Self Awareness

Finding and Reclaiming the Lost Self

By Suzanne E. Harrill

Even when we are seasoned travelers on the journey to heal our inner selves, there is always more to understand. The unconscious can spring surprise lessons from our shadow side at any time. These surprises, the positive as well as the negative-feeling ones, do not have to scare us. It is helpful if we remember simple truths; such as, we are on a journey to wholeness and choose to find the lost parts of ourselves so that we can fully express who we truly are. An exciting point of view is that life is creative and never finished, so there is always more to learn about ourselves as we heal, grow, and integrate all aspects of ourselves. The more integrated we are the better we are able to participate creatively in life. Rather than getting off track and being seduced into the highs or lows of life, we live with curiosity as life unfolds, ready to meet new experiences.

One helpful way to become aware of unknown parts of ourselves is to see them through the projections we place onto others. In a minute we will talk about projection and its usefulness in finding and reconnecting lost parts of ourselves. But first, let us take a look at how we get lost in the first place, getting caught in the illusions of life, and disconnected from our true self.

We will end with two practical suggestions: to journal write and a meditation.

The day you were born was a special time. You arrived as a curious, open, and trusting little human being, ready to absorb everything you could about yourself and this life. Your first teachers were your parents, siblings, and extended family members. Being completely vulnerable and dependent on others set you up in some ways to get lost. How? At first the only way you learned about yourself was through the mirrors of others. Many of your teachers were not enlightened, so the areas in which your caregivers and family members were unaware or wounded got passed to you. Since a person can only teach what they believe to be true, you received many concepts about yourself, and life in general, that were not true.

What do young people do when adults and older siblings are unhealed and dysfunctional? They accept the reality modeled to them as true. When there is an incongruency between what is observed or heard and how one feels, there is a glitch. Feeling something is "off," there is no ability to understand or to put these feelings into words, so s/he starts doubting her/himself.

When this happens to you, over time you slowly disconnect from your true self, assuming something must be wrong with you. You stop feeling the messages of your true self and these messages go into hiding becoming part of the unconscious. As parts of you shut down, the illusion began and you perpetuated what much of humanity was doing—living a life of separation from your spiritual essence. As you grew older, you lived and acted as if your conditioned self was the real you. That is until the day you stepped on the path to heal yourself, which includes finding and reclaiming the missing parts of yourself.

Now we will take a look at projection, what it is, and how we can learn from it to reclaim lost parts of ourselves. What we do not accept in ourselves we project onto others, both positive and negative. Projection is a psychological defense mechanism with which we protect ourselves from ourselves when it is too uncomfortable to own certain traits, emotions, behaviors, or beliefs.

Let me illustrate. A person in one of my self-discovery classes began interrupting me and continually responding to others in the class. Her answers were good ones as she had done a lot of work on herself. That was not the problem; the problem was that she was annoying to me and the other students. The competition I experienced reminded me of when I felt the same way. I took many classes from an early teacher and felt I could do as good a job or better teaching the current group. I even admitted to myself that it would be fulfilling to be a teacher and group facilitator, yet I was fearful of taking the necessary risks. I did not fully believe in myself. At that time, it was easier to keep taking classes with this teacher and to project my potential onto him. With my student I saw a similar pattern. We began talking privately and she admitted that she had grown beyond the lessons of this particular group and secretly wanted to be the teacher. She eventually took the risks necessary to become a therapist/teacher once she stopped projecting the therapist/teacher outside of herself and onto me.

To make this information practical to your life and to help you with your inner work, consider these two suggestions:

1. Spend some time pondering something you see that others have and you would like to have. Maybe there is something you want in your life; such as, a relationship, financial security, or a job you love. Who do you know who has what you want? Next write about this, expressing such things as the beliefs, feelings, and experiences that influenced you about this. Writing makes this more concrete. Now read this or discuss it with someone you trust. Talk about what you have written. Ask this trusted friend for feedback. Continue to write about this subject for as long as it takes to process your thoughts and feelings. Then you will be able to take the risks necessary to claim for yourself what you see in others.

2. Following is a meditation to reclaim lost parts of yourself and to integrate them into your present self. You can ask a friend to read it to you or record the meditation to play for yourself. There is really not a set way you must do this. It could even be done while out walking or watching a sunset, simply remember the theme of the meditation. Many of you will begin making inner shifts just reading this.

Whenever you feel dissatisfied with your life, get triggered by someone or something, or feel the creative pull to be who you are without illusions, repeat this meditation. It can help you find the lost parts of your true self.


Meditation: Close your eyes and slowly deep breathe several times. (Pause.)

Go to your place of peace, where you feel safe and secure.


Take a moment to see or feel "the something" you want in your life.


Who do you know who is already manifesting what you want? In your mind’s eye, watch this person and how s/he models it to you in your outer world.


If something is no longer yours, give it back to the person who allowed you to act it out for her/him.


Ask your wise Self to help you reclaim this as a part of you. If another has been acting it out for you in a close relationship, ask for your part back. With deep feeling, visualize yourself with this trait or experience. Use all your senses to be in this reality.


Say to yourself, "I now claim (whatever you chose) as part of my life. I deserve (your choice) in my life and choose to grow comfortable with it. I release all need to turn my power over by projecting it outside of myself. I easily take the risks to claim what is mine as I integrate (your choice) into my everyday life. I feel this deeply and allow this transformation within to take place now. Continue talking to yourself in this way for a few minutes.


See and feel this new reality as if it is true and already a part of your life. (Pause.)

Ask for a symbol to represent what you have reclaimed into your life. If a symbol does not come easily, know you will find one in the next few days, probably when you least expect it. It is okay to use your logical mind too in choosing a symbol.


Play with this symbol. Hold it, draw it, and sleep with it. Allow your symbol to help you reclaim a part of your true self.


It is time to come back. Feel your body and focus on your natural breathing.


Slowly open your eyes and move and stretch. Be here now.


Now you have a better picture of what projection is and how it is a useful construct to help you find and reclaim lost parts of yourself. The two suggestions are designed to help you steer through the illusions of who you are not and to help you remember your true self.





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