A note on belonging

I’ve been out for the while because I had to have an emergency appendectomy but the downtime has allowed me to dive into some YouTube videos that have been on my list for sometime. The first one I dove into is an interview with Brene Brown on her book “Braving the Wilderness”. She talks about many AMAZING concepts in the video but I am going to focus on only one- belonging.

The quote she speaks to in this work is what captures me the most:

Pink Flower Summer Quotes Instagram Post

In my work, as well in my own life, I’ve come to notice that symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance use, relationship problems seem to have a component that I think Brene Brown language would call “struggles of belonging”. Through my lens and in my work I would say “struggles of self”.

Regardless of the language, the messaging is the same.

The moment we belong is the moment we are OK if we don’t belong because belonging has to do with what’s inside. It’s not about taking on others beliefs, values and opinions to fit in, in fact it’s quite the opposite. It’s about being who we are, representing ourselves, speaking our truth, in a kind, compassionate, non-reactive way, regardless of the group we are surrounded by.  It’s about being OK to stand up to the “group think” or “group ideas” and be our own “self”.

I think we’ve all been in a group where either a decision needs to be made, or there is pressure to get to an outcome. We’ve each probably either been the one who is holding up the process because we have a different ideas that aren’t on the table that we feel are important to consider. Or perhaps we’ve been the one to get frustrated with the member of the group who is seemingly holding up the process with their own ideas.

Group pressure is POWERFUL. Has it ever silenced you?

I ask you this…

“What would it take for you to stand up-against a strong group opinion and state a different one, in a nonreactive way?”

and on the flip side,

“What would it be like for you to open up to a different idea than your own, even if your group is under time restrictions?”

It’s these courageous acts being able to speak a different truth, and the courageous acts of opening up to a different truth that to me are all “acts of belonging”. And in my experience (personally and professionally) if we can learn how to speak our truth, while opening ourselves up to other truths, symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance use all seem to lesson in intensity and we get to be a little bit more of who we truly are.


Written by Kathy Kutzer, MSW, RSW, RCC



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