Human beings are a social being. We learnt this in lower grades in primary school, social studies class. Essentially, our need to belong is drives us to seek out stable, long-lasting relationships with other people. It also influences us to participate in social activities such as social clubs, sporting, religious groups, hiking, and community organizations. In the famous Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to belonging is one of the major needs that motivate human behavior. It is in our DNA.
I just finished reading book by Radha Agrawal, (You can read more about Radha here) called Belonging. It is an incredible book and I would encourage everyone building a community to read. You can try this link to get a copy, or even check in your local bookstore.
Radha defines BELONGING as a feeling of deep relatedness and acceptance; a feeling of “I would rather be here than anywhere else.” She also defines COMMUNITY to mean a group of three or more people with whom you share similar values and interests and where you experience a sense of belonging.
Because you want to build a community or you are in one, Radha insist on reaching in to reach out. She noted that we are harsh critics of ourselves. I find that incredible and I want to share with you her sentiments in regards to how we criticize ourselves and how we can stop it. Self-criticism that make us self-centered, hinder us from belongings and which in turn make us lonely and sick. Moreover, it makes us unable to form and thrive in communities.
She identifies three things that hinder us; she calls them Mean Guys of our minds (I bet they are mean). They are Comparison, Perfectionism, and Judgment. “They bully your authentic self, make you feel insecure, and pull you away from who you really are. They are egocentric and care only about themselves, even though they are driven by what others are doing and saying, she writes.
- Comparison separates
- Judgment disapproves
- Perfectionism nitpicks
The above are often responsible for our anxiety. She notes how they condition us to be judgmental of everything we think and do.
When you choose to focus on the mean guys of our mind, Radha says we drift farther away from our authentic selves and start focusing all our attention on what others are doing and whether they are doing it better than us or if they are doing it right. Because these Mean guys (I love the way she calls them) can be loud and powerful in our minds, we are quick to criticize, blame, judge, and discard, and we focus on the negative things about others and ourselves. Accurate and on point.
Look at this, these mean guys never go away. They are always hanging around and as Radha puts it, it is up to us to decide whether you want to sit with them at lunch or if you want to walk past them and focus on the table with all the guys who are welcoming, curious, warm, fun, and open-minded.
Radha Writes something very fundamental and that has become a problem especially to us the younger generation, she writes about social media, “Social media has made the Mean Guys very powerful because we now have ways to compare and judge ourselves at every moment of every day. We also have filters and tools that play into our need for perfection as we take our perfectly angled selfies, endlessly edit our photos, and spend too much time writing clever captions. Appearing to be perfect can actually be intimidating and scary for others and can make it hard to be approachable. She continues to write, “It is tough to relate to someone who projects perfection! Our weird quirks and unique qualities make us relatable”.
What now? Where should I focus my energy on?
On Your Soul Family! Radha lists them as Inspiration, Gratitude, and Curiosity. They sit two tables down from the Mean Guys and that you have to make a conscious decision to keep walking past them as they call out to you, but once you’ve made it past their table, you’ll realize that the Soul Family are even more powerful and easy to work with.
What now from here?
- Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, you allow him or her to inspire you.
- Instead of nitpicking everything that is going “wrong,” you focus your awareness on all the things that are going right and feel grateful for those things.
- Instead of judging yourself and others, you become curious about why you feel judgmental in the first place and move your awareness toward a place of curiosity: “Why do I feel this way? Why am I judging this person? Why am I judging myself in this way? Can I learn more about this rather than judge it?” Curiosity will set you free.
Radha has written this book in a unique way, it is easy to read and relate. She talks of her personal journey making it very relatable. I am not promoting this book, am giving dues where they belong. This is just a portion of the book that I felt the need to share; the whole book is rich with ideas to help each one of us to belong, hopefully, I will share with you more in the coming days.
In the meantime, Thanks for coming by, hope the insights help you. Please share your thoughts on the comment section below.