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Feeling Like You Belong

We all want to have the sense that we belong among people we know.

Where do we really belong?
What makes us feel less like we belong?
What makes us feel more like we belong?

WHERE DO YOU BELONG?

You belong where you say you belong!
The decision about whether you belong with others is your decision, not theirs.

In the adult world, we are seldom "kicked out" or excluded from any groups.
People from a certain group might mistreat us, and this might help us decide to leave.
But, even then, it is our decision, not theirs.

The question of whether we feel like we belong should be based on
how we are treated while we are actually with the group.

But people who fear that they don't belong usually feel excluded
before they've spent any time at all with that group!

"I'd never be good enough for them."
"They'd never let anyone like me in."
"People like them don't care what people like us have to say."
"I'm just too [dumb, wise, fat, skinny, sick, healthy, young, old, etc.] for those people."
 "They're just too [dumb, wise, fat, skinny, sick, healthy, young, old, etc.] for me."

Look back on your life and ask yourself:
"Who have I decided that I belong with?"
"Who have I accepted into my world?"

Then look back again and ask:
"Who have I decided I don't belong with?"
"Who have I excluded from my world?"

WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL LESS LIKE YOU BELONG?

We decide whether we belong based on our experience or on our beliefs.


FROM OUR EXPERIENCES
If some people in a group mistreat you,
deciding to leave them can be a good decision.
This is especially true if you objected to the mistreatment but nothing changed afterwards.


FROM OUR BELIEFS
But if you haven't been mistreated by people in a certain group
and you only think you will be mistreated,
it is your beliefs that are keeping you from the feeling of belonging.

Such beliefs are both bigoted against them and terribly restrictive for you!

It's bad enough to restrict yourself because of your own beliefs.
It's even worse to exclude yourself because of someone else's beliefs.

When it comes to a decision as important as
whether to cut a whole group of human beings out of your life,
I don't care at all what your parents, or your culture, or even your priests/rabbis/ministers think.

I care what YOU have experienced.
And whether you have spoken up for yourself about being treated well.
And what you have decided,
and whether these decisions are working for you or not.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO FEEL MORE LIKE YOU BELONG?

If you are actually mistreated by some people in a certain group:
Don't judge the group.
Judge the individuals.

    Tell the people who are mistreating you that it has to stop.
    If they stop for a long while, stay with them.
    If they only stop for a short while, consider leaving.

      If they don't stop, leave.
      Join a better group.
      And congratulate yourself for trying!

      Whether you stay or leave,
      remember that some of these people did treat you well.


If you are only thinking that you will be mistreated,
ask yourself where your opinion came from:

    Is it only based on what you heard from someone else?

    Is it based on your experience with a few people you think are similar?
    Is it based on your experience with many people you think are similar?

    Admit that you fear being mistreated by the people in this group.
    Then ask yourself:
    What kind of mistreatment do I fear?
    If it did happen, how bad would it actually be?
    Am I so afraid that it's not even worth trying to accept the new group?

    Most importantly:
    How would you treat yourself after you got home from being mistreated?
    Would you treat yourself even worse than the people in the group treated you?
    Is the biggest problem what they think of you,
    or what you think of you?

ASK YOURSELF:

If I exclude another group, where will I get the feeling of belonging that I need?
If I just need to find a better group, which group will I try next?
Can I allow myself to think in terms of individuals instead of whole groups?
Is there some way I stir up the very mistreatment I try to avoid? If so, how can I change this?

YOU BELONG WHERE YOU SAY YOU BELONG!

Give people a chance to treat you well.
Accept them and spend your time with them.

You belong with good people.

You belong wherever you say you belong!


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Enjoy Your Changes!

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Write To Me, I Want To Hear From You!
Tony Schirtzinger, Therapist (Milwaukee) 

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