When you feel like you don’t belong

Something that often comes up for introverts and sensitives is a feeling of not belonging.

I’ve noticed that this feeling of not belonging often comes up in higher stakes social situations, like conferences (whether for work or for pleasure) and parties.

I suspect that this feeling of not belonging is primarily triggered by feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed by the energy of all the different people in the room, as well as by the intensity of our own hopes and expectations about the event.

Not belonging is a kind of rejection

Of particular interest to me is that most sensitives (including me) will go through some kind of rejection process as part of dealing with their belonging issues.

Often this looks like telling ourselves, “I don’t belong here. There’s something wrong with me, I don’t fit in, I’m not as good as so-and-so at this, what was I even thinking to be here in the first place?”

But it can also look like this, “These people are horrible, what are they doing/thinking/saying that for? I can’t believe how [fill in the blank] they are being. I don’t have these problems, I don’t belong here, I’m better than they are.”

It’s a clear pattern of rejection.

In the first case, we reject ourselves.

In the second case, we reject “them.”

Rejection like this is a form of judging

Inherent in this way of thinking is judgment.

We’re either judging ourselves or judging other people.

And why?

I notice that I’m much more likely to get into this kind of pattern when I’m feeling insecure about something.

“Compare and despair”

(Martha Beck’s phrase)

It also feels a lot like comparison.

Remember what we say about comparison? Someone always loses.

I think the same thing goes for judging.

I lose when I judge, whether I’m judging myself, which is so painful, or when I’m judging someone else, because I rob myself of the opportunity to see someone as human, flawed, and imperfect, just like I am.

Judgment versus discernment

As a counterpoint to my own argument, I feel compelled to add that judgment can be a useful tool when applied as discernment. We can and should be discerning about how we invest our time, energy, and money in the world, and who we spend it with. It strikes me that judgment (at least the kind of judgment we’re talking about here) is healthy discernment run amok.

Judgment makes it personal. Discernment makes choices.

Connecting at the level of humanity

A few weeks ago, I talked about how looking from the outside in never gives us the full story about other people, so we need to be careful not to make assumptions about things like how successful other people are or not, what they really think or believe or feel about something, or what their businesses, habits, homes, or relationships are actually like.

I’ve also been observing how much pain and struggle so many of us are experiencing right now, and while I don’t like to focus on the struggle, it’s real and true.

At conferences and parties everyone tries so hard to “BE SOMEONE” they are not, it’s much more difficult to connect to the truth of their humanity, just like it’s harder to connect to our own humanity when we’re focused on the image of who we are trying to be.

The painful beauty of events like Hurricane Sandy is that they connect us together through the simple truth of being alive, something I remember all too well from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm.

When we can find that place of connection, by staying grounded and connected with our own bodies and looking to see the deeper souls through the eyes of the people around us, we are always safe, we always belong, and there is no need to judge.

Share your thoughts

I always love to hear what you think on the blog.




Coming Attractions

~> November 15th. Mark your calendar to join my free Writer’s Chat on Vokle.com. I’ll be sending registration details soon.

~> November 21st. Register by WEDNESDAY November 21st (a day early because of American Thanksgiving) for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle (starts November 26th). Build a solid habit of daily writing and finish all your writing projects: http://JustDoTheWriting.com


What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Working on rewriting my script, Progeny, with my mentor Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries.* I’m currently editing “mini-movie 3” of my script before moving on to complete “mini-movie 4” and hit the midpoint of my script. I’m thrilled with the progress I’ve been making.

~> Sacred writing time. My schedule is in flux right now but I’m still writing.

~> Reading: How to Train Your Dragon and still bits of Eragon with my son. Loving Homeland, though now that I’ve caught up to the current season it’s taking waaaaayyyy too long between episodes. I’m making do by catching up on Big Love and Sports Night. I saw someone call Joss Whedon “your parents’ Aaron Sorkin” and I couldn’t agree more.


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