How the Feeling of Belonging is a Simple Way to Love Yourself

Terri Kozlowski
When you look outside yourself for the feeling of belonging, you choose to compromise what's true for you instead of being authentically youTerri Kozlowski

Everyone wants to feel that they belong, have a place to fit in, or be a part of something. It’s one of the foundational physiological needs. But even if you have friends, family, and a community doesn’t mean you have a sense of belonging. And without this feeling, you can’t grow because it will be restrained. After all, you are looking outside yourself for something the egoic mind desires.

To experience the belonging everyone desires means you have to love and accept your authentic self, all your strengths and weaknesses. Why? Because you can’t feel like you belong with others when you are feeling unloving towards yourself. Self-love and acceptance are powerful tools to nurture yourself and live the life of your dreams.

When you feel like you belong within yourself, you can ward off the negativity and drama of others. You can set personal boundaries to protect yourself. And you don’t compare yourself with others because you know there is no one else like your authentic self.

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. ~ Brené Brown

The Myth of Fitting In

Researcher and author Brene Brown discovered that fitting is the most significant obstacle to belonging. Why? Because to fit into a group, there must be boundaries built on who doesn’t make a good fit for a group to exist. These limits mean acceptance isn’t based on the unique individual but on what the group finds suitable. You must imitate their beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and choices.

Here again, the ego is looking to conform to what it thinks others want instead of allowing you to be your authentic self. You follow trends thinking you will gain attention and support from others, but you lose yourself. As a result, your authenticity is now hiding behind the masks and labels others think you are instead of living your truth.

Everyone on the planet was born being enough just at they are. Nothing you can say or do can take away from who you authentically are. So stop allowing comparisons and conformity to keep you playing small. Instead, be bold and fearlessly your authentic self, and those who accept your authenticity will be your tribe, and you will belong and fit in with them.

Fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be accepted. On the other hand, Belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are. ~ Brené Brown

Becoming Mindful Of Your Belonging

When you become aware of your self-talk, you learn your ego’s thoughts about your authenticity. As a result, you can witness self-judgment or self-confidence. You notice if you are reacting from a place of fear or responding from a place of love.

By acknowledging your thoughts and emotions, you empower yourself to take back control of your life by consciously choosing your choices. You learn to reject those things that no longer serve you. As well as realize you can’t punish yourself into better behaviors. Instead, you accept your missteps, learn from them, and move forward.

Now you acknowledge your responsibility for your choices, health, and life. Which in turn means you are accepting what is without struggling against it. This acceptance is the only way for you to learn that you belong.

Accepting all of your unique experiences as a part of who you are means that your belonging has occurred. When you nurture yourself, you improve all of your connections with others. Why? Because you can be fully present while feeling accepted with whomever you are with as self-love confirms you belong.

A sense of belonging is not physical. We can’t find it by changing where we live or what we do. We have to carry it within us. ~ P. C. Cast

You Don’t Need Permission

When you’re traveling along your self-love journey, you often ask others for guidance. This questioning is acceptable to do because you can gain much perspective from the trusted members of your tribe. But don’t confuse advice with permission.

What do I mean? Many people, especially women, ask others for guidance as a disguise for permission. Are you looking for someone to give you consent to say yes or no to things you want or don’t want to do? Have you asked if it’s okay to undertake your healing journey in ways that seem to help you, but others questioned?

Why are you questioning your ability to choose what is best for you and your growth? Are you afraid of being judged by others or misunderstood? Only your soulful self knows what’s best for you. And all you have to do to get the answers you need is to get quiet and go within. Only you can control the course your life takes.

You don’t need, nor do you want, other’s people permission to be your authentic self. Nor do you need others’ consent to live your truth. You belong to you, and therefore you have established your worthiness and know only your permission is required.

Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you because it will. ~ Cheryl Strayed

The True Meaning of Belonging

To be your best self, your personal advocate, is what belonging means. It’s the commitment you make to yourself to take the time to nurture your mind, body, and Spirit. The self-love you give is through patience, learning to trust your intuition, and forgiveness.

How do you do this for yourself? Well, it’s about caring for yourself the way you care for others with the same enthusiasm. You know, making those health checkups for you or putting a budget together that works towards your goals. And through this exercise, you realize you’re capable of autonomy.

Yes, setting the rules you live by and then following through and doing them. Be patient with yourself when you make a misstep. Instead of allowing the egoic mind to take you down a negative path of admonishment, you forgive yourself and try again.

Consciously choose to be your authentic self each day and know that you are good enough, just as you are. This act of self-acceptance, being completely you, is the epitome of fulling belonging.

To know that you can navigate the wilderness on your own--to know that you can stay true to your beliefs, trust yourself, and survive it--that is true belonging. ~ Brené Brown

Moving Forward Belonging

When you look outside to belong, you choose to conform and exclude based on the group. Or you may compromise what is true for you. But when you have a tribe, these people don’t want anything from you but your authenticity because they want to be authentic with you. Your tribe loves and supports you and has boundaries in place. So when you disagree, you accept the other’s perspective as valid for them.

If you cannot advocate for yourself, you are hiding your authenticity. But, on the other hand, when you are radically honest, you permit yourself to live the most impactful and meaningful life you can.

When you feel you belong, you know you’re accepted and feel secure. There isn’t loneliness. You are joyful and have serenity because you know these soulful qualities rise from your authenticity. Remember, your self-worth comes from within you.

Your belonging is a part of your self-love journey and your self-care practice. So remember to be compassionate with yourself, forgive and learn from your missteps, and be open to growth.

A generous heart is always open, always ready to receive our going and coming. Amid such love, we need never fear abandonment. This is the most precious gift true love offers - the experience of knowing we always belong. ~ Bell Hooks

As you become more mindful of your belonging and become conscious about its true meaning, you can alter the course of your life. Do you need help to realize you already belong? Are you looking for support in learning to accept and love yourself as you are? Do you want a strategy to help you create an extraordinary life? If so, please get in touch with me, and we can put together an action plan for you to feel like you belong and know you are whole, just as you are.

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Native American Terri Kozlowski has a BS in social science, certified life coach, blogger, author of "Raven Transcending Fear," & host of the Soul Solutions podcast. She specializes in empowering people to overcome their fears and limiting beliefs.

Woodstock, GA

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