I know that all my blogs seem to be related to Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection, but I gotta tell you, it is because the book is gold!! Every page, every chapter – new magical discoveries or confirmation of what I know in my heart to be true. Why fight that, really?
And so, without further ado… the topic of fitting in vs. belonging.
While many of us talk about these two things like they are the same thing, here is the news flash: fitting in gets in the way of belonging. Belonging is that place where we are fully ourselves, authentically expressed, not withholding or hiding, not managing or controlling, just being ourselves. Fitting in, you ask? Well that is where we read the situation, evaluate what will get us the most leverage, traction, acceptance and we choose to do that, because we want people to like us. Looks like belonging (if the fitting in temporarily works and people dig us for being like them), stems from our desire for belonging, but really… it is the opposite. Because we have to give up ourselves to fit in. And so who is really fitting in, not our true selves, no, the self that we molded and shaped to be what we thought they wanted from us. Yikes. And once we have started the trend, of bending to what we think they want, how do we back track and say… you know what, I actually really hate country music (or whatever thing we sold out on ourselves for to get the lovin’).
I love Brene’s words from her blog: “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” She goes on to write a rather earth shattering (for me anyway) truth: “our sense of belonging can never be greater than our sense of self-acceptance.” Gulp.
You can, no doubt, see why this relates to my Authenticity August deal (yes, I have refined it from Honesty August to Authenticity August: better ring, more flow, and frankly, more to the point). Where and when do I read the situation and then put on a mask to meet the needs of the people around me? When am I being truly myself and when am I adjusting? What is it costing me?
And by the way, I am not disrespecting my nimbleness. I know (and get told) that I am really good at reading the level 3, seeing what is needed and creating from that. It is a skill, a special skill and a very useful skill. But what happens when I misuse that skill, when I am not using it for good, but for eeevvviiiilllll (by that I mean the evil of betraying myself)? That’s the thing, right – I am so good at it, so consciously competent there, that I can do it without thinking about it. And so I am not at choice around it. Just doing it and the wondering why I might feel betrayed, half myself, unfulfilled and a bit slimy. Because that is part of this truth. It is pretty darn unfulfilling to be other than we really are; to be accepted for being someone other than ourselves. It is a no win situation. Besides, as Brene puts it, “Incongruent living is exhausting.” Why waste all that energy for nothing – when you could put it into being real, and sharing your true self and expressing your truth.
Yes, some relationships might fall away, but were they really the right relationships, ones that you had to fold yourself into a pretzel to make them work? Those are not for you. They are most certainly not for me.
And perhaps you are wanting an update on where things are in my authenticity journey – almost halfway through the month… I notice that when I go away and lead a workshop, I lose the focus on my homework, in this case the authenticity drive. Not that I am inauthentic, but my attention shifts and it becomes a soft focus on that and so I think I have missed some chances to step out and risk, to speak up and try something different. I am a bit disappointed to discover that, but it is not the first time I have seen it. Being out of town, different environment, I break my own codes of conduct a bit – kind of like being in Vegas (but it was Toronto, really not the same at all). And being in the intensity of leading a CTI workshop, that is also a place where I suspend my usual way of being because of the intensity of the course and co-leading. Not shaming myself for it, as much as noticing my patterns – so that way, in the future, I can take those into account. And it applies to more than just this homework – I seem to drop the conscious contact with my higher power, less prayer, less meditation, like Goddess isn’t with me in this new city – as if. So currently I am needing to put a few things into place to jump start myself back into the practice of it. Maybe a tricky conversation or two is what is required. Anyone?