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Why Belonging is Both Critical and Absurd
And Five Mindset Strategies for "Belonging" that Most People Ignore
In Part 1 of this series, I explored what “belonging” means for me, and why it’s pivotal to my ability to be present and to show up in the world. Thank you to all of you that responded with resonance and deep inquiry to that post. If you haven’t read Part 1, I recommend doing so before continuing. And as you’re reading, please remember that I offer 1-on-1 coaching support if you’re feeling called to dive into some of this inquiry in your own life and work.
Belonging is kind of a riddle. It’s why this inquiry piqued my interest. It’s a complex paradox, in a variety of different, “both/and” ways.
Creating a felt sense of belonging is a tactical practice… and also a deep mindset hack.
Belonging is past-oriented; it requires breaking from parental, cultural expectations, and from any old limiting legacy…. It’s also future-oriented, like an invitation from a future more-realized self to evolve to the next level.
It’s an ongoing, dynamic journey… that’s also a feeling in the present.
Belonging is equal parts striving and serenity.
Feeling belonging means striving for a goal while in serenity where we are. It’s this delicate balance of being at home in our current self, while also envisioning growth. Empowering the latter without cannibalizing the former.
What’s more absurd is doing this in the face of the current paradigm where our worth is defined by our productivity and achievements, in the face of what David Foster Wallace called the “Total Noise” of our time — the predominant condition of not just being overwhelmed with information and news, but also a background awareness of somehow failing on ethical and existential levels. It’s a lot.
So how do we approach this formidable, absurd challenge? Here’s five simple strategies that most people ignore.
More talking than listening.
We crave growth. We want to optimize. We ingest podcasts, imbibe self-help articles, and then, we listen to our own inner monologues spewing imposter syndrome and inner critic scripts. Sure, listen to all of that; be judicious. But also encourage more talking: talk to yourself, actively say all the things you need to hear to feel whole, to be ready for the coming challenge. Be proactive and positive with your inner voice.
More down than up.
An age ago, I wrote about the Slowdown invitation. It’s a contradiction of the frenetic ‘up’ energy of optimization. As Tyson Yunkaporta wrote:
Clean up, wake up, grow up, show up? What's with all these ups? You want ups? Then shut up and listen up! Down is the way you need to look now. Slow down. Calm down. Scale down. Step down.
Feel all the feelings.
We cannot include and transcend our current state without acknowledging and feeling all of our feelings about ourselves and our times and circumstances. It would be like hoping for blooms without watering the soil.
Practice gratitude and self-compassion.
Whether in a journaling or meditation practice or a simple prayer before meals, actively speak words of gratitude and feelings of self-compassion, of kindness to yourself. Again, without this? It’s akin to hoping for blooms with no sunshine.
Connect to your human and non-human community.
Find and activate ways to surround yourself with loving, compassionate humans, and regularly immerse in the natural world.