What is Belonging?
A sense of belonging feels at the heart of what motivates us as humans.
We are wired to be a part of something wider, and know our place within it. Whether that’s our community or the wider web of life, this feels essential to our very nature.
It’s staggering right now how many people feel lonely and isolated. How many people feel untethered from any sense of belonging. This sense of emptiness within us is the root of so many hardships and ailments, from addiction to self-hatred, physical stress, disease and depression.
But it can feel difficult to try to build a sense of belonging when it seems so intangible.
Belonging itself feels elusive to even define. Perhaps this is why the definitions vary so widely.
For Brené Brown, belonging is being a part of something bigger, but also having the courage to stand alone in your integrity, belonging to yourself first and foremost.
Cornell University includes the idea of having a sense of security, support, and acceptance and inclusion from a wider community.
For me, when I think of the components of belonging, I tend to associate a sense of feeling seen, heard, and respected for being your authentic self. Perhaps there is a space or community where you feel safe enough to express your needs or concerns, knowing you will still be loved.
This includes a trust that you will be accepted for living in alignment with your own integrity and your own values. And also a sense that you are a part of something wider than yourself that you can anchor into and find stability and nourishment in.
Perhaps a briefer way of saying it: you matter deeply to both yourself and to the wider whole.
Can you trust in the fact that your unique expression cannot be replicated and is valued? Simply by you being you?
While it’s important to feel a sense of belonging within our wider human communities, I think it’s imperative that we cultivate a sense of belonging within ourselves. So we can, like Brené Brown says, be willing to stand alone in our integrity when needed, belonging to ourselves first and foremost.
This is where we have agency. When we stand firmly in our own inner compass, we carry a sense of belonging to the world no matter the situation.
When we translate the components of belonging I listed earlier, we can translate these to your relationship with your own Self:
Do you allow all the parts of yourself to feel seen heard, and acknowledged? Even the parts that feel imperfect?
Do you let yourself feel what you need to feel without judging yourself for it?
Do you hold yourself, your body, and your emotions in compassion and love?
Do you trust that you matter as a part of a wider spiritual whole?
If it feels difficult to allow your own full self to feel seen, heard, loved, and respected, this is where the earth and earth beings can be really supportive. They hold us with an unconditional acceptance and love, and help us grow a tender heart of compassion and care towards ourselves.
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t bring your devastation or frustration to the ocean or a Maple tree?
Have you ever felt judged by the moon or the wind?
The more we cultivate relationship with the beings of Earth and Sky, the more we begin to trust in our ok-ness and our mattering. And the more we experience an inner peace that comes from a sense of belonging inside a larger container of oneness.
I’m offering a free weeklong experience beginning next Sunday, called Build Your Belonging to help cultivate a growing sense of belonging within. Over the course of a week, we will dive into 5 practices which intentionally grow relationship with your own self and the wider earth beings.
Guided audios, written invitations and reflective prompts will all help you tend the landscape within yourself that seeds love respect, care, curiosity, non-judgment compassion towards yourself.