The feeling of belong is yours and it is inside of you. It makes a difference in your happiness. Love and belonging follow the basic physiological and safety needs in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Working collaboratively, on interdepartmental teams or interdisciplinary groups can be painful and consequently stressful if you’re feeling like you are on the outside. Do you wonder, “Do I really belong here?” How often do you feel like you are not a part of the team, or not a part of the culture of where you work? have you hidden your wisdom and light by not participating with enthusiasm because you were feeling disconnected? Here are 3 steps to explore your sense of belonging. This process can be a useful guide to decrease the stress of feeling on the outside.
- Awareness– Using your mind and intuition, tune in to the voice within yourself to check your physical, emotional and mental experiences for your truth. Does your stomach get tight thinking about the meeting/group/gathering? Do your shoulders tense; maybe on the days that you meet you don’t sleep well. Your symptoms are unique messages for you. They can be gifts. If you choose to understand them, you can move to a deeper understanding of yourself and your situation. What is your body saying to you? Perhaps you are feeling listened to, but not heard, tolerated and not appreciated, or just plain excluded. What makes the symptoms pass?
- Acceptance– Being in acceptance means that you are no longer wishing things to be different. You recognize your situation as it is and you contemplate your role in it. If you feel on the outside, is it because you are new, and need to give yourself some more time? Or is it because you have not been welcomed and don’t feel accepted or included? Are you being bullied? Is feeling on the outside an old habit and this is an opportunity to work through it? Do you need to understand the culture of the group more deeply? Recently I found myself working with a group who had been working together for a long time. I was replacing a nurse co worker who had retired. When I realized that the nurses were experiencing resentment for some recent managerial decisions and were missing their friend I had clarity about my situation. I can not change their situation. They have to grieve and adjust. With this understanding I choose to feel a part of rather than on the outside. My happiness is again, an inside job.
- Action– Based upon your assessment and acceptance of the situation as it is, you now have options for action. Perhaps you are keeping yourself on the outside because you don’t really want to be there. Suppose you discover you need to find another place to work where there are people who have values similar to yours. Will you give yourself permission to reduce the stress and take the action of making a change? Do you need to find for yourself common ground with members of the group or team? This might mean reaching out to individuals to create for yourself a sense of belonging. If feeling on the periphery is a habit, then you need to answer the question, “Do I want to change this habit?” The Vitality in Progress: Healing and Preventing Burnout for Nurses can help you make habit changes like this. For example, the networking group I joined was very welcoming and friendly, nonetheless, I felt on the outside. An old habit- discomfort with being new changed when I discovered that in creating opportunities to get to know them as individuals, my inside experience changed.
The others did not change but my experience of belonging changed by working with the 3 above steps which empowered me to reach out and address the need to feel a sense of belonging. Belonging is an inside job that comes with your honest appraisal of your situation and making choices that support your need to feel like you are a member of, a part of, and belonging to the group. When you work with the above 3 steps, you move your focus from outside of yourself to inside. You are enhancing your relationship to yourself, making choices from inside, rather than outside and you are empowering yourself. Bottom line if you don’t belong in that group, you do belong to yourself, and you will find a group, community, others you do belong with. Such is sometimes the process of finding your peeps.
Please share with us any tips or strategies that you use to create the experience and feeling of belonging at work or elsewhere.
On that note, this is your invitation to join us:
Self Care for Vitality
Sending you lots of love,