The awkwardness of meeting new people can be the great beast of social life—but I say that beast is misunderstood. We need to look a bit deeper to uncover some of the things that may be contributing to this social discomfort. And, of course, we need to be willing to ask questions of self-examination and search for meaning. We especially need to ask questions that lead to a better understanding of others and ourselves.
Seeking answers, after all, is part of being human. We ask questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” Well, maybe that’s just it! Perhaps “asking what” is the meaning of life! Just keep in mind that finding answers often puts an end to an open mind. If we ask ourselves, “Why don’t I seem to fit in anywhere?” our minds may give us a quick answer like, “Because you don’t look like the other people.” Then our brains have an answer and we no longer search for any additional information.
Some closed-minded individuals ask dead-end questions like, “Who are we to question the existence of God?” We are human, that’s who. We have brains that were designed to question things—including the existence of a Supreme Being. Isn’t that ironic? The Creator created us to question our creation by a Creator. (Oh, that has my head swimming. I need a nap!)
This relates to our ability to feel connected to others because when we feel a spiritual connection with God/Goddess/Mother Earth, we feel a bond to all creation, especially our own species. To connect with Mother Nature is to connect with all the humans on Her planet. That’s one way to relate and integrate.
Unfortunately, we don’t always feel that sense of connectedness with others because we have some aspect of our past with which we are not yet comfortable. This is the mental place where we keep our shameful secrets—a place I call the dark kingdom of the mind. We all have such a place, the corners of our souls where we withhold our true thoughts and feelings because we think the other people will deem us unacceptable. We don’t want to be rejected, misunderstood, or judged.
There are numerous examples of these dark secrets. However, let’s just focus on one that I have heard mentioned quite commonly in counseling sessions. Women as well as men are often ashamed of their bodies.
If we have shameful feelings about our body, that self-consciousness can keep us from fully engaging in social interactions, which can easily lead to withdrawal and isolation. That is where some of this feeling of not fitting in comes from—our own low self-esteem.
That’s just one example. The point is, whatever your shame-based secrets, they are almost certainly interfering with your ability to feel emotionally connected to those around you. In order to be free from this mental prison, you need to face the secrets in the dark kingdom of your mind. Like a leaf flowing downstream that gets caught in a logjam, you need to break apart your shame in order to pass through the blockage.
Spiritual practice such as meditation or prayer can help you dissolve your shame, however God/Mother Nature will not solve your problems for you. You are the one who needs to do the work. Don’t look to be rescued.
I had a client who, after drug and alcohol rehabilitation, proclaimed, “God took away my alcohol problems.” In actuality, she was able to stay sober long-term because she made the decision to stay sober—one day at a time. Yes, her rehabilitation program involved developing a spiritual practice, but she had to take an active role in her own sobriety. Her higher power may have provided guidance, however, she put forth the effort.
Whether you are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse or struggling with the trials and tribulations of daily life, everyone has flaws. So many people are unhappy with who they are. They think, “If only I could be like that other person, then I would belong.”
You need to be comfortable with yourself just the way you are right now before you can be comfortable with others. Likewise, others will have a hard time accepting you if you have not fully accepted yourself. People are quick to pick up on these things; they can sense when you are not secure in yourself and that may cause them to pull away from you.
Today’s Loving Suggestion: In a social situation, stop putting so much focus on yourself. Instead, pay more attention to meeting the needs of other people. Be friendly, smile, and remember people are more likely to like you if you like them. Most importantly, remember that we are all human beings; therefore, you are just like them. So you do fit in after all!
If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.
The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.