I’ve heard this question so often from clients and introverts in online forums.
“Why do I feel so different? It feels like something is wrong with me.”
Here’s a simple truth – you ARE different.
AND – there’s nothing wrong with you!
Why do we come to believe something is wrong with us?
There are so many layers to this issue and I’ll just talk about one or two.
Our world has been set up in a way that has been applauding the extrovert’s way of being in the world. Outgoing, loud-ish, loving meeting new people, going into parties fearlessly and staying for hours, dancing the night away in noisy, bright, stimulating environments, being confident in all social situations and well, so many more.
As a teenager, I can remember feeling totally like an outsider (on my inside) at parties. Yet I was pretending that I loved being there. I realised in order to fit in, I had to be talkative and try to be more outgoing than I really felt. And I couldn’t understand that I felt so ‘different’. Clearly it meant something was wrong with me because everyone else looked like they were having a grand old time!
We make decisions like that as children, because we don’t know any better. And of course, 20, 30, 40 years ago when we were growing up, no-one was talking about introversion, and no-one was calling it a strength. Extroverts ruled, and we were all measured by that yardstick. Some of us failed miserably and to avoid feeling rejected or criticized, we got good at pretending.
If our parents also (of course, in well-meaning ways!) told us things like “You’re TOO shy! Try to be more outgoing. Go and visit your friends. Don’t have your nose in a book all day, go outside and play with the other kids! Stand upstraight and look people in the eye!” – it only contributed to MORE of the feeling that we’re different. Because deep inside, we knew that we didn’t enjoy those things that we were ‘supposed’ to enjoy, according to our parents and all the other kids, who seemed to have a wonderful time playing together.
These childhood experiences, especially if they’re coupled with emotion like feeling ashamed of our true nature, lead to beliefs about ourselves. And those beliefs are not very positive. They tell us things like “I’m different. I’m not good enough. I don’t fit in. I don’t belong. I should be more like Sammy or Sally. There is something wrong with me. I should be fixed. I should be able to be more outgoing and love being with people all the time.”
If we don’t deal with that childhood programming and let go of the negative feelings around it, it will forever limit us. And hinder us, block us from going where we want to be in life. It will always create that inner conflict about who we really are in our true being, and who we think we should be.
Imagine saying to yourself “I’m different” – and feeling the current shame, guilt, low self-esteem or inner conflict linked to it.
Now!! Imagine being able to say to yourself “I’m different” – and being PROUD of it.
Different is good
Because the fact is, we are ALL different. No one person is like another. We’re all unique, special, different. Even extroverts are ‘different’. In fact, some of the work I do teaches us that if we look at our Top 5 Strengths, you are one in 33.9 MILLION people with those strengths!
Obviously – that makes you different from all the other 33.9 million people. But – in a GOOD way.
Steps to love your uniqueness
Here are 2 definite steps you can take to clearing out these limits:
- Deal with the negative programming around ‘being different’ so that you can start seeing it in a positive light! Use a powerful yet simple tool like EFT, or The Sedona Method, or a Byron Katie worksheet by yourself. And if it feels tough (which it might), find a practitioner you’re comfortable with and let them assist you. They’re trained to work gently yet powerfully. They can see in your blind spot.
- Do your Gallup StrengthsFinder Online Assessment to find out what your true, unique strengths are. It’s been scientifically researched for more than 50 years. And then book a session with a strengths coach, who can help you unpack your unique strengths and show you how to make the most of them. A word of caution. Please do NOT just read the report that is sent to you and think “Oh, is that it?”. Every single person I know felt uninspired by it. Let a coach well-versed in this excellent, empowering tool, help you to gain the MOST benefit from it. Here’s what it did for me.
Guess what… You are different. A unique individual – different indeed, from everyone else.
And that’s a good thing!