We have all had our share of hurtful heartbreak and disempowering disconnection. Of loneliness and of the feeling that we just don’t belong here. We all strive for love & belonging. But it can be tough. So should we give up or are ways to deeper connection, to love and belonging? Let’s look into 7 empowering truths to answer that question.
1. We are all wired for connection, love & belonging.
Why can’t we just do our thing on our own and be happy?
As researcher Brené Brown defines it:
“our need for belonging stems from the fact that we are hardwired for connection and inextricably bound to one another.”
It is built into our DNA. As much as we cherish self-resilience and the self-made man, we are a social species and we thrive most in deep and rich connections with other human beings.
Relationships that work are a major source of joy, love, empathy, understanding, help, opportunities, nourishment and learning.
2. Loneliness is a useful signal.
Do you sometimes feel lonely? It can be a painful feeling and it can make us feel bad about ourselves. But loneliness doesn’t mean that you are bad or somehow flawed. What it really means is that you are not experiencing as much connection as you need. That is all. It is a powerful internal signal that shows us that we should reach out for some connection. We can also feel lonely when we are with people. When we do not feel the connection.
3. There are two major traps on the way to connection.
Because our need for connection is so strong, we try very hard to acquire it. And we often go into two traps that seem like ways to get connection and belonging, but instead stand in the way of it.
There are powerful cultural messages that influence us everyday. Do what the cool kids do. Be perfect, don’t show mistakes or your idiosyncracies. Or be nice and understanding of everyone and everything. That doesn’t really work, does it? According to researcher Brené Brown “true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.” If we hide ourselves behind a façade and try to fit, we become chameleons that cannot be seen. If we do not let ourselves be really known, others cannot value us for who we really are. They can only value what they see. And if they value the façade we put up, well, it is still not our true selves that they see, know and value. So there is no sense of belonging.
We have that strong urge to belong to something larger than us, so sometimes we request from others that they show us that we are OK and worthy to have a seat at the table. But looking for external validation is a dangerous trap. If we are always checking if others think that we are OK, we live in constant worry that we might not be enough the way we are. What will give us peace instead is self-acceptance.
4. You are worthy of love and belonging.
An essential truth to understand is that we are all worthy of love & belonging, it is our human birthright. As much as we deserve water and food, we also deserve love & belonging. All of us. Starting from that conviction, we can make us onto our path towards more and more self-acceptance. This is important. Because our level of self-acceptance is the lid as to how great our sense of belonging can be. As much as we accept ourselves, we are willing to present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. And as much we can truly be seen and known. And valued for who we are.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”- Brené Brown
5. Your vision of your relationships will drive your efforts.
Experiences of setbacks, frustration, heartbreak and exclusion can leave us disappointed and frustrated. But don’t let that hold you back! Sometimes it might be as writing down our limiting beliefs and swapping them by liberating truths. Other times, especially when you have experienced relationship trauma, therapy might be a highly useful resource.
So if anything was possible: How would your ideal relationships be like? And why does it matter to you? How would your life change as a result from improving this area of your life? How would the people you love be impacted?
And let’s also not forget to look at all we already have. Expressing thankfulness and appreciation for the good we have is a prerequisite for experiencing joy. That intense feeling of deep spiritual connection and pleasure.
6. Love is something that we grow.
One of the most amazing discoveries I have made is that love is something that we cultivate.
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them — we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and infrequent.”- Brené Brown
7. Connection requires a skill set that can be learned.
“Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”- Brené Brown
Building and improving relationships in our private and business life requires a skill set that we absolutely have to learn.
Over the coming months I want to share simple frameworks and actionable exercises that help us move forward.
What were moments in your life when you felt connected? When did you feel disconnected? Share in the comments below.