This week has been all about fitting in. Today I wanted to zero in on some specific strategies to help both kids and adults combat the feelings of being an outcast.
Most of you know that I write YA fiction in addition to the work I do with gifted children. Well, the other night I was chatting with a dear friend about our YA novels and my feelings that I may never get mine published. (really this is related, I promise)…at the end of our conversation, we talked about the feeling of not fitting in – of being an outcast.
See, my buddy reminded me that everyone feels that way from time to time. And I think she’s absolutely right.
Add giftedness to the mix, and the feeling is magnified.
So, what can we do when we are stuck (or our kids are stuck) wallowing in that horrible outcast feeling? I think the first step is becoming aware that we feel that way AND admitting it. After that, some of the strategies listed below can really help.
- Hidden Messages – our minds feed us information daily. And unfortunately, a lot of the information is wrong. That’s right…WRONG. We tell ourselves we “don’t fit in” because we aren’t up on the current fashion trends, or because our interests are different from what we think they should be. We validate that incorrect assumption by deciding that the way people treat us is related to the fact we don’t fit in… But here’s a little secret – There is no meaning to things other than the meaning WE attach to it! That’s right, we can decide what and how we feel about any situation…even the most difficult ones!
- Understanding – In order to feel like we belong, like we are accepted, we must first accept ourselves. That means we need an understanding of giftedness. For the parents out there, we need to help our children understand what it means – really means – to be gifted. This includes helping come to terms with the emotional intensity part. If we aren’t willing to accept ourselves, flaws and all, why should we expect others to
- Letting Go – Often we (or our children) get stuck in past problems. I still remember the kid in 3rd grade that hated me…no matter how much I tried to be her friend. For a long time that experienced defined my relationships with people. I had not let go of it. Well, people, it is time to leave your past behind! And, teach your children to do the same
Doing the above few things can help alleviate most of the stressors of feeling left out.
But what about children who are not yet ready for such difficult self-analysis? What about them? This is where you, as a parent, can begin to coach your child who to self-evaluate and adjust. Work together to develop an emotional vocabulary and begin to teach them the benefit of self-reflection!
What about you guys? Any other great strategies you want to share?