How I Coped with Feeling Lost in a Changing Society

Lea Misan (United Kingdom)

Feeling lost in a changing society is like arriving in a once familiar town. You think you should know where you are and where to go, but you need a map – which you don’t have – to find your way.

Feeling lost can feel as if you are untethered, drifting. If we feel lost, it is that we are untethering ourselves from a conception of the world that is no longer relevant to us but not yet found a new conception to anchor our lives to.

A time of potential

This is why feeling lost points to a time of potential, if only we can hold the hope along with the discomforting fear. Be confident, even as, at times, we give in to despair.

I was like Pollyanna, always looking for the positive side of things. I operated in the world as I wanted it to be. This comes at a cost: I was (constantly) marginalising the signals which pointed to unsavoury but needed information. I remember marginalising a feeling that there was something antisemitic about the way I was being spoken to. A feeling I quickly shut down and sent deep into my unspoken realms, because it didn’t go along with my reason for joining the learning community I was a part of and its professed values of diversity and inclusion.

I was left feeling lost as in a fog, unable to understand what transpired, moment to moment. The feedback I received was accurate, but also unhelpful. I was told I came across as distant, half in and half out. As Pollyanna, I couldn’t quite fathom how. At the time, I had no way of responding to what felt like an accusation. There were moments of deep despair, alongside other moments of high hope. I felt numb, even nauseous at times, lost in a feeling I could not describe, that I had no language to describe. Today, as I look back, I recognise my wobbling, testing out the waters, then sheltering back in my best-of-all-possible-worlds cocoon.

I waited for signals that the world was joining my conception of it, that those who I considered friends would share my map and we would know where we were again. That was not to be. I waited for two years. I would invite them to join me. They were suspicious and stayed away.

Inviting the support we need

In process work we often go in our minds to a place in nature or invite a supportive figure, naming the figure and inviting it to help us gather parts and see what happens. But most often, these dream figures remain private, they are part of our inner world.

We seek and give support to one another daily, and yet, so often, the support we receive is not the support that we seek. The support that we offer does not quite meet the needs of the one we offer it to. Support is a blank access term that means so many things to each of us, that we often answer the call of another with our own needs. Sometimes, we answer their call with the fear of what that means in terms of relationship. In fact, not a wanting relationship because ‘*my plate is full*’, we stop being related.

Source: iCN Issue 45  (Executive Coaching); pages 16-18

About Lea Misan

Lea Misan is an accomplished consultant in systemic psychotherapy and process-oriented psychology who is passionate and dedicated to helping people involved in conflict, abuse, trauma and in leadership positions. She is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Coach, Founder, and Director of the mental health charity Act for Change.

A firm believer in continuous learning and development, Lea holds an LLB in Law from the London School of Economics. She is a Fellow in Holocaust Education with the Imperial War Museum and a Fellow with the School of Social Enterprise. Lea is the author of two books, ‘A Body’s Call to Presence’ and ‘The Tribe Within’ (publication due in June 2023).

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