At the end of the day, like deathbed end of day, the majority of us humans agree that the ‘things’ we own do not make us who we are, nor are they thing things that provide a sense of true importance, meaning, happiness or belonging. Do we really believe it? If we did would be so damn concerned about black friday, cyber monday or fret about checking off the christmas lists?
Belongings DO NOT create belonging BUT your stuff does has meaning written all over, under, in and around it. When was the last time you truly dug into the WHY behind your consumption and consumerism? Do you consciously choose your purchases and make decisions from creative choice based listening or instead are you reacting from fear. Why do you do what you do and have what you have? I often think it comes down to this: The desire + need to belong is paramount.
We need to belong to one another, our friends and families, our culture and country, to our world. Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being. Our interests, motivation, health and happiness are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that may share common interests and aspirations. It is proven that Isolation, loneliness and low social status can harm a person's subjective sense of well-being, as well as his or her intellectual achievement, immune function and health. Research shows that even a single instance of exclusion can undermine well-being.
When we feel a threat to our connection, we become afraid of judgment and petrified by what other people think of us. When this happens, we often make choices and formulate habits that actually damage us + end up separating from ourselves and others versus bring us closer together. Consider this example…You have been invited to a function on the weekend by your coworkers. You know them but you don’t REALLY know them well. It is important for you to have them like you and to enjoy your night out. You frantically look through your closet to figure out what you might wear. You try this, that and the other thing on and nothing seems to fit. Your thoughts spiral negatively and you begin to speak poorly of yourself in your mind. Limiting beliefs creep in and you start doubting whether or not you should even attend the gathering. You question what they will think of you, their reactions, judgements and so on. To avoid potential embarrassment or pain, you come to the conclusion that what you really need is a new outfit. Several purchases on the old credit card later and you have yourself the ticket to head turns and approval from your work mates, right?!
At this point in your thought processing, a decision is being made that seems somewhat benign, you're getting a new outfit. HOWEVER, it is in the moments like these ones when we can make a different choice. A new choice that is empowering and integral rather than one based in reaction and the need to 'fit in'. If we peel back the layers of the Self and are open to being aware, it becomes easy to notice how fixated humans are on pleasing each others, on looking the part and needing to be liked or acknowledged. Unfortunately, fitting in is about trying to adapt to a world that’s not your own. You don’t belong there, true belonging doesn't even exist here.
Brene Brown writes ‘Many us suffer from this split between who we are and who we present to the world in order to be accepted but we're not letting ourselves be known, and this kind of incongruent living is soul-sucking’ Fitting in is easy but it comes at a cost and it is one of the easiest ways to lose precious parts of you. Perhaps that cost is financial, emotional, spiritual, physical or soul deep. In our own ways we each experience the dilemma of fitting in, maybe we don't purchase a new outfit to do so but instead we take a job that we don't love so our parents are proud, we can say things we don't truly mean to be seen as 'cool', lease a vehicle that is beyond our budget, spend time with people that restrict our fullest self expression. The examples are endless.
Here's the thing, if you feel like you don’t belong, there’s a very good chance you don’t, and this isn’t a bad thing! Pay attention to what specifically triggered that feeling for you. Is it that you don’t care about the things others do? Is it that you’re spending time with people who are your opposite? Is it that you don’t enjoy the activity at hand? Not fitting in doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with you or the people around you, it just means you’re different or the circumstance is not suited to you. Use this as an opportunity to explore what would need to change for you to feel like you belong. This isn’t about changing yourself or forcing yourself to be anything you’re not, it’s about taking an honest look at the situation.
You deserve to be seen. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be known for the real deal that you are. Not for the clothes that cover your body, the car you drive, the house you live in or the job/education you have.
Maybe you need a new set of friends or to spend less time with your family. Maybe you’re not dating the right person. Maybe you’d rather be at a cultural event than out drinking. Whatever it is, just make note of it and create better alignment in your life, work, and relationships going forward. Belonging is about inhabiting the world as the R E A L you.
It takes courage to show up in your own skin.
Here are some top tips for cultivating MORE belonging.
1. Love yourself first. Remember that there is only one you on this planet + you have unique gifts to offer.
2. Listen to your body – it will never lie. Discover how it feels in your physical self when you are ‘fitting in’ vs ‘belonging’, the sensations, the breath, your energy level, emotions and clarity of thought. Figure out how each feels and then choose to spend more time where it feels lightest, free and soothing to your cells. (psst. it's belonging, hands down!)
3. Stop with the stories: Quit creating stories in your mind about why you aren’t important, good enough or the ‘right person’, unlikable etc. AND Do not change your values, likes, dislikes, words in text messages, embellish, pretend or lie in order to fit the part of someone else’s role for you in their story.
4. Join in + try new things. Say yes to opportunities, get outside of your comfort zone.
5. If one pathway to connection isn’t working, seek alternative paths + people. Keep looking.
6. Acceptance for Self + others. Practice this often. Concentrate on things you have in common rather than what sets you apart.
7. Share who you are, what you love + what you do. When you hide, people cannot find you. Your tribe is waiting.
8. Actively participate. Begin to take part in community life and contribute in meaningful, ongoing ways that have a positive impact
9. Be the longing - discover what you are most missing in your life – and then give that thing away. EX: If you long for a listener in your life, fill that roll for someone else. Longing for a friend who checks in to see if you are well, be that caller for another. You crave community gathering and ritual, start a group, be the source of connection.
10. Be kind to yourself. Remember you’re not alone in this feeling, regardless of how intense, frequent, or unique to you it may feel.
Stay true. xo