I work with outcasts for a living.  And I have never been happier with my job.  We are the scapegoats, the outcasts, the weird ones, the people who don’t belong.  On one level, it really sucks.  It is a lonely place to be.  And it is extra lonely because we have been taught we are wrong.  We have been taught that something is not right with us.  We believe we don’t belong on this planet.  But on another level, maybe we aren’t supposed to belong.  Maybe this is a time when outcasts are deeply needed.  Maybe people with the courage to stand out are exactly what is going to move this planet forward.

We are the brave ones.  We are the people who are here to make change happen.  And let’s face it.  Those who abused and neglected us knew that.  They could see it at birth.  In many ways, it is obvious.  We have a strength that is hard to miss.  We have opinions.  We have a deep desire to DO something in this world.  We want it to be different, a better place.  And that shows up early.  It shows up in our behavior and conversation, even in the way we carry ourselves.  Abusive families and societies know who we are.  And they immediately go in for the kill, sometimes literally.

So when I tell people that families abuse and scapegoat the strong ones, it is not just a cliché.  I am not simply blowing smoke to make us feel better.  It is a process that has been happening since the beginning of civilization.  If an oppressor sees someone with power, they must take them down before they rise up.  That power could be charismatic, spiritual, physical, anything.  The oppressor must convince that strong person they will not succeed.  They must convince that person of their worthlessness.  And if that doesn’t work, they must destroy their credibility with others.

And in families, this starts when the scapegoat is very young, so there is no way to escape the impact.  It settles in and makes it incredibly hard to get back to the power you were meant to have.  Here are some of the tactics used to outcast the strong ones.

They will talk about the enemy.  Oppressors love to use fear to suppress those who show signs of power.  They will tell you that people like you are the problem so you must hide your innate strengths.  They will tell you that the enemy is out there in the world and you must align with the oppressor to be safe.  They will tell you to avoid people who are like you because they are the enemy.  But the enemy is made up.  Sure.  There are bad people.  But the idea of an enemy is used to keep you following their orders.

They tell you to dim your light.  Oppressors will tell you that your light is too bright.  They will call you things like intimidating and overwhelming.  They will appeal to you to be convenient to others.  They will convince you to keep your mouth shut when you need to speak up.  They will say it is better to go along with what others say.  They will tell you it is too hard to make changes.  They will tell you that big dreams don’t happen for people like you.  They want to keep you hopeless because you can’t fight oppression when you are hopeless.

They invalidate your emotions.  Emotional numbness is a sure way to stifle the purpose of a powerful person.  You will never make your dreams come true if you can’t feel.  So oppressors invalidate your emotions.  They want you to shut down.  If you can’t feel, you will no longer know what you want.  What you truly want lives in the body and not in the head.  If you live in the head, you will lose yourself.  If you lose yourself, you can be controlled.

They tell you to stop being selfish.  When you are in touch with what you want, oppressors will tell you it is selfish.  They will tell you that you must suffer.  Pain is the only way to be human.  You can’t have what you desire in the world.  Or you certainly can’t have it all. Or you definitely can’t have it all at once.  They want you to stop considering how the world could be your oyster.  The dream must go if you are to be controlled.

They gaslight your truth.  There is no way you can accomplish your dreams if you don’t believe yourself.  If you are powerful, oppressors make sure you stay confused.  If you say your truth, they tell you it isn’t.  If you tell your story, they question all your facts until you have so many doubts in your head, you can’t tell it.  They make you question everything that comes from within because that’s where your power lies.  They want you to question your power.

If you are reading this, you were likely one of those outcasts.  You were one of those people whose light was dimmed.  You were one of those people sent here for big things.  And you likely believe that being an outcast makes you the problem.  I want you to rethink what it means to be an outcast.  Let yourself consider a new definition for that word.  What are you being outcasted from?  Are you an outcast from evil?  Are you an outcast from the status quo in a broken world?  Are you an outcast from the emotionally numb, from the zombie apocalypse?  Is that really a problem?  Are you really the problem?  Ask yourself.