Wholeness: The Search for our Lost Self

Nowadays, we use words such as wholeness and holistic very often. You hear about holistic coaching, holistic counselling, holistic medicine… but what does holistic actually mean? And what does it mean to become whole? 

To me, it suggests being full, being 100% alive, being ourselves at our maximum potential. It means living with a purpose in your heart and mind. 

We are not born to work, pay taxes and die. We are born to live at our full potential, making use of our innate talents and contributing to the harmonic development of society with them. 

Nobody teaches us to become fully ‘grown up’, mature human beings and we are not informed at any step of the way that it’s never to late to learn, nor too early. 

My journey started at 37, but my daughter’s started even earlier at 23. Imagine the difference it could and would make to start becoming whole at such a young age… you can create wonders.

For me, it was a little different. My journey is my own and I’m learning to enjoy my wholeness at the age of 55. And it is most certainly, magic. We can indeed learn wholeness at any age.

I can assure you that living as a half as opposed to a whole, is a different experience entirely.

For the past 7 years, after my own separation and divorce, I spent a lot of time reading, studying and training. I was aware that although I’d lost my family, everything happened for a reason. There was a hidden purpose behind all that was unfolding: to reveal to me that I’d been living life as a ‘half’… I wasn’t fully human, nor fully alive.

Choosing and living loneliness for most of these years has been deeply nourishing and enriching, albeit tough. I can only liken it to walking in the desert alone with God. I must admit, it was a conscious choice, but I knew that being alone with myself (with the support of a counsellor at first, then coach and a spiritual guide), meant I’d finally be able to let go of any remaining blindness. Choosing to be alone would push me to become fully aware of the parts of me which I’d lost, my ‘lost self’, and I still seemingly couldn’t find, despite however many years of studying and training I did around self-actualisation. Choosing to be alone also brought me face to face with my ‘false self’, the facade that I had built -as all of us do in one way or another- in order to fill the void created by earlier repression and lack of adequate love and nurturing.

Who is our ‘Lost Self’?

According to author of ‘Getting the Love You Want’, Harville Hendrix Ph.D, our ‘lost self’ is the sum of all the parts of ourself that we had to repress because of society’s demands. As we all do, I’d repressed parts of myself in early childhood (this usually occurs before we become toddlers). Just like all children do, I’d perceived that these parts were not helpful in earning me the love I craved from my parents.

So, because I was missing my ‘lost self’, I started acting from my ‘fake self’. In adulthood, I continued acting from this place, which is inherently different from my ‘true self’ and distant from my ‘centre’. When we act from this ‘false self’, we are missing certain important qualities such as:

  • Trust
  • Self-love
  • Integrity and honesty
  • Calm
  • Patience
  • Discipline 
  • Self-control
  • Will-power
  • Courage

These are just the major parts. As expected, living without these missing parts meant living as a half human being rather than a whole one. I can’t quite tell you what a difference I feel today, from the inside, out. 

What are some of the results we can expect from investing in finding our ‘lost self’?

  • Deeper sense of self
  • Authentic self-love, self-trust and self-motivation
  • True sense of responsibility and commitment
  • Self-confidence
  • A natural sense of wholeness, that is to say, of autonomy, calm and freedom
  • Deeper level of EQ
  • An ability to be an independent and inter-dependent human being within your relationships in life and work
  • An ability to recognise, sustain, manage and transform situations with a healthy blend of logic and emotional drive
  • Lack of fear of judgement and a capacity to face feedback when necessary
  • Capacity to be assertive and confrontative if the situation calls for it
  • Courage to own your ‘shadow’ and all its complexities
  • An ability to be held accountable when needed
  • A heightened sense of purpose and love for your life

It is important that we learn to understand ourselves early on, in our varying temperaments, personalities, strengths, flaws, light and shadow. Just becoming aware can make a huge difference in the way that we live life and we use our lives at the service of others. 

 image by  Roman Kraft

image by Roman Kraft

How can you start on the journey to wholeness?

A disclaimer before I begin: the decision to start is yours, nobody can enforce it. 

  1. Choosing to fully see and get to know ourselves as we are, in the here and now, and in all our light and our shadow. Only by knowing ourselves as we are presently, can we then move our focus on what we might have lost along the way. 
  2. Deciding that being who you are presently is no longer enough for you. Recognising that there’s a part of you that you know is there but has not surfaced yet. It’s remained suppressed due to reasons you’ll discover as you get to know yourself better from the inside out. 
  3. Taking the necessary actions (see below) to discover and integrate the lost parts of yourself. This step requires lots of courage, self-love and a love for life. It’s not a journey everyone decides to embark on because it is a painful one, which asks you to willingly stay in the desert alone (albeit, with a coach or mentor to help you along the way).

Possible First Steps

  1. Gauge where you are at by taking a Wellness Wheel assessment. It will give you a in-depth look at the various areas in your life you might be neglecting and also which aspects you’re most motivated to change. 
  2. Get to know yourself a bit better with books that take you on a personal journey, my recommendations are: 
  3. Start a daily mindfulness practice to become more present within yourself and therefore be better able to evaluate where you are on the journey to wholeness.

I can tell you it’s a worthy journey and one that I will never regret embarking on a few years ago. The results, beyond a sense of wholeness, can be seen as the constant sensation of underlying joy despite anything that might be happening in my life and the strong sense of who I am as a woman, mother and over all human being with a higher purpose.


Read my blog posts I Am Worthy and Self Awareness: A Lifetime Journey for more on the importance of getting to know yourself and steps on how to.

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