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Lost identity: why don't I feel like myself? Exploring the root causes

By Remy Meraz June 18, 2023


Key Takeaways

  • Feeling unlike oneself can stem from various mental and physical health issues.
  • It's important to seek help from mental health professionals when these feelings persist or become overwhelming.
  • Self-care practices, grounding techniques, and embracing life changes can aid in regaining your sense of self.
Lost identity: why don't I feel like myself? Exploring the root causes

At times in life, we find ourselves caught in a strange whirlwind of feelings. We might wake up one day and feel detached, caught off guard by the haunting question: "Why don't I feel like myself anymore?" This can be a confusing, sometimes frightening, state of mind. You could be sitting in your favorite local park, where everything around you is familiar, yet you feel like a stranger in your own life.

This sensation is more common than you might think, and it's often a symptom of underlying issues. It might be a result of chronic stress, an anxiety disorder, or other mental health conditions. It's the way our brain signals that something isn't quite right. Just like physical pain alerts us to potential damage to our bodies, these emotions tell us there is a disruption in our mental well-being.

But don't be afraid. The first step in regaining control of your life is realizing that there's a problem and understanding that it's perfectly normal to feel this way. Yes, life can be overwhelming. But remember, understanding is the key to recovery, and taking a moment for self reflection can make all the difference.

In this blog post, we will delve into the heart of this matter, discussing why you might not feel like yourself and exploring the role of mental health in these feelings. We will focus on potential causes, including the impact of stressful events, the influence of negative feelings and thinking, and how physical and mental health are intertwined.

Whether you're dealing with feelings of anxiety, depressive symptoms, or just feeling overwhelmed, we're here to help guide you through understanding your feelings and navigating your way back to yourself.

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Unraveling the Feeling of Not Being Oneself

Understanding the complexity of our emotions and feelings, especially when we don't feel like ourselves, requires both self-reflection and a deeper understanding of the influences shaping our self-perception. Let's unravel this further.

The Psychological Perspective: The Relationship Between Mental Health and Self-Perception

Mental health plays a vital role in how we perceive ourselves. It's a mirror reflecting our self-image, the 'I' in 'I feel like myself.' When our mental health is compromised by conditions like anxiety disorder, depression, or chronic stress, it can distort this mirror, leading us to lose touch with who we are.

Negative thoughts and feelings are often common symptoms of these mental health conditions. They feed into a vicious cycle that further deepens our sense of disconnection. It's akin to feeling detached, as if watching your life unfold from the sidelines rather than actively participating in it. This is why talking to a mental health professional can be crucial. Therapy can help break this cycle, offering strategies to redirect negative thinking and restore our self-perception.

The Physical Aspect: How Physical Health Impacts Your Sense of Self

When talking about our identity, we often focus on the mind, overlooking the significant role our physical health plays in shaping our self-perception. However, there's a strong link between physical and mental health, and disruptions in either can affect our overall well-being.

For example, health conditions such as chronic illnesses can significantly impact how we see ourselves. Imagine always feeling energetic and then, suddenly, you're stuck in a cycle of fatigue and pain. It's fairly easy to see how such a drastic shift could make you feel like a stranger in your own body.

Furthermore, the chronic stress that comes with managing a health condition can trigger anxiety and depressive symptoms, further adding to the feeling of not being yourself. A holistic approach to our well-being, considering both mental and physical health, is essential to understanding why we may feel like we've lost our sense of self.

In the next section, we'll dive deeper into the symptoms and experiences associated with the feeling of not being oneself.

I Don't Feel Like Myself: Common Symptoms and Experiences

I Don't Feel Like Myself: Common Symptoms and Experiences

When we talk about the feeling of not being ourselves, it often manifests in three major areas of our lives: our emotions, our thoughts, and our behaviors. Let's explore how each of these can change when we're not feeling like ourselves.

Emotional Changes: Understanding the Role of Negative Feelings

Negative feelings are often at the forefront when you're not feeling like yourself. These can include feelings of sadness, fear, or a general sense of discomfort that something is just "off." You may also experience feelings of anxiety, which can manifest in several ways, such as feeling overwhelmed, having anxiety attacks, or dealing with chronic stress.

Depressive symptoms can also be prevalent, which can contribute to feeling detached from your normal self. It's important to remember that having negative feelings isn't a sign of weakness, but rather a normal reaction to stress and traumatic events in life.

Cognitive Shifts: How Your Thoughts May Be Different

Cognitive changes are also common when you're not feeling like yourself. This could mean experiencing negative thoughts more frequently, or feeling stuck in a cycle of worry and fear. These thoughts often revolve around a sense of impending doom or constantly feeling that something wrong is going to happen.

You might also find it hard to focus on tasks that were once fairly easy, or you may start thinking negatively about your capabilities and worth. These cognitive shifts can be subtle and are sometimes hard to notice on your own, but they're a crucial part of understanding why you don't feel like yourself.

Behavioral Modifications: Noticing the Changes in Your Actions

Changes in your behavior are another significant indicator that you're not feeling like yourself. This could include withdrawing from family members and friends, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, or spending more time alone.

You might also notice physical symptoms such as changes in your sleep patterns, appetite, or energy levels. If you find yourself taking a lot of deep breaths or experiencing a "fight or flight" response to situations that wouldn't normally cause such reactions, this could be a sign that your anxiety levels are heightened.

Recognizing these emotional, cognitive, and behavioral changes is a vital step toward regaining your sense of self. In the following sections, we'll explore the impact of mental and physical health on these feelings and how professional help can guide you back to feeling like yourself again.

Read about how we were chosen for the Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, a testament to our dedication to improving mental health.

Delving Deeper Into the Psychological Aspect: Mental Health and Self-Perception

Delving Deeper Into the Psychological Aspect: Mental Health and Self-Perception

To truly understand why we might feel detached from ourselves, we need to delve deeper into our mental landscape. How do mental health conditions and traumatic experiences influence our self-perception?

The Impact of Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Conditions on Self-Perception

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can significantly distort our self-perception, leading to a profound feeling of not being oneself. Depression, for instance, often causes feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and a bleak outlook on life. These depressive symptoms can feel like you're looking at the world through a darkened lens, causing a disconnect between you and your perception of yourself.

Anxiety disorders can also skew our self-perception. Experiencing regular anxiety attacks or living in a constant state of worry can lead us to perceive ourselves as perpetually vulnerable or weak. This can further exacerbate the feeling of not being oneself, as it's easy to lose sight of your strengths and capabilities when you're overwhelmed by anxiety.

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How Stress and Trauma Can Cause Feelings of Losing Oneself

Stress and traumatic events also play a significant role in our self-perception. Chronic stress, whether it arises from personal relationships, work, or traumatic events, can leave us feeling constantly on edge, pushing our brain into a continuous "fight or flight" response. Over time, this can lead to a distorted self-perception, as we start thinking of ourselves as always being in a state of emergency.

Traumatic events can shatter our sense of self in an instant, making us feel strange and disconnected. These experiences can bring about drastic changes in our life that force us out of our comfort zone, and it can be tough to adapt to this new normal. Consequently, feelings of losing oneself can occur as we grapple with these changes.

It's essential to understand that if you're facing any of these challenges, seeking help from a mental health professional can be incredibly beneficial. They can provide emotional support, coping strategies, and treatment options that can aid in improving mental well-being and restoring your sense of self.

If you want to explore more strategies on how to manage and overcome anxiety at work, check out our blog post on Understanding how to calm anxiety at work.

In the next section, we will further discuss the often-overlooked impact of physical health on our sense of self.

How Physical Health Influences Our Sense of Self

How Physical Health Influences Our Sense of Self

While the mind plays an integral role in shaping our self-perception, we can't ignore the body's significant impact. Let's delve into how our physical health intertwines with our mental well-being and how it influences our sense of self.

The Intersection of Physical and Mental Health: A Holistic View

Physical and mental health are not separate entities. Instead, they intersect and influence one another, providing a holistic view of our well-being. For instance, chronic stress, which is usually considered a mental health issue, can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. Conversely, regular physical activity is known to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms, highlighting how physical health can impact mental well-being.

This interconnection suggests that our sense of self is intricately linked with both our physical and mental health. A disruption in one can often lead to changes in the other, affecting how we perceive ourselves.

The Impact of Chronic Illnesses and Major Life Changes on How We See Ourselves

Chronic illnesses and significant life changes can also greatly impact our self-perception. Conditions that cause persistent physical discomfort or limit our abilities can lead us to see ourselves in a different light. This can be a difficult transition, often leading to feelings of frustration and a sense that we're not ourselves anymore.

Major life changes, such as moving to a new city, starting a new job, or having a baby, can also shift our self-perception. These changes often involve stepping out of our comfort zone, which can trigger feelings of stress and anxiety, further adding to the feeling of not being oneself.

The interplay between physical and mental health underlines the importance of a holistic approach to well-being. Taking care of both aspects can play a vital role in maintaining a healthy sense of self. Consulting with medical professionals who can provide support and treatment options for both physical and mental health conditions can make a significant difference in our overall well-being.

In the next section, we'll explore ways to regain your sense of self when you feel lost. We will focus on practical steps and techniques, from grounding exercises to seeking professional help.

When to Seek Help: The Role of a Mental Health Professional

When to Seek Help: The Role of a Mental Health Professional

While self-reflection and self-care are powerful tools to restore your sense of self, there are times when seeking help from a mental health professional becomes crucial. Let's explore when and how therapy can help you feel more like yourself again.

Identifying When It's Time to See a Mental Health Professional

Sometimes, feelings of not being oneself can be a fleeting experience triggered by a stressful event or major life change. However, if you notice that this feeling lingers or worsens over time, or if it's causing significant distress and disruption in your daily life, it's time to consider seeking help.

Persistent negative feelings, frequent anxiety attacks, changes in sleep or eating habits, withdrawal from loved ones, or feelings of despair and hopelessness are signs that you might benefit from professional help. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to realize that reaching out to a mental health professional is not a sign of weakness but a brave step towards regaining your well-being.

To dive deeper into these topics, read our comprehensive guide on life and career coaching FAQs.

How Therapy Can Help You Feel More Like Yourself Again

Therapy can offer invaluable support when you're feeling disconnected from yourself. A mental health professional can provide a safe space for you to express your feelings and experiences without judgment. They can help you identify and understand your emotions, unravel the root causes of your distress, and develop effective coping strategies.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for instance, can help you challenge and change negative thought patterns that may contribute to feeling unlike yourself. Therapists can also teach grounding techniques, which can help you reconnect with the present moment and your physical surroundings, aiding in reducing stress and anxiety.

Remember, it's perfectly normal to seek help, and reaching out to a mental health professional can be a significant step towards feeling more like yourself again. In the upcoming section, we'll explore practical tips and strategies that you can incorporate into your daily life to regain your sense of self.

The Journey to Feeling Like Oneself Again

The Journey to Feeling Like Oneself Again

Reconnecting with oneself can be a journey, often a transformative one. It involves taking care of your physical and mental health, implementing coping mechanisms, and most importantly, understanding that evolution is a part of life.

Coping Mechanisms and Self-Care Practices to Reclaim Your Identity

Restoring your sense of self often starts with self-care. This involves taking the time to listen to your body and mind's needs and fulfilling them. It can be as simple as ensuring you're eating well, sleeping enough, and doing activities that you enjoy. Spending time in nature, for instance, a walk in your local park, can offer moments of peace and self-reflection.

Coping mechanisms can also be integral to reclaiming your identity. This can include grounding techniques to anchor yourself in the present moment, practicing deep breaths to reduce anxiety, or using positive affirmations to counteract negative thinking.

Disconnecting from stressors can also be crucial. This might mean taking a social media break, spending time alone, or distancing yourself from toxic people or situations. Engaging in physical activities is another effective strategy for reducing stress and boosting your energy levels.

Remember, self-care isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It's about figuring out what works best for you, what makes you feel happy, and incorporating that into your routine.

Embracing the Changes: Understanding That It's Okay to Evolve

Feeling like you're not yourself anymore can sometimes signal that you're going through a phase of growth and transformation. Life is a journey filled with changes, and it's perfectly normal to evolve and grow. Our experiences shape us, and it's okay if the person you are today isn't the same person you were a few years ago.

Embracing these changes rather than resisting them can bring a sense of peace and acceptance. It allows us to adapt, learn, and emerge stronger from our experiences. Talking with supportive family members or friends can provide comfort during these times of change.

Feeling like oneself again is a journey that takes time, patience, and understanding. Remember, it's okay to seek help and lean on others when you need it. You are not alone in your feelings, and there are resources and people ready to help.

Check out these 45 self-reflection questions to nurture your mind, body, and soul.


Navigating the intricate labyrinth of emotions when we don't feel like ourselves can be challenging, but it's crucial to remember that it's a part of our human experience. This journey often serves as an invitation for self-awareness, growth, and transformation.

In this article, we've discussed the various reasons why you might not feel like yourself. These reasons span across the mental and physical health spectrum, stemming from chronic stress, anxiety disorders, depressive symptoms, major life changes, or physical health conditions. We've also delved into how the brain and emotions play significant roles in shaping our self-perception and how our world might feel strange when this perception shifts.

We've explored the importance of seeking help from a mental health professional when feeling detached from oneself persistently or when negative feelings become overwhelming. Therapy can be an invaluable tool in this journey, offering a safe space to express, understand and navigate through these feelings.

Additionally, we've discussed practical strategies and coping mechanisms to regain your sense of self. These strategies include grounding techniques, self-care practices, stress reduction, and acknowledging and embracing the changes in life.

In closing, remember that it's okay to feel lost at times, and it's okay to ask for help. Each one of us is on a unique journey, and sometimes, we need a little guidance to find our way back to ourselves. But no matter where this journey takes us, each step brings us closer to understanding ourselves better, which can make all the difference.

Read more about: Existential Crisis, Well-being, Life Coaching

About Remy Meraz

Remy Meraz is a visionary leader and dedicated entrepreneur with a passion for driving positive change. As a testament to her impact in the startup world, Remy was named a 2022 Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund recipient.

As the co-founder and CEO of Zella Life, an on-demand coaching platform, Remy is working to close the diversity and gender gaps she has personally experienced as a woman of color. Through her innovative platform, she is providing businesses and individuals with critical personal and professional development tools that are improving entire workplace ecosystems and transforming the future of work.

Recognized for her contributions and impact in the startup world, Remy was named a 2022 Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund recipient. Her entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to social impact make her a powerful force in the business community. With Zella Life, Remy is creating new opportunities for growth and success for people from all backgrounds.

Read more about Zella Life's recognition here ( and discover how Remy's entrepreneurial spirit is transforming the future of work.

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