To belong is to be accepted. To belong is to feel secure. Without belonging, we are alone. As humans, our greatest desire is to know and be known, to love and be loved and to feel confident that those who know and love us will be there for us through joy and trouble.
In this blog series, the Beauty of Belonging, we will discuss three aspects of belonging: belonging to ourselves, belonging to each other and belonging to God.
Usually we think about belonging as something we do with others, but let’s consider what it means to belong to ourselves. The idea of loving ourselves is controversial. Some say that to love yourself is selfish. However, the same people who believe that self-love is selfish would also consider confidence imperative to success in life. We must admit that this can be a confusing concept.
Consider the following: what if self-love is imperative to confidence? At the Center for Family Transformation (CFT), we believe there is a stark difference between arrogance and self-acceptance. To know, love and accept yourself is imperative to healthy development at every stage of life from childhood to adulthood. So often, we find that teens and young adults have a difficult time knowing, loving and accepting who they are.
The following concepts can offer guidance on the journey to belonging to yourself and helping others to find this path of self-acceptance as well.
In order to accept yourself, you must first know yourself. Seeing ourselves is not simple. Others often see us better than we can see ourselves. The way we look, sound and walk is often more familiar to others than to us. The human mind only allows us to know ourselves through the lens of what we think others see. When others truly see us for who we were created to be, this empowers us to see ourselves. When others see us through a broken lens of their own pain, our identity can be misconceived by our own mind. This is where self-dislike and self-hatred make an entrance into our lives.
In order to truly know ourselves, you must work through pain and trauma that may be clouding your ability to be your true self. When we are not seen correctly by those most important to us, heartache and pain follow. This can be detrimental to a child who grows up in a home with parents who neglect and abuse, or to a child or teen who has been bullied and treated poorly by peers. It is vital that we do not view ourselves through the lens of how dysfunctional people have viewed us. We must do whatever we can as quickly as we can to find out who we truly are. Processing through past pain and trauma, whether through neglect, abuse or life circumstances, will open the door to an accurate view of ourselves as unique and valuable individuals.
In order to be successful in any relationship and in our own personal life purpose, we must know and accept ourselves. When we don’t know ourselves, we don’t act like our best selves. Many of us are living lives and acting in ways that do not feel congruent with the person we want to be. Therapy is an invaluable experience for those who are lost in a false or wounded self. In a therapeutic environment, individuals find a helping relationship that will reflect their true identity, encourage their self-discovery and fight for their true, full, liberated self.
The therapists at CFT are prepared to walk with you on the journey of discovering what it means to understand, know, accept and belong to yourself. It is our highest privilege to be a part of your healing and empowerment process. There is no greater mission in life than to learn to belong to yourself, and there is no better time to begin than now.
The Center for Family Transformation was birthed out of the idea that true connection and belonging in a parent/child relationship, a coupleship, a group or a family has the potential to heal more than any other therapeutic technique. We need relationship. Period. It is a fact. It’s tough because while relationships can be the most fulfilling part of life, they also produce more pain than any other aspect of life.
What if I told you that it was possible to heal and restore your relationships? Would you be willing to hope again? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to fight for your relationships?
The process of maintaining and restoring relationships most often involves looking at yourself, seeing what you are contributing, being willing to do the hard work to change what you can and then offer the hand of forgiveness and reconciliation to those who are important to you. This is called “making relationships bigger than problems.” Doing this takes skill. It is not something that everyone knows how to do or is willing to do.
It is worth it, and here is why:
- True connection gives us purpose
- Belonging lifts our mood and produces joy in us and in those around us
- Individuals who are experiencing a healthy bond are less likely to participate in compulsive activities that lead to life long addiction
- Peaceful relationships nourish the soul and body
- People who experience life giving relationships have more fulfilling lives that are characterized by positivity and appreciation instead of fear, sadness and anger
You can’t experience healthy relationships if you don’t have the skills to make them happen. You can obtain skills from seeing healthy relationship modeled, but so many of us have grown up in homes where there is toxic conflict and dysfunction so we don’t learn what we need to. Therapeutic experience is such a gift to our society. Therapy makes it possible to learn the skills needed in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
Those who fully participate and diligently follow through on a therapeutic journey often find that their relationship with themselves and others improves, and they are able to obtain the thing that we all crave: connection and belonging in relationship that produces sustainable peace and joy across the lifespan.