The Feeling that you’re lost

‘The feeling of desolation is the suffering of the soul that had lost its way, or has never found it’

richard Collison

You are at home alone. Perhaps on the web. There is no-one to talk to, you don’t go out. But you dream of a day when you will be free of fear, doubt, and anxiety.

When you are not dreaming of glory something else enters your mind, it is disturbing, and it may go something like this.

You feel something, what it is you can’t easily explain, but it’s there. A tugging, yearning for something more.

It is troubling. The feeling it’s getting worse too, something is wrong. You sometimes feel panicky, desperate. Fear overtakes you at times. But it passes, just as quickly as it arises.

Yet that feeling of yearning still remains, in the corner of your consciousness. You drown that feeling, with distraction and vice. What does it mean? You can’t seem escape it. What do I do!?

Something is not right in your life. What is wrong? You know it, feel it, but you don’t understand. Now you are confused.

Why do I feel like this? What do I do? Where do I find the answers?

Who do I turn to? Loneliness grips you. You feel empty, hollow.

You realise the life you own is not the life you want. You were not meant for this. This is not how it is supposed to be. Desperation and fear return.

No! I need more than this! Help!

The problem is a mixture of many things, but is ultimately a prison. Partly fashioned by ourselves, and partly the society around us.

Living dead

‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them’

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

To be lost means to be sleepwalking through life, only dimly aware, if at all, of what is wrong. Almost like a zombie. These are the feeling and thoughts of someone who is unhappy in life. I know, I have felt them too.

We feel something is wrong but we just don’t know what it is. Like a splinter in your mind. What you do for a living, the people you hang around with don’t seem to interest you anymore.

This is a feeling I am familiar with over the years. The problems that have haunted me are those of loneliness and feeling lost. I did not know what was wrong or what to do about it.

This lack of purpose and meaning, not knowing what is important. This is how to live a life of mediocrity. I feel it is so common today that it is a plague on humanity.

It perhaps explains why so many of us look towards the self help, personal growth/development industry. We have realised that the promises of wealth and happiness that we were sold turned out to be falsehoods.

From my own experiences a mediocre life is one without direction. Life has a way of intruding on your mind. We fall back into consumption and distraction with merciful ease.

There is no dedication to building something. Taking the time to practice skills so that you can become better.

Most of us live barely aware that something is missing, because we choose the quick and easy path through life.

It is a life based on ignorance and fear.


If we ever pluck up the courage to tell others of our trouble hearts some might say that following your dreams is a childish, selfish attitude.  Attempting to make your life better is seen a preposterous. ‘You should be happy with what you have’, they say.

Society itself seems to do its best to stop us from realising our dreams.

As we grow up we loose something, the childlike imagination is put aside. Responsibility takes over.

We seem to be either adults with the weight of responsibility, that has driven out the dreams we once had. Or we are still children walking around in adult bodies.

The problem is, we are not told about these issues when we are young. The unspoken agreement is that I get educated, get a job and work for a living. Art, creativity, meaning and purpose are not emphasised as a young adult.

Despair, loneliness, and emptiness lie at our core. The cost to us can be enormous.

The focus is on yourself

Why do I feel like this? The suffering can lead us to focus on ourselves and what we are not getting.

So we can become bitter, cynical towards others and the world at large. Other people seem to live more interesting lives.

We mistrust those who seem happier or more successful, then envy rears it ugly head.

Suspicion sets in, and once you see the world through such eyes it’s difficult to ask for help, or accept it when offered.

Worse still because we are not thriving we tend to blame something or someone else for our situation. Government, immigrants, parents, criminals, bankers, you name it.

It is always someone else’s fault. We don’t know or don’t want to know that it is up to us.

The blame game can go on for some time and it keeps us in our prison. We don’t take responsibility for our lives or our choices.

I am ashamed to say I am guilty of this, and it has keep me mediocre for a long time.

It causes us to feel powerless

Another problem is that we don’t feel as though anything we do will make a difference to ourselves or to the world. We believe that what ever we do will either fail or have very little impact.

Doubt sets in, about your ability to create change.

This is called Learned Helplessness. Where we no longer try to change our situation because we feel no longer in control of it

This feeling of helplessness is the worst we can feel. This is the real enemy. It makes us feel trapped, caged by our own flaws.

The barriers to change are there but you are too afraid to challenge them. With fear comes anxiety, worrying that you will never amount to much or worry that in order to change you will have to confront those fears.

Self harm

The blame can turn inwards, a sort of self harm. Except that unlike taking a knife to your flesh, you use words to carve pain into your soul. Because you deserve it, you feel.

Punishing yourself for weakness and failures.

You ask. What is wrong with me?

We feel unloved and unlovable, disgusted with ourselves,

We believe that in some way our lives are cursed or damned. The worst will happen to us and that we are destined for failure and loss, so we should not even try to succeed.


We can live many years waiting to be picked for greatness.

Hoping for someone smarter, and braver to fix the problems that keep us mediocre. Or, in the vain hope that somehow what we want will cross our path by chance.

It is a very reactive way of doing things and I my experience does not work.

A nobody, going nowhere.

Even if we have the desire to change we can still find it difficult.

We are without purpose or direction, often bored, but paradoxically restless. We are stumped about what to do about it, but we feel the urge to do it quickly. So we rush, blindly, just rush, doing something, anything, just so we can say to ourselves that we have occupied the time we have.

The mediocre life is…

Repetitive and dull, because that is the safe, and easy path.

Conforming, just accepting what authority tells you, remembering your place.

Indulgent in diversion and escapes, because these help you forget your own pain.

Little creativity, because you are told not what our kind does.

This is the life of the lost, the mediocre.

To be lost then is to be a failure. It’s a problem of hopelessness, of discouragement and despair.


‘It is only those who know neither an inner call nor an outer doctrine whose plight truly is desperate’

Joseph Campbell, Hero of a Thousand Faces.

This is what I feel like to be lost. But there is some hope, because awareness is the basis for change and growth.

To put it differently. Those individuals who’s souls are not crying out for meaning or purpose. Those who have no exterior framework for understanding themselves, or how to find out.

These people are the ones who are truly lost.

Those feelings of doubt, fear, confusion, despair and so on can be your salvation. It is a spark that can be fanned into a roaring flame of purpose.

That fire inside of your heart, the one that no longer wants to suffer like this, the one that seeks answers. It can be harnessed into living that remarkable life you want.

You just have to know how to use it.

This is where I come in, and why I want you to join me.

I want you to make a vow with me.

“The next time I have those feelings again I will not dismiss them, or ignore them, but look at them more closely.”

“I pledge to commit myself to noticing these feeling and thoughts, and understanding why I have them.”

Image credit: hikrcn / 123RF Stock Photo

2 thoughts on “The Feeling that you’re lost”

  1. Richard, for awhile there I wasn’t sure how you were going to end this very serious discussion. But I LOVE your challenge to look at loneliness and restlessness more closely, rather than pushing them away. Avoidance only magnifies what we hope not to see while attention right-sizes it and takes the fear away.

    • To true. The loneliness and despair is the pain telling you something is wrong.
      What we need to do like any form of suffering is examine it’s causes with the intent to find solutions.
      I am so glad you liked it.


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