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  • Writer's pictureFliss Goldsmith

Stop Fitting in and Start Belonging

This was one of the biggest revelations to me - when I heard Brene Brown ask her audience this question:

'What is the opposite of Belonging?' and then she answered it 'Fitting in.'

I dropped my tea - and for a Brit you know it has to be Earth shattering news for a cup of tea to go to waste. I think I may also have dropped my Hob Nob (best biscuit EVER!)

Just let that soak in for ma minute (the Brene Brown bit not the tea). The opposite of Belonging is Fitting In. WOW!

So very very true, completely obvious and yet never discovered by so many of us - me included until I was in my 30's! Let me break it down into nicely digestible chunks and walk you through why the best thing you can do is to try to stop fitting in.

Belonging is hardwired into human desire. We require connection. More than that we require authentic connection and the more of it we find the healthier and happier we are in our lives. The thing is our modern world is geared up for inauthenticity, for systems of oppression and coercion, for invalidating feelings, identities and experiences and to extol exhaustion and burnout as a virtue. Not very inviting really when you think about it!

Our response is to try to find ANYBODY and ANYTHING that can make us feel like we have a place in society. So we carve out hobbies that are easy or popular. We make acquaintances based on proximity and a few shared circumstances like work, neighbours, school run gang etc. However, if we took the time to really get to know ourselves in detail first - we would realise that most of these connections are at best passively using our time and at worst actively sabotaging our emotional landscape.

We try desperately to belong - only to find we are just fitting in.

So what is the antidote to this rather eroding effort to fit in. You have to go back to basics and get to know you authentically before you can get to know who and what is going to serve you authentically to grow and thrive. Here are a few things you can do and a few ways of knowing when you finally belong:

Getting to know yourself.

  1. Take 10 minutes each day to journal - just let that pen flow, or voice flow if audio journaling is more accessible to you. You will start to see recurring patterns of information - follow the clues as to what is and is what is not adding joy or positive impact to your life.

  2. Know your values. The single most important exercise any human alive can do - and all should. My 3 values that underpin everything in my life and business are: Understanding, Hope, Community. Yours will be different and if you want to work with me to discover them email me to find out more about my affordable 1:1 Values Exploration work.

  3. Sprinkle in the joy - each day do 1 thing purely for the sake of it - no higher reason, just you love it. Whether that's buying the best coffee, skipping instead of walking to work or putting on the music you love to dance around the kitchen. The more little sprinkles of joy, the easier you find it to recognise what lights you up - and more importantly what does not!

Start Belonging

  1. Choose spaces that make you feel seen, heard, understood and respected. That could be from a cultural perspective, disability, race, age or gender - but somewhere where you don't have to edit parts of yourself out - you can go all in on being you and function well in the space.

  2. When you connect with people don't fear not getting along - it is OK not to get on with everyone we meet. This doesn't mean arguments and all out warring, you can be polite and congruent with your beliefs and needs. Find phrases that allow you to say no to things with ease, 'Thanks for thinking of me but I won't be coming along.' OR 'I don't do well in those situations but I hope you have a great time,' OR 'I just don't have the capacity for that right now thanks all the same.'

  3. Love yourself as much as you love others. When you start to make authentic connections the temptation is to start moving away from our desires and needs to those of others. Of course, we should support and nourish others, but not at the expense of our own authenticity. Do a weekly check in with yourself to ensure you still feel tethered to your values.

I hope this helps you to start moving away from the slip stream of fitting in and supports you in taking a stride along the path of true belonging.

We can be Strong

We can be Wrong

We can Belong

X Love and Empowerment Fliss X


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