Do you have any not-so-great qualities about yourself that just keep on popping up? It’s like they just won’t go away. I have about a million. But, there’s one that seems to pop its ugly, little head up the most and that is my insecurity of feeling like I just don’t belong. I’m not sure when this started in me. In my earliest memories, I was a very confident, happy little kid. Then sometime around third grade I can remember feeling like maybe there was something wrong with me and I didn’t fit in. I can remember my very best friend in the world was put in a different third grade class than me! Horror! She became really good friends with another girl and I started feeling like I didn’t belong. Tragic grade school woes. I’m sure everyone has had this happen to them. But why does it keep popping up? Why can I not get past it? I’m 50 now for heaven’s sake. I’m not a lonely, little girl on the playground. Or am I? That’s what it still feels like. I may have grown up and gotten 1 or 2 (or a full head) of gray hairs, but I still feel like that little girl on the playground watching her best friend in the world play with someone else. Not a good feeling. It has followed me and haunted me and driven me crazy my whole life and I just don’t know how to get rid of it. I’m old enough now to realize that I’m not “getting” something. I’m supposed to learn something and it just isn’t getting into my big, fat head. My brain can tell me that I do fit in and even if I don’t, it’s ok. But my heart says “Why don’t they want to play with me?” How do I fix this?
I’ve tried to psychoanalyze myself. I think about the fact that we moved when I was in the 4th grade and again between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. I like to think that I felt like I didn’t fit in because I didn’t go to the same school with the same people my whole life. But then, I look at people who moved more than I did and they don’t seem to feel that way. Of course, I don’t know what they’re feeling inside, but they seem pretty confident. And then there are my sisters. They moved with me and they didn’t have trouble making friends and feeling like they belonged. Back to me being weird.
I’ve also thought about the fact that even when I’m with my friends and family, I can feel like I don’t belong. What is that about?! I know they care about me. But, from time to time I’ll still feel like I’m the outsider looking in. I know it’s my problem and not theirs. I know that it’s all in my own head. But, how do I change that? How do I get it out of my head? I don’t like feeling like I’m some sort of weird alien with 3 eyeballs. I don’t like telling myself “Why did you just say that? People are going to think you’re weird and they won’t like you”. I’ve gone my whole life thinking I’m just a people pleaser, when to be truthful, it’s more like – heaven forbid I do something that somebody won’t like. Because then they won’t be my friend! This is definitely a pox that I need to cure. Or at least fix. Or at least get under control. Something. Anything would be better than nothing. But, what do I do?
I’ve tried pretty much everything, including looking in a mirror and telling myself that I belong. I’ve decided that I’m going to try the steps to contentment. I have no idea if they’ll work or not. It can’t hurt. I don’t want to go another 50 years feeling like the odd man out. I can’t. Would you believe that I didn’t dance at my own son’s wedding (except the mother-son dance and that was a nightmare) because I was scared to death that I was going to make a fool out of myself. I didn’t want people to see that I can’t dance. Why? Because I didn’t want them to laugh at me or think badly of me. Why? Because I don’t like being alone on the playground. I’ll never get that moment back. I’ll never be able to dance with my son at his wedding again. I’m not going to miss out on anything else because of my dumb insecurities. So, back to trying to use the steps to contentment to fix them. Here’s what I’m planning to do:
- I have to accept and take ownership of these feelings. I feel like I’m pretty good with step 1. I’ve already told you that I have these insecurities and that I know they’re in my own head. But knowing it and accepting it doesn’t make it feel good. And it doesn’t have to feel good. I don’t have to like it. And just because I accept it, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything I can do about it. It doesn’t mean that I say “OK, I have these insecurities. I’m weird. Nothing to be done about it. I guess I just have to get used to it”. I can fight it. That’s what the other steps are for. So first, I’m going to say “For most of my life, I’ve felt like I don’t fit in, but I’m going to work to change that and bring peace to my life”. This problem I have has actually changed how I live my life. I’ve always tried to make people like me, even when it didn’t feel good. I’ve always tried to be the nice girl; the good girl; the funny girl; the smart girl – ok maybe not that one, but you get the point here. My life was changed because of the way that I felt and the thoughts I had. So I guess that means that I have the power to change my life for the better just by changing what I think. Well that’s deep. Gonna have to wrap my brain around that for a while. In the meantime, on to step 2.
- This is going to be a hard step for me. I DON’T KNOW WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE THINKING!! But, I sure think I do. I mean really. I’m pretty sure that I do. You can tell when people are laughing at you. Right? You can tell when people think you are the biggest dork to walk the planet. Right? You can tell when people are bored with you and don’t want to hang out with you. Right? Wrong. I don’t know what they’re thinking. I just always assume that if someone’s in a bad mood, it’s because of me. I must have done something to irritate them. If someone seems distracted, it’s because of me. They’re bored with me. You get the picture here, right. Pretty much in my life it’s all me, me, me. I’m so good at step 1 that I not only feel responsible for my own feelings I feel responsible for everyone else’s. I’m surprised I haven’t been arrested! I have got to get it through my head that I can’t make anyone feel a certain way (they are in charge of that) and I can’t always assume that they don’t like me or they’re mad at me. So what am I going to do about this problem I have of feeling responsible for everybody else’s feelings? When somebody’s mad, I’m going to say “I don’t know if they’re mad at me or not. And if they are, that’s their thing. I can’t make anyone mad at me – they’re choosing that. I’m doing my best to be honest and fair and kind. If they are mad, that’s their thing not mine”. Then I actually have to make sure that I’m being honest and fair and kind. Jeeesh this is a lot of work. I’m going to work at telling myself I don’t know what other people are thinking. It won’t be easy, but it’s not easy to feel left out and alone. So I’m going to do this. I can do this. I will do this.
- Step 3 is all about gratitude. How on earth can I be grateful that I feel like a big dork that doesn’t fit in anywhere? I’m not grateful for that. I’m trying to get rid of that. The answer is – I don’t have to be grateful for that specific thing, but I can be grateful for something that came from it. That’s confusing. Let me give you an example here. I can be grateful for the fact that I get this chance to grow. I’m grateful for my understanding husband who doesn’t let my craziness bother him. I’m grateful for the friends that I have. I am not a person who makes friends easily, so when I get a friend I try to work to keep them. Even though I might have times that I feel like I don’t fit in with friends, I am grateful that I have them. Now I just have to keep reminding myself of this over and over. Every time that old feeling of being left out or of not being liked starts creeping in, I’m going to remind myself of this.
- Do unto others. This is a hard one for this particular problem. Or maybe it’s just a forest for the trees kinda thing. Either way, I’m having trouble with this. So I’m thinking that I am going to put myself out there and risk hurt feelings by smiling at people more and trying to make other people feel like they belong and that I care about them. This isn’t easy when you’re afraid that people will think you’re a dork. But I can do it. If I work to make other people feel like they belong and that I care about them and their feelings, then maybe my own insecurities will shrink a little. Maybe not, we’ll see. I’m also going to take this step further by adding the old saying “What goes around comes around”. If I’m kind to other people, kindness will come my way. Maybe not all the time and with all people, but in general, I will receive kindness. Bottom line is – if I want to feel accepted and like I belong then I have to do that for other people. This one is going to be hard for me. I’m a shy person and I would rather walk past someone and not say anything while I just go on about my business. So how am I going to do this? I think I’ll start with just smiling and saying hello. That doesn’t sound too scary. When people are in my office at work, I’ll make them feel welcome and take the time to really see how they’re feeling. I will care about people and caring will come back to me. Maybe not by those particular people, but the universe will send me love. I believe that. What goes around comes around. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Hard one. More work Holy cow this is not easy.
- Visualization – This is my favorite part of the steps to contentment. I love visualization and I use it all the time for lots of things. It’s great to use when something scares you. But right now, I’m going to use it to beat up my insecurities about not fitting in. Every night before bed, I’m going to visualize my happy place. I’ll start by doing the deep breathing and progressive relaxation that I talked about in the menu bar of this blog. Then I’ll picture myself in my very own mountain meadow. I call it my mountain. It’s just a made up place, but it’s mine. I really see myself there. I can hear the sounds and smell the smells. It’s relaxing and calm and wonderful and it’s mine whenever I want it. After I spend some time on my mountain, I’m going to visualize myself being in a group of people that I don’t know and feeling like I don’t fit in. Then I’m going to visualize myself feeling calm and relaxed in that situation. I’m going to see myself knowing that my fear is probably all in my head and that I will be ok. Whether they want me to be there or not, I’m ok.
That’s it. That’s what I’m going to do. I don’t know if it will work, but that’s the plan man. I would love to hear from you. What do you think of my plan? Do you think I’m nuts to think this will work? Do you think you might try it yourself? Do you think I ask too many questions? Let me know what’s on your mind or if you have questions. I would love to hear from you.
Wishing you all the peace in the world,