We can get disconnected from ourselves regularly. Even on a daily basis. This can happen because we’re fully focused on checking off tasks from our to-do lists. Or because we’re fully focused on taking care of everyone else.
It can happen because we’re stuck in our heads — “leaning too far into the future or obsessing about things that didn’t go well for us in the past,” said Kelly Rose, LMFT, a psychotherapist who helps people reconnect to their authentic selves in Wayzata, Minn. Because when we’re disconnected from the present moment, we’re really disconnected from ourselves, she said.
Rose shared this quote from Eckhart Tolle: “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”
We can become disconnected from ourselves when we look to others to help us make decisions. Rose once worked with a woman who fell in love with a house the first time she saw it. She then consulted her 10 closest friends for their thoughts. By the time she saw Rose and reconnected to her original desire, the house was sold to someone else. This might sound like an extreme example, but all of us can relate to turning to advice — over and over — when we really didn’t need it.
“Most of the time when we need to make an important decision our hearts or our guts give us the first and best answer,” Rose said. It’s our minds that create confusion, because we yearn for certainty, approval or validation about our decision, she said. “When we look outside ourselves for this validation, we are giving our power away.”
Connecting to ourselves means connecting to our true selves. It means connecting to our intuition, so we’re able to make decisions based on that knowing, Rose said. It means navigating life with “intention, integrity and authenticity.”
You might be wondering: How do we actually do this? If we get disconnected from ourselves regularly, how do we actually reconnect? Rose shared a variety of suggestions below, some of which are as simple as inhaling and exhaling.
Take deep breaths.
Breathing eases our anxiety. It “counteracts the adrenalin and cortisol our brains release when we get into fight or flight mode,” Rose said. This helps us reconnect to our core, which exists beneath worries and what-ifs.
Rose suggested taking a deep breath by filling your stomach, lungs, chest and throat. Use five seconds to inhale, and five seconds to exhale, she said.
Take care of your body.
As Rose said, your body is “the only vehicle you’ll have that really matters.” Taking care of your body includes everything from drinking water when you’re thirsty to going to the bathroom when you need to stretching when you’ve been sitting for too long. It also might include meditating, walking, getting massages and practicing yoga.
Be your own best friend.
Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself during different points of the day, such as when you’re looking in the mirror. If you find that you’re speaking negatively to yourself, ask: Would I let someone say this to my best friend? Often we are most critical of ourselves, and it only hurts us even further. (In this piece, and this one, you’ll find simple ways to practice self-compassion.)
Rose suggested identifying three amazing things you can do for yourself every day. These don’t have to be grand gestures. They might be everything from flossing to going to the doctor to finally finding a therapist, she said. They’re small yet significant acts.
Connect with your senses. “[L]ook at beautiful things. Listen for beautiful sounds. Feel stimulating textures. Taste delicious foods and beverages. Smell scents that appeal to you.”
Rose also suggested taking yourself out on dates and scheduling creative time.
Pay attention to your physical sensations.
This might include paying attention to physical sensations that are related to different emotions, because identifying how you’re feeling is reconnecting to yourself. For instance, you might feel anger as a headache or anxiety in your chest.
Also, get curious about how you feel in your body when you’re around different people, Rose said. This is another helpful way to tend to your emotional life. She shared these sample questions to consider:
- “Does your throat feel tight or open?
- Do you clench your jaw or is it relaxed?
- Does your heart feel like it’s locking up or is there space around it?
- Do you slouch your shoulders (protecting the heart)?
- Is your stomach relaxed soft, or is it tight?
- Do you cross your arms in a self protection stance?”
We get disconnected from ourselves all the time. The good news is that we can take small and simple steps — like the ones above — to reconnect to our core, authentic selves.
Woman stretching photo available from Shutterstock