True Belonging


If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take.
That’s why it’s your path.
– Joseph Campbell

The holidays often hold a mix of nostalgia, expectation, elation and disappointment for me. I want so much to relive the feeling I had when I was 10 years old; running around my aunt and uncle’s house, eating my favorite meal next to relatives I thought would be here forever, performing at the family talent show with my carefully choreographed song and dance, and that sense… that I belonged.

That desire to belong lives inside each of us, and can sometimes drive us to do and be something other than who we really are. The result is oftentimes that of fitting in rather than a sense of true belonging.

I find this especially true around the holidays, do you?

Brene Brown writes that “true belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are. ”

On so many occasions I have spun my wheels by walking into family gatherings trying to either change who I am or convince other people (and myself) that I fit within a construct that no longer suits me.

As though I’m a toddler, pulling on the pant leg of an aunt or uncle, saying, “Trust me, I belong here. I’ll be whatever you need me to be, as long as you say I’m yours.”

And yet, the work I find myself drawn to is that of belonging to myself; of “finding the sacredness in being a part of something and in braving the wilderness alone.” Me belonging to myself does not come at the exclusion of others, but rather in the sacred carving out of space and permission for me to discover and fuel the flame that lies deep within me. All while still living in community and amidst others.

Although appealing, it can be hard to know just what this means in a practical way, and where to begin.

An exercise that has helped me tune in to what it looks and feels like to belong to myself is the BRAVING acronym referenced in Brene Brown’s work around trust. When reflected as a self-trust exercise, it looks like this:

B – Did I respect my own boundaries? Was I clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay?
R – Was I reliable? Did I Do what I said I was going to do?
A – Did I hold myself accountable?
V – Did I respect the vault and share appropriately?
I – Did I act from my integrity?
N – Did I ask for what I needed? Was I nonjudgmental about needing help?
G – Was I generous toward myself?

As you and I enter into holiday gatherings, my prayer is that we both try on belonging to ourselves, trusting ourselves and finding the path that is our own.

The special courage it takes to experience true belonging is not just about braving the wilderness, it’s about becoming the wilderness…
and living from our wild heart rather than our weary hurt.
– Brene Brown
My inquiry for you today:
Where can you carve out a few moments to ask yourself the BRAVING questions this week? What do you notice as you do this?

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