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Are You Out of Your Element?


The definition of “out of your element” is, “to feel unhappy or strange because you are in a situation that you are not familiar with". It is a reference to the classical elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire; “a fish out of water” as being out of its element is an example of the literal and intended meaning.

Someone's "element" refers to their interests or experiences of expertise or comfort. A doctor might be in her element in the operating room but out of her element in a garage. As in the movie, The Big Lebowski, it can refer to, “a situation is not something you are comfortable or qualified to deal with."

Why is this important to goal achievement or feeling fulfilled in one’s life? Sometimes people are unsure of where they need to be in life. They confuse their needs with their “shoulds”. As a result, they end up in an occupation, environment , relationship, etc. that may feel safe but not personally satisfying.

If we practice “shoulds” long enough, we might start to call them “normal” and adopt certain beliefs to give us an adequate sense of security; settling for a situation that “will do”...however in the end isn’t right. Thus, out of our element or the place we feel naturally at home in.

If your daily experience within a given vocation or environment leaves you with feelings of being misaligned with your true-self, you may feel like a fish out of water, however in reality (your own) you are just a unique fish with unique needs to feel fulfilled in life.

Part of goal achievement has to do with facing or eliminating obstacles and aligning oneself with fulfilling meaning in one’s life. Settling for less than you deserve sometimes has to do with feeling as though you don’t have options to choose otherwise.

If you feel you don’t have a choice or limited options to be fulfilled in your current situation, together we can take the steps necessary for you to be more in your element; possibly relieving some anxieties of feeling stuck, trapped, or lacking fulfillment in where you are, right now.

Through the coaching-connection, new options are made into action steps so you can achieve the happiness in life you deserve.

About the Author

For over 20 years, John Cane has helped over 100,000 individuals in areas of Self Improvement. John is a Certified Integrated Wellness Coach (Mind, Body, and Spirit), motivational speaker, and writer. John has six certifications in Personal Growth and Development. His Journal Books, ‘Important Things I Remember from My Parents’ are used in schools and as an aid for adults in gaining strength in self-identity in the United States and Europe. John is currently pursuing his Doctoral Degree in Psychology & Interdisciplinary Inquiry at Saybrook University, Pasadena, California.