“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
From interviews to dating, we’ve been told it’s best to just “be ourselves.” Sounds great, but whether you love this message or think it’s a commercial catchphrase doesn’t matter. What matters is knowing there is frequently a difference between who we are (at the core) and how we rebrand and project who we are in different settings.
Think back: When and where have you tried to desperately “fit in,” be “liked” (in-person and online), sought out, respected? Regardless, you were (or are) striving to impress those around you, saying and doing all the “right” things to get your ticket in. But essentially, you may just be a good actor. Just think about that for a moment!
The truth is, our society is addicted to others’ opinions, thoughts and validation. We are all concerned, to some extent, on what others are thinking (and saying) about us.
Whether at your office, in a classroom or with your significant other’s unwelcoming family…would you rather be “the person everyone loves spending time/talking/laughing with” or the “black sheep” outcast that everyone tries to avoid?
Not fitting in is a hard pill to swallow. It can be degrading and slowly eat you up inside if you let it. So how does one emotionally detach from this aura?
First, recognize that this misunderstood feeling is universal (and that each of us is or has been there at one point). Many encounters in our adult lives are often just a replica of the high school world all over again. Yet this time, even among the cliques, labels and chatter, you are mature enough to BE ABOVE it all.
Ready to rebuild your self-confidence? Good!
Here are 4 self-empowering tips (and quotes!) to keep you grounded when you feel people don’t “get” you.
(1) Remember Your True Tribe
The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s OK. Talk to the people who can hear you.”
Sure, there may be a lot of people you don’t click with and you wonder exactly “why” they don’t like you. You ponder: “What did I do or say to offend them?” But why waste your energy on those who don’t (and won’t ever) know the deeper, true you?
Save your breathe and thoughts. Reflect instead on those in your life who totally and 110% GET you. Those are the individuals who have seen, heard and felt for you at your best and your worst, with total acceptance. They light up when they see you and they truly want to know what’s going on in your external and internal life.
Keep this positive crew (loving family, siblings, lifelong friends, coaches, committed partners/spouses) at the forefront of your mind when you feel uneasy or disliked by other groups. If this feels difficult to “turn on” at a moment’s notice, try gratitude journaling or visualization meditation to solidify this feeling. Eventually with time and practice, you’ll feel this love and positive energy no matter where you are or who’s around you.
(2) Never Take Anything Personally
Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.”
From passive aggressive texts (or disgusted glances) to genuine compliments; remember any action directed at you is a mirror reflection of how that “energy-giver” feels inside about themselves. This applies to your actions towards others, too!
Negativity, jealousy, scorn, strictness…these kinds of emotions can (unfortunately) be contagious, like poison seeping into your psyche and draining into your cells. This toxicity is often projections of their inner places of hurt or fear: childhood struggles, lifestyle habits, current struggles or envy over not being where they “want to be in life.” They tear you or others down because you remind them of this sensitive subject that hits home for them (and not in a comforting way).
Yet on the brighter side, positive emotions (happiness, humor, ease, connection) are just as easy to catch. When someone is truly at peace with themselves, there are no judgements to be declared or made. We can learn to let all judgements (good or bad) wash away like a constant current of water. They’re always in flow – here and then gone – with a new supply of fresh water overtaking the old.
Realize you can feel centered and secure no matter what positive or negative things are said to (or about) you. Remember it’s never about you, really! Be compassionate to yourself and those around you and keep your distance as needed.
(3) Tune Out And Tune IN
“Give yourself more opportunities for privacy, when you are not bombarded with duties and obligations. Privacy is not a rejection of those you love; it is your deserved respite for recharging your batteries.”
Even if you don’t take things personally, you still need to practice learning who you are beyond your roles and past experiences. Want to shift that glass-half empty perspective to a full one? It’s time to get to work! Here are some suggestions.
Listen to daily motivational podcasts (versus eavesdropping on hushed cubicle gossip). Take the high road and feed your ears with the good stuff instead: positivity, goals, life-changing stories and advice. Take advantage of lunch breaks by meeting a loved one, reading a nourishing book, listening to music that moves you, taking a walk out in nature…you name it. Whatever you choose, learn to not sweat the small talk or feel lonely. You’re always in good company (wink, wink) with yourself.
(4) Rise Up and Be YOU (Without Apology)
“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.”
Wouldn’t it be freeing (and relaxing) to be 100% yourself, for EVERY occasion? Yes x 1,000,000. YOU are a unique individual in this world and we all need what you have to give (even the naysayers). Learn to be honest (but kind-hearted). Be okay with showing emotions and not feeling shame about it. Take pride in your talents without feeling like a showoff. If you peel back the layers of whatever is going on in your life and slowly but surely get back to your true roots, you’ll feel the difference in your body, mind and soul. Delightful, huh?
Try daily meditations/visualizations to create how you want to feel in your daily life. Envision your outer self becoming a closer and closer reflection to who you fully are on the inside. Here you feel authentic, happy and free (and no Negative Nancy can bring you down). Your social masks slowly fall away and you feel vulnerable, but lighter. Others sense this from you and subconsciously come to respect that, whether they like you or not.
If you’re frequently in a place or group where you’re not the best “fit,” stay in tune by focusing on a creative-passion project. Choose a medium that you feel expresses the truest YOU, be it writing, painting, playing music/singing, speaking/podcasts or something entirely eclectic. These self-exploration steps can also lead you to create the career of your dreams. Get comfortable in your own skin and show off that inner spark!
In conclusion – if you’re frequently with people who don’t “get” you, there’s no need to worry. Like an invisible armor of glowing light you can always feel accepted and right at home. You know who you are and that’s the only approval you need!