The human race has evolved over the centuries, living in tribes and to this day, we still need the sense of safety we get from our ‘tribe’ of friends or family. We fear rejection and can find it difficult to cope with being alone.
It is so important not to underestimate this profound human need. Ultimately a feeling of ‘not-belonging’ can lead to a sense of loneliness or inferiority, which in turn can have a direct impact on our self-esteem. At one point or another we’ve all experienced a desire to fit in and be accepted by others. It helps us see value in life and cope better with life’s many hurdles.
Some of us meet this need by joining a church, taking up a social hobby, or spending time with family and friends. Social media can also help us feel connected with others (but digital interactions can never replace human ones). However, many of us experience emotional and physical loneliness throughout our struggles to discover our sense of belonging.
We may even end up trying to mould ourselves to suit someone else’s expectations, and consequently lose our own sense of who we really are. We need to accept that ‘belonging’ is about having the courage to join in with others, whilst staying true ourselves. We should not have to adapt our behaviour to constantly try and please others.
I want to share my own personal ‘belonging’ story with you. I grew up in France but moved to England over 22 years ago and in order to fit in, I had to work very hard indeed to learn English and build a new life here.
The more time I spent here the more I fell in love with this beautiful country, the culture and the people (and your beautiful accent – which I have never mastered!). I so admire the way that English people respect others, and I love how volunteering and charity work is so much a part of everyone’s lives. Oh – and I just adore the food – from wintry Sunday Roasts and fry-ups to summery Pimms and strawberries!
I threw myself into every aspect of life here, but even after so many years, there was something missing. I needed to be formally accepted as British in order to feel like I truly belonged here, so I decided to apply for citizenship.
I spent 10 months preparing the endless paperwork required to apply to the Home Office for citizenship. Finally, after an exam, and a rigorous interview, I was invited to swear my loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen.
As of 30th April 2016, I am now the proud bearer of a British Passport! It’s not easy to put into words how much happiness my British citizenship has brought me. The amazing feeling of acceptance has given me a rock solid foundation upon which to build my future, as well as bringing me so much strength and joy.
BEGINNING TO BELONG
If you are on your own personal journey towards acceptance or belonging, it is worth trying the following:
- Notice what is similar between you and others, rather than focusing on the differences
- Be open-minded and don’t expect to always agree with other people. State your own opinions, and let them air theirs. You can agree to disagree, and accept others as they are.
- Use validation to build relationships. Demonstrate empathy towards the way other people may be feeling, and use positive body language and a smile to emphasise your understanding.
- Try saying ‘yes’ to new invitations and go beyond your usual comfort zone. Try letting go of your any judgements of fears you may have. Don’t focus on details that you may not like about the experience, but instead work on building a rapport with the people you are with.
- If you feel conscious of your weight, and tempted to hide yourself away then please stop punishing yourself. No one is perfect and we all have issues that we are trying to overcome.
- Avoid the temptation to try and ‘fix’ other people’s problems. Every one has their own way of dealing with life. Mostly people just want a non-judgemental listening ear.
- Try not to blame yourself or others as this is just an emotional drain for everyone. Let go of the past, and only hang on to the best experiences or memories when you move on.
Or if you’re not too sure where to start and need support– we can use a combination of visualisations, NLP or hypnotherapy or hypnotherapy to help you get there more easily