Feeling left behind is something I struggled with for a while … and still do on occasion. For me it started with fear of abandonment. The feelings intensified during the 1990 war (when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait). Friends and neighbors left and I was stuck behind with nowhere to go.
Today when one of my neighbors sells his or her home, the feeling visits me again. I start wondering: where are they going? Am I being left behind?
Feeling left behind means we’ll suffer if we stay we’re we are and/or we’ll miss out on something better. There are two parts to feeling left behind.
The first is a physical part where you’re actually left behind or abandoned.
The second part is physiological. You feel you’re left behind because you have not pursued something—maybe an adventure, a trend, or new technology. You fear missing out on something that can make you happier, healthier, or wealthier.
From someone who’s been there more than a few times, I can tell you, feeling left behind sucks. It made me feel dejected and worthless—I was out of options and places to go.
The feeling of physically being left behind or abandoned is something that will manifest itself in situations that reaffirm unworthiness.
As for the feeling of missing out on experiences and possessions the result is a never-ending search loop. You’ll jump from one thing to the next looking for the “thing” that will make you happier or more successful—and that’s a fertile ground for advertisers.
Also, unfortunately, it’s a welcoming environment for anyone with an opinion or an axe to grind with someone (or some issue) to influence you.
The physical and physiological aspects of feeling you’re left behind are intertwined. One can turn into the other. Or you can suffer the negative side effects of both.
Let’s have a look at what lies beneath the feelings.
The truth about feeling left behind
When you’re feeling anxious that you’re not keeping up with the trends, or you don’t have options to move forward, you’re actually dealing with two formidable forces.
Fear – this is the biggest driving force behind any negative feeling you have. And as we all know fear is a projection of a future negative outcome. It’s not about what’s happening now.
Comparison influence – you hold yourself hostage to what others are saying or doing—regardless of how incomplete your view of their lives and opinions might be. Then you feel bad for not being able to keep up with them.
Now that we know what’s behind the feelings, let’s shed some light on the pattern itself.
Questioning the feelings of being left behind
Most of the time we allow uncomfortable feelings to run rampant, unchecked for a very long time. Then we feel there is something wrong with us and we can’t change.
The good news is that you can take out whatever you put in your mind. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Cast doubt on the thoughts and beliefs behind the feelings and see what happens.
Here are five questions that can help in alleviating the discomfort. You’ll also become more aware of some of the baseless thoughts and possibly change them when it comes to feeling left behind.
- What’s wrong with where I am today?
- What is the worst that can happen right now?
- If I am not happy with where I am right now, where would I rather be?
- How will I feel when I get there?
- What’s stopping me from feeling this way right now?
If you answer these questions honestly, you’ll realize how much your mind plays tricks on you to reinforce old patterns.
When I honestly sit with myself and answer the questions when one of my neighbors leaves, I come up with one simple truth (for me): I’m perfectly fine where I am today and I have all my needs met where I’m living. When I feel I’m left behind it’s because the feeling is automatic. It’s very familiar—it’s habitual.
How to move past the fear of being left behind
Once you cast doubt by answering the questions above, consider the following steps in leading a more conscious and peaceful life.
Practice becoming more present.
Feeling left behind is future based. It strips this moment of its beauty and meaning. When you answer the questions above, bring your attention back to this moment. It’s the only one you’ve got.
The more you pay attention to today, the less you worry about tomorrow.
Learn to appreciate what you have and be content with your life.
To be content with your life and what you have is the best gift you can give yourself.
It’s not an easy task to be contented when we’re bombarded with invitations to buy this or try that. It takes full awareness of our needs to be able to withstand the tidal waves of advertising and social pressures.
Whenever you feel there is lack in your life, focus on what you have. The more you appreciate what you have, the more you open up to life and its gifts.
Trust is crucial for us to survive, and thrive.
When we don’t trust what’s here right now and what’s to come, life can turn into one extended nightmare full of fear and anxiety.
Trust that you’re where you need to be and that you have the ability to handle any life challenges in the future. Reflect on your past experiences. You’re here today and that means you have survived and grown from past challenges. And more importantly, you’re okay.
When you trust life, you feel grounded. You tune in rather than out. You listen to your intuition and do what works for you, without being influenced by trends and others people’s opinions.
Make up your own mind.
Other people opinions or actions shouldn’t matter to you—unless you want them to.
I stated this before but it’s worth saying again: opinions are not absolute truths. They should come with a disclaimer, like: the following is my opinion, which may or may not be true for you. Reader’s discretion is advised.
If someone says blogs are dead. That’s their opinion and if they don’t want to write or read one, good for them. It has nothing to do with me. I still find value in reading other people’s thoughts and experiences and I hope you find my writings useful to you. I’m not going to change direction because someone else says so.
To put this into practice, make a list of the things you feel you should be doing because others are doing them or say you should do them.
Once you have the list, ask yourself this question, for each item: if I was alone on a deserted island and no one was watching, would I still want to do this?
If you answer this question from your heart, you will weed out the noisy demands that don’t mean much to you.
With anything that’s left on the list, ask yourself: what’s stopping me from pursing these desires?
Notice what comes up—fears, doubts, or limiting beliefs. This is where you can steer your mind to focus on what you truly want and how to overcome obstacles, without paying much attentions to outside distractions.
Take responsibility for meeting your needs.
Happiness is in the eye of the beholder. What makes someone else happy may not do anything for you. You get to determine what makes you happy—no one else can take credit for your happiness or wellbeing.
Nothing outside of you can make you feel happy or complete. Not a relationship, a travel adventure, a great job or any toy or gadget. They might thrill you for a while, but once the rush dissipates, you’re back to square one.
The biggest driver for our actions is to have our needs met. So when we follow someone else’s lead we’re assuming we will have our needs met through their decisions and recommendations. This may or may not be the case.
You’re much better off determining your own way of meeting your needs. If you want to feel accepted and loved, be a person who loves and accepts. Do the things that you feel make you lovable.
If you need more contentment, start with more gratitude for the things that are working in your life.
If you need more peace, don’t react to outside influences in a way that makes you more anxious.
When it comes to your needs, you are the only one responsible for them.
With every thought or action, think of what you need and how you can fulfill that need. From there you can explore your options—freely.
You are a unique and mysterious universe within the vastness of this universe. You have within you all the abilities and skills to be all that you can be.
With a bit of trust in yourself and life, you will grow to appreciate your life and what you have to offer. And you will never feel left behind again. You take care of life and life takes care of you—always.
Photo courtesy of Bert Kaufmann