Every morning I listen to a podcast while walking my dogs and I have to say it is probably the most educational time of my day! I think even the poor dogs realise that the walk is more for me than it is for them, but I suppose we all benefit in some way – they get to sniff everything they come across and I get to expand my horizons by listening to other people talk about their issues, their failures, their successes, their hopes and dreams.
I tend to find that I make most of my decisions while walking as I find the mixture of exercise, fresh air and listening to the spoken word truly inspiring. Listening to music just doesn’t have the same effect but maybe that is because I never listen to lyrics properly and am drawn in by what my husband describes as a “happy crappy tune”!
This morning I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts, “How to Fail” by Elizabeth Day. Her guest was Brené Brown (I'm embarrassed to say that before switching on my headphones that I didn’t know who she was but now I am a fan!)
Brené said many things of interest but this one really stuck with me:
“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted.
Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”
(Quote is from her book The Gifts of Imperfection)
Brené talked eloquently about the difference between belonging and fitting in and cited a scenario of being invited to a book club in a new town with new people and, in order to fit in, she claims to have enjoyed the chosen book (when she’d hated it) as everyone else says they loved it. She wasn’t invited back and felt shame as she felt she’d let herself down and had not been true to herself. If she had been herself and admitted she hadn’t enjoyed the book and she still wasn’t invited back, she would have just felt that they were not her people, but she had been herself and next time, she would find others who appreciated her for her views and opinions. She wouldn’t have felt that she had “sold out”.
I think we are all guilty of trying to fit in – it's easier that way.
Nobody really likes to stand out.
If we did, why would there be fashion that we follow?
Clearly, not everyone is a follower of fashion, but the very fact that it is such a huge business shows that most people tend to follow trends and like to look like their peers and people around them and blend in. When we stand out, for the wrong reasons, we feel uncomfortable and out of sorts.
Belonging is such a powerful word but how do you truly know if you belong? Is it a feeling of contentment in your life? Or is it just feeling accepted by those around you?
Do you have to accept everyone around you to be accepted by them?
Is it about not judging others so that they don’t judge you?
I believe that you can only truly belong when you feel comfortable to be yourself. We all have friends that bring out the best in us and we feel funny, interesting, fun and desirable when we are around them. We tell more stories, we crack jokes and we let go. Other friends may intimidate us or make us feel that we are boring so, we are actually boring around them – we sit quietly, listen to what’s going on and laugh at the appropriate point. But we don’t join in in the same way and we don’t feel we belong.
Is there a message here?
It is simply that we should try and be honest with ourselves and project this honesty as much as possible. As, once you find the people or even the place where you feel most at ease and comfortable, you will belong.
Life coaching is all about finding out what you really believe in and what your true values are so that you know when you have found the place where you belong. This can be the place you work, the house you buy, the town you live in, the partner you choose or even the friends you make.
The first step is to start thinking about it, start exploring how you feel and how you can act on what you find.
Just ask yourself the question, what is most important to me?
Then go from there.
And if you need help, contact me!