What Does It Mean To Belong?
What does it mean to Belong?
I asked this of my different communities and got a wide range of answers:
- Being accepted as I am
- Unconditionally accepted
- Being respected and acknowledged
- Included and showing up as my authentic self
- To be listened to and feel safe
- Welcoming my whole self
- Seen, heard, appreciated
There were many more in-depth answers that I received as well.
Why is it important?
To feel like we Belong?
As humans, we are hardwired to be in a community.
To support each other for our basic survival needs.
In today’s modern world though, we’re (most likely) not being chased by bears, and yet our need for human connection remains the same.
What does it feel like when we DON’T belong?
It can feel a thousand different ways, but it boils down to Disconnection.
And even though we are more connected through technology than at any other time in history, I would assert that we’re actually more DIS-connected.
Because the (perhaps thousands of) connections we have aren’t necessarily genuine, heart-to-heart connections that allow us to feel seen and heard for who we are authentically.
This is what I see as one of the root causes of the mental health crisis we are witnessing and experiencing today.
A literal pandemic of disconnection has led to a LACK of Belonging.
Which can lead someone to believe that they lack value and worth.
Taking them down the rabbit hole of feeling a lack of self-love, sorrow, and depression, and leading to any number of painful addictions, even suicide.
Causing thousands, perhaps millions of people to consciously or unconsciously close their hearts and take their proverbial ball and go home.
And with it, they’re shutting down any possibility to create a sense of healthy openness and vulnerability with others.
We’re all walking around with our shields up to protect our vulnerable hearts.
It’s no wonder there are so many misunderstandings and conflicts happening in the world!
When I was very first training to become a coach over 22 years ago, one of my initial courses was a corporate coaching course with master coaches and trainers, John Vercelli, Shariann Tom, and Mai Vu.
After the first day of the course, John said to me:
“You know you’re much more approachable when you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable.”
I thought he was CRAZY. That seemed SO SCARY to me!
The thought of letting my walls down?!! Are you kidding?
After getting bullied out of my corporate job, that was the furthest thing from my mind.
NOW, I totally understand what he meant.
It took me years to get it AND embody it.
The funny thing is when we feel safe enough to be vulnerable,
i.e. to let our shields down and approach a situation with an open mind and an open heart…
It creates a positive ripple effect.
It creates a safe space for others to do the same.
And in that space, acceptance, belonging, and connection can occur.
Which then naturally fosters greater collaboration, open communications, and engaged people.
People who feel seen, heard, and valued for their expertise and contributions, large and small.
Inherently as human beings, that’s what we want and crave.
To have connection, to be of contribution, and to know that our presence matters.
Yet, there always seems to be a myriad of walls, cloaks, and blocks in the way of this open-hearted communication.
What is it that creates the conflict and miscommunications?
What is it that has us shield our hearts from the connection we crave?
I’ve learned it’s when our Dignity gets violated.
When our value and self-worth are diminished or dismissed.
When we feel…
For the unique gifts we have to share.
These moments create barriers to connection.
One little moment at a time until we are completely closed off from others and the world.
Little moments like when we get yelled at as a kid and told not to be so loud, or that we’re being “too much.”
Big moments like when we get verbally, emotionally, or even physically attacked by another.
No matter how big or small the violation of your dignity was, at whatever age in life it was, it still leaves a mark.
A mark on your heart, on your nervous system, and with Amy.
Amy is your Amygdala.
The part of your survival brain that just wants to protect you and keep you safe.
She’s always watching, listening, and taking notes about what’s needed to keep you safe in any given moment or situation.
Amy is quietly making decisions in the background telling you:
- You’re not enough
- You don’t belong here
- You’re different
- Love/happiness/success/money just isn’t available to you
It’s these beliefs and decisions that she is making unilaterally that have us close our hearts in an act of self-preservation and leads to false assumptions, miscommunications, and conflict.
Creating blinders to what’s possible based on fear.
Which in turn only exacerbates the cycle.
Keeping hearts and minds closed to the myriad of possibilities available to us all.
My work and vision is to be a force for good.
To cultivate emotional well-being through acceptance, belonging, and connection from the inside out for each person, and each team I work with.
Individually, I help folks release the wounds and fears that closed their hearts in the first place and help them rewire their mind, heart, and spirit with new ways to love, honor, and respect themselves.
To release the depression, the anxiety, the worry, the physical symptoms such as chronic migraines and IBS caught in their nervous system that are stopping them from living their best lives.
Assisting them to shine as their authentic selves.
Collectively, I help teams communicate with greater dignity to foster safe spaces where acceptance, belonging, and connection can happen, where people thrive, and businesses prosper.
Helping them find common ground through understanding of each other’s humanity.
How do we bring more acceptance, belonging, and connection into our workplaces?
Through greater Dignity.
By creating the psychological safety where folks feel seen and heard.
Where they’re able to connect with one another, in a professional way that…
Dignify is a tool that helps creates a safe container for these conversations to happen in a logical way.
In a guided way that has two people see and hear each other one conversation at a time.
Enabling greater communication as…
Barriers go down.
Hearts open up.
Connections are made.
Creating a thriving culture built on a foundation of dignity.
If you’d like to learn how you can enhance the acceptance, belonging, and connection in your organization, then let’s chat.
And if you’d like to take your Dignify Snapshot and learn how you can incorporate this powerful tool into your team communication strategy for greater collaboration and success, email me here to receive your unique code.
Learn more about what it means to Reimagine Leadership for your organization in my recent conversation with Joe Kiedinger here.
Imagine what’s possible, if every person felt seen, heard, and respected…
How could that change the way we live, work and play?