Sense of Belonging – an inside job

Belonging

Just recently I had the wonderful opportunity of holding a self-love circle space at my dear friend’s yoga day. Earlier we had talked about theme, thinking of chakras, and when she was keen to explore the root chakra and belonging I was in!

I’ve recently been on another Brené Brown binge, and so a sense of belonging felt very appropriate! For those of you who don’t know, Brené is a research professor at the University of Houston who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. One of her big inspirers has been Maya Angelou, and Brené often refers to one of Maya’s quotes that had a huge effect on her:

You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…

One of her most painful aspects growing up was not feeling like she belonged, and so it took years of her journey and research to come to an understanding for herself of these words. She makes a distinction between the concept of fitting in versus a sense of belonging, which really struck a cord with me:

We confuse belonging with fitting in, but the truth is that belonging is just in our heart, and when we belong to ourselves and believe in ourselves above all else, we belong everywhere and nowhere.

Sometimes this can feel contradictory.

We’re hard wired to fit in, it’s in our genes. Back in tribal days we needed to be a part of our group. It wasn’t safe to wonder around a loner. And when a child is born into a family it has to fit in and be accepted, otherwise its survival is at stake.

So, no wonder we believe fitting in is belonging. Even one of the dictionaries defines it like this: Belonging is a sense of fitting in or feeling like you are an important member of a group.

This is in direct contrast with Brené’s definition in her book, Braving the Wilderness:

True belonging is not passive.
It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group.
It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer.
It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.

I see this as self love.

If we desire to feel a true sense of belonging, we require a certain level of self worth, self love, self acceptance. We need to mostly enjoy the person we are, to be our own best friend and cheerleader, even when we least feel like it.

This distinction between fitting in and having a sense of belonging doesn’t mean that being part of a group or movement, or particular family cluster is not going to feed your soul. I see it to mean that the more we love and enjoy ourselves and shine our unique light, without shifting and changing to fit in with those around us, the more joy and realness we can receive from any group we’re part of.

Inner critic and inner wisdom.

The voice that tells us we need to fit in, at all costs, is our inner critic, born at a time when we really needed them to protect us. The voice that encourages us to be present with people without changing who we are and being vulnerable, that’s our inner wisdom. Our inner knowing, that as an adult being who you are, is the most freeing experience.

One of the really powerful tools on my self love journey has been the ones that help me to become more aware of these two voices, and quicker at distinguishing between the two. When I listen to and acknowledge my inner critic, then I create space to hear and listen to my inner wisdom.

If we make it an inside job, then a sense of belonging can always be with us…

…whether we’re alone at the beach or in a room full of strangers. When we’re completely comfortable in our own skin, willing to show up authentically and are happy with who we are, then we’re going to be so much more present to the moment, and to all those in our life. More open to receiving the love all around us.

You are The One

You are the one
you’ve been looking for.
You are the one who is there for you
in your darkest hour.
You are the one who is there
to celebrate all the joyous moments.
You may think you have found ‘the one’,
or be looking for ‘the one’.
You may have left ‘the one’,
or lost ‘the one’.

Yet, as you turn your gaze from out there
and look a little closer,
your eyes will fall on the one
you’ve been waiting for your whole life.
The one who knows you more than anyone else.
No more searching and seeking
outside of yourself,
let yourself remember.

The person who will be with you through thick and thin,
in sickness and in health,
and right up until your very last breath
here on Earth
is already in your life.
They’ve always been there.

Breathe deeply and feel their presence,
Feel their heart beating and their soul speaking to you.
Oh, and listen.
Create the space for quiet and listen
not to the voice of your inner critics
you hear so often,
but to that loving gentle voice
of ‘the one’ inside.

You sweet soul, are found.
Let yourself come home
to you.

You are the one!

(Written in August 2017, as I completed the module in Self Love and Relationships)

Self-Love is a Path, a Practice and a Choice

Self-love is so many things

When I first came across it, self love had seemed a bit abstract to me. I saw it as something related to my body and about speaking kindly and gently to it, instead of always criticising, downplaying it and being mean. I didn’t realise that self-love is so much more!

Just over a year ago I began a journey training with the Path of Self Love based in California. I didn’t know that was what I was going to do, but when I read the invitation my Inner Wisdom stepped in. She was so clear that my inner mean girls had no choice but to step aside with all their fears and reasons why I shouldn’t. And so, I found myself in a group of 33 brave, beautiful women. Some did one module, and others of us walked the year together with our amazing teacher and mentors. Now here we are, completed and certified to use these simple, yet powerful tools that have been used with women around the world for over a decade.

Certificates for the three modules completed during the year: ‘Transforming self-sabotage + self-bullying into self-love’, ‘Self-love foundations’, and ‘Self-love and relationships’

It turns out self love doesn’t have to be abstract. There are tools you can use to cultivate a deeper self-love, a deeper self worth, that radiates out into every tiny corner of your life. To experience it is joyful. I want to sing it from the rooftops, and tell the world what a difference simple, daily, self loving practices can make.

Self-love is about how you choose to speak to yourself in every waking moment.

It is about growing self awareness and then being honest with yourself. It’s about cultivating self-compassion and forgiveness: saying “Kali, I forgive you, you were doing the best you could in that moment.” It’s about choosing to listen to your Inner Wisdom and releasing the stories you’ve picked up along the way that no longer serve you. Those stories that are sometimes deep inside you that you may not see, yet they’re gospel. And so many of your decisions are based off them. To grow your self awareness you have to check in with your heart, your body and feel what emotions and physical sensations are there. It’s a reconnecting with all of yourself.

Self love is also about self acceptance.

Not just of your body, but also of your personality and way of being, even the bits you don’t necessarily like. It’s also about accepting things you might have done, that still hold shame or guilt or remorse, and then forgiving yourself. Forgive. It’s about loving yourself as you are right now in this very moment – perfectly imperfect – knowing that right now you’re the best version of yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and every day you get to choose to do things differently. Every moment in fact.

Self-love is waking up every morning and choosing you.

Choosing to back yourself and ask yourself what you need in that day, and then giving it to yourself. What do you need emotionally, physically, spiritually and relationally? These don’t have to be big things. Something like a few words of encouragement or five minutes of quiet space might be what you need. This is self care. It’s about becoming your own best friend. It’s about diving deep to find your true heart and soul desires, and then gifting yourself and those around you, by following them. By not selling out to the ‘shoulds’ and societal norms.

Self-love is choosing self pleasure – the things that bring you deep joy and laughter – because when you do those things you fill your cup to bursting and radiate love to more people than you know.

It is in every decision you make to stay in tune with yourself – in mind, body and spirit.

Self-love is a feeling, that as it grows your life becomes richer, gentler and more nourishing. And every day you are privileged to wake up with your best friend, even though physically you may be sleeping alone. It’s the comfort that you’re not alone. It’s a knowing that there are different places to source love, not just from yourself and a handful of others. You can source love from something greater than you, Mother Earth, people you can trust and who see you for what you are, the ocean, animals, children, nature and so much more.

Self-love is releasing self judgement, with a healthy dose of self honesty. It’s about first and foremost learning to trust. Not the voices of the world around you or your inner critics, but the deep voice inside you that’s always been there and always will be. The one you haven’t always thought to listen to but that always has your back no matter what. It’s about trusting that voice, that knowing deep inside and then cultivating the courage to follow it even if others are telling you different stories. This is self-empowerment, taking the reins of your life.

Self love is also about respecting yourself enough to only have loving, respectful relationships in your life, including the one with yourself. It’s about knowing your true worth, so that when others send you love and shine your worth back to you, you’re able to fully receive it. It’s about creating clear, loving boundaries that you honour no matter what.

Love directed at self is not selfish.

Far from it. More love, wherever it’s directed = more love in this world. And that is always a good thing!

It’s not something for people on the fringe. Self-love is not for a select few. It’s for every woman, man and child. It’s not something you choose to do and then perfect, there is no destination. You don’t suddenly wake up one day and 100% love yourself forever.

Self-love is not always easy. But knowing your true worth, what makes you uniquely you, is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your relationships, your community and the world. It’s a path, a daily practice, and it’s a choice you make every morning and in every moment of the day.

You, brave, courageous soul, are over-flowing with love. As Rumi says:

If today you can start by saying a kind, loving phrase to yourself, you are practicing self love. It doesn’t matter where you start, it only matters that you start. See where it takes you…

So much love xxx

PS: If you want to talk to me more about some simple, yet powerful tools that you can use in your own life to cultivate a deeper sense of self love and worth, please get in touch anytime.