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How to Use Your Longing to Fit in to Your Advantage.

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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 dim.
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.

You don’t have to buy belonging by shrinking. {Tweet it.}

You don’t have to buy belonging by shrinking-tweet

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.

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  • susan says:

    Kate.., you are GOOD! I’m a retired DC, emerging artist, and wear a bunch of other hats [ grandma, reparative justice volunteer, gardener etc etc], and have been tempted to join your tribe. Am a long time admirer of Christine’s and continue to save and read your emails…, and reap good direction from them. You’re an original, Kate! You, Kris and your friends have been a gift to cross paths with. Thanks!

  • Gina says:

    Thank you. I am sharing with the young adult group I work with. LOVE, and so on point. For far too long I feared my family and friends would reject me for standing in my truth of speaking to angels and doing the work that my spirit truly needed. Then I stopped, and came out of the spiritual closet; my wounds left, fears dissolved, and my physical ailments healed. I AM so appreciative of that path. Evaluating my current situation, I am holding back a bit now on giving birth to a new idea, not because I am scared I won’t fit in, but because I fear wasted time will come about, and that it won’t work because ‘it’ won’t fit in with the world’s needs. My work is who I am and vice versa, so thank you for this amazing reminder this morning! I am dedicating my yoga practice to you and not holding back! Love you!

  • Elise Moreau says:

    Hi Kate,

    This is my first time visiting your blog and I’m so glad I found it. I’ve spent my ENTIRE life unconsciously suppressing what I really want just to fit in! It all kind of hit me in my early 20s when I realized I took the wrong career path…

    What I often hold back is my often weird and quirky sense of humour. It’s who I am but I’ve been convinced that I have to be way more serious all the time in order to be liked by everyone and also to run my business. I love to hang around people who know how to be funny when it’s appropriate, so that’s the “tribe” I’m looking for, both in real life and online too.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Hey Elise – welcome to my tribe! Did you read this week’s post on not having to be serious even if you take your work seriously? Might be just what the doctor ordered for you to release you quirky sense of humor (which I’m sure will uplift and delight everyone around you!)

  • mary says:

    I am 54 years old and still have not found my tribe. The people I am surrounded by day in and day are not on my side. It is quite frustrating not fitting in.

  • Stefanie says:

    I am a college student, so this definitely hit home with me!! Thank you <3 I'm holding back on writing my truth on my blog and starting to work on my life purpose for fear that others will think differently of me. I release this fear!

  • Love this blog! It so speaks to me today! Oh, how I long to fit in somewhere. I feel like I am hanging out there for the world to see. My confidence is on the edge of comfortable and not comfortable. A lot of it resides in my head. Actually sometimes I find that I forget to take the advice I give my own clients. I do look to people for confirmation. I feel like my local every day community looks at me and says, “oh she’s the weird one, you should stay away from her.” Or the groups I belong aren’t necessarily the ones I should be connected to. Thank you for these words!

  • I teach meditative hand drumming on Skype which can also be used for setting intentions,as well as working with your Angels/Dragons/Spirit Guides. Drum can be bongos,djembe,cajon,etc. I also teach how to care for your drum & keep it’s aura cleared. ~ Sherrie

  • Meta says:

    Thank you, Kate, for this. Spot on. I needed this today. I’ve gone through an amazing journey and now I want to help others love themselves and live in joy. But doing so means also sharing my belief in meditation, the Universe, and Angels, and miracles, and crystals and goddesses and all things that might sound super Woo Woo in my conservative community. And it’s scary. But the Woo Woo is part of my life now and I’m not going to cover it up. Time to find and build my tribe.

  • Thais says:

    Hi! I am still trying to find my tribe, I still feel like I’m the only one who has the values that I have in life, and that other people will make fun of me because I’m into “selfhelp, wellbeing and spirituality” stuff. Oh well, I just need the courage to break free I guess, as you said. It takes a lot of courage. Thank you so much for this!

    • Cate says:

      Thais, that is exactly how I feel. In addition I work in the corporate environment so I am very cautious about revealing my strong belief in self help and spirituality even though I use methods of this when working with them and genuinely know that their businesses would benefit greatly from embracing this more.

      I am also saddened that friends are no longer friends as I grow. I am so looking forward to being myself more and my tribe.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Once you find your people you’ll forget there was ever a time when you felt like people would think you were weird for being into self help, etc. I always forget that there are people in the world who aren’t into it!

  • Rae says:

    Hi Kate,

    I love reading your offerings and this one hit home – it is perfect timing.

    What, in me, is holding me back? I think it’s the fear that people will think I’m out of my mind for wanting to leave a career that I’m successful in, that’s well paying and that I’ve invested a lot in to go be an entrepreneur in a completely different field. I feel some sort of loyalty to energy I’ve invested and yet I long to shift into a new arena.

    I believe part of this is the fear that comes with taking the plunge into the unknown also. Unknown income, unknown level of ‘success’, unknown community – it’s all daunting.

    Reading your work is so helpful – it reminds me that people who are successful are human, that they once did something courageous to get where they are at and shared their wild desires with the world. It reminds me that we just have to offer it up, put it out there and surrender to the deep knowing that is within us.

    Thanks for the offering, once again it is perfect.

    Rae

  • Ana says:

    Hi, Kate! I finally got to browsing through your site, and I immediately subscribed.(As a teacher assistant, that’s one of my ideas of having a good time in the summer:)) Can you clear something up for me? I haven’t read your book, yet. Maybe it is explained there, but after watching the short video on money being a stand in for what we value, I wondered something. Do you mean that money is a stand in for the THINGS we value? I wouldn’t think that money could be a stand in for relationships.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Hey Ana – welcome to the community! Generally speaking I mean it’s a stand in for things we value, yes!

  • […] We all long to fit in. It’s simply part of the deal with being human. […]

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