Have you been feeling lost lately? Or maybe not quite lost, but adrift… not really knowing where you’re going, or even which direction? You can even feel this way if you know where you want to go, but are at a loss for what to do right now to get there.
It’s easy to start feeling lost or adrift when you feel like you are being pulled in too many directions at the same time. The feelings are a trap, too… easy to fall into but hard to escape.
So if you’re feeling that way right now, what do you do? You could start by looking at your life as a boat. If you are in a boat and drifting without direction, what do you do to stop yourself? You drop anchor.
An anchor in your life serves the same function as an anchor in a boat… it holds you steady against the wind and the tides. It is something solid that you can rely on when everything else seems untrustworthy.
Life anchors are often people… someone you can trust. It could be your spouse, your parent, your brother or sister, or your best friend. They can also be places, places to which you can run and feel safe, or even things… some people might have a locket, a lucky coin, or even have their car as their anchor. It can even be an activity… some people can get lost (in the good way) in something they love to do.
No matter what your situation, there will always be something, or someone, around that you can use as an anchor. Anchors only work, however, when you hold on to them… if you dropped an anchor over the side of the boat that wasn’t attached by rope or chain, it wouldn’t do much good. You generally start to get lost, or drift, when you forget to hold on to your anchors, though sometimes it can be when one is yanked out from under you.
If you’re feeling lost right now, here are some concrete steps you can take to stabilize your life:
Focus On Where You Are Right Now
One of the main causes of feeling lost is the feeling that you are being pulled in many directions at once. You can combat this by concentrating on where you are right now, rather than where you are going. It won’t cure your current state, but it can at least help you to keep it from getting worse.
Find An Anchor
Once you are focused on where you are right now, look around you and find something that you can use as an anchor… find someone some thing, some place, or some activity that makes you feel safe. Your anchor doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else, it just has to work for you.
Hold On To Your Anchor
Once you’ve found your anchor, you have to hold on to it. Life’s currents, the ups and downs that come constantly, can make you forget to hold on to your anchor. As soon as you do that, though, you also start to find it harder and harder to hold steady on the course that you wish to follow.
Use Your Anchor
Finding an anchor does no good if you don’t use it… spend time with that person, or in that place, or with that thing, and let yourself feel safe. Once you feel safe, then you can start to let go of all the mental build up, slowing your wild swinging around.
Let Your Drifting Slow To A Stop
Sometimes, when you feel progress, you want to just jump back out there and push ahead. The same holds true with the feeling of being adrift… once you start to feel a little less stressed, you may feel the urge to push right back out. That can be dangerous in the same way it’s dangerous to put too much weight on a recently broken bone… the surface may be healed, but it still may be a little weak underneath. While I certainly don’t recommend that you spend the rest of your life hiding from, well, the rest of your life, I do recommend that you take the time to heal the damage that’s a little deeper, too.
I want to take a moment to reinforce the fact that your anchor doesn’t have to make sense as an anchor to anyone else… it’s about what works for you. You may find something other people would consider bizarre that helps you… it could be a rusty nail, if that nail came from something important, or preparing meals for a crowd (working in a soup kitchen, for example). As long as it gives you that feeling of safety and stability, even if it’s only so long as you’re doing it, holding it, or with that person, it can help.
It’s often easy to forget your anchors, or how important they are, too. That’s a major reason relationships drift apart (see, the terminology is even the same)… the two people forget how important it is to spend time with each other, just using each other as an anchor… resting. If you have a spouse, and they are NOT one of your anchors, you really need to work on your relationship.
You will, of course, want to reach out from your anchors, too. But just like a routine makes you better able to appreciate and enjoy the exceptions, anchors help you to better reach out and move forward… you just have to remember to bring them with you.