friends and loved ones or simply neglecting self-care or daily needs (i.e. not getting enough sleep or poor nutrition). While less common experience of ‘not feeling like yourself’ may include mental health concerns (i.e. anxiety, depersonalization, derealization, psychosis) or even having the feeling like you are on the verge of something new.
When clients tell me they don’t feel like themselves, they often express a feeling of distress or disorientation.
The good news, is that this feeling may not be signaling anything ‘bad,’ per se, but rather an important shift or change happening.
In fact, ‘not feeling like yourself’ my be an opportunity for further growth and development.
To reconnect to yourself, first try these Grounding Exercises:
- Physical Grounding:
Sit comfortably in a chair, feel your sit bones in the chair, feel the weight of your body in the chair, feel yourself being support by the chair. Consider your feet, notice how your feet feel in your shoes, try wiggling your toes, then firmly dig your heels into the ground, feeling the sensations happening in your feet and legs. Place your hands on your legs, gently squeezing and massaging the tops of your thighs, mentally repeating to yourself ‘these are my legs.” Orient yourself to the room you are sitting in. Slowly turn your head side to side, scan the room, notice what or who you can see, mentally labeling all the things/people around you.
- Mental Grounding:
1) Play a mental game with yourself by labeling all the food you can think of in alphabetical order (i.e. A = apple, B = burrito, C = casserole, D = donut).
2) Think of a movie title (e.g. Titanic), then take the last letter in that movie title and think of a new movie title (e.g. Cars), and continue.
After you have done some grounding, which should help to decrease anxiety or disorientation, then start to get curious. Consider journaling about your experience to get a better understanding of what may be causing the disconnect. Look more at triggers, or experience that came just prior to ‘not feeling like yourself,’ and also look at coping skills, or what you do that helps you to feel more like your yourself.
Next, check in with your loved ones, the people that you have close relationships with, who may be able to assist you with further connection, sense of safety and familiarity, and support as needed. Feeling 'off' may be very isolating, and you may even have thoughts of shame about your experience. Make sure to connect with others and share. Remember, you are never alone.
Lastly, beware of the feeling of urgency to try and reduce the discomfort caused by 'not feeling like yourself', which may lead to impulsive behaviors or rash decisions making that may be counter-productive. Therefore, use coping skills (see above) to work on distress tolerance to sit with the discomfort and decrease the struggle around ‘not feeling like yourself.’
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