Not all uses of the prevalent phrase “lose yourself” are created equal; sometimes, the term has a very negative connotation, while other times it is just the opposite.
For instance, when asked why she is afraid of a more intimate relationship, a woman might say, “I don’t want to lose myself in a relationship again.” What does she mean by “losing herself” and how did she “lose herself” before?
In Googling the phrase, I found an article called
"THE THREE DANGERS OF LOVE..." Guess what was #1?
Not just limited to love, you might use the expression to describe an uncomfortable situation in the workplace. IE: “I put my head down and did what they told me. By the time I left, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I lost myself.”
On the other hand, "losing yourself" in life and work can be great!
A wise poet, named Eminem, once penned the words
“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go…”
(From the soundtrack to “8 Mile,” this song earned Eminem an Academy Award for Best Original Song.)
The feel of this “lose yourself” is very different than before. Now, losing yourself is a good thing.
If you’ve ever lost track of time doing something you’ve loved, than you’ve experienced this kind of “losing yourself.”
You could be having a great conversation, or maybe you were at a peak of enjoying your work. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about this kind of “losing yourself” in his popular book called “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.” “Flow” is that state when you are completely and joyfully absorbed in the activity you’re doing. When you experience this type of “losing yourself,” it is a happy one.
Would you like to “lose yourself,” only in the good way?
Would you like to turn up the volume on these desirable feelings and productivity, and turn down the bad feeling stuff?
The first step on the road to achieving this is to become aware of when you are having each of these very different experiences.
How to tell the Difference: Your “Losing Yourself” Cheat Sheet-
- “Losing Yourself” (negative connotation). Expression used to describe times where you compromise your thoughts, feelings, values, and beliefs to fit a person, or situation. Often accompanied by feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, worry, and disengagement.
- “Losing Yourself” (positive connotation). Sometimes referred to as “flow.” Expression used to describe when you are fully engaged and being the most of yourself- your outlook, skills, and passion are alive in your environment, among your collaborators, and with the people you are helping. Time passes quickly, and you feel energized with the passing time.
As you get more practiced at noticing these kinds of “losing yourself,” you can make conscious choices to shift away from compromising who you really are, and to lean into your passions and strengths.
Being more of who you are might not only be the best feeling you can achieve, but a winning strategy to be at the top of your game.