The Paradox of Belonging


The past few years have been full of growth and transformation for me. One of the defining moments that sparked these changes is learning about true belonging. I was watching a video clip of Brené Brown speaking about her latest book when she shared that “belonging is paradoxical” in that we first must belong to ourselves. She went on to say, “If I try to fit in for you, I no longer belong to myself.” BAM! It hit me that I have been doing relationships wrong my whole life. I have always tried to show up as close to perfect as possible, say yes to things to prove my worth, and even stay silent or occasionally agree with things that are not okay just to fit in or not “stir things up.”

Brené shares from her work that belonging is defined as “being a part of something larger than us” and something that can only happen when we “offer our imperfect and authentic selves to the world”. This is true vulnerability because love and belonging are always uncertain. These are “irreducible needs” that we are wired for and when we don’t have them we fall apart. She has found that love happens when we are “willing to be deeply seen and known.” And the kicker is that we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

We must also be careful not to try to “hot-wire connection” with others by oversharing our vulnerabilities. A good way to check in with this is to ask if whoever you are sharing with has earned the right to hear your story. Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

Do you know if you can trust them?
Have they shared things about themselves with you?
Where are you at emotionally with what you are sharing?
What are your expectations around their response or what is your intention for sharing?

If we’ve gone to far we will often get a “deer in the headlights” sort of response or see people start to disengage. It’s okay to mess up, just take notice and learn from it.

Once I learned all of this this I couldn’t go back. I had to reevaluate myself and the people I was surrounding myself with. Rather than blaming them for not accepting me or believing that I was inherently flawed, I had to take a look at how my actions (or inactions) were not in line with who I am at my core. I had to start belonging to me and really loving myself despite my imperfections.

This is what defines living a wholehearted life. It is a lifestyle and a continual process. We don’t just wake up one day and love ourselves. We work on it and pick ourselves back up when we end up face down in the arena. This process is difficult and you will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But at the end of the day, vulnerability will always get you the answer you need, not necessarily the one that you want. It is GOOD information if someone doesn’t respect you, isn’t reliable, or gets angry when you set a boundary AND it’s also really difficult to go through. You’ve got this though and I promise if you start having a better relationship with yourself, you will see changes in the relationships you have with others.

Come join us at Daring Women and be part of a tribe that it striving to be their best selves and are super supportive of you in your journey toward authenticity.