How to Belong to Yourself

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.
— Brene Brown in Braving the Wilderness

Recently, I read Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.

Sidenote: If you’ve never read any of her books, I’d recommend picking any of them up as soon as possible.

Braving the Wilderness is about belonging – specifically belonging to yourself. She describes standing alone in your true self as being in the wilderness: vast and terrifying as well as beautiful and breathtaking. And so clearly, I had to reflect a bit on this.

We spend so much of our lives looking for the feeling of belonging. I think about my younger days especially, when social situations presented stress and validation and questioning and confidence, all depending on who you were with. We often look to external things to bring us this sense of belonging – people, places, clothes, books. But how often do we sit with just ourselves? Like, our true, raw selves, and feel like, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be because I showed up as myself today.”

Brown says, “You will always belong in a place where you show up as yourself.”

I couldn’t agree more.

But this is hard. It’s like, REALLY hard. Because we spend our lives trying to fit into all the external places.

She also makes an observation about a study done on the patterns of people in the world living in more homogenous groups than ever before. In the 2016 election, about 80% of the counties that were won by either candidate, were absolute landslides. This would tell me that we’ve physically moved into places where we share a lot of beliefs with people around us.

And yet, loneliness is on the rise.

One study showed that loneliness presents a higher likelihood of early death than obesity, heavy drinking and air pollution.

So we’ve got some work to do, right?

My belief is that belonging to ourselves is where we have to start. When we love and accept and feel safe and trust ourselves right where we’re at, I’m thinking we’ll have more room for grace and generosity towards others. Am I right?

So how do we do this? Well, I’m not 100% sure. I’m still working on it, if I’m being completely honest. But the self love thing is probably where I’d start. And along with that, I think we have to get really clear about what and who we value, as well as what we will and will not tolerate in our lives (boundaries). Values and boundaries will give us a good start at peeling back some layers of who we really are.

And friend, don’t just acknowledge it. Celebrate it. Celebrate it and recognize those things in YOU, so that you can go out and celebrate and recognize those things in others.