Dear therapist, I’ve been having issues with my close friends. I love them, and though this may seem like a pathetic lame excuse for a juvenile teenager to write, but all I feel is empty. I am not cutting nor hurting myself, but I feel I have lost who I truly am and have become a puppet.
Feeling like you have lost yourself is a sign that you need to make changes in your life and start exploring who you really are. This can be an exciting time as it is an opportunity to grow and to develop a more meaningful relationship with yourself. Some people describe this “emptiness” as your higher self telling you it’s time to start finding your life’s purpose.
I suggest to start exploring activities that make you feel connected. What are activities that will move you toward your long term goals? Are there any recreational groups offered in your school or community that you would like to be involved in? Have you asked any of your friends if they are feeling the same way? Sometimes having another person to bounce ideas off of is helpful.
I would also suggest that you complete a “values and strengths” inventory. You can do this online. This questionnaire will help you determine what your values and strengths are, and offer a starting point for implementing them into your life and current relationships.
The “VIA survey of Character Strengths” can be found under the “Questionnaires” tab here: http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx
Other people find it useful to journal. As themes start to come up in their journal, they start to develop a clearer picture of what they need to work on.
We live in a culture that suggests happiness comes from instant satisfaction (doing things that are pleasurable). These things include good food, movies, shopping, driving fast, alcohol and drugs, etc. However, studies show that authentic, long-lasting happiness does not come from these activities, but rather from activities that bring meaning. These activities include charity work, helping a younger sibling with a project, visiting a seniors center, reading to an elderly or disabled neighbor, etc.
If you can find something in your life that brings you meaning, it may be a key to understanding this “emptiness” that you feel.
Tina Cowan, Masters Intern