The core parts of who we are as individuals is crafted and molded by the experiences we had as a child, how our parents raised us, the environment in which we spent most of our time, and the friends we choose to surround ourselves with.
In his book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “We are so well trained that we are our own domesticator. We are an autodomesticated animal.”
He makes an excellent point. We are all predisposed and programmed to believe certain things about ourselves and to go through life making certain decisions. So much so, that we often forget we can change all of that whenever we want.
For example, if you grow up in an unsafe household, you may become a controlling, anxiety-ridden adult because you always felt a lack of stability in your environment. Your adult self works hard to counteract the way you felt as a child, and you become so used to being in this survival mode that it shapes who you are to the core.
But what if we had the power (and we do) to challenge those beliefs about ourselves? What if we had the awareness to realize we are safe now, and that we don’t have to keep playing this role?
These assumptions about who we are distort our reality and take us farther away from our authentic self. Because of this, we may feel really lonely around people or find it difficult to fit in and relate to others.
This isn’t because we are strange and different, it’s because we have been lying to ourselves for so long that we have no idea who we actually are.
Below are a few ways to wake yourself up from this haze, start working towards finding your authentic self, and achieve a greater sense of belonging:
Take a Time-Out to Heal Yourself
Therapy is a great resource to articulate the roots of why you feel you are struggling in life. Investigating your past experiences and influencers is a form of deep inner work that requires open mindedness and vulnerability. Group therapy, PTSD therapy, and trauma therapy are all options for your healing journey.
If you don’t take the time to heal yourself, you will likely keep making the same choices and become a passive bystander of your life. Patterns are sure to repeat themselves. Group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you to take back that power and stop playing the victim.
We need to allow others to give their input so that our ego is detached from this new level of growth. After all, we can’t change stubborn behaviors, relationships, or mindsets that we aren’t even aware need changing.
Reevaluate the Narrative You Tell Yourself
People who struggle with a poor sense of belonging have likely struggled with it for most of their life. They become so comfortable with their narrative that it’s the lens in which they view the world.
For example, if a romantic partner in your past was unfaithful to you, you may enter a new relationship with trepidation and apprehension. This can manifest in trust issues, anxiety, clinginess, or even cold, distant indifference. Is this your new partner’s fault? No, but you may end up pushing them away because of the narrative you walked into the relationship with.
Just because a situation occurred once in your life, doesn’t mean it will happen again. It also doesn’t give you the permission to paint every future situation in the same light. That is called self-sabotage, and it’s destructive to all of the relationships we have.
If you hold onto a narrative, you are blocking yourself from truly being free. Life is meant to be experienced freely, with love and abundance constantly flowing through us.
Upgrade Your Self-Worth
Let’s take it back a step and discover how a narrative is born in the first place.
A narrative is created by an experience or set of experiences in our life, which is a direct result of a choice or choices we made.
These choices are made based on our self-worth, self-respect, and self-trust. If you choose to let someone mistreat you, you may go on thinking you are a victim and that people are cruel.
However, this person mistreating you actually starts with your self-worth. Someone who walks away when they aren’t being treated respectfully, isn’t even going to allow the window for mistreatment, and so, they won’t experience mistreatment. It only goes as far as we let it.
Unconditional self-acceptance and self-love keeps us on the right track in choosing partners, jobs, and friends that are worthy of us. If we don’t feel a high sense of worth, we may rely on external forces for validation.
But if we can love ourselves all on our own, we won’t experience that desperate feeling of unwantedness or not belonging. Group therapy is known to be a powerful resource for relearning self-love in a supportive, safe environment.
As Don Miguel Ruiz wrote, “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”