Here we are almost at the end of 2020, and you might be feeling like you don’t fit in.
The holidays have arrived, but it all feels kind of surreal.
Life goes on, but we’re in the midst of an unrelenting limbo.
Times like these definitely provoke feelings that we don’t fit in.
For ages now we’ve been riding out an unnatural pause.
We’re the airplane in the holding pattern, circling the airport but never getting the okay to land. We’re the car lost in the fog, destination uncertain.
Even in good times, most of us struggle with the in between spaces of life. They can feel like endless waiting, uncertainty, seeking but not finding.
And believing that somehow, you don’t fit in.
So I’ve been thinking about the constructs in which we live that tend to aggravate the sense that we don’t fit in.
I’ve been remembering that long before 2020 arrived on our doorsteps, there were always a lot of women that felt drained and frustrated by constructs of life that had largely been imposed on them.
I know this not only because it’s been true for me, but also because women bring this experience of not fitting in to therapy and coaching.
Sometimes we feel powerless to create new constructs, because the imposed constructs are so entrenched.
But ideally, therapy, coaching and women’s groups help us develop personal constructs that make room for healing, self-compassion and meaning-making. And ultimately, a sense of ourselves beyond what’s been imposed upon us.
Then we begin to move away from feeling like we don’t fit in and move toward feelings of belonging.
But during 2020 all the constructs are up for grabs.
It’s like all the constructs are in limbo now too, old ones ripped out from underneath us and new ones laid upon us. And most not by choice but by circumstance.
No wonder things feels strange, confusing and exhausting.
No wonder it’s hard to see the future, but easy to believe we don’t fit in.
Or perhaps we can’t imagine how we’ll fit all of ourselves into whatever the future is going to be.
And so I fervently wish I could carve this in stone: You’re doing the best you can.
I’ve been saying it a lot lately, to myself and others. It’s a welcome antidote to feeling like we don’t fit in.
Because even in these strange times, we still feel guilt and we still doubt we’re doing enough.
Unfortunately, those deep internal expectations that are anchored in old constructs, learnings and beliefs about how we should be measuring up don’t miraculously go away during a global pandemic (not to mention all the rest of it).
Which is why I also wish I could carve this in stone: It is what it is.
It’s the classic statement of acceptance. In fact, those five simple words are often used in the practice of radical acceptance.
So I’ve also been saying it is what it is a lot, to myself and others.
But repeating it doesn’t mean you approve of or like what’s happening. Instead, the phrase can be a kind of mantra to bring you back to yourself, to help you discern where to intervene to try to change something and where to step back.
And it is tremendously helpful for times when you personally need to step back and rest: I’m exhausted, I’ve done enough and it is what it is.
Acceptance and rest are like magical elixers when you feel like you don’t fit in.
Many of us resist acceptance, though.
Case in point, here’s what I recently wrote in my journal about my own resistance:
It’s hard but maybe it’s not as hard as continually trying to change something that apparently can’t be changed. Perhaps that’s the start of inner peace these days?
Mostly, I believe these two phrases help us feel cared for and cared about.
So if you’re needing some relief from feeling like you don’t fit in in some way, open up a little space to amplify these phrases…
- Breathe and imagine the voice of a kind and caring being saying them to you
- Let them be a verbal hug, spoken either out loud or to yourself
- Let them revive your inner nurturer when you most need it
Then repeat as often as necessary.
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Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better.