Feeling Like An Outsider | The Psychology Company
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Feeling Like An Outsider

| Feeling Like An Outsider | The Psychology Company

Feeling Like An Outsider

It is not uncommon for films to serve as mirrors reflecting the complexities of the human psyche that are often seen in the therapy room and yet it had been a long time since I watched a film that I felt portrayed this complexity in a way that really touched and moved me. That changed when I went to see All of Us Strangers. The film weaves a narrative that delves into the depths of trauma, grief, identity, connection and the profound impact our past has on the present. 


There are so many layers to this film that I could discuss but I want to focus on the feelings of being an outsider that the two main characters both seemingly grapple with. Clients often talk about painful feelings of not fitting in and not belonging that can give rise to loneliness, insecurity, anxiety and depression. As human beings we are hard wired to want to fit in, as our very survival in hunter gatherer bands would have depended on it. From a very young age we look around us and ask ourselves “do I fit in”, “do I belong”, “am I part of the pack”?  Feeling different in some way can lead us to say no to these fundamental questions which can lead to a feeling of isolation and separation from others.  


If you went through your formative years feeling different and feeling like you didn’t really fit in and belong then you are not alone. Sadly this is a common and painful experience.  Maybe you felt different from your family in some way, perhaps like the two main characters in All of Us Strangers you were gay and grew up in a heterosexual family, or you were an introvert being raised in an extraverted family (or vice versa) or your interests/ambitions differed from what was expected of you. Maybe you felt your family was different to those around you, for example your family had different religious beliefs or were poorer or richer than others or a family member was an alcoholic.  Finally, maybe you felt different from your friends, for example you may have experienced trauma or loss that none of your friends could relate to, or you or a family member had mental health difficulties or perhaps you felt different in your appearance in some way. And then there is more overt ostracization like bullying and discrimination which can leave lifelong scars such as low self esteem and self confidence.  All of these experiences, and many others, can leave people feeling like they don’t really fit in and belong and the people around them may have been none the wiser to the suffering they are going through so it can be a very lonely experience.


Navigating childhood and adolescence feeling like an outsider can leave people with a deep ache of isolation and loneliness and a yearning to be seen, understood and belong. However, like the characters in the film, if you have  grown up feeling this way you may struggle to connect to people even as an adult as you may anticipate feeling the same way you did when younger. It might feel safer to avoid and isolate and perhaps you found ways to try and numb the loneliness. When you are in social situations, be it with friends or at work, you may be quick to notice everyone else getting along well and feel like you are not part of the clique which once again confirms to you that you don’t really belong. This confirmation bias perpetuates the feeling of social isolation so it can be very helpful to try and deliberately look for times when people make an effort to connect with you.


My hope for anyone who has experienced the feeling of being an outsider and the isolation and loneliness that often accompanies it is that they find ways to get their need for connection and belonging met. All of Us Strangers intricately navigates the complexities of intimacy, showcasing the challenges individuals face when opening themselves up to others. However the film also illuminates the transformative power of genuine connection, tapping into the longing within all of us to be seen and understood. Sometimes the therapy relationship is the first time clients get this need met. Therapy is a space where you can be genuinely yourself in your rawest form, where all parts of you can show up and you can be met with acceptance, empathy and support. Therapy can also help you build relationships with others that are more authentic and perhaps more importantly build an authentic and compassionate relationship with yourself.


If you haven’t yet seen All of Us Strangers I highly recommend it and if themes in the film resonate with you and you feel they are unresolved or continue to have a significant impact on you or you just want a safe space to talk about them then you may wish to consider psychological therapy. The film is a tear jerker so bring tissues!