As I am getting on with life, I find that wisdom is not so much about doing your best, but finding ways of overcoming the many paradoxes of life, such as “tough love”, “fulfillment through no desire”, “progress with no striving” etc… The biggest paradox for me to overcome has been “how do you develop a sense of belonging whilst yet retaining your own integrity”. In all fairness, since childhood I have moved around a lot, often between countries, always cutting short friendships – so I developed an acute sense of rootlessness, which at times has been very dispiriting and terribly isolating.
However, the truth is many people feel cut-off, for a reason or another. This is a universal struggle, which can also happen amid a buoyant social life. Feeling lonely in a crowd whilst trying to fit in?
My point is we are all the same. It was not helpful for me to feel bad about it AND project the frustration onto others. Emerging from my bubble and seeing the commonality, seeing that compassion was a better bridge than a gripping hand also took awhile. The final frontier was accepting there is nothing wrong with me, that I had not been parachuted on the wrong planet, and that the circumstances given were my path for learning. Self-compassion is a hidden gem. Compassion for self and others is the basis for the Buddhist concept of Loving-Kindness.
Brene explores the roots for loneliness and disconnection in her book and she gives four principles that nurture a sense of belonging over time:
- People are hard to hate close up. Move in.
- Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.
- Holds hands. With strangers.
- Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.
In truth, I think that achieving these four principles are very hard when caught in the emotions of reaction, altercation, proving yourself and snappy exchanges to score points. So to embrace those principles, one needs to step back
(Here! Another paradox! “Stepping back to better embrace!”).
I think journaling is fundamental to this process. It clarifies emotion and weakens reactions, it shapes viewpoints instead of wallowing on opinions. Maybe, more importantly, it offers safety when exploring counter-arguments. By gaining clarity and confidence in ourselves, we may gain insight into our struggles but also the struggles of others. We can be more confident in our choices and priorities and confident with our vulnerability. By establishing a level field, it breaks down defensiveness to allow embracing… Joining in… Being one…
They said it better
“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. 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
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