BelongingBy Nancy Swisher, M.A.
November 10, 2008
The feeling of belonging is an essential part of experiencing a full life, yet many people walk around with the painful feeling of not belonging. In this article, Nancy describes how to heal this feeling and why now is the time to do so.
Generally, when someone says they feel like they don’t belong, they are referring to something external, such as their family, their neighborhood, or a peer group at work or school. The feeling of not belonging, no matter where it comes from, is a very painful feeling. It can be debilitating. The latest scientific research shows that the feeling of not belonging and isolation is one of the biggest causes of stress in the body. We all need to feel like we belong. The feeling of belonging is an essential part of experiencing a full life.
In the late 70’s, when I was teaching college in the South, I began to explore my own sense of belonging (or not) in a more conscious way than ever before. I had left my graduate school friends (where I felt like I belonged), the land and nature of West Virginia (where I felt a strong sense of belonging), in order to start my first professional job. Making big changes like this is a great way to observe how we create a new sense of belonging (or not).
I noticed that some days I felt like I belonged to my new environment; the students I especially connected with. But other days, if I thought about the nuclear power plants in the area, or found myself following a nuclear waste truck on my way to work, I suddenly felt a strong sense of isolation and not belonging. At that point in my life, I related my sense of belonging to external things, not yet understanding that I created my feelings.
During that same time, I read an article in Mother Jones magazine by Buckminster Fuller, which awakened in me a new perspective about belonging. He shared about a time in his life when he was quite depressed after the death of his young daughter. Fuller's own account of his crisis involved a walk by Lake Michigan, during which his thoughts of suicide were interrupted by a voice in his head that said he did not have the right to take his own life because, "You do not belong to you." The voice continued to say, “You belong to the universe.”
Though I was nowhere near the dark state of mind Fuller had, reading about his personal transformation by realizing that he belonged to something larger than himself had a profound affect on me. As I have since explored the issue of belonging, I realize that it is very true that we belong to the Universe. But we must also belong to the part of us that is the Universe.
Today, in my work as a healer and spiritual life coach, I find that at the root of many issues is this sense of not belonging. Exploring your personal experience of belonging provides the potential for healing and aligning with your true self.
Inner Belonging and Outer Belonging
There are two aspects to belonging—inner and outer. Inner belonging is the deep feeling of knowing who you are. It is your connection to your Inner Being, to your Spirit, your Soul. It is also a connection to your body, knowing that with each breath you take, you affirm that you belong to this body and that this body belongs to you. Inner belonging cannot exist without the practice of self-love. They go hand in hand. When you love yourself, when you allow the love that you are to flow through you and from you, the feeling of belonging is always present.
Outer belonging is the feeling of connection to others. This is a wonderful feeling. External belonging is based upon shared ideas, values and experiences. After the recent presidential election, many African-Americans shared that, understandably, they now have a new sense of belonging to America that they have never had before. This feeling of belonging with others can even happen virtually, through blogs, social networking, and tele-classes. What a great benefit to living in this time of global interconnectedness.
What creates not belonging?
Some clients have told me they never felt a sense of belonging within their family of origin. This is not uncommon. If you are a highly sensitive person, an intuitive person born into a family of five-sensory folks, there is an immediate feeling of being different and not belonging. The cause of not belonging in the family has a wide range, from simply feeling unseen to overt abuse.
Until the beliefs and energy of not belonging is healed and released, we tend to attract future situations where similar feelings come up. Clients share that they don’t feel like they belong in their work environment, many times because they are on a personal growth path when their colleagues are not. The energetic structure of this replicates their family of origin experience.
The good news!
One main difference between inner and outer belonging is that we have complete control over our experience of inner belonging, whereas the feeling of outer belonging is dependant upon circumstances. The other big difference is that inner belonging is primary; outer belonging is secondary. By this, I mean that if you don’t take the time and space to cultivate a deep sense of belonging to yourself, to your Spirit as it flows from the larger Universal Field of Spirit, and to your body, then you will never feel the joy of external belonging either. You may feel it temporarily in certain situations, but it won’t last. You will have to keep finding new external sources for the feeling. But when you master the practice creating belonging from the inside, the external circumstances that create the outer belonging connection will show up.
Practices to align with Inner Belonging
So, when working with clients on this issue, I always direct them inward. What are the beliefs you hold about yourself that cause the feeling of not belonging? How are you recreating this painful feeling in your day-to-day life?
The practice of Inner Bonding and connecting to the Inner Child who holds the feelings of not belonging is essential to healing and transforming the feeling. Through dialogues with the child, you can find out how you’re causing the feeling by bringing unconscious thoughts to conscious awareness, and you can flow the love from Source to nurture the child’s new experience of belonging to you, the adult.
The feeling of not belonging also has an energetic frequency, so working to release the vibration of not-belonging, which is generally held in the first three chakras, is an important part of reconnecting to your innate knowing that you do belong, to yourself, to the Universe, to this moment in time and space.
Tools such as meridian tapping, and even flower essences and crystals can aid in the total clearing of the dense energy that blocks your sense of belonging.
Taking time for inner stillness, awareness of your breath and the space within you where your part of the Universe resides, is also essential for cultivating your sense of belonging to you. Sitting in quiet meditation, you can feel your body, your spirit, the seat beneath you and the entire Universe as an energetic matrix of belonging. In order to ground yourself in this knowing, however, you must practice.
Right now on our planet is an amazing time of realignment to Source. We see the old paradigms and structures falling away and new ones arising. As individuals, it is a powerful time to really commit to your own alignment to your Source, where the feeling of belonging resides. It is time to let go of your personal structures of pain that never really belonged to you in the first place. It is a time to be all that you can be.
Nancy Swisher, MA, MFA is a Personal & Spiritual Life Coach and Healer, specializing in guiding you to move beyond any obstacles blocking full expression of your Inner Being. She is certified in Inner Bonding, Emotional Freedom & Healing, and Prosperity Guidance/Law of Attraction facilitation. She frequently holds transformational teleclasses and works with clients via telephone from across the U.S and Europe. Visit her website https://nancyswisher.com for a free interactive essay 6 Ways to Create Love, Joy & Peace every day of your Life and for upcoming events.
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Begin each day with setting your intention for the day. What do you want? Do you want to walk in love, peace and joy? Do you want to be present in the moment, connected with yourself and in oneness with Spirit? Do you want to be kind and compassionate? Creative and productive? Open to learning each moment? Think about who you want to be and set your intention for the day - out loud.
By Dr. Margaret Paul