Finding your way back to your self


Illustration: Kristin Noelle

How do you find your way back to your self, to your “unstainable goodness,” to trusting and following your path, when something or someone sends you spinning off course?

I asked a handful of friends this question because you can’t live a life that is true to you if you are always reacting to what life throws at you. You can, however, live a frantic, people-pleasing, adrenaline-fueled faux life. How do you return to center? Read the following ideas and then share your response in the comments. Let’s create a rich resource to inspire us all. Thanks!

(And for those of you already enrolled in the Life Organizer Navigation Course, share your thoughts on how you return to center in the Facebook group. Not enrolled? Whatcha waiting for?)


“If I need to find a way back to my center IMMEDIATELY, the very best thing I can do is take a long, deep breath. It sounds so simple, but it is a tool that never, ever fails me.”

Christine Mason Miller



“Depending how far I have spun or in which direction: I go for a walk in nature where I see my inherent goodness reflected back at me; or I call a friend who can remind me who I really am and what my true work is; or I read back over letters and notes I’ve saved in a special folder for moments just like this; or I put on music and dance my way back home to myself.”

Marianne Elliott


“I process things according to how I feel about them and since I feel things really intensely, the only way for me to move past my initial reaction and find a clear path back to my strong, grounded self is to talk things out with my trusted, inner circle—they help me filter through the emotion and find the facts.”

Jac McNeil


“I try to get very quiet, to find within me the deep wellspring of stillness where my soul lives, so I can gently forgive myself for veering off course, come back to center, ask for, interpret, and trust guidance, muster up the moxie to take action if need be, make the “auto-correcting” adjustments that get me back on course, and then…just breathe, knowing that it won’t be long before I spin off course again- and that’s just part of the spiritual path.”

Lissa Rankin, MD


“I close my eyes, breathe in, put my feet square on the floor and envision my feet pressing through the floor, down down down into the earth. I feel that connection and center. Then, I ask myself, “Who do I want to be right now?” The answer always brings me back to self.”

Michele Woodward


Amy Kessel“I spiral inward, reconnecting through silence and spaciousness   to the place of stillness that houses who I REALLY am.”

Amy Kessel




susan piver“Writing always brings me back and reminds me that there is a voice within that is so much smarter than me.”

Susan Piver


Tracey ClarkWhen I go astray, I try being extra-kind to myself and allow for gentle self-correction.  It’s a practice, for sure, and the key for me is to forgive myself in the process. With each derailment comes an opportunity to exercise my resilience and get back to the path, steady and sure.”

Tracey Clark


Charlie Gilkey“My first practice for finding my way back to myself is to find the simple and straight path, as so much of the spinning, whirring, and churning is done because simple, straightforward plans and relationships become more complex, complicated, and stagnant when we over-infuse our hopes and fears into them.”

Charlie Gilkey


michelelisenburychristensen“Writing a note from my 90-year-old self to my current self reminds me that I have a unique path, that I’m on it, and that every bend in this road is an integral part of reaching my destination: being HER, full of wisdom, joy, and peace.”

Michele Lisenbury Christensen


amy_oscar“Finally, I have come to understand that ‘spinning’ – that panic-stricken, OMG! WTF am I supposed to do now? – is guidance. It’s a telegram straight from my soul, and it’s shouting: You are out of alignment. Come home. The moment I see this, I can shift. Where is this home? Right here – inside my own heart. After 50+ years of blaming and beating up on myself, the discovery that peace always arrives can bring me to tears.  I remind myself: Peace is not ‘out there’ it’s in here. I climb back inside the room of peace at the center of my own heart and I am home.

Amy Oscar


Tara Sophia Mohr“My top five balms: music, cuddles, tears, venting to good friends until we are laughing, and wondering how my golden retriever would view the situation.”

Tara Sophia Mohr



Sarah-K-Peck“I don’t profess to be able to always recenter easily, but when I need to, the best thing for me is to slow down at least one of my sensory experiences. Close my eyes, take a shower, breathe in, put earplugs in, go for a run. When life throws me off-balance, I try to remember that I’m a witness to my feelings, not controlled by them. I breathe and try to find stillness or quiet among it all, and search for the good news. It’s usually a lesson, an idea, or a practice that the universe needed to send my way, and I roll with it as best I can.”

Sarah Kathleen Peck


Laurie Wagner“I really check things with my ex-husband because he’s known me for 26 years, knows me better than anyone else, and always reminds me that my heart and my intentions are always good, and to not get distracted by someone else’s stuff. Skip the drama, stay the course.”

Laurie Wagner



Ronna Detrick“I go within. Way down deep. I listen to the know-that-I-know-that-I-know voice. And I trust that it is right; that I am.”

Ronna Detrick, M.Div.


Michael Bungay Stanier“I have a “this/not this” list that I consult with five or six key word pairs, so I remember what I’m like when I’m “off course” (for instance, “sycophantic”) and what its matching pair is when I’m at my best (in this case, “provocative”).”

Michael Bungay Stanier



Rachel Cole“I gently pinch the skin on my forearm, close my eyes, and breathe in the knowing that what I am holding is as sacred, good, and wise as anything else in the universe.”

Rachel Cole



Lissa Boles“The first thing I tend to do is turn t’wards sacred readings, poetry (David Whyte, Khalil Gibran, John O’Donohue) and open a random page to find something that usually answers my heart’s needs.”

Lissa Boles




Jennifer Lee“Connecting with one of my mantras, “beauty, breath, and being” helps me find my way back to myself.”

Jennifer Lee



The Wild Heart Queen

“I confess to my husband that I have fallen into a pit of self doubt and he reminds me that a.) I am a lunatic and b.) I am and always have been brilliant, talented and wise.”

The Wild Heart Queen




Gala Darling“I head to the gym, kick my own ass, laugh with my trainer, and leave drenched in sweat. Instant mood-cure.”

Gala Darling


eric klein“By shifting attention from swirling, twirling thoughts into the pattern of sensations, the pulse of breath, and the presence that infuses and embraces it all.”

Eric Klein


Oriah“I sit with paper and pen, and I let what is within- my description of what threw me off and the voice of imagination that can make story and meaning of it all- spill onto the page.”

Oriah Mountain Dreamer


Anna“First, I have to remind myself that it’s even possible (because it’s SO easy to forget!), then I feel my feet on the floor, close my eyes & take a few deep breaths while sending myself love.”

Anna Guest-Jelley


abby“It’s usually a combo approach: talk out the tangle with a trusted friend, then seek solitude (to meditate, journal or both); OR, start with solitude to sort things out in meditation or in my journal, and then talk about it.

It’s rarely enough to just talk about it without coming back to solitude, whereas the silence and alone-time are often enough to get untangled and find myself again. (And when none of that works, there’s always dancing around the kitchen!)”

Abby Seixas


Michelle Ward“First, I have a good cry/wallow – don’t underestimate the power of letting those emotions out. Then, I make my man listen to my troubles and hug me and get me apple juice (it always makes me feel better), and he always knows the nicest things to say to make me feel better and more confident. Then I think of all the people I’ve worked with who I helped, and take a peek at my Win Book to stroke my ego. By that point, I’ve usually shaken it off (or had a good night’s sleep) and am ready to take on the world again!”

Michelle Ward, The When I Grow Up Coach


molly gordon“I remember that anything that comes between us and our true natures–that unstainable goodness–is a mirage. All we need to do about a mirage is realize that it is one. ♥”

Molly Gordon, MCC


Karen Brody“First I allow myself to have a pity party. Then I run a warm bath, put in a few drops of lavender, and feel the feelings in my body, pair them with the opposite feelings…and then hold both opposites…and it’s like BAM…I recalibrate to ‘it’s okay…everything, just as it is.”

Karen Brody


lianne-raymond“A surefire way to collect myself is head to the woods (or just the tree in the backyard) with a good book of poetry. Heaven and earth.”

Lianne Raymond



Alison Luterman“TM–Transcendental Meditation, if only I remember and commit to doing it.”

Alison Luterman



Renee Peterson Trudeau“I return ‘home’ by pausing, observing and checking in with my body. My body is boss and it often I dialogue with her when I get triggered. I’ll close my eyes, tune inward and ask ‘What area (of my body) most wants to be seen/heard? What feeling is associated with this area? Is there any action you’d have me take?’ Usually the action is to just breathe. So breathe I do—ten deep belly inhales/exhales. Ah, home again.”

Renee Peterson Trudeau


“After I realize I’ve spun off course (because sometimes it takes some time) I pray and thank God that all I have to do is trust the journey and have peace with the process.”

Erin Giles



“I find that I spin off course when I don’t stay true to self. I return to a place of being “unapologetically me” by self-expressing something that I’m afraid to say: a slice of truth, vulnerable and real, packaged with a bow and sent out into the world.”

Dave Ursillo


luna_jaffe“I return to my visual journaling process, allowing the messy, unpleasant, shame filled feelings to have a voice, and I write about “What I know for sure” about myself or the situation.”

Luna Jaffe CFP, MA




Julie Daley“I breathe into my belly, feel the dark richness there, sense how deeply and lovingly my flesh is connected to the Earth, and remember how she asks for nothing from me as she gives continuously – that is love.”

deep in the darkness of the womb of my body lies the seed from which all was born.
i feel this seed.
it’s always there.
it’s unchanging, yet always giving birth to new life.
light in dark.
life from death.
eternity in this moment.
everything in nothing.
when i lose grounding, when i forget, when the chaos is more than i feel i can handle, i simply come back to this seed, and from here i am born anew.

Julie Daley, PCC, CPCC

Now it’s your turn. How do you find your way back to your self, to your “unstainable goodness,” to trusting and following your path, when something or someone sends you spinning off course? Please share in the comments or on the class Facebook page. I can’t wait to read what you wrote and to work with you in the course.



Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Carol Hess - January 14, 2014

Wow, what a collection of wisdom to tap into and perfect timing because I am spinning and off-center right NOW. Thanks for writing this blog post just for me, Jen. 🙂 Last night, I prayed for an attitude switch and turned the spin-causing situation over to my Higher Power. I’m not totally back to center yet, but I’m getting there. And I do know the next right thing to do and just did it.

    Daina Puodziunas - January 15, 2014

    I was shocked to find that I lost myself in a relationship (once again) 10 years ago. I was 50 and had been teaching women how to be self aware, not loose themselves in others, be empowered etc. since I was 30. That’s why the shock!! I got very quiet, meditated a lot, absorbed nature to the fullest extent, did lots of self inquiry to get to the bottom of how this happened. Then I did a lot of self inquiry around what’s important to me. What I will never compromise again. And slowly…very slowly… I began to feel myself back in my body, my psyche, my spirit and vowed to never abandon myself again. I’m 60 now! Happy! Fulfilled!

      Carol Hess - January 16, 2014

      I love a story with a happy ending, Daina! I too lost myself in a relationship (a marriage) years ago and swore I would never do it again. I accomplished that mainly by avoiding relationships with the opposite sex from then on! Now that I’m 63, I know that I will never allow myself to disappear again. So I’m actually ready to contemplate allowing a relationship into my life. Like you, I know what happened in my marriage, and I now know who I really am and what’s important to me. That’s key.

        Daina Puodziunas - January 18, 2014

        HI Carol! Thanks so much for sharing. Good for you! I have decided to stay single. I realized what a free spirit I am and how I am so happy living alone in the woods communing with nature. For my social time….once or twice a week, I drive into the city and free form dance to the live bands that I love. I’ve met tons of people who join me in dancing. It feels like I’m dancing in heaven. That’s my cardio!!

          Carol Hess - January 19, 2014

          Good for you, Daina! It sounds like you have figured out what you want and need and how to make it happen. And dancing sure sounds like a lot more fun than any old cardio routine in a gym!

      jenniferlouden - January 17, 2014

      Daina wonderful to hear how you reclaimed yourself. We have to do it again and again, it’s so fascinating!

        Daina Puodziunas - January 18, 2014

        Thanks Jen! Yes…I had to do it a number of times! Such a precious thing to recover and reclaim!!

    jenniferlouden - January 17, 2014

    wonderful Carol!

OceanPrincess - January 14, 2014

Dance. It works every time.

    jenniferlouden - January 17, 2014


Paula - January 14, 2014

This is a great question, especially because I have to really think about (a) what is it like for me to be centered and (b) how do I become aware than I’m not, and actually there’s a (c) how can I keep convincing myself that coming back to center is as essential as drinking water, sitting in the sun and really sleeping?

Your description of the ailment, “… always reacting to what life throws at you … [living a] frantic, people-pleasing, adrenaline-fueled faux life” is right on and I can’t wait to try Michael’s word pairs exercise to turn things around (e.g. frantic –> energized, reacting –> noticing and letting go).

Though I honestly have rarely tried to recenter myself on purpose, the activites that do it include riding a bus or a train without focusing on the destination, walking through the woods/on the beach with the dog and looking at the night sky. I just need to recognize when things are off-kilter and act rather than react.

    jenniferlouden - January 17, 2014

    yes Paula that “just need to recognize” is a huge and vital just!

Sher Bailey - January 17, 2014

These are all so wonderful. I’m delighted you asked the question that allowed us to peek behind the curtain into thought processes others have. Thank you!

    jenniferlouden - January 17, 2014

    thanks for reading!

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