This week I had a call with a client who was battling with their need to ‘fit in’. Plagued by the confines and expectations of being part of a ‘wealthy’ family, they had created a false sense of ‘belonging.’
My client is far from alone though – it took me less than a minute for google to fire back nearly 4 billion internet search results for ‘don’t fit in.’ Wanting to be accepted, liked and admired, is inbuilt into our human DNA regardless of your financial status. For our ancestors the consequences of not being securely bonded to a group, literally meant the difference between life or death.
I spent much of my life feeling like I didn’t fit in, which led to decades of unhappiness that I can only describe as deeply uncomfortable. I blended, moulded and diminished parts of myself in search of approval from anyone or anywhere that would have me. The consequences of transforming into a chameleon to match the world around me, meant I gave away huge parts of myself for an illusion of belonging – it was a hefty price to pay and one that ultimately, I could no longer afford.
Just as I did, many of the individuals I work with confuse ‘fitting in’ with ‘belonging,’ and whilst they may seem alike, they are distinctly different. ‘Fitting in’ expects you to adapt and adjust yourself to fit your environment, where as ‘belonging’ sits at the other end of the spectrum and inhabits a world where you trust that your environment will naturally fit you.
Many of us unconsciously travel through life looking for the perfect job, partner, or house believing that the more we have the more we will ‘belong’, but these are all external distractions that can never fully satiate you. Finding your sense of belonging asks you to do the opposite of what you have done before, and show up in your rawest self. As uncomfortable as it may feel in the beginning, the more you remove the mask that wealth creates, the more you are able to embrace your emotional self and let go of the need for validation.
We are at our core, emotionally driven people, but when there is a lack of emotional understanding in any relationship – personal or professional, conflicts and disharmony prevail. It is the emotional governance that is the foundation to any successful family business – one where everyone ‘belongs.’ If we want to have relationships and outcomes that are sustainable, we must leave our old patterns behind and do ‘life’ differently.
It takes courage to let go of the need to ‘fit in’, but I can tell you that it is the most valuable asset you will ever invest in. The freedom that comes from letting go and owning who you are is indescribable.
When you prioritise your identity, you release yourself from the punishing and toxic confines of an illusion. You build a world that feels good from the inside out – a world where you seamlessly belong. Belonging doesn’t demand huge price tags – it just asks for courage and honesty.
So, as you head into your weekend, this is your gentle reminder that you are not what you have, but you are who you are when you inhabit your emotional safe space – this is where you belong.