I’ve travelled all over the world and I’ve lived in places that are very different from where I come from…
But there are few places where I feel I belong less than in my dad’s family home in Wisconsin.
So I happened to read a book called Belong by Radha Agrawal out in Wisconsin. It was particularly touching for me to read it there because it helped me understand and heal some of my belonging wounds…
And I think every single person on the planet has belonging wounds, so I wanted to review Belong and share my insights..
I’m diving deep into 3 of my biggest takeaways on what it truly means to belong and how you can grow a community — a tribe — that creates a sense of true belonging for everyone who’s a part of it.
Takeaway #1: You Can Choose Your Community, Your Tribe… And Even Your Family
Radha defines belonging as “a feeling of deep relatedness and acceptance, a feeling of ‘I would rather be here than anywhere else.’”
As I said, sometimes I don’t feel like I belong in my own family in Wisconsin and I know it’s because I’m different. I look different, and I talk different and there’s a reason for that…
Back in the 60s, when my dad was a young man, he made the fateful decision to see the world and he set out to Thailand where he met my mom.
One generation later, my 3 cousins have lived in Wisconsin their entire lives and me and my brother have travelled the world and lived very, very different lives.
So when I come back to my grandma’s house in Wisconsin, a lot of times it feels more foreign than going to an entirely different country!
I love being there for a few days but it doesn’t necessarily feel like home.
And that brings me to my first big takeaway…
There are two kinds of family, two kinds of tribe — one is your given tribe and your given family and the other is your chosen tribe and your chosen family.
For so many of us, there comes a point where the family, tribe or community we were given as children, doesn’t really feel like the place where we belong.
It doesn’t nourish and support us and we don’t experience the level of connection that we desire.
But here’s the thing…
If we don’t make the effort to find a community or tribe where we feel like we truly belong, we start to feel more and more isolated and more and more lonely.
In her book, Radha explains how community is basically “a group of 3 or more people who share similar values and interests” and when you don’t have a nurturing, nourishing community, it’s harder for you to live as long and be as happy and as healthy as you could be.
So that search to find your true community — to find your true tribe — is such an important part of life, what it means to be human and what it means to be happy as a human.
What I really learned from this book is that for so many people, community is something they think about if they have the time.
But the truth is that’s not the way to find a real community. You need to prioritize and get super intentional about it and know that you can choose your community, your tribe and even your family.
It’s also important to recognize that sometimes you need to move on because the people that you’ve always had as your friends — the community that you’ve grown up in — may not be the community that nurtures you at the deepest level, later in life.
And right now, I really feel like it’s time for me to cultivate my tribe, my chosen community… not just the community that I lead for my business.
So you can choose your community, you can choose your tribe and you can choose your family.
Takeaway #2: You Need to Go from FOMO & FOBLO to JOMO
My second takeaway from Belong is about something Radha calls FOBLO.
Now you may have heard of FOMO, which is the Fear of Missing Out. So FOBLO is the Fear of Being Left Out.
We’ve all had those moments where someone you know had a party and you weren’t invited!
And let me tell you about the time I experienced an epic case of FOBLO in Wisconsin back in 1999.
That was the year my uncle died in a car accident. At the time, I was in college in Providence, Rhode Island.
I decided to take a Greyhound bus all the way to Wisconsin to be at my uncle’s funeral, because I loved him and I wanted to be there to honor his life.
I remember I was so tired from riding the bus for pretty much 30 hours straight, that when I got home, I went to bed and slept through to the next morning.
And you know what happened? My entire family left to go to the funeral and no one told me!
When I woke up and looked at my watch, I was like, “Oh, no, it’s time to go!” but I got downstairs and there was no one there. I tried to call everyone but no one picked up their phone.
And I ended up walking 3 miles down the road to the funeral because I didn’t have a car.
Let me tell you, I was so worked up by the time I got there that I couldn’t stay to the end. I had to step away because I had so much emotion welling up inside of me from feeling left out.
I felt this huge wound — this abandonment wound, this belonging wound. It felt like no one really cared whether I was there or not, even though I had made all the effort to be at my uncle’s funeral.
I’ve also had other times where I experienced FOBLO… friendships that ended suddenly because of some kind of hurt or some kind of misunderstanding.
And a lifetime of those kinds of experiences can build up our FOBLO to the point where we stop trying to make friends because we don’t want to be hurt or rejected.
But there’s another way…
Radha says when you really start to address your wounds around FOBLO, you’ll eventually get to JOMO — the Joy of Missing Out 🙂
JOMO is what happens when you don’t say yes to every single thing that people invite you to because you’re following your inner compass. You’re choosing when to be social and when to be alone.
And I’m working on getting to JOMO.
I want to choose my life rather than react to things out of the fears and hurt that I’ve been carrying around over a lifetime of friendships and relationships that have come and gone for whatever reason.
So that’s my second big takeaway from Belong…
Really do that inner work of letting go and clearing whatever hurts and wounds you feel and if you ever feel like you’re being left out intentionally, talk about it to the people involved.
Share what you’re feeling. Don’t just sweep it under the rug and saying, “Well, whatever! I didn’t really care about them anyway!”
That’s what so many people do and it’s not going to heal the hurt and the pain and the wounds of feeling like you don’t belong.
Takeaway #3: How to Attract Fu$k Yeah Friends and Five Sense Friends
My third big takeaway from Belong is focused on energy. Radha explains how energy is contagious and how positive energy creates a positive community.
So high-energy friends are basically “fu$k, yeah!” friends and low energy friends are the shoulder shruggers 🙂
So fu$k yeah friends are people who say, “Hell yes!” and they’re enthusiastic and adventurous and open to trying new things. They’re very different from those who shrug their shoulders and say, “Whatever… maybe.”
And your ability to make REAL friends — the kind of friends you want to hang out with, the kind of friends who fill you with joy — is based on the amount of positive energy you put out into the world.
So I’ve decided to be a fu$k yeah friend and find fu$k yeah friends to be with because, let’s face it, there are way too many shoulder shruggers around!
They’re the ones who don’t seem to care about anything. They’re not helping anyone and they’re not making a difference.
They don’t contribute and ultimately… they get left behind.
There’s also one other category of friends Radha talks about — “five sense” friends.
These are your friends outside the Internet that you can do real world stuff with — like share a meal or go for a walk together.
Basically, you can feel and touch and smell and taste together.
So Radha talks about how important it is to cultivate five sense friends and how it’s easy to pretend that follower counts on Facebook or Instagram are real friends when they’re not.
And so my third big takeaway is this…
Know that your energy is contagious and how you’re showing up is the first step to being a fu$k yeah friend and finding awesome five sense friends.
And I have a bonus takeaway I want to highlight from the book… be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat is self-regulating and a thermometer is just an indicator of everything that’s happening outside.
So let’s aim to become a thermostat and really control our own state and our own energy.
Those are my biggest takeaways from Belong 🙂
Choose your family, choose your tribe and choose your community — where you truly feel like you belong.
Next, understand that we all have a Fear of Being Left Out — FOBLO — and really address the hurts and the wounds that are stopping you from making new connections and friendships and showing up fully.
Then, focus on getting out of FOBLO and into JOMO — the Joy of Missing Out — by making intentional choices about where you want to be and who you want to share your time with.
Finally, create positive energy so you can build real relationships with awesome “fu$k yeah” friends and five sense friends outside the Internet.
Have you read Belong? Share your biggest takeaway below 🙂
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