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The Quest for Belonging: How Therapy Can Guide You Home

fitting in

Belonging is a fundamental human need, as just like food or shelter. It's the feeling of being accepted and understood within a community, where one is valued for their authentic self. But how is belonging different from merely fitting in, and why is this distinction crucial for our mental health?

Understanding Belonging vs. Fitting In

Brené Brown, a renowned researcher and storyteller, provides a compelling differentiation between belonging and fitting in. According to Brown, fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Conversely, belonging does not require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

This is so important to remember as we have all experienced frustrating relationships where we may not have felt like we were enough or the relationship is just no longer at a point where we are. And you know what? That is okay. But let's talk about more belonging...

The Essence of Belonging

Belonging is intrinsically connected to authenticity, love, and vulnerability. It's about being part of something bigger than oneself while also presenting one's true self without fear of judgment. This connection fosters not only a sense of security but also bolsters our identity and self-esteem. When we do not have a sense of belonging or connection to others, we feel lost, like an outsider. We may feel we are misunderstood, we don’t understand others, we stay to ourselves.

Exploring Belonging

Exploring belonging involves a deep dive into understanding who we are and how we connect with others. It is a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, requiring us to confront and cast aside the facades we might have adopted to fit in. It challenges us to question the relationships and communities where our presence must be negotiated.

The Role of Therapy in Exploring Belonging

A therapist acts as a skilled navigator in the quest for belonging. Therapy provides a safe space to explore one's thoughts and feelings without judgment. It helps individuals:

  • Identify Authenticity: Therapists encourage self-exploration and help clients distinguish between when they are altering themselves to fit in and when they are truly belonging.

  • Develop Self-Acceptance: Therapy aids in accepting and valuing oneself, which is essential for genuine belonging.

  • Enhance Connection Skills: Through therapy, individuals can improve their interpersonal skills, helping them to form and maintain more meaningful relationships.

  • Resolve Internal Conflicts: Therapists assist in addressing the internal conflicts that may arise from past experiences of not belonging or from attempts to fit in at the cost of one's authenticity.

  • Cultivate Resilience: Understanding and pursuing true belonging can lead to rejection or disappointment. A therapist can help foster resilience to withstand these challenges while staying true to oneself.

Belonging is not just about being included; it's about being part of a community where you can be your genuine self. The journey to find such a place can be intricate and challenging but incredibly rewarding. Therapy can be a powerful tool in this journey, providing the guidance needed to navigate the complexities of relationships and self-identity. Whether you are struggling with feelings of isolation or seeking deeper connections with others, consider how therapy might help guide you towards a true sense of belonging.

Better Minds Counseling & Services can help in many ways:

Discover your therapist today!

Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy.  If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911.  Here are more immediate resources as well.


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