Humans are herd creatures. Our survival as children depended upon the love and acceptance of other human beings. Our blood flow as a fetus depended upon how happy our mother was, even.
It’s no mystery why we all care so much what everyone else thinks of us and how happy we seem to be making them.
A feeling of belonging is a primal need intertwined with our survival instinct.
Being rejected, therefore, can literally feel like dying.
That’s why we work so hard to avoid it, to fit in.
This gets dicey when the people we’re wanting to fit in with are people whose feathers are ruffled by our crazy ideas, alternative lifestyles, or pushing the envelope, though.
Operating from that place of longing to fit in (a longing we all share) can cause shrinkage.
We hold back.
We stay small.
We abandon ourselves.
Would it be optimal to just not give a flying F what anyone thinks of us and do our work proudly and with abandon?
Yeah. It would.
But I don’t know that we can disconnect our wiring to such an extent that we never again care at all what other people think of us.
We can desensitize ourselves.
We can care less over time, for sure.
We can set up systems to reduce the amount of feedback we receive (like turning off the comments on your blog, hiring an assistant to read your business email, and not reading your reviews on Amazon).
We can click “Block” and “Ban User” on Facebook.
But we can’t remove that part of ourselves that longs to be seen, to be included, to be acknowledged, and to belong. Because that part of ourselves is part of being human.
If you want to do the work you’ve come here to do and say what you want to say loud and proud, you’ve got to find your tribe.
Your tribe is made up of people who are also out there risking not belonging, and doing their work. Your tribe cheers you on even when they don’t agree with you. They know what it’s like to put something on the line despite the survival instinct to keep it to yourself.
If you go full out and become all of who you are, will you fit in at all of your family functions, your high school reunions, and the PTA meeting? Maybe. But probably not.
But if you belong to a tribe who meets your need for belonging, you don’t need to get that need met everywhere.
You know who your people are. You know they have your back. You feel freer to be you and risk not belonging with the people who cause the shrinkage.
A good tribe will call you out when you’re shrinking, in fact. Your belonging amongst the people who are really your people actually depends on your playing full out.
This is the power of the kind of tribe I’m talking about. Everyone is putting their heart on the line. Everyone is taking risks. Everyone is getting uncomfortable. That’s the tribe culture. And so as you connect more deeply with this tribe, you also connect more deeply with your true self. And your courage to share that true self with the world is bolstered.
You get to belong and you get to be who you are, all at the same time.
Here’s what’s tricky:
Doing your work and saying what you know to be true, despite it being unpopular at times, is essential to attracting your tribe in the first place.
Stepping out and risking not being liked is like turning on your homing device that connects with all the other members of your tribe and lets them know you exist.
First you risk not fitting in.
Then your tribe knows you’re one of them.
Then you actually get to fit in, just with different people than before.
It’s like the one wacky person who gets out on the dance floor first. They have to be brave enough to stand out, risking being made fun of and looking weird, in order for the other weirdos to know that they weren’t the only weirdo invited to the party.
The good news is that when you’re willing to move past the feeling that you might die if you get out there and dance on your own, you usually only have to dance for a minute or two by yourself. The other weirdos recognize you immediately and come out to boogie by your side.
Belonging doesn’t have to come at the expense of being true to ourselves. We can have both.
You can be you and fit in at the same time. It’s just probably going to be with different people than before.
But you do have to make the first move.
OVER TO YOU:
What’s one thing you’re holding back on because you’re afraid you won’t fit in if you put it out there? The act of declaring it in the comments will turn on your homing device to attract your tribe, so declare away!
P.S. Are you longing for a tribe that doesn’t require you to shrink to belong? Mike and my special sauce in business is attracting incredible people. We only have a few spots left in our business elevation experience, The Art of Business, where you’ll get to be you and leverage your desire to belong at the very same time. Learn more about the program here.