By Stephanie J. Marshall, Toronto-based Master Alignment Coach
Everyone Has Felt Like an Outsider
Everyone knows the feeling of not belonging. Having coached hundreds of women, I can confirm that sometimes even people who look like the literal definition of “belonging” feel like outsiders. Belonging is a fundamental human need that we are wired to care about it, so when you feel like you don’t belong it sucks. It can be stressful and exhausting, as well as lonely.
The thing is, if you’re wasting energy worrying about whether you belong, trying to belong, or even trying to make sure you don’t become an outsider, you might be working against your own self-interests*. To get on your own team you need to make sure that you aren’t falling prey to the myths about belonging.
Top Five Myths About Belonging:
Myth #1: Belonging is the Same as Conformity
Belonging isn’t about suppressing your individuality and trying to be like everyone else. True belonging allows for individuality and diversity.
Myth #2: Belonging Depends on External Validation
Authentic belonging begins with self-acceptance and self-worth, regardless of whether others validate you. Creating the feeling of belonging is an inside-job and NOT contingent on the approval of others.
Myth #3: You Either Belong or You Don’t
Belonging isn’t a switch that’s either on or off. You can feel a sense of belonging in some aspects of your life but not in others. You can belong to multiple circles in different aspects of your life without being tethered to each of them 24/7.
Myth #4: Belonging Eradicates Loneliness
Belonging doesn’t exempt you from the ups and downs of the human experience, it encompasses them.
Myth #5 Belonging Is a Destination
Belonging isn’t static, so don’t think that once you’ve found your people you’ve reached your final destination. Belonging can change over time as you grow and evolve or as circumstances shift.
The Game Changer is #2.
When we worry about whether we belong and what others are thinking it stifles our empathy towards others and our overall curiosity*. Ironically this makes us less powerful, less likely to bring our best, and it makes it harder to connect with others.
You can’t control other people’s thoughts, feelings, or actions but you get to decide how you think. What would change if you were to decide that when you walk through the door it’s a reminder that you belong? How would that feel? How would your interactions change?
You decide where you belong.
Don’t use this advice against yourself. This is not about convincing yourself that you belong no matter what. Sometimes you don’t. Stay curious and pay attention because usually in this case “belonging” is not the issue. For example, maybe you don’t really want to be a part of a group, or, to be blunt, you might recognize some lurking un-earned entitlement, or unwillingness to put in the effort to be a part of something. Recognizing that you don’t belong everywhere and that doesn’t need to mean anything about others while maintaining your self-worth is valuable.
You’ve got this.
P.S. Free workshop alert: Living Unapologetically Beyond 40 - The Mindset Reset for Living Boldly! Details and Registration
P.P.S. If you're tired of trying to change your patterns and get the results you want on your own and you're curious about the benefits of coaching book a coaching exploration call to find out more about Alignment Coaching and whether it's the right fit for you right now.
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