Three Cheers For True Belonging

Meditations in MotionIt’s difficult for me to imagine now, but at one time, I had an unreasonable aversion to reading anything written by author Brene Brown.

I don’t know how it began. Actually, I do.

A friend suggested I read a book written by Ms. Brown. I thought said friend was subtly suggesting I needed to work on being brave enough to be vulnerable (the topic of the book).

My feathers were ruffled and I was therefore determined not to enjoy reading anything written by the author.

Until I read one of her books.

Now, I’m a fan.

One of the subjects Brown explores in her book Braving the Wilderness is the difference between fitting in and belonging.

I thought I would discuss three of those differences. I got the topic idea from reading Brene Brown’s wonderful book but these thoughts are my own.

These differences hold true whether you are discussing fitting in vs. belonging to a group or to a relationship with only one other person.Meditations in Motion

  1. When you fit in, you must alter your beliefs, actions, and words to mirror others in the group; when you belong, you are accepted for your true self.

    Uniformity is the hallmark of fitting in. It is often caused by insecurity. When carried to the extreme, group members might even look and dress alike.

    When you are part of a group where you must fit in, espousing beliefs different from others in the group is frowned upon.

    This is why you see minimal variation in responses from the members of a political party on various issues such as health care, reopening the economy after the pandemic, and interpretation of the Second Amendment. Everyone is trying to fit in.

    When you belong, differences of opinion and questions are welcomed. They do not threaten the cohesion of a group or relationship.Meditations in Motion

  2. When fitting in, there are different levels of emotional investment between group members.

    When you try to fit in, you really want to belong to the group but others in the group are less interested in whether you are “in” than you are.

    Think: trying to be a member of the “cool kids” clique in middle school or a romantic relationship where you did all the tap-dancing for approval.

    When you belong, everyone is equally devoted. Meditations in Motion

  3. When attempting to fit in, others have emotional power over you.

    You give others the ability to determine your fate. You are dependent. You have placed your well-being in someone else’s hands when you give them the ability to decide whether you fit in or not.

    When you belong, you get to stand up and be who you really are. There is no power unbalance in the group or relationship. Everyone gets to speak from their heart. Everyone is accepted.

You will know when you belong. It just feels right. It feels like you are the best version of yourself. And you don’t need to change anything. Just be the amazing, brave, unique, charming, flawed, honest, awesome person you already are.

You be you!

β€œBecause 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
You can find the places I link up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

68 comments

  1. Laurie, when I have to ‘try out’ for a group to gain their acceptance and respect, I immediately know that I am in the wrong place. A few weeks ago I wrote about loosing a friend. Compromising her values for the sake of fitting into a group is exactly what caused that friendship to break. It saddened me to realize that her ‘position’ in the group mattered more than doing the right thing. Belonging, being accepted and respected feels good and we all want that, but it should never come at a price. I love the Brene Brown quote. Encouraging post, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting difference between the two types of “being” in a group. I imagine I fit in a few, but I hope I mostly belong. I haven’t read much of Brene Brown but I’ve seen several quotes and a few Youtubes (TedTalks?) of her speaking, which I’ve enjoyed. I think I’ll check out a few of her books.

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  3. I find this especially helpful in trying to sort through opinions, facts, wants and needs around when it might be time to return to church in person. At least I do not have to make the decision all on my own, there is guidance from our leaders, and guidance from CDC and Department of Health, horror stories and hopes. But it could be easy to go along to get along, instead of making the difficult and authentic decisions. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are powerful and convicting words here, Laurie! Fitting in cramps our style and denies the “who” God created us to be. Belonging helps us bloom in the place where God has planted us. I have no concrete proof, but my instinct tells me that those intent upon the fitting in scenario have very low opinions of themselves, and need the too often fickle acceptance of others to validate their existence. As children of God, we only need to welcome His love and grace into our lives to know we are validated beyond any shadow of doubt.
    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful way to put it, Martha – it DOES deny the “who” God created us to be! We should not look to others for validation. God gives his love and grace freely.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Laurie, I love these thoughts. I’ve been in both camps. For much of my life, I tried hard to fit in, but I never could tell if I’d succeeded. But, then God gave me a group of friends where I genuinely belong, and it’s kind of amazing to not have to compete or to wonder if I am accepted just as I am. I guess one of the crucial things for me is that we all have Jesus in common. I love these points you shared. They resonate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it wonderful to have a group of friends to “belong” to? We are blessed with a group like that too. I am so happy (but not surprised) that you have been blessed with acceptance from your tribe. Thank you!

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  6. Great analysis!
    I have never read a book by Brene Brown as to me she was just another one of those “self-help-authors”. However, since you recommend it, I will definitely check her out at the library.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Those are some very good thoughts on this topic! As a person who is kind of awkward and often doesn’t feel comfortable in groups, this is something I have wrestled with quite a bit over the years. You have given me a lot to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I heard Brene talking about the difference between fitting in and belonging in a podcast, and I thought it was brilliant. I particularly applied it to boys in our current cultural context in which there is so LITTLE room for them to be themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Michele. There is a lot of pressure on boys to fit in. We boy-mamas have to guide them toward belonging, rather than altering their personalities in order to be “accepted”.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Brene Brown, but have yet to read all of her books. I also love what you said here, Laurie, about the differences of fitting in and belonging. The words are all true. I spent too much of my life trying to fit in – at school, in a marriage, with some friends, but the older I get, the less I want to take that road. It’s so much better for the soul if we can all simply belong with our friends, the community and the world around us, without expectations or unnecessary rules placed on us.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Accepting and maybe even embracing our imperfections is a great place to start. Difficult, but there is so much freedom in being content with who you are. Too much time is wasted in trying to shape ourselves into someone else’s image of ideal. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Denny. It is difficult to embrace our imperfections but we all have them. They are what make us unique in our own special way. Thank you!

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  11. It’s interesting that fitting in seems to be the way of the church especially among women in my experience. There’s a certain way to be…walk, talk, dress etc. I have no interest in any of it. God didn’t create me to fit in. He created me to stand out and stand out I do by myself. I will wait until I die to find a group where I belong before I twist myself into a pretzel trying to fit into what looks like crazy to me. Not interested!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was thinking the same thing about the church as I was writing about fitting in. Good for you for having the courage to be who you are and not trying to twist yourself into someone else in order to fit in. God made each of us unique. You be you!

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  12. Like you I had misconceptions about Brene Brown. I was amazed to find out her true message resonated with me. I’ve never been one to try to fit in. That’s why I describe myself in my tagline as being a free spirit. Not everyone appreciates me, but so be it. I belong where I belong, thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post.

    Many think they belong but they do not. They do not act comfortable or participate. So they should leave and find one where they do belong. I think in this case, the other members feel uncomfortable.

    I feel lucky to be part of a running group and a tennis group. I belong to both. I love and trust these folks.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I absolutely love Brene Brown and her books! And my book club just finished “Braving the Wilderness” last Thursday! πŸ™‚ We had some great discussions about it. She’s started a podcast since the pandemic that is also very good. Her interview with Harriet Lerner there on how to apologize was fantastic.

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  15. I love Brenne Brown’s talks on TED and Youtube. I love what you’ve written. So profound. I would like to one day belong somewhere. I have tried to fit in before, in churches or quilt groups but as you pointed out, they were not okay with me being ME so I left. I might belong in my new small art group… time will tell. I once asked them if they hated me (Tongue in cheek) yet and they said droll-wise….”that will take longer….we’ll let you know” and I suspected I might belong with them.

    unfortunately never belonged or fit into my adopted family… anyway thanks for writing such a smart and emotional post! Love, LeeAnna

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, LeeAnna. You will find the right group where you know you belong and people will appreciate you for who you really are. I hope your art group is the right group for you! πŸ™‚

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  16. I have never read Brene Brown Laurie and I think the older I get, the more I feel like I march to the beat of a different drum. I’ve become more and more willing to tell people how I feel and sometimes I like the “current me” and sometimes not, but getting older means you can say and do some things you didn’t dare risk saying/doing when younger with peer pressure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have felt like that too, Linda. I really never felt much pressure to fit in. I am pretty happy with my own company if nothing else works out and I think you are too! I do feel freer to express myself now than I used to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is a wonderful feeling too, isn’t it Laurie? Gone are the restrictions to not express yourself due to the social norms of work or polite company. Now you can feel free to express yourself. I rarely speak my mind on politics as I am not a citizen, thus I cannot vote. But I was angry with the interplay between the President and our Governor and when PPE was being withheld because he had a beef with her, I expressed my horror to a friend that I’ve known through work for 20 years. She was incensed with my comment, and told me what she thought and I e-mailed back that it was my opinion and I’m not swayed by anything she said in defense of the President. She e-mailed back and said “I gave you a chance to see my point and correct your careless comment – have a nice life!” That was it … I’m fine with it, but wow. I was not going to cave in to say or do something that was favorable to her. We remain strong women Laurie … no milquetoasts are we.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh! You are probably better off without the woman from work. We don’t all have to fit the same mold or believe the same things. Those people who think differently are acting out their own insecurities. Playing politics with people’s lives is inexcusable. How can you have an opinion other than that? Let’s hear it for strong women everywhere!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Experienced this at work not too long ago. A group of frienemies who fit in but didn’t belong, turned on one another. And to think I felt hurt when they excluded me and my friend from their birthday gathering. Sad that grown adults were acting like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I greatly appreciate your insights into this. I’ve got two teens – one boy, one girl – and they both feel the pressure of fitting in. They definitely need help talking through it, and sometimes I have to reset my own thoughts so I don’t pass on any of the baggage I carried through middle/high school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes! Those angst-filled teen years. I remember agonizing with my kids when they went through not fitting in in middle school/high school. I would not want to go back to those times but we did make it through.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know we will. The boy and I were commenting today on how much happier my daughter has seemed since she started remote learning. The negativity and drama of middle school were sucking the life right out of her. It’s one of the few benefits from this pandemic.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I love this post, I have enjoyed Brene Brown’s Ted talks but didn’t know about this book, as someone who sometimes just β€œfit in” I appreciate the difference! Oh and it made me smile that you shared why you wouldn’t like her books but then read one anyway 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m so glad you gave her another try, Laurie! Braving the W. is a good first read of hers to recommend to others, I think–it’s a quick(er) one but still with her signature BB-ness.

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  21. I have learned so much from Brene Brown. Have you listened to her new podcast? Such good stuff. I am leading a small group (virtually) and one person said she was so excited to be in the group because now she felt like an insider. It has made me think about how we extend friendship and make connections, how we can be genuinely welcoming without expecting others (or ourselves) to fit in. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have not listened to her new podcast but someone else recommended it and I checked it out. How have I not been watching this? So cool that the new person in your group felt like she belonged.

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  22. Glad you shared this! So true. I am also adverse to self-help books, and the more people quote a self-help author, the less I am likely to read he. Obviously I’m missing the Brene Brown boat! I have listened to a couple of interviews with her and now this, reminding me to dive in…so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Brene Brown is wise when it comes to belonging and fitting in. I enjoy her books and she has a podcast I listen to sometimes too. You really clarified the difference between belonging and fitting in. It’s like each person for themselves when trying to fit in, but everyone working together when you belong. Thank you for a timely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great post and so true about fitting in. I tried for so many years when I was younger to be accepted and I would change bits and pieces of myself to make that happen. It definitely had insecurity at its root!! I didn’t feel like I was good enough as I was so I adopted bits of other people’s personalities. Thank you for sharing this important message and thank you for linking up with me @worthbeyondrubies

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  25. I’ve never read Brene Brown–I’ve heard the name floating around but haven’t investigated anything she’s written. I tend to gravitate to fiction in reading. πŸ™‚ But I do work through a few non-fiction books a year. Fitting in isn’t something I’ve thought about in a long time. I wonder if it seems so critical to fit in when we’re younger because we’re less certain of our own thoughts and opinions? The older I get, the less it seems to matter that everyone dot their “i” and cross their “t” just like I would. I don’t know if that happens when we get older because we’re more sure of our own voice, or we’ve learned that people are multi-layered rather than one-dimensional, or what.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are exactly right about needing to fit in more when we are younger. By the time you get to be my age, you know and accept yourself much more than when we were 25. Fitting in isn’t as important anymore but belonging sure does feel good! πŸ™‚

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  26. Once again, Laurie, I’m playing catch-up with a backlog of your posts β€” my reading, like so much else in the coronapocalypse, seems to keep getting away from me. But as always, I’m glad I didn’t miss this one. Indeed, one of the great gifts of the aging process is letting go, to a great extent, of the need to fit in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Jan. As we get older, we can let go of the need to fit in. I would bet that it was probably never all that important to you anyway. You seem like a woman who knows her own mind! πŸ™‚

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