Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day 39 - Feeling Like an Outcast


Feeling Like an Outcast


I can relate to the experience of feeling like an outcast. It is very rare that I feel like I fit in comfortably anywhere or in any group. This is an experience that had to start somewhere, because I wasn’t born feeling like I don’t belong. It is something that is learned through, friends, famliy and environment when a child is young and cannot fully understand or process information, situations and reactions from others. Usually when people would get mad or upset with me, or if other kids teased me, I would immediately think there was something inherently wrong with me as a kind of default understanding of the situation. I never really questioned if it was actually something about me, and looking back, I see I always had something to explain it or blame myself with.

 When I was younger I was a tomboy, and I liked to play physical games and rough-house, and most of my friends were boys. But I always felt secretly ashamed and less-than because I was a girl. I would notice the boys treated me a bit differently, and it made me feel different, and I couldn’t play on the same sports teams as my friends. There were some things I felt awkward doing because I began to understand that normally, girls don’t do that type of thing. So when other girls would not be interested in being my friend or would tease me, I felt like an outcast from both genders and began to define myself as different, but in a ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ way. It’s as if the way that I was naturally was wrong, and my ‘who I am’ was breaking some unspoken rules. I felt that I made people mad just by existing. Looking back now and being able to understand more clearly, I see that it would not have been impossible to enjoy aspects of both genders, and later on in life I was able to embrace the femininity I had come to reject for so long, seeing it instead as a strength and a flexibility.

OCD began presenting itself in my life pretty early on, so the cuts and scabs and marks on my skin made me a bit of a target, especially combined with the ‘tomboy’ appearance. OCD is something that I did not understand and again, did not question, but simply accepted as a part of who and how I am. I was ashamed of it and did not seek support but rather tried to hide it and become invisible so as to avoid being teased. This then furthering my mind’s programming a view of myself as an outcast due primarily to shame. Both of these issues remained with me for most of my life, with the OCD continuing but is something I can now see and understand more clearly, and am now supporting myself to face.

When I was a bit older my family moved to a new neighborhood. It was one with bigger houses and the kids that I become friends with were from wealthier families. My family did live in a very nice neighborhood, but were what is called ‘mortgage poor’. Many of the new friend I became close with were doing activities such as for example, horse-back riding lessons, or going away to summer camp, and I did not see the bigger picture of why I couldn’t also do these things. At first they would show me their medals and tell me all about camp, but at some point they stopped and started actually hiding things from me. Once I found out my best friend had bought a snowboard after we had been talking for a while about how much we wanted to go snowboarding. She later admitted that she had hidden it from me because she felt bad. I did eventually get to go to summer camp and get a snow board, but not before having developed a sense of self-pity. I wasn’t able to see the bigger picture, that my parents were stabilising in their careers, that there were financial factors that had to play out. Instead I had defined a part of myself, again, as an outcast, always a bit ‘off’, or ‘less-than’ in some way, nurturing self-pity and self-diminishment. I see now that all of humanity face different struggles and exist at different levels of income. I see that I am among the elite in the world when I look at the big picture, and I absolutely do not judge the billions of people struggling to survive as 'less-than' or 'pitiful', but rather the consequential outflow of a system designed to create poverty. I see myself now as in a position of responsibility to others, to open my eyes to others and to the reality of our current situation on this planet.

As  I got older and started working, I was confronted with feeling like an outcast due to language politics. I am part of an English-speaking minority in a French province, and I began working with the public during a time where there was a lot of social and political tension between the two groups. I ended up working in a primarily French neighborhood at one point, and I remember working with people one night that were making fun of the way I spoke. It got to the point where I eventually broke down crying, believing that the French would never accept me. Most places I would go when exploring more of the city as I got older would have French culture or influence, and I would feel I didn’t belong and wasn’t wanted. I had French people insult me for being English, and there was graffiti in a local park telling the English to ‘go home’, but to me, this WAS my home!

Looking back I can see that I wanted to be accepted, but the problem is with the starting point I had at the time. I still saw the French culture as something foreign that I could not be a part of. I felt a hostility and  separateness that was impenetrable. So the wanting to be accepted came from me wanting to change my internal experience and feel better about myself by having others accept me. The way I see it now is that I was the one creating impenetrable walls around me to protect myself. I could not, at the time, see that language politics were being used in a larger political context playing out on a provincial and national stage, but instead I judged myself for the language I spoke. What I eventually learned was that in not judging myself and not hiding myself and keeping quiet, but rather by accepting MYSELF, I am able to open up more to, with sincere intrigue and acceptance, get to know a whole other culture and see and realize how it came to be, and understand where it comes from. Within this, I am now able to get to know other human beings, and see that all human beings are influenced and affected by the culture within which they are raised, myself included. I also see how the two cultures  are not mutually exclusive, and have grown and developed together, intersecting and intertwining at points, having a mutual effect on each other. Now I feel like I can actually appreciate this difference that exists where I live, and learn a lot from it as well, but not because anybody else started doing anything differently. It all started to change when I started to change myself.

There are many times now where this program still gets triggered in my mind, and I judge myself and then blame something outside of me and feel like an outcast again. It’s persistent because it starts so early in life, before understanding, so it becomes the accepted explanation. There is a group now of people that are very inspiring to me, people that I admire very much, where my ‘outcast system’ often becomes triggered. Looking at it now, I can see that I am judging myself because I know that I could be doing better, and doing more in many ways. I also see that I am not giving myself credit for the things I am working on or have done, but instead only focusing on the ‘negatives’ and allowing myself only to look at what I am not doing well. These different dimensions trigger the self-impression that I am not good enough, not worthy, destined to be an outcast. But the difference here is that this is the present moment, which is the moment where I have the power to do things differently. The moments in the past have already happened, so all I can do is look back and see how I could have done things differently or better to be more supportive towards myself. But things that come up now where I start to feel like an outcast again are like opportunities for me to look a little deeper, and do something different NOW, and change the experience while I am in it. I will start with some self-forgiveness on the point.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to judge myself within comparison to people that I admire or look up to, wherein, instead of ‘looking up to’ them, I can look to them as a resource that I can use to assist and support myself to overcome the obstacles I face, turning every obstacle into a gift of learning and overcoming.

When and as I see that I am ‘looking up to’ others in comparison and self-judgment, I stop, and I breathe, I bring myself back to equality and oneness by reminding myself that I can instead look to others to learn and use their experience to apply in my own life that which can assist and support me to be the best possible version of myself in my own unique and individual way. I see, realize and understand that by using judgment and comparison I am only denying myself an opportunity to grow, to learn, to evolve and to expand.

I commit myself to identify moments of judgment and comparison, and look for ways to turn it into learning, growing and expanding.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think, believe or perceive that anyone or anything outside of myself can make me less than or make me an outcast, because in reflecting on my life and investigating the ‘outcast’ character, I can see that there is and has always been another way.

When and as I see that I am blaming someone or something outside of myself for causing me to feel like an outcast, I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself back to living self-forgiveness by reminding myself that only I have the power to condemn me, and that this is something I will no longer accept and allow as part of me and the way I use my power. Instead, I will use my personal power and decision-making authority to author for myself a new way of being, by forgiving the old patterns that were learned in un-awareness, and living instead a new pattern that I choose and that I create, one of self-acceptance, one of seeing and looking in self-honesty at ways where I can create a life internally and externally, where I am supported and challenged to change.

I commit myself to take self-responsibility for my personal growth, and for stopping my personal self-diminishment.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to believe my mind system program when it tells me I am not good enough, I am shameful and that I do not belong, and I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to react to this self-talk by diminishing myself, closing myself off and becoming apparently small and invisible.

When and as I see that I am listening to my mind telling me I am not good enough, that I am shameful and I do not belong, I stop, and I breathe. I bring myself back to self-honesty by reminding myself that whenever I have reflected back, I have always seen another way. I push myself to override this program by forgiving it and allowing myself to see another way IN THE MOMENT. I push myself to use this seeing, realizing and understanding to expand, open up about the challenges I face, interact, ask for support when needed, and become visible, where I see my POTENTIAL, and not the self-diminishing version of myself I had grown to accept and allow within me as my self-definition.

I commit myself to fearlessly become big, visible and open.

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