For years now I've been spending a lot of my recreational time reading inspirational books, listening to motivational podcasts and basically consuming every thought provoking piece of media I come across. Self awareness and self improvement have always been an interest area.
A common theme that is popping up lately is the concept of belonging. Researcher and author Brené Brown has built an entire career around researching belonging and vulnerability. She has shared her findings through her many books, which are all fabulous by the way. I'd highly recommend picking up one of them if you're interested in the topic.
In her book Daring Greatly she says, "“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
Read that again.
I understand this to mean that we will never achieve a full sense of belonging if never fully accept ourselves.
It's a powerful statement.
I've always looked at belonging as being more related to fitting in. I fit in or belong with my family, my friends, my community - the place where I was born and raised as well as the place I now call home. It is in these places and with these people that I feel accepted. Therefore, I belong. Right?
Brené's statement indicates there's a deeper layer to belonging. Not everyone experiences belonging or fitting in, even with family, friends and community. Sometimes this feeling comes and goes. One day you fit in, another you don't. So how do we balance that, or how do we achieve a sense of belonging when we don't attach it to a group of people?
The question that begs to be asked then is:
In our quest for belonging, do we alter our behaviour (aka our true selves) to achieve acceptance or to return to it? Do we hide our imperfect selves in order to fit in? I think the answer is most definitely, YES! And in doing so, we lose a part, or hide a part of our true self.
The need to be part of a group (part of a tribe), is primal to human beings. In the beginning we could not survive on our own. Tribal members worked together to provide and protect. It is in our nature as humans to need this connection with others..... but to what extent are we willing to forfeit our true selves to do so?
Self-acceptance and self-compassion are becoming more and more rare in today's world. In many ways we are moving away from authenticity and towards uniformity. We live in a society that is hyper focused on judgment and comparison.