I’ve recently gone through phases of disconnection — feeling lost between moments of reality. Wondering how I got there, why I felt that way, and if there’s something that might be wrong with me.
Feeling disconnected is a normal part of this human experience that comes during times of transition, hardship, and/or spiritual awakening. While scary and overwhelming, feeling disconnected is only temporary and gifts us with wisdom we may not have otherwise gained.
There are many reasons to feel disconnected in life, but a common thread that connects it all is that one is transitioning out of or becoming aware of a certain part of their life. How do we navigate this uncomfortable time? How do we get through it in the healthiest way possible? These are questions I’ve had to answer myself, and now, being on the other side of it, I will share them with you.
What does Feeling Disconnected Mean?
When one feels disconnected, they may feel a loss of connection between themselves and something outside of themselves, such as a partner, job, the Earth, or day-to-day life. It may also feel like one is disconnected from themselves — like they don’t even know who they are anymore.
It may feel surreal – like one is observing from outside themselves. What they once knew to be true, such as how they relate to or feel about something, is no longer valid. People you once related to, you can no longer relate to. The Earth, which you once felt connected to, feels distant and foreign. The space you reside in no longer feels the same. Everything feels uncertain, which causes one to feel lost, confused, and out of touch.
When one feels disconnected, it can be terrifying and overwhelming. When this happens, it’s important to understand why it may be happening; then one can learn how to navigate it with grace and patience.
Why People Feel Disconnected
Here are the four most common reasons people feel disconnected in life that I have witnessed and observed. As you might imagine, these reasons may be interwoven and may not be distinctly different in one’s experience.
- They are going through a spiritual awakening.
- They are going through a major life transition.
- They are avoiding reality through distractions.
- They experienced something traumatic.
Disconnection Due to Spiritual Awakening
Going through a spiritual awakening is a transformative experience with unimaginable benefits. As the term implies, one who was unconscious and ‘asleep’ to their reality and the potential of this life is now awake and aware.
At the same time, to experience a spiritual awakening, one must go through a dark night of the soul. In other words, one becomes aware of the masks they wear, their beliefs, and their ego, which controls their reality. This transition and awareness can be challenging, and the ego will resist such an experience, especially when it gets too “real.”
When feeling disconnected from yourself, the ‘ego’ or mind will start creating thoughts and stories that may not be true.
When a spiritual awakening occurs, one’s mind and energy start to change. Normal day-to-day life is not as it once was, as one sees everything differently. This can cause one to feel disconnected from the people around them, the daily tasks they perform, and themselves.
Here’s a helpful video that explains why one feels disconnected during a spiritual awakening.
Disconnection Due to Life Transition
You may have heard that we are creatures of habit, which is undeniably true for most people. We crave stability, community, safety, and reassurance in our reality, which is necessary for survival. While we all know this to be true, scientific studies published by The National Library of Medicine have confirmed that humans thrive within safe social structures.
The only thing is that life is full of change and uncertainty. People move, career paths change, people change, relationships end, and others begin. When going through a life transition, it’s normal to feel disconnected as your reality, as you knew it, has changed. Your schedule, day-to-day life, and safety and security (such as home and work) have changed, and you are thrust into the unknown. We all know how scary the unknown is.
Disconnection Due to Avoiding Reality
Avoidance of reality is becoming a normal part of our lives, we just don’t realize it, and one of its forms is social media. I do it, and you probably do too. There isn’t anything necessary ‘wrong’ with going on social media, but it is much harder to stay grounded in reality and the present moment when one is constantly scrolling through their feed.
This begs the question, why do we spend so much time on social media? It’s an easy and satisfying distraction, that’s for sure. I’ve noticed that when I’m avoiding something, such as an uncomfortable emotion or a task that needs to be done, I spend more time on social media than I normally would. Any time I feel a flicker of stress or situation I don’t want to face, to Instagram, I go!
One can easily become disconnected from reality when this cycle continues without awareness. Social media is just one form of avoidance; other forms include playing games, listening/reading a book as a means to escape, or binge-watching television.
Time and patience is your greatest ally when feeling disconnected from reality.
Again, none of these things are “bad” or “wrong,” it’s only a problem when one becomes so attached and addicted to these things that they become detached from reality. When they finally stop and look up, they don’t know who they are, what to do, or how to cope, and thus they feel disconnected from themselves, other people, and their life.
Disconnection Due to Trauma
Traumatic experiences can cause us to go into shock and dissociate. When one’s nervous system is highly activated and severely impacted, it can take a while to recover. This may make someone feel disconnected from reality, others, and themselves for a few days, weeks, or months, depending on their process and what they experienced.
When experiencing disconnection due to trauma, the most important thing to remember is to have patience and grace for yourself. It’s normal for the nervous system to take some time to recover and for you to feel like you don’t know who you are anymore. I promise the feeling will pass; it will just take time. Grounding exercises can help in this process.
Feeling Disconnected from Self
I’ve recently experienced what it’s like to feel disconnected from myself. It’s a scary experience, as if you’re floating in the abyss, detached from who you once were. Nothing makes sense, internal conflict is shouting within oneself, and fear takes the driver’s seat. That’s been my experience, at least. By going through that process, I learned a lot about how to cope and understand why I felt the way I did.
If you feel disconnected from yourself, ask why you feel that way. From there, it’s especially important not to get lost in feelings of confusion and fear. When feeling disconnected from yourself, the ‘ego’ or mind will start creating thoughts and stories that may not be true. These could be hurtful thoughts towards yourself, stories about other people, or fantasies about how your life should or shouldn’t be.
When you notice these thoughts arriving, pause and really see them. Remind yourself that you’re feeling an emotion, such as fear, anger, or grief, and these thoughts are being produced from that state. Thus, they are likely not true and may be causing you more harm. If you’re feeling lost in these thoughts and don’t know how to get out, I recommend trying grounding exercises.
Feeling Disconnected from Partner
Feeling disconnected from one’s romantic partner can feel just as scary as being disconnected from yourself, and maybe you’re feeling both of those things. First, ask yourself why you feel disconnected from them. If it feels right, try talking to them and be honest about how you feel.
When in this state, fearful thoughts about the relationship may arise. It’s important not to say anything you don’t mean or make any decisions in this state, as your thoughts may not be clear or authentic to how you truly feel. Touch or staring into each other’s eyes can help you feel connected again and do an activity together that you both love.
What to do When Feeling Disconnected
The most important thing when feeling disconnected is being able to come back into your body. It’s also helpful to lean into something greater than yourself and ask for guidance and support. It may be wise to seek help from someone you feel safe with, and you can talk through what you’re experiencing.
Studies published by the National Library of Medicine have confirmed that prolonged experiences of loneliness can be detrimental to one’s health, so your feelings of disconnection must be addressed. Along those lines, I’ll share some activities you can try when feeling disconnected from yourself, your body, and reality.
Feeling Disconnected from Myself
When feeling disconnected from yourself, your mind may be spinning thoughts about yourself, others, and the world that probably aren’t true. If you feel disconnected from yourself, try a few of these activities:
- Journaling activity: write a list of what you love about yourself or what you’re good at. You may be feeling anything but love towards yourself, and that’s okay; it’s helpful just to start writing anyways. You can begin by simply writing, “who am I?” Then write your name, where you live, what brings you joy, what you love (such as a pet or partner), and so on. If journaling isn’t your thing, you can do this activity by speaking it out loud.
- Sunbathe: If it’s warm, go lay out in the sun and bring your awareness to your breath. Try not to get sucked into thoughts; just breathe and focus on how the sun feels against your skin and the sounds you hear.
- Go outside, stand barefoot on the grass, close your eyes, and feel your connection to the Earth.
- Do an activity you love.
- Go on a walk.
- Listen to your favorite music.
Feeling Disconnected from Body
Grounding activities would also be helpful when feeling disconnected from your body, especially sunbathing and going on a walk. I will say, journaling may not be as helpful in this instance, as journaling requires a lot of mental activity. You are likely already feeling floaty, numb, foggy, or have spinning thoughts, and activating the mind may not be helpful. Instead, you can try any of the following:
- Yoga/streching/exercise: Moving your body and focusing your awareness on how your body feels can be wonderfully supportive and help you connect back to your body.
- Dance! Nothing gets me back into my body like dancing to some good music. Find some space where you won’t be disturbed, and let yourself dance and move in whatever way feels best.
- Hold one hand over your heart and the other hand over your stomach. When doing this, breathe deeply and remind yourself that you are safe and loved. This hand placement feels amazingly comforting to the body and can be a great way to calm yourself and return to your body.
- Stand barefoot in the grass or go on a walk. Being in nature is wonderfully grounding and can help you reconnect with your body.
- Tune into your five senses and focus only on those for as long as you need. What do you hear? What do you feel on your skin? What do you see? What can you smell? What do you taste?
Feeling Disconnected from Reality
Time and patience is your greatest ally when feeling disconnected from reality. The most likely cause of feeling disconnected from reality is when one is going through a spiritual awakening. I may sound like a broken record at this point, but doing a grounding exercise will be especially helpful.
As someone going through a spiritual awakening and healing journey myself, I feel completely disconnected from society and the pressures and games that take place. Finding a group of good friends with who you can connect spiritually, emotionally, and mentally is the greatest medicine when feeling disconnected from reality. These people help you feel less alone.
Here are some other things you can try:
- Spend quality time in nature.
- Reflect on this phrase: We are the creators of our own reality.
- Be creative and do something you love.
- Sing, dance, move!
What causes disconnection?
Various things can cause disconnection, but the most common causes are spiritual awakening, life transitions, trauma, and avoidance of reality.
What are the signs of disconnection?
Disconnection signals feeling lost and confused about who you are or what you want — feeling foggy, numb, like you’re in a dream, or watching the world play out outside yourself.
Activities That Real People Do to Cope With Feeling Disconnected
Everyone will feel a level of disconnection at some point in their life. Knowing what to do to support yourself is most helpful during those times. Because of this, I reached out to a few of my friends and family and asked them what they do to help themselves when they feel disconnected from themselves, others, or reality. Here’s what they shared:
|Make a collage||8%|
|Get a massage||15%|
|Talk to trusted family/friends||8%|
- What Really Matters – How Doing Less Makes it All Better
- Quality Over Quantity – How I Buy Once for Decades of Use
- Value Of Time – Making Choices For Life and Happiness
- Free From Worry – My Guide to a Happier Lifestyle
- Live In the Present – My Experience with Living Deeply
- Meaningful Conversation – Guide to Deeper Conversations
While feeling disconnected is a natural experience that arises during different life phases, it doesn’t make it any less scary or challenging. When feeling disconnected, find what supports you. Ground yourself as best as possible and remember that this time will pass. Smother yourself with grace, patience, love, forgiveness, and presence.