Your sense of belonging is important. But first I want to write about this sense. When you approach a group of people, as yourself. And then get rejected, you walk away feeling hurt but knowing that group of people just weren’t for you. It’s easier to let go when they are not “your people.”
But, when you approach a group of people wanting to fit in. Maybe even making an effort to change something about yourself so you can be accepted. It’s much harder to let that rejection go. It breaks your spirit. You feel like maybe something is wrong with you because you were more invested in fitting; in being a part of.
How this showed up for me
I experienced this with a group of professionals who are all different in their own right, with their own strengths. But it was hard for me to feel like I connected with them because I was making an effort to be a little bit more like they are, with their businesses and their clients.
I was mostly in awe and wanted to learn from them. But I felt devalued. Not necessarily because of anything that they did to me. But because I felt like no matter how much I tried, I didn’t fit. My ways didn’t make money. Even if I tried their ways, my income never rose.
In contrast with my number one international bestseller “I am”, I approached them as who I am. Maybe I was just tired of trying and trying and trying. With my family, with my friends, with my colleagues, with everyone, everywhere, trying, never fitting.
Not fitting was not the entire picture or what I experienced, but I was extremely exhausted. So I just showed up as me. I felt so vulnerable. I held my breath. “Surely I will not fit here too,” I thought. But I connected. I found a sense of belonging.
Know who you are
It’s important to know who you are. To be grounded in who you are. This helps you stand firm. To not waver. It helps to know your place, and helps you know when you’re in a place that’s just not for you. You’ll be better able to see bad things as lessons in what is working for you and serving you, rather than feeling like bad things are happening to you; like the world is against you.
It almost comes down to connection. Belonging and connection are intertwined. When you feel connected, you feel like you belong. What makes you feel connected to your country, to your family, to your friends, to the place you work? What is connecting you? What is keeping you there?
Just because you are in a group doesn’t necessarily mean you feel like you belong. Do you have chips on your shoulders? Think about the people you have had conversations with. Part of it is being heard and being seen for who you are.
Greater sense of belonging
Within belonging there is a greater sense of belonging. Sometimes it’s more purposeful to call this a higher sense of belonging as per Pete Walker calls it in “Complex PTSD from surviving to thriving”
We all have a greater sense of belonging. It’s more commonly called a Higher Power. But it loses context when you say your parents are your first Higher Power. People find it offensive to call your parents “God.” Essentially because, people call their higher power God. Then their defenses are on and they don’t grasp it. Please feel free to insert the title you spiritually refer to in place of God.
But that’s what it is. Our parents are our first greater sense of belonging. As we get older we find this greater sense elsewhere. When you’re in addiction cycle the substance becomes a greater sense of belonging. But for addicts before they found a greater sense of belonging in the substance, they found a greater sense of belonging in some other unhealthy way.
This destructive cycle can look so many different ways. What Lies Beneath? Having a drink to loosen up, to numb. Because you can’t fit in. Because you’re hurt. There is always that “because.” That “why,” that didn’t give you a sense of belonging.
For me my destructive cycle was my abusive relationship. I wanted so much to have family; the way I imagined. It was the illusion that I twisted myself into a pretzel for. There were so many other pieces of connection and belonging I wanted but I will not get into it here.
The sense of belonging is at the heart of Destructive Cycles. Whether its the workaholic, taking care of people at the expense of yourself, substance abuse, eating disorders, the persuit of power, etc.
Cultivate a sense of belonging
Cultivate your sense of belonging first, and then cultivate a greater sense of belonging. Your greater sense of belonging is not your structured religion that was taught to you. If you have picked up some of my key words here, its connection, belonging, being seen, being heard, vulnerability, etc.
I was never going to truly have a greater sense of belonging when I needed to follow a structure to be accepted as a “part of.” Its why step 2 in Alcoholics Anonymous is focused on redefining your spirituality.
Accept who you are. Nurture and love who you are. How has belonging showed up for You? Do you see the important role it plays in destructive cycles? Comment below and share it with those who might need to read this.