“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.”
We all have a deep need to belong, to be connected in a meaningful way to other people in our lives. This need to belong comes up regularly during my counseling sessions with clients, particularly those who have suffered abuse. Interestingly self-acceptance also shows up as an universal challenge, undermining our sense of belonging and fueling a pervasive feeling of not being good enough.
I am so grateful for Brene Brown’s ability to beautifully clarify the importance of self-acceptance in the process of fulfilling our deepest need to belong. Instead of viewing self-acceptance as optional on this journey of life, we can now embrace it as essential to living a rich and meaningful life.
So how do we cultivate self-acceptance and feel a true sense of belonging? To start we need to bring awareness to when shame and feelings of not being good enough are triggered, and notice how we react to others when this occurs.
Recognizing the situations that regularly trigger shame for us provides wonderful opportunities to make empowered choices in how we respond rather than creating more disconnection with our defensiveness, aggressiveness or tendency to shut down.
The potential for not feeling good enough is ever present when we interact with others. Some common triggers include any time we compare ourselves to others, feel judged, criticized or jealous. If you are not familiar with how you react to having shame triggered, start to notice with curiosity and non-judgement the next time you feel defensive.
What happens in your body when you feel defensive?
What are you feeling emotionally?
How do you behave when you are defensive?
The more awareness you cultivate when you are feeling defensive, the more understanding you will have about what is getting in the way of feeling connected to others. The more awareness you have of what triggers shame, the more self-compassion you will develop, which makes nurturing self-acceptance possible.
When we do not accept ourselves, we often limit how much we authentically express ourselves. As a result we do not feel a true sense of belonging with others because we are not being our true selves. The fear that others will find out that something is inherently wrong with us limits our courage to be vulnerable, which is key in the process of connecting.
The shame we carry around believing that something is wrong with us robs us of our confidence, self-worth and courage.
But what if we did not buy into the message that we are not good enough?
What if we all refused to believe that limiting belief and instead embraced the infinite possibilities within us?
Imagine how different our lives could be if we chose to accept our authentic truth and beauty and make choices based on that empowering belief in ourselves instead of the limiting belief of our not enoughness.
As Louise L. Hay reminds us, “You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Accepting ourselves is a powerful act of self-nurturing that improves our relationship with ourselves first and foremost, and also positively impacts every relationship in our lives, nourishing our deep sense of belonging.
Embracing self-acceptance will create ripple effects in your life and empower others around you to accept themselves – creating more and more sense of belonging in the world. The more you commit to authentically showing up in your life, the more you give others permission to do the same and the deeper your relationships become.
These ripple effects have the potential to heal the world!
May you embrace self-acceptance and nurture true belonging in your life and may you live authentically in truth and beauty nurturing peace in the world from the inside out!
Please share your comments below to inspire and encourage others. Thank you!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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