One comment I hear from clients is that they feel “different from everyone else.” Some describe it as feeling “weird.” When they go on to talk about why this is a problem it is almost always a variation of the same idea. They believe that because they are different they won’t fit in or be accepted by others. They talk about the need to hide just how “weird” they really are.
In reality, we are all different. We have different perspectives, preferences, experiences, desires, needs and more. In fact, one of the major things that makes us all the same is that we are all different. Yeah, I know that probably sounds like a bunch of therapist talk. But it is true…one of the things that we all share is that there is no one like us.
What sets the individuals I am talking about apart is their belief about what it means to be different. They believe that that fact they are different makes them “weird” and undesirable when in reality being different is what they share with everyone else.
People will go to great lengths to support the idea that they are different (in that bad way they mean the word). They convince themselves that other people don’t face the same types of challenges. They think things come easily to everyone else. They also don’t believe that other people don’t have self doubt. They believe no one could imagine the intensity of self-criticism and lack of confidence they have. They don’t believe anyone has the kinds of thoughts and beliefs that they do.
And once they come to believe these ideas they also believe that they add up to only one conclusion…that they aren’t worthy. Aren’t worthy of being liked or loved. That no one will be interested in them or want to become emotionally involved with them. They start to believe that all they deserve is bad things.
The solution to this is both simple and difficult at the same time. It is simple to define…but difficult to implement. All it takes to change this entire pattern is to understand that the fact you are different is what makes you the same as everyone else. It is understanding that everyone has different tastes, preferences and beliefs. And that everyone has self-doubt and fears. And that everyone has things about themselves that they don’t like or of which they aren’t proud.
Will making that change mean that you’ll be accepted by everyone? No. But it also doesn’t mean you’ll be rejected by everyone. Will some people not like you? Yes. That is a fact that is true no matter how hard you try to make everyone like you. Because you can’t make everyone like you.
So what does it mean? It means that, like everyone else, you will be different. And because everyone else is different, too, some of them will like you. They will understand your differences and like them. What it really means…is that instead of liking you for some false image you project, they will like you for who you really are. And that is what you really want. Embrace your differences…because you aren’t so different after all.
Note: This week’s artwork features the work of Carolyn from A Zillion Dollars Comics. Carolyn also happens to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. You can find more of her work at www.azilliondollars.etsy.com. Thank you Carolyn.