‘Why Am I Here?’

Oops – you did it again.

I’m sure it’s unintentional, but you keep on saying things which have the effect that I feel strange, stupid and unwanted.

My conversation appears to annoy you. (Is that contempt on your face?)

‘What am I doing here?’, I think.

I don’t belong here clearly.

‘Belonging’

Belonginness is essential, irreducible.

It’s emotional. We need to feel like we belong to eachother, to our friends and families, to our culture and country and our world. A sense of belonging (or lack of) is the greatest predictor of major depression.

It is driving a lot of our behaviour.

‘Acceptance’

Real belonging is internally sourced.

You belong anywhere once you completely accept yourself. I know this, although I can forget.

It doesn’t work to go to others for a sense that you belong, because most people don’t know how to accept themselves, and therefore by extension you. Not consistently at least.

But it’s unnecessary to test your sense of belonging by spending time with those who don’t value your thoughts or feelings, and that includes family.

Not when there are plenty of people who’ll happily embrace you as you are.

However imperfect.

‘Responsibility’

Our sense of belonging isn’t the job of our parents, or friends, or partner. It’s for us to cultivate (key adult realization).

We need to bring out who we are, and then position ourselves in an environment where that is valued, because not all environments will.

There are only moments of belonging with others – nothing more reliable. Some moments last longer than others.

And people are disappointing, especially if you’re sensitive. All sensitive people have the unpalatable task of accepting that not everyone is as careful and considerate of other’s feelings as they are.

But feeling left out is a choice.

It is difficult to accept, but the realization is liberating.

‘Self-presentation’

Authenticity can get sacrificed in the name of belonging.

Actually it isn’t belonging, but fitting in, that sacrifices authenticity.

‘Self-presentation’ is where we make the decision to hide certain aspects of ourselves for the sake of getting along in our families, at work, and within our social circles.

Hiding gets in the way of true belonging.

‘Social constructs’

There’s nothing wrong with achieving your sense of belonging from work, friends, hobbies and sporting groups. Our groups are a major way that we belong.

But they aren’t the complete picture. Plus, when you are heavily aligned with a group, it tends to make you uncompassionate towards the groups you aren’t a member of.

Being a part of a group feels good. But our sense of belonging has to transcend our group.

‘Practice’

To improve your ability to belong, you have to look for ways you are similar with others, instead of focusing on the ways you are different.

(This is easy, as there are many more similarities between us than differences.)

You have to accept people, and take the view that there is value in everyone’s thinking.

And you need to use the language of validation to help communicate your acceptance. Use words that promote togetherness.

‘Shortcuts’

There are quick and dirty methods for accomplishing a sense of belonging.

Being negative and bonding over gripes is one way. Take those things away, and you have to work harder to foster a kinship and connection.

But if the bond we share with people comes from hating the same people or thing, there is no real belonging.

‘Knowing yourself’

Weirdly, belonging sometimes takes going away on your own to find.

That’s because feeling belonging when there is nobody or nothing familiar around takes creativity, ingenuity and a lot of personal strength. But the rewards are high, because belong to yourself and you’ll belong anywhere.

If you don’t know who you are, or if you forgot, then you’ll always feel as if you don’t belong.

‘Courage’

A sign that your sense of belonging is strong is having the courage to be imperfect.

‘Gifts’

The pain of non-belonging has its gifts.

Whenever I have felt like I didn’t belong, it’s been fruitful in the end. It has driven me to do internal laundry which I’d have needed to do sooner or later anyway.

I probably owe the things I treasure the most about my life to not belonging.

“You’re weird”

‘Yeah, we all are. Haven’t you noticed?

But if you don’t enjoy my brand of weird, I’m happy to take it elsewhere.

No hard feelings.’

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