Have you lost yourself? Are you so absorbed in your career, in your relationship, in the daily grind, or in an addiction that you've lost sight of who you are or where you'd like to be in life? Great! Say what? Well, let me reassure you that first, it's pretty common. Second, I can help you! Keep reading....

I remember a few years ago watching "Oprah" with her guest, Kristin Armstrong. This was back when I was still married to my ex. I was struck when Kristin told Oprah during her interview that she felt she had lost herself during her marriage to Lance Armstrong. The marriage became centered around him, as did their family life. Kristin did not do the things that lit her up, instead she gave herself wholeheartedly to Lance and his career so that he could accomplish his dreams. There's nothing wrong with giving of yourself to help another. There is though, when you sacrifice your own light and being in the world. Diminishing yourself so that someone else will love you more is a recipe for disaster. Trying to be the "perfect" spouse, allowing someone else to take over the reins of your life does not lead to happiness. You give up your power to an external source and you compromise your whole being--at least that was true for Kristin.

I really resonated with what she had said because I recognized during the show that I too had lost myself. Years and years of supporting a husband, moving around the country, uprooting our little family over and over again for his chance to succeed in the world. And then what happened? Our marriage collapsed when he...well, you'll have to read the book I wrote if you don't already know. (The book's called "Transforming Divorce." You'll find out what happened, and you'll get invaluable guidance on how to pick up the pieces after a divorce). But, on the flip side, I agreed to this life. We agreed that I'd stay at home, he'd pursue his career as a physician. I trusted that when he was settled in his career, and we'd live in a community for more than 1 or 2 years, it'd be my turn to concentrate on my schooling and career. Note to self: pursue your career, schooling, and your dreams; and don't give them up for a fairy tale.

Denial, repression, suppression--these things serve to hinder your progress in life because they numb you. They keep you where you are in a false sense of comfort and security. But, does it really feel comfortable? Underneath, do you feel a sense of uneasiness knowing there's something more for you?

5 ways to know you've lost yourself:

1. You don't do the things that really used to give you pleasure.
2. You feel numb.
3. You feel like life is just passing you by.
4. You've let yourself go.
5. You don't like your life.

There are other ways, can you think of some? Can you see the theme? The underlying thread weaving it all together is: You aren't stepping into your magnificence. For whatever reason, you've placed something/someone ahead of your own needs and desires. This isn't a right or wrong kind of thing. Don't beat yourself up because it happened; have compassion. Now that you recognize what's going on, it's time to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and take some action toward your new and improved life. We aren't meant to live "small," sitting on the sidelines watching the Game of Life. Even if you are an introvert (and that's another post because I have some thoughts on that topic), you aren't meant to use it as an excuse to shrink from this world. Life contracts as we contract. We all have gifts we bring into this world. We all can positively contribute by owning our value and worth, and using it for our highest good and the highest good of all. It isn't selfish to let ourselves shine and to bring out the best in us. When we do that, we step into our magnificence which beautifies the world in a whole new way, and it gives others permission and inspiration to step into theirs. It takes courage to live life to its fullest and to follow your own path--not some else's path.

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman

By the way, I know that families, spouses & partners, and careers take a lot of focus and effort. That's real life. That's why the subject of work-life balance is so popular. However, you are important too! Your needs are just as important as someone else's. You have a right to blossom and shine your light, too. Because when you do, the whole world will be a little bit brighter because of you thriving. And, people who are positive assets in your life will be the ones who will be cheering you on. You want people in your life who lift you up, not the ones who squelch your power by keeping you small. People who love you--unconditionally and in a healthy way--will allow you to be your best. They'll encourage it; they won't take measures, no matter how slight, to deter you.

So if you recognize that you've lost yourself, what actions can you take? Well, first recognizing and acknowledging it is huge! Then, I would suggest hiring a coach. It's an amazing way to put your life on fast forward and to make the very most of your amazing life (I wrote amazing twice--that's how amazing it is!). If you want to get your feet wet first, there are some great resources for determining where in your life you need to focus (see the Wheel of Life exercise), how to set goals and reach them, how to motivate yourself, etc. You can find some great stuff right here on the website!

You don't change your life by doing the same things over and over. It takes inspired action to change your life. One small step, each day, leads to massive change over time. It doesn't have to be a huge leap, but make some kind of leap/skip/hop every day. Enlist a support system to hold you accountable and cheer you on. List some things you would like to do, to have, or make a list of the things you would like to be--what you'd like to embody. What are your values? Are you living them?

I'd like to end this article by reminding you that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR 100% OF YOUR LIFE. It's in all caps because it's extremely important. It isn't your job, your partner, or whatever/whoever's fault--ultimately, you must take a stand and discover what it is that enlivens your spirit and answers to the beckoning call of your soul's purpose in life. You--and only you--can shine your light on the world. You allow others or situations to dim that light. Ultimately you must discover the power within you to live--truly live--to your fullest and deepest potential. The world needs you. You need you. Show up to life, because when you do, you won't feel a need to numb yourself from its ups and downs because you'll be riding the waves with panache, calmness, and zest for all that life has to offer.

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Nenninger is the author of "Transforming Divorce" and the co-author of "The Secrets of Loving Relationships" and "The Art and Science of Parenting." Her website, http://nicolenenninger.com is a resource devoted to helping those who are going through or have been through a divorce, but it can help anyone who is interested in creating an amazingly wonderful and magical life--you don't have to be divorced! Nicole is a certified life coach and has a Master's degree in psychology. She and her family live in New York.