One of the Anxious Statements I Hear Every Week

by | Jan 27, 2019 | Anxiety | 74 comments

One of the blessings of listening to the inner worlds of my global audience is that I hear about the thoughts, feelings, questions, and stories that are archetypal to all human beings. I’ve written extensively about the various intrusive thoughts that enter my virtual office, but there are other stories that tiptoe into the arena as well: stories about worthiness, stories about shame, stories about social fears and questions. There has been one in particular lately that has been calling for attention, and whenever that happens I know I need write about it here.

Whether talking about relationship anxiety, parenting styles, socializing, health choices, or work, I hear my clients and course members say several times a week, “I don’t fit in. I don’t belong. I feel like an outsider. Sometimes I feel like an alien.”

When I inquire further it becomes clear that this feeling isn’t specific to adult life but has been a theme since childhood. As one client shared from his journal:

Self: Where did you learn that you don’t fit in? Can you help me understand this?

Young self: Growing up. I remember feeling let down by friends. Always feeling like a bit of an outsider even though I hung out in a “cool” group. I didn’t like drinking, I didn’t like smoking. I constantly remember feeling so awkward and out of place at parties in high school. Girls wouldn’t pay attention to me. I would always get hell for not drinking. I remember thinking how girls would always like my friends way more than me. Some of the girls we would hang out with didn’t even acknowledge me. I still feel that is the case to this day.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re in good company. I’ll elucidate with a story.

For those of you following my Instagram feed, you know that I just returned from three days in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I attended the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute. My publisher, Sounds True, sent me and another author (the amazing Mirabai Starr, who became an instant soul-friend and shared a photo with me for our Instagram feeds) to the event to meet with independent booksellers across the country and discuss our forthcoming books: The Wisdom of Anxiety (May 2019) and Wild Mercy (April 2019). These were not the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sales reps. Rather, these were the anti-blockbuster booksellers who are keeping the gems of independent bookstores alive across the country. An anti-establishment, out-of-the-box crew, to say the least.

There were over a thousand booksellers in the conference room at the Albuquerque Convention Center with authors seated at tables around the perimeter, and before the event started I turned to Mirabai and said, “I wonder what percentage of people in this room are introverts and are counting the minutes until they can get back to their hotel rooms.” She laughed, knowingly. We had been talking all day about topics like introversion and personality types (we’re both introverts), the Enneagram (we’re both fours), and how we both love meeting like-minded people in new locations but also how essential it is to have downtime interspersed throughout these busy days. (I realize, of course, that not all of you reading this are introverts. But I suspect that you grew up feeling outside the box in some way, if only because you struggled with anxious thoughts or a level of worry that you didn’t think others had.) As I looked around the room, I saw a bunch of people who I would bet money grew up feeling like they didn’t fit in.

And I loved all of them. I loved their awkward gaits and mismatched clothes. I loved their unkempt hair and pointy glasses. I loved the man’s shirt that read, “Books were invented so that introverts don’t have to socialize.” I loved the shy, soft-spoken woman who bee-lined over to me before the event began to say, “I’m not a bookseller – I’m a children’s book publisher – but I heard about your book and I had to meet you. I struggle with anxiety every day. I need your book!” I loved the two young women in the 20s who were working at the event as caterers and cornered me after most people had left to ask if they could please have copies even though they were told not to speak with the authors. After they shared a bit about their anxiety, they melted my heart and of course I loaded them with books. These were my people. Sensitive, analytical, anxious people who never feel like they fit in.

But here’s the thing: I’m not sure anyone felt like they belonged during the growing up years, and I’m not sure anyone feels like they really belong now. It’s not your fault. And it’s not even necessarily because you’re on the sensitive-creative-anxious spectrum (although I have no doubt that your personality type exacerbates the feelings of not fitting in). The truth is that our culture doesn’t foster a sense of belonging. We’re raised in the isolation box of our families, in neighborhoods where, even if you do know your neighbors, people don’t really share the vulnerability of their lives. When clients struggling with relationship anxiety say to me, “It seems like that couple are madly in love all the time and have the chemistry that I long for,” I say, “You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.” Unless you live with someone or have a transparent friendship where you share the details of your challenges and triumphs, you simply don’t know the reality of anyone else’s life.

Hopefully, through reading my blog over the years, you know that you’re not alone. Hopefully, as we shed light on hidden topics and expose myths and taboos week after week, you know that there’s nothing wrong with you. And hopefully you know that you do belong: with your partner and your friends who see you and love you, on this great blue-green planet where everyone – every, single person – struggles in some way, and here on this blog with people who understand you and share your particular brand of anxiety. You belong. You fit in. And I’m so glad you’re here.

How does the story that you don’t fit in or belong show up in your life? What are your first memories of feeling like you didn’t fit in? Share in the comments below. 

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74 Comments

  1. Thank you so much! I always struggle with if my partner and I belong in my social group. That has been extremely hard for me. My partner is a introvert I’m an extrovert. How do I get past the feeling of needing my friends to like him.. I love him to.death. sometimes I feel we don’t belong in my social circle anymore and it’s cause me anxiety.

    Reply
    • A challenging concept for couples to understand is that it’s okay to have difficult social needs and social circles. If you want to spend time socially with your group and it’s not a fit for him, that’s okay. Now that’s separate from needing your friends to like him; that points to lack of self-trust and caring too much about what other people think. When you fill your well of Self, you eventually (with great time and patience and practicing the tools) let go of caring what others think in these kinds of situations.

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  2. Reading this made me tear up. Thanks for the work that you do.

    My earliest memories of not “fitting in” were the very first days of elementary school, not always knowing how to simply play with the other kids and often preferring to read on my own under a tree.

    Reply
    • Ah, yes, such a common and painful first memory of not fitting in. Thank you.

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  3. Thank you Sheryl, I’m so excited to read that you have a book coming out!

    Growing up I always felt different, like things bothered me more. I wanted to fit in and be cool, yet it rarely happened that way.

    The girls were never attracted to me, so I felt ugly and unwanted and ashamed of my looks. I just couldn’t work it out.

    It wasn’t until my older years that things got better, especially when I found my now wife at age 35. Prior to that my relationships and sexual interactions were dysfunctional to say the least.

    Now I feel I don’t fit in because I’m a creative and my day jobs uses none or very little of the real me. I feel like I’m wasting my time and life and yet I feel afraid of leaning on my creativity because I also want a comfortable life, not one living on the edge of hunger… As I’ve grown older though I have learned to accept this duality more so and I’m trying to learn to enjoy each day irrespective of the activities I’m involved in.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Brent. It’s always a joy to hear from you. YES: not feeling like you fit in the corporate environment or a day job because you’re a creative person and these jobs don’t honor creativity. In this case, you DON’T fit in, and it’s important to honor that and also know that that’s a good thing. Accepting the duality of needing to make a living on the one hand and honor creativity on the other is a lifelong challenge for many people. I hope and envision a future where one’s creativity can more easily be rewarded as one’s livelihood.

      I’m excited for the book, too :). In many ways it’s an homage to the creative-sensitive personality type, and speaks exactly to what you’ve shared here.

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  4. The concept of not fitting in resonated with me immediately. I remember feeling that I just don’t fit into groups begginging in later middle school. I’ve learned about myself that I do better with 2-3 very close friends, and then a broader group of friends/acquaintances.
    As an adult in my 30s, my husband, our one year old and I live in a city 6+ hours from any extended family. We have an incredibly supportive group of friends, and yet I feel that I struggle with the feeling that I don’t fit in, that I’m saying the wrong thing, that I’m too self absorbed, too loud, too something always. It surprised me to hear my husband, a true extrovert, admit to me recently that he feels similarly from time to time.
    We both come across as people who do fit in (people always seem surprised when I share that I deal with anxiety or when I express some of my social unsureness), so I very much thing there’s an unawareness on behalf of others. And we don’t necessarily communicate it because we are unshare how. Some of this is the change of moving to a family of 3. Fortunately, my husband and I do feel we fit together so very well right now, for which I’m grateful, as I’ve worked through at least some of the manifestations of my relationship anxiety.

    Reply
    • What you’re describing is so common, Abby, and thank you for sharing it here. The more we find the courage to share our vulnerability around not fitting in, the more honest conversations we can have about it and the more we will reduce the shame. Paradoxically, if so many people feel like they don’t fit in, doesn’t that mean we all fit into the group that doesn’t feel like they fit in?!? x

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  5. Oh Sheryl, I’m always so grateful for your words and your work! Ive always felt quite different, especially as a current bride to be, I constantly feel out of place and “different” with the decisions I have made for the day and the process leading up to it. I love simple, calm, quiet and meaningful. It’s so hard when the decisions you make leave people thinking your unhapppy and not excited. I “should” want so many parties and showers and bachelorettes! I wish I had more like minded friends in this experience but I am so beyond grateful for your work to remind me that it’s okay to honour my feelings and needs in this transition. Thank you for this community! It’s been a life saver and a beautiful reminder during a time where I want to just focus on my fiancé and I, not the expectations that are all around me! Xo

    Reply
    • Your feelings and thoughts are more common than you realize, yet hopefully being part of this community has helped you realize this and see that you DO fit in – that there are thousands of people who share your experience of getting married, the one that doesn’t fit into the glossy images on the magazine covers! xo

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  6. Hello Sheryl!!!
    I’m closing the door on my high school career as I am graduating this year and I couldn’t be more exited! For me, I always felt I didn’t fit in, especially in high school. I get extreme anxiety when I am physically in the buildings of the school and around the many different people… I believe it’s because I am highly sensitive and absorb just about everything around me… stress, drama, etc. Being there tends to make my relationship anxiety spike as well. Not fun! I’ve had some not so great memories there that have really left some scars. I am so excited and ready to transition away from where I am now. But to all those who don’t fit in… don’t fret! We’re the blessed ones 🙂

    Reply
    • Such wisdom for someone so young! And yes, you’re through the worst of it in terms of fitting in (high school) and onto brighter and more expansive pastures.

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  7. What a beautiful post, Sheryl! It’s always a pleasure to read from you, and I’m so looking forward to your next book! I’m a 4 on the Enneagram as well! You know, you are actually the one who introduced me to the Enneagram through your “List of books and resources that changed my life”, and as I read the pages of the book suggested by you I remember thinking: “I wonder what type Sheryl is… I wonder if she is a 4 like me! She doesn’t strike me as a 4 though… I wonder, I wonder!”. It’s even more interesting considering that I always felt a kind of connection with you (like I did with Michael Jackson, who was a 4 as well!) and that being introducted to your work and blog literally changed my life in a way I could never have predicted 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh, yes, a 4 through-and-through ;). I’m curious why I didn’t strike you as a four!

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      • That’s a nice question! 🙂 At first you didn’t strike me as a 4 mainly because of the mysconceptions I had about my own personality type, and the fact that I didn’t think we were alike at all! I’ve always seen you as this extremely mature and intelligent soul full of wisdom and love, who’s able to see beauty in everything and everyone. Whereas I can be so swallow, SO SWALLOW and obsessed with beauty that I struggle to buy a book if its cover isn’t pretty to me, even if it can be a source of infinite wisdom!! (I even struggled buying the book about the Enneagram, but I now I think its cover looks actually quite good!). When you said “And I loved all of them. I loved their awkward gaits and mismatched clothes. I loved their unkempt hair and pointy glasses” I thought: “Oh how I wish I was able to feel the same thing as her… To me style and fashion is everything!”. And in general I can be immature sometimes, violent and aggressive, hopeless.

        But now I understand that being a 4 isn’t about these things, and that such a difference could be easily explained by the fact that I am an underdeveloped, young 4 with toxic traits that has to do huge amounts of work on herself, while you are a mature, stable, healthy, beautiful 4 – who represents the very kind of healthy and alive I could become one day 🙂

        Reply
        • This is a beautiful reflection, Giorgia, and believe me: I have my “un-pretty” sides as well :). But yes, I’ve worked very hard over the years to soften my hard edges and open my heart, and perhaps that’s what you’re responding to and seeing. The fact that you’re here means you’re on this path as well. Sending love. x

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          • Thank you so much for your answer, Sheryl. Your kind words filled my heart with a warm feeling and my eyes with joyful tears — a sign that I must be in the right path, indeed. Sending much love to you as well, and thank you ?

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  8. It makes me feel so good to read this post. I am very much on the anxious-creative spectrum (I’m an artist), and my partner is a super stable, loving guy with a lucrative corporate job in real estate development. I’m a socialist and all my heroes are radicals and activists. I often feel I don’t fit in with the “corporate” types he works with, but I also feel like an outsider in activist circles for being too “mainstream” (and he feels uncomfortable in said circles). It’s interesting living with the paradox of wanting to live a 100% radical creative life on one hand and on the other hand loving and craving comfort, stability, and the steadfastness of my partner.

    Reply
    • As I shared in the daily email to my e-zine, embracing paradox is one of the pathways to growth, and the one you’re describing is so common. It sounds like you and partner balance each other beautifully :).

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  9. Sheryl- I fully agree, the question of belonging seems to be emerging powerfully these days.I strongly recommend the book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-Pa Turner. It is pure magic, wisdom and healing medicine. It is a book to read slowly, or devour and read again. I think you, and your community of followers will love it. For me, it has been a perfect compliment to your courses. Thank you ❤️

    Reply
    • Elodie: Thank you for the book recommendation, and I will definitely check it out. The title alone speaks to my soul ;).

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  10. Hi Sheryl,

    Congratulations on your new book! I will be glad to read it and recommend it!(both as regular person and bookstore employee 🙂 )

    I wanted to say that my earliest memories of not belonging and rejection both in my family and at school came from undiagnosed hearing loss.I wasn’t properly tested until 5th grade and so much secondary suffering was caused by this problem that was originally physical,not emotional.The hearing problem has followed me well into adult life and I still struggle with soothing myself when I am left out of conversation.Indeed,I struggled with “what is wrong with me” for many years.There are many ways that we “come to” the necessity of honoring our selfhood,or taking responsibility..that stuff just happened to be my “beginning”

    Reply
    • Your story touched me, and I especially love the conclusion you drew from it: that there are many ways to come home to self, and it’s often through our greatest challenges that we find the widest pathways to self. And thank you for the book support! x

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  11. I have definitely had these feelings in my life. I am currently having a “fitting in” struggle with my sister-in-laws. At family gatherings I try to be pleasant and friendly. I want to connect with them. Unfortunately they can be fairly critical of me (and my husband too). His siblings/spouses are more similar to each other and he and I are different (have different types of jobs, different lifestyle, etc). The recent holidays were rough. There was not any one terrible incident, but some general critical “jabs” disguised as “joking” and some grievances brought up in front of the family (we missed a gathering, etc). I didn’t want to start any arguments so I just didn’t exactly respond (the critical-aloof dynamic). I had a terrible time— and was unhappy with myself for not knowing how to address it in some way. Sometimes I just feel so uncomfortable with them. It feels like my acceptance in the group is highly conditional and it can feel like I’m just not “enough” for them. Any ideas on how to move forward productively?

    Thank you for all your work. I read and learn from you every week.

    Reply
    • First step, as always, is to validate the heartache of the situation and know that you’re picking up on an accurate and painful dynamic. Next is to sit with your husband and decide how to best proceed in terms of boundary-setting around people who don’t accept and embrace you. Not easy, but sadly it seems to be part of the experience in most families.

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  12. So many things come to mind.
    My family, namely my mom, publicly remarking how I was too sensitive and serious when I displayed frustration, annoyance, other moodiness as a child. At the same time, feeling that I was unlike other kids my age, expected and praised for being patient and pleasing the adults; I was born late in my parents’ adulthood and always surrounded by people decades older than myself. Being expected to parent myself and entertain myself as a functionally only child with busy parents. Being teased by classmates and teenagers and called ‘Harry Potter’ for having short haircuts, dark glasses, and no figure or sense of style. For being the girl who lived with all the dogs because my mom devoted her time, attention, energy, and home to rescuing dogs. For feeling that I had to ‘get out’ and not stay in my home town, adopting the singular goal of studying so much that I got a full ride to college. Yet continuing to work multiple jobs to maintain financial independence. For being convinced all through college that I suffered under the weight of anxiety in a way that no one would understand, and for that fear gripping me again in my twenties when I was pulled under by relationship anxiety.

    Reply
    • I hope you now know that you’re not alone with your anxiety. I’d like to encourage you to time travel back to that young girl and offer her some words of love and encouragement. Imagine what you would have hoped someone said to you back then when you were alone and suffering.

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  13. Wow, this hit close to home. Since I’ve struggled with relationship anxiety I’ve felt like an outsider. I’ve felt like I don’t fit in as well as I used to but the truth is, much like your article brought up, I never really felt like I fit in. I always felt just in the outside of belonging. It is so incredibly helpful to know we are not alone in this.

    Reply
    • You are far from alone, Amanda. In fact, you’re in very good company in this online community for, as I often say, the people who find their way to my work are among the most loving, kind, compassionate, and intelligent I’ve ever met.

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  14. I have always had RA and now it has overwhelmed me & I am suffering from insomnia. I feel like I cannot trust my thoughts anymore. Whatever I think I want to do anxiety always overwhelms me & I back out. It has ruined my life & made me do a wicked thing.

    Reply
    • As we communicated last week on my blog, I do hope you’re seeking local support. I can hear your deep suffering and my heart goes out to you.

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      • I am waiting for some counselling & this last year have slipped into a deep depression. I know I cannot trust my mind, thoughts or feelings & am afraid of living with this illness for the remainder of my life.

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        • I forgot to say thank you Sheryl for your wonderful posts. When this happened 7 years ago I found your website which helped get me well again & assured me I wasnt a bad person just incredibly anxious.

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  15. Thank you for this piece, Sheryl. As I’ve been doing some of the coursework, the false belief has come up that I don’t believe people’s love is actually genuine. While my mom was abusive and nitpicked out everything I did and said, my dad was a silent presence in our household. It seems like one was the presence of bad and the other the absence of good. While know they both had their own wounds, as a child I always felt this void of truly being liked for who I was. I was too quiet, too chubby, not hip enough, you name it. I always felt different no matter where I went. As I was sitting talking with my partner about my inner work tonight all I could hear was this sad little girl inside of me crying, asking, “what’s wrong with me that you don’t just like me for who I am?” To be clear, I wasn’t asking that question of my partner. He is absolutely wonderful and shows me all the time that I’m loved for me. It was the pain from this sad little girl standing in front of her parents saying, “why don’t you just love me? Why am I not enough?” Through all of this coursework it was by far the deepest pain I’ve ever felt. I sat there w my little girl and just let her be. After 35 years of feeling that way she needed to be seen and known and loved. I attempted to bring God in the picture but realized she was too mad at him to let him comfort her. And that’s okay too. I’m glad she is finally being seen.

    On another note, right before this happened, my boyfriends teenage daughter came downstairs and was sharing w us how she felt her heart hadn’t been in the right place the past couple of months and she realized through being on her phone and social media she was starting to think negative thoughts about others. I loved her sweet comment, “but I know that’s not me!” She shared how she wanted to get off her phone for a week but then prayed about and realized she could trust herself to make good decisions with what she puts in her mind. Then she proceeded to tell us that as she was learning about spiritual gifts at her bible study and others were talking about what theirs were, her thought was “I wonder what mine is?” Honestly, I love her tender heart, her self trust, and her ability to love who God made her rather than comparing herself to everyone else. She loves being silly, dorky, wears a hoodie and jeans everyday, no frills kind of girl and doesn’t care what others think. And she’s only 15! Anyways, had to share that as she is such an inspiration to me of what it means to live out of an open heart. She reminds me that it’s possible and that I’ll get there 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing this, Sara. As always, your work is spiraling into deeper and deeper layers, arriving at the very core of the pain. And what an inspiration your boyfriend’s daughter is!

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      • Thanks Sheryl. I’ve been through therapy for years and never have been able to get to the core pain until now. Though it hurts, it really is a blessing! I woke up this morning with that same feeling that I would feel after I had been abused, this feeling of exhaustion and emptiness. But this time I was able to just sit and be with myself versus in he past where I felt really alone. I can also see how it helps your heart to open up more. If your heart doesn’t feel safe and you aren’t connected to yourself, it’s definitely hard to connect with another person. I’m looking forward to embracing more safety and connection w my wonderful partner as my heart heals. Again, thanks for pointing us all in the direction of becoming fear warriors, Sheryl.

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  16. Also, I thought about going back to fix all the typos or correct my writing errors and thought “nah, it’s okay that it’s not all perfect.”

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  17. Dear Sheryl,
    You articles always makes me think of a million things, they are so inspirering! Thank you so much!
    This one was a enlightning read, I do not think I am done processing jet.
    But wanted to share a few thoughts anyway as it made me think of childhood, teen years and my relationship with my own personality 🙂

    Firstly I always feel like I do not “fit in” to personality tests, and I feel fine about it. I think we are not suppose to fit perfectly, we are suppose to learn from them. But as things are, I am also a 4 😉

    I was a bit hesitant about this post, because I am one of the people who, as a child, even as I knew I was different then others, felt like I totally fit in a lot of the time. It was only in the teenage years and especially when boyfriends, drinking and other teen obssesions became a thing, that I started feeling different and in many ways wrong and shamefull.
    I think this lateness into feeling left out, is really a compliment to my parents, as they raised me to be independent, soulfull and creative and encoureged spending time alone with ones imagination. It really shows me how we(sensitives) can flourish when nurtured. The pressures of society got to me, as I became a teenager and very much in my adult years, but a part of the confidence and self-trust I learned as a child (partly) stayed with me.
    It allowed me to ask for help, when RA became too much to handle, it has helped me not to get pulled into a perfectionist culture and it has helped me not to take things at face value.
    I think it is almost impossible not to feel left out in this culture, in your teens and tweenties, as pressure(especially around romantic relationships) are high and the healthy habbit of questioning oneself can take over and become obsessiv.

    I sit here, pregnant with my first child, and this is a gift I want to pay forward as my parents did to me. Confidence, selftrust and a sense of belonging.
    Thank you for helping me think these thoughts.

    Ps. I will obviously also have to work on these skills for my self, as they are hard to maintain as an adult, that is why your work and others like you are so important.

    Reply
    • CTA: Your comment gave me chills. Thank you so much for sharing, especially this: “It really shows me how we (sensitives) can flourish when nurtured.” Yes, yes, yes. I have no doubt you will bring this sense of self-trust and belonging to your child. Lucky soul being born to you ;). x

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  18. Hi Sheryl,

    Thank you for your beautiful weekly posts! I have been reading your blog since 2015 when I was severely struggling with relationship anxiety– (uncertainty, what-ifs, feeling like something was not right but being unsure of the truth behind my feelings)– and I was hoping for some insight on what a the best course you believe would be for me to take or if you think a one-on-one session would be most benefical.
    A little back-story: I was in a long-term unhealthy relationship which finally ended a couple of months ago (for good this time since things had been on and off again for years due to his choosing). While anxiety, uncertainty, self-trust, and self-blame are all things I have struggled with on a personal level and that I have grown so much from through reading and following your blog, I was in denial about the red flags I was experiencing for so long. There was a lot of lying, manipulation, false promises that he would change, etc. I would call him out on things that I believed were lies or wrongdoings, but was always manipulated into believing I was wrong and that my anxiety was making me believe things were happening that “weren’t”. and I wanted to believe him and give him the benefit of the doubt because I wanted things to work out so bad. I was always questioning whether or not I was experiencing relationship anxiety or just believing lies when I knew deep down things weren’t right. But long-story short, it took me a long time to finally find the truth that all those times I had actually been experiencing manipulation and lies. I feel so much stronger and healthier now but because of this I still suffer from deep pain and struggle with trusting myself. I want to believe the best in others and hope that they would be honest with me, but how do we find clarity in deciphering between what is the truth and what is anxiety in these sorts of situations? I do not want this to be something that will negatively impact me ever again in my life and is something I believe I could benefit from working through it together with someone.

    Reply
  19. I felt like I didnt fit in even with my own family as early as I can remember. Then with school i wanted a friend so bad but always felt outside. In my teens i wanted to be seen and part of the cool group but was too shy and not as open , sexy, pretty..whatever as the cool girls were…

    Reply
    • As you can see from the comment, you’re not alone, Shelley. The healing work moving forward is to spend time with that young girl and begin to heal the pain and shame, which means learning how to show up for her with your most compassionate and kind self.

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  20. Thanks for this, Sheryl. I’ve been reflecting on a recent dating relationship I had with a guy 16 years older than me (i’m 38) and from a different nation. We also have quite different outlooks – I tend to get quite anxious about the future and he is ever the optimist – which I have unfairly judged as being naive at times! I was finding myself unsettled and my emotions were flat-lining in regard to him so I ended the relationship. But I wonder if our differences could have been good conditions for growth for us both. I did have a sense of ease around him and I believe he is a good hearted man.

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    • ….Oh and I love the reference to enneagram…I am a 6, which feels like hard work at times!

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      • Agreed! I am a 6 as well, it’s really tough especially when the world feels like an unsafe place and our strongest need is security as a 6. Thinking of you 🙂

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    • It sounds like you were suffering from classic relationship anxiety and also some cognitive distortions about healthy love and relationships. Read through my site for more clarity!

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  21. Thanks so much for this post Sheryl, really resonated with me. Do HSP’s tend to struggle with their mood? I find myself quite sad/depressed a lot and it feels hard to take on the day. Then I start to worry that I’ll always feel like that and that makes me anxious! I find the beauty in the world but it almost comes with a sense of sadness. Ohhh how it’s hard to be an enneagram 6!

    You are an inspiration and your words put hearts and minds at ease. I hope you know how impactful you are to us sensitive creatures 🙂

    Reply
    • Most people struggle with their mood until they learn to attend to their thoughts and feelings with discernment and compassion, which is much of what I teach here. I’m so glad my words have been helpful and soothing ;).

      Reply
  22. A lot of things that have been troubling my mind lately have been validated through reading your post. So many things I’ve been feeling and wanting to heal have already been shared in the comments section – experiences about healing the inner child from an abusive mother and an absent father; feeling excluded in my peer group in high school with all the drinking and socializing that didnt really feel wholesome- not feeling content and safe in these spaces. As much as I do feel safe and rejuvenated spending time alone which is so necessary, it also gets lonely sometimes and as much as I like to meet other people and open myself out to the outside world, I have to accept that not everybody is ready to be as open or vulnerable – this truth often left me heart broken but now I see that I dont NEED people to stay, hear me out or share their truths as long as Im doing it with my self- a tough pill to swallow at first. Some things have often perplexed me- why do people leave when we have reached that ripe stage in our relationship when we are only beginning to SEE each other or why all the denial and defensiveness. I am beginning to understand that a LOT of it is FEAR. Their fear not mine. Ofcourse I have my fears and some major ones but I have built a relationship with them gradually. As i free myself from taking on their issues, I find new friends and communities like this to just BE. I’ve been dealing with a lot of childhood memories and traumas surfacing the past 4-5 years and its been intense- i lose my grounding sometimes but each time I lose my way, it becoming easier to find my way back- so the resiience is getting stronger. Thank you for giving this space for me and so many of us to hear ourselves think. It brings a lot of clarity into our lives 🙂 Sending love to all

    Reply
    • Thank you for this beautiful, vulnerable, and wise comment, Chandana. You’re clearly on a deep healing path, full of its loneliness, challenges, and the ultimate gift – coming back to Self over and over again. Sending blessings and love.

      Reply
  23. This is just beautiful, Sheryl. I’m now wondering, if most people in our culture feel like an outsider and not fitting in, then why are we making it hard on ourselves by not being more accepting and inclusive? Like a lot of what’s already been mentioned, I grew up feeling like an outsider, neglected or ignored by my own family, former “friends”, classmates, teachers, etc as early as I can remember. I grew up in a very safe and comfortable household and received a good education, but I never felt really seen or listened to except by a few individuals.
    Speaking of large events, I was just at a work-related networking event that I absolutely dreaded going to and didn’t enjoy myself much (100+ people from my field packed into a small wine bar), only to find out the following day that many of the attendees disclosed they are introverted and absolutely hated the event! I was so shocked I wasn’t alone in my distress since my field requires people to be very extroverted and charismatic. I couldn’t even sleep that night thinking about how dumb and awkward I felt “networking”. It was a relief to hear that, but at the same time I was thinking why do I torture myself this way!

    Reply
    • I think part of the torture is believing that we’re the only ones suffering, which is why the conversation around shame and vulnerability that Pema Chodron and Brene Brown catapulted into the culture is so healing. Hopefully we’re moving in the direction of a culture where people feel included and have that deep sense of belonging, and it starts with people talking about their true feelings, as they did around your work event.

      Reply
  24. Sheryl I’m waiting to start counselling but know that no-one can make the decision for me whether to stay with my husband or leave him. Is it possible to still wonder if you love someone even after 30+ years? The sexual side was never right but he always felt like my best friend so I kept putting off making a firm commitment. Even when we married I wasn’t sure & feel its now or never to decide. I truely am a nervous wreck now & he says if I don’t know if I love him or not after all these years then I cant! I feel like I’ve used him & I’m making him ill as well as me.

    Reply
      • No but think I desperately need to do it Sheryl – I’ve posted lots of times in last month & am sorry to be such a nuisance.

        Reply
        • You’re not a nuisance at all, Lynne. I can hear how much you’re suffering and my heart goes out to you. I’m only suggesting the course because my ability to offer support here on the blog is limited and the course will offer you countless hours of guidance, tools, and the support of the incredible forum.

          Reply
  25. I love your work, strikes a cord with me everytime. Will you be letting us know when your book is ready. I’d love to buy a copy.

    Reply
    • I sure will ;). It will be released on May 28, 2019 and I’ll make a pre-order announcement a few weeks before then. Just make sure you’re on my mailing list.

      Reply
  26. Thank you Sheryl for yet another beautiful post.
    I’ve felt like this since childhood. I’m reaching 30 and I still feel like a little awkward kid. When I was younger I thought of myself as cool or dare I say a goddess (I was around age 6, wow!). Now I just feel like I like myself for my creativity in the kitchen, cooking or baking, or when I make art, take photographs and see beauty in the small things. I just like myself for my efforts and pleasure in nourishing myself and making the effort to care for my well being. I don’t like myself beyond that and I struggle with feeling not good enough, not a good enough person, daughter, etc. I feel like I don’t fit in quite well, and I’m mostly okay with that. But I feel so utterly unloved and un-liked by others, or I don’t trust it when they say they like me. I feel like they really don’t. Growing up, my good qualities and who I am at core wasn’t mirrored back to me. No one really said I’m good, or I’m kind or whatever they saw in me. I feel selfish saying this because as an adult I see that this is my responsibility to do. And I kinda feel selfish for feeling this way too… It’s funny, I love myself and I don’t like myself. I want to like myself. I don’t know how it’s done. All the work I’ve been doing, I feel like I’m still struggling with not liking myself. What’s improved is accepting this. So I have more self acceptance and still not a lot of self liking… I just wish I knew how. Can you please write an article or share any insight or clue on this?

    Reply
    • I’m going to turn the question back to you: What do you think it would take for you to like yourself?

      Reply
      • I have been going through a very difficult autoimmune and chronic illness since last year in March and I’m just wishing for my health to be back and better than ever. I’m reaching the end of my illness and I can feel that I’m physically healing, but emotionally I feel depleted and depressed. I believe once I heal my gut and be free of this illness I can get my vitality back and see myself and life in a new light. I could like life and myself more. Now life is bleak and I’m sitting with the discomfort at the end of every night. I’m just feeling really exhausted.

        Reply
        • I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering, Behnaz. Chronic illness and gut issues can be debilitating, and can certainly take a toll on our vitality. However, it sounds like you’re linking your health issues with your self-worth and that you’re waiting until you feel better before you like yourself. That’s a trap, as our self-worth is separate from anything going on with health, career, etc. Does that make sense?

          Reply
  27. This brought tears to me eyes, Sheryl! I’ve struggled with the “outsider looking in” feeling (and the “am i normal?” feeling) for as long as I can remember. Your blog and courses have been invaluable. Thank you. Definitely a good reminder that I am not alone!

    Reply
  28. So interesting and exciting that you’re a 4 as well! I love your work and it’s been helping me with my RA. Does being a 4 make us more susceptible to RA? I feel like i’m dealing with this ugly beast so much lately and connecting the dots of my 4 personality – something is always missing, a job/person/city is never good enough, and always searching for something to make us whole. How do I shift focus away from the negative to a more healthy 4? I feel like I used to be way more healthy but relationship doubts and fears have seeped into my daily functioning.

    Reply
    • As you do more of your inner work you will naturally gravitate toward a more glass half-full mindset, but the most powerful practice for orienting toward fullness is a daily written gratitude practice.

      Reply
  29. I’m sure there are prior memories, but it is likely when I was told by a friend that I was “trying too hard” to get the “popular crowd” to like me or think I’m funny. Approval is where I started to lose my sense of belonging. I belong for the most part now and know where I am within myself.

    Reply
    • Yes, that’s where so many people get off-track. Glad to hear you’ve found your way back ;).

      Reply
  30. Thank you so much for this blog. I realize it was written awhile ago, but I was just brought here from your most recent post. I definitely have struggled with feelings of not fitting in from my earliest memories of elementary school until now in my 20s, even thought I was seemingly “cool”! I would definitely say the middle school/ high school years were the worst though, most likely attributable to an inadequate foundation of who I was and having self-confidence which I think happens for most people? More recently I’ve been dating a guy who I really like and with whom I could see a future. However, when I introduced my first boyfriend to my mother in my first year of college she was highly critical and told me I was “settling” etc. While this may have been true, it was extremely hurtful at the time. I remember feeling like such a failure to my family and didn’t know what to do about the relationship. Although this guy is so different, it definitely gives me a lot of anxiety thinking about introducing him to my family for fear of the same reaction. I continue to tell myself to live for or care about others’ opinions, but I think it’s especially tough with your mom/ parents and approval.

    Reply

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