Do You Feel Like You Don't Belong?
While studying coaching therapy I learnt that we have three main fears in life:
A fear of not being loved
A fear of not being good enough
A fear of not belonging
I found that once my clients were able to accept these fears and move forward, they were able to find more happiness in their lives.
Today I want to talk about the fear of not belonging, which was a fear I held onto for a long time.
Have you ever felt as though you don’t belong?
Author and research professor Brené Brown felt this way for a long time. Ostracism seemed to be her fate. As a child, she was teased; as an adult, rejected.
But then, after many years, Brené started to realize that before she could belong anywhere, she first had to belong to herself. This is how I also managed to remove the fear of not belonging in my life.
"True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are." - Brené Brown
With me, I allowed myself to be alone for long periods and learnt to love the solace. For Brené it was the power of “permission slips”.
Through her journey, Brené came up with an unorthodox self-belonging strategy. It involved writing herself permission slips – little self-addressed notes that said she was allowed to do something. The first one she wrote stated that she gave herself permission to have fun and be goofy. This instilled in her a sense that she was her own authority; that she belonged to herself.
Eventually, her path led her to appear on Oprah, where she shared her strategy. Oprah was so impressed with Brené that she invited her back for a second episode. (For me it hasn't led to me appearing on Oprah - yet - but one day…)
The journey to self-belonging takes time. To get started, think of something you can give yourself permission for and write out your own permission slip. It is like designing your life, allowing yourself to take time out or to do things and not feel guilty about it.
Maybe it’s acting silly, starting your own business, studying something you fear others will disapprove of or taking twenty minutes each day to meditate. It might be going on dates with your partner, or enjoying the food you love. Give yourself permission to enjoy life – without the approval of others.
Find out more on belonging – and get the tools for feeling more at peace with yourself in the world – in the book Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown. In it, Brené challenges common notions about what it means to belong. It links feelings of not belonging to feelings of anger and unrest. Brown uses a potent combination of scientific research and storytelling to reveal what it means to truly belong. This includes remarkable tales of pain and suffering that show just how far people are willing to go to gain a sense of belonging.
"There will be times when standing alone feels too hard, too scary, and we'll doubt our ability to make our way through the uncertainty. Someone, somewhere, will say, "Don't do it. You don't have what it takes to survive the wilderness."
This is when you reach deep into your wild heart and remind yourself, "I AM the wilderness."
Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist. Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.