Can we ever feel confident if we don’t feel we belong?

March 28th, 2021 in Blog

Last week I facilitated an NHS women’s network event and our theme was Belonging. Belonging is one of the core foundations of confidence, according to our flying formula.

What does belonging mean to you?

For me it’s a warm feeling inside, realising that I am loved and valued by others and I can see the contribution I make, because it is different, even if only very slightly, to everyone else’s.

Belonging is the fuel we need to start flying – if I feel like I belong, it’s as if I have permission to make a difference in the world.

So how do we create a sense of belonging?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. We never really belong if we try to – our trying causes us to fit in, to dilute ourselves so that others will accept us. Our need to be accepted will stop us feeling like we belong, because it’s all an act for others and it’s not the real us.
  2. We need to recognise that we can only create it for ourselves – other people can try hard to help us feel we belong by including us and being kind, but if we are not able to feel it ourselves, it will just be a temporary fix.
  3. We need to learn how to handle our “imposter syndrome”. Often, it’s the voice in our head that tells us we don’t fit in, other people are better than us, we don’t deserve it etc. We need to have a response to it that reduces its power. As with any bully, it seems to quieten down when we answer it, “yes you might be right, but I will try anyway.
  4. We might assume that in order to ‘belong’, others need to invite us. This only happens if people understand our contribution and we have spent time building trust with them. Ask yourself; What do I need to share that will help me belong here?
  5. We won’t ‘belong’ everywhere – there are times when it’s our unique contribution that is needed and times when it’s not – when this happens, be brave enough to move on and find where it is needed rather than let it dent your confidence and authenticity.
  6. In order to belong with others, we need to be able to be with ourselves – the more self-awareness we have, the more we will be able to recognise our place with others and understand our own contribution. Our wonderful keynote speaker, Wieke Eringa from Yorkshire Dance, shared with us how she signed up for a personal retreat that forced her to “be with herself” and it was extremely challenging. In spite of this, she repeated the experience again and again, because each time, she came back stronger.
  7. We don’t belong by clicking our fingers, we have to put the work in. This work challenges us to be vulnerable and that’s what will give us the strength to create belonging.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle we need to overcome, is that realising we belong, will mean letting go of our assumption that we don’t. If we feel we belong, so will others and that sense of belonging will spiral so every time you walk into a room, take a deep breath and whisper these words to yourself; “I belong here and I have permission to be myself”.

So how can we nurture this skill in our children?

  • 1. Remind them that their true value is when they are being themselves

    Share qualities that you love about them and tell them what you value them for often.

  • 2. Give them space to play by themselves

    So they can learn from their own thinking and ideas.

  • 3. Avoid trying to decide where they belong for them,

    Our ideas on the best friends for them may not be right, trust that they can figure this out for themselves.


  • 4. Be Patient

    Pressure on them to find friends quickly might lead to the wrong choices and reduce their confidence. They will need to explore where they fit first and this might take some time.


  • 5. Show them!

    We are their best role models, if they see us creating a sense of belonging for ourselves they will learn how to do it!


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