I don't belong anywhere and neither do you, but here's how two counterintuitive practices can make us feel a lot less alone. (2023)

I never really felt like I belonged anywhere - andconsidering that 33% of adults worldwide experience loneliness- There's a good chance you don't either.

But as social beings we long to exist in groups of people and to feel connected to others - so how do we find a way out of this situation?

So the social scientistBrene Brown, who developed his own theory of belonging, we need to start redefining what it means to belong. She says:

“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than ourselves. Because that desire is so primal, we often seek to appropriate it through conformance and seeking approval, which is not just a hollow substitute for belonging, but often an obstacle to it. Since true belonging comes only when we present our imperfect authentic selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

This definition emerged from the data when she asked survey participants what they hoped to achieve through belonging. All said they wanted to connect with other people and be part of something bigger without losing their sense of individuality and freedom.

The problem with thinking of belonging solely in terms of others is that while we are social beings, we are also individuals. We have our own wants, needs, preferences. And they won't always match those of those around us, whether we're brought together by circumstance, culture, or belief. Therefore, we always run the risk of being rejected.

As Brené Brown dug deeper, she discovered that true belonging means so much more than other people. Indeed, belonging requires nothing outside of ourselves, nor can it be achieved or realized with others; rather, it is something we negotiate with ourselves and carry with us in our hearts.

We can only truly believe in ourselves and belong to ourselves and take ourselves everywhere. If others hug us along the way, we will surely feel better. But that is not the end goal as we can never truly be everything others want us to be.

Belonging, therefore, often requires finding the courage to be alone, sometimes completely alone, against prevailing social norms and institutions. And although we want to connect with others, it is unlikely that we will ever belong to them; because we can only belong to ourselves. But how the hell do we do both at the same time?

I don't belong anywhere and neither do you, but here's how two counterintuitive practices can make us feel a lot less alone. (1)

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According to Brené Brown's later research, we start with vulnerability.

It's a word that often scares us because we misinterpret it and misunderstand what it means: to be weak, to feel vulnerable, to prepare for an attack.

But in factvulnerabilityIt isthe practice of embracing the uncertainty and risk already present in life and choosing to soften (rather than harden) in the presence of existing dangers, especially those of other people..

We have no choice whether or not we are vulnerable to the threats of the world; we are and always will be. However, we can learn to better manage risk and uncertainty, alone and collectively, so that we feel less powerless, exposed, and—ultimately—naked.

belong to ourselvesso meanscalled to face the desert of uncertainty, vulnerability and criticism.

To do this, we must first ensure that we feel safe and secure internally, in our bodies, hearts and minds. We need to make sure we are not being physically threatened, emotionally harmed, or disrespected—by ourselves or others. Too often we compromise our own inner sense of safety and security by telling ourselves (or letting others tell us) that we're not good enough. And we believe that.

I don't belong anywhere and neither do you, but here's how two counterintuitive practices can make us feel a lot less alone. (2)

You know what social scientists call it?


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Your the extremely painful belief that we are so imperfect that we do not deserve to be loved and connected to others; that we will never achieve anything, especially not our own or others' expectations of us.

At its core is the belief "I'm bad" or "I'm deficient", "I'm not good enough" (as opposed to the belief "I've done something bad" or "I haven't turned up enough", which is guilt friend of shame). That's why we're afraid of being rejected forever—if not by others, then by the way we think they perceive us. Shame hurts because it makes us feel so disconnected.

According to cultural theorist Dr. Linda Hartling, Shame typically causes us to act in one of three different ways: reach out to others, move away from others, or turn against others. When we reach out to others, we try to soothe and please; when we turn away from them, we turn away, hide and remain silent; and when we act against others, we try to manipulate them and gain power over them. However, none of these strategies give us what we really want: connection. As humans, we want to feel seen, heard, valued, supported, and ultimately loved, and to do the same for others.

If we want to feel connected to others, the only real way to deal with shame is to develop shame resistance. Simply put, we need to listen and critically engage with shame without falling into its destructive forms; and using it as an opportunity to practice empathy and compassion, both with ourselves and with others.

Brené Brown recommends these three key practices to move from judgment to empathy and thus become more resilient to shame:

1.Recognize shame and understand its triggers– This practice requires that we perceive and understand what shame feels like in our body, where it is located, what triggers it and the sensations it causes us. The following 12 categories are the most common to trigger shame, particularly those where we judge other people (and therefore ourselves) the most:

  • appearance and body image
  • money and work
  • paternity + paternity
  • family
  • mental and physical health
  • Seeks
  • Sex
  • aging
  • Religion
  • survive the trauma
  • Being stereotyped or labeled
  • Relationships

2.Take a critical look at your message and your expectations– This practice asks us to identify what expectations create shame in us, whether they are actually achievable, and whether they align with who you want to be.

  • In general, Brene Brown's research suggests that men are more likely to be triggered by feelings of weakness, while women are more likely to be triggered by feelings of imperfection, which impact differently across the 12 common categories.
  • For all of us, withdrawing from others—when people we love stop paying attention, stop caring about us, and stop investing in us—also triggers shame and our deepest fears of being abandoned, unworthy, and not to be lovable.

3.Arrive and ask for help– This practice requires that we tell people we trust that we are ashamed and share what triggered it in us and be clear about what we need from them.

  • Shame survives only in silence
  • Shame dissolves when faced with compassion, empathy and love.

It's critical that we begin to recognize and understand our own sources of shame, because without practicing self-compassion, it becomes difficult for us to expect others to show us the same level of empathy. It's also crucial that we eventually reach out and share our story with someone who responds with empathy, because shame is a social wound and therefore requires a social salve. The empathy of others, even if it's just one or two key people, is that balm.

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Once we learn to heal shame, we can begin to be more vulnerable to ourselves and others—and give ourselves a chance to feel connected.

However, there will be crucial moments when, even when we feel connected, we don't quite feel like we belong - especially when we are at odds with the people we love or who love us. Therefore we can only belong to ourselves. In these cases, we must use our newfound vulnerability to develop another key ability that allows us to continue to feel connected but gives us the ability to be alone.

I don't belong anywhere and neither do you, but here's how two counterintuitive practices can make us feel a lot less alone. (3)

Mut🇧🇷 Another word that scares us.

In the 21st century, we often understand that courage means doing something heroic. But as Brené Brown reminds us, courage originally came from the Latin root cor, meaning heart. That's what it used to be calledspeak from the heart, speak openly and honestly about who we are, what we experience and how we feel afterwards.

This definition is accessible to all of us and is an essential part of belonging to ourselves.

There will be times when the people we love and connect with don't agree with us, and in those times we need to find a way to honor ourselves and the others involved.

In such cases, it is important that we develop trust in ourselves and in others so that we can face these difficult challenges when they arise. To do this, Brené Brown suggests that we do the following exercises, guided by the acronym B-R-A-V-I-N-G.

  • limits— We define, set, and uphold our boundaries, saying no when we have to, making it clear what is okay and not okay for us, and asking others about their own boundaries when we are unsure
  • reliability– We figure out what we can and can't do, we just make commitments that are manageable and then we do what we promised
  • responsibility— we acknowledge our mistakes, apologize and correct them
  • Safe— We keep each other's (and everyone else's) information confidential
  • integrity– we choose courage over comfort, we choose right over fun, quick or easy, and we choose to live our values ​​(rather than simply profess them)
  • no judgement— expressing ourselves openly and asking for what we need when we need it and not judging each other when we don't meet each other's needs (recognizing that it is our responsibility too)
  • generosity— We are generous and kind in our interpretations of each other's intentions, words and actions

By engaging in and developing these practices, we learn to belong to ourselves, accept ourselves, and meet our own needs without sacrificing the connection we desire with others.

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According to Brené Brown, it requires imprinting a wild heart: one that allows us to experience the paradoxes of love and belonging — learning to be tough and tender, excited and afraid, brave and fearful at the same time. And that can only be achieved by letting go of our guard and being vulnerable to others and maintaining a strong sense of who we are; In Buddhist terms, we should cultivate a soft front and a strong back.

I don't belong anywhere and neither do you, but here's how two counterintuitive practices can make us feel a lot less alone. (4)

Only through this approach can we realize what Maya Angelou so aptly put: “You are only free when you realize that you don't belong anywhere – you belong anywhere – nowhere. The price is high. The reward is great.”

So learn to take yourself into life; wherever you go, there you are.



PS If you want to learn more about belonging to yourself, subscribe to my newsletter using the following link: https://omaigan.substack.com/

P.S.S. If you want to build a practice around belonging to yourself, consider enrolling in my Homecoming coaching program, where I help ambitious people (who are struggling to find their way) to feel less lost and lonely , personally and professionally.


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