Category Archives: self-esteem

Mojo Monday ~ My Body Is Magic

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“I like my body because it’s magic.” – 5-year-old Sofia (aka Lola)

Interrupt Magazine published an article that caught my attention.  Writer Marie C. begins by sharing a startling statistic.  “By the age of 13, 53 percent of girls say they are unhappy with their bodies. When were they happy?”

In order to find out, Marie C. photographed and interviewed girls between the ages of four and eight and asked them what they liked about their bodies. These girls share wisdom the rest of us have forgotten.


Sharing this article was already on my agenda for Mojo Monday.  Yet I took note last Saturday during a water aerobics class how many women were making critical remarks about their bodies.  Comments were made now and again that reflected how many of the women wished they looked different.  A part of me wanted to address the whole group and ask “How many women here like their bodies?” I had a strong intuitive sense that most of the women would not have responded positively.   


Consider the wisdom in the answers of these other young girls when they were asked what they liked about their bodies.



“I like my body. I like my eyes because they help me see different things. I also like my hands because they help me write different things. I also like my feet because they help me walk and have fun. My name is Jeniah and I’m 8-years-old!” – 8-year-old Jeniah



 “My whole body I love I love.” – 4-year-old Layla


“Something I like about my body is how fast I can run,
and how healthy I am.”
 – 9-year-old Lana


“I like that I can move with it. I like that eyelashes are long. I like that my skin is half white and half brown. I like that my hair can shake.” – 6-year-old Bayan


“I like my hands they help draw.” –  6-year-old Laila


“My body is magic because…
…of my bright green eyes that are soulful and shine.
…of my ability to float, glide and swim in the water like an otter.
…of my big smile that is warm and toothy.
…of my hands that can transform my creative thoughts into art and written words.
…of my strong legs and big traveling feel that support me well.
…of my arms that give comfort, bug hugs and serve a volleyball fast and hard.
..it provides me with the tools to live and love this life.”
 –  44-year-old Michelle Ida Fairchild

Now it is your turn.  
List some things that you love about your body.  
How is your body magic?
Take a self portrait.
The photo(s) can be your whole body
or of parts you particularly love.  

Lastly, be sure to embrace yourself as your own beloved.

Come learn more about A Beautiful Body Project
and watch this video for a very inspiring experience.






Mojo Monday ~ Am I Pretty

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My most recent article in the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is called Am I Pretty?
One of the quotes I ask readers to contemplate is from
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD:

“Destroying a woman’s instinctive affiliation with her natural body
cheats her of confidence. It causes her to perseverate
about whether she is a good person or not, and bases her
self-worth on how she looks instead of who she is.
It keeps her preoccupied , colors everything she does, plans, and anticipates.
It is unthinkable in the instinctive world
that a woman should live preoccupied by appearance this way
.”
Come read the complete article over at the
Cosmic Cowgirl’s Magazine by visiting this web link:

Mojo Monday ~ Mental Freedom

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“Because you don’t have time…you’re on this earth for a dash of time really, and then that’s it. 
And for some reason that reality and knowing that, it just changed everything.” 
~ Viola Davis


Viola Davis played the role of Aibileen Clark in the film The Help.  Davis won numerous award nominations for the role including a Golden Globe Award, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and an Academy Award.  In 2008 she had also received numerous nominations for her role in the film Doubt, that has also starred Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

She has been working as an actor for 20 years and has received other awards and recognition throughout her career. Yet in a talk with Oprah Winfrey she opens up about having battled low self-esteem for many years.  She also shares during the interview how she had to learn to receive love and how when she was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008 for the film Doubt she went through a mid-life crisis that led her to realize the only definition of success that mattered to her, was her own.

Here is the first clip where she talks about overcoming her low self-esteem.

Here is a second clip where Viola reveals why she didn’t feel fulfilled, despite the fact that her dreams were coming true.
Viola’s childhood was far from glamorous.  She grew up so poor that at times she knew what it meant to go hungry and her family lived in a condemned building that was infested with rats and roaches.  Despite her impoverished upbringing, Viola says, she learned to dream big from her older sister.  She credits those experiences for making her who she is today.  She shared in the first video how grateful she is for the simple things in life due to  her knowing what it is like to have so little.
What are your reactions to the video clips?
Do you feel you worry too much what others think of you?
Do the opinions of others affect you a great deal or not very much at all?
Would it bother you if someone didn’t like your writing, your art, your singing, your dancing or some other form of creativity that you were expressing?
Have you allowed criticism to hold you back from doing something that interested you or that you loved?
If you answered yes to any of these questions consider what these now well-known writers faced when they were trying to get published. Dr. Seuss faced over two dozen rejection letters before he realized his dream of being published. Classic books such as Lord of the Flies, Diary of Anne Frank, War of the Worlds, Animal Farm and The Time Machine all initially met with rejection from publishers.
How about these very successful and well-known public figures: “Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, ‘he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.’ After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.” “While today Steven Spielberg’s name is synonymous with big budget, he was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times. He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing. Thirty-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA.”
Could it be true that some of the funniest actors didn’t fair so well in the beginning? “Just about everybody knows who Jerry Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.” “Lucille Ball had thirteen Emmy nominations and four wins, also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors. Before starring in I Love Lucy, Ball was widely regarded as a failed actress and a B movie star. Even her drama instructors didn’t feel she could make it, telling her to try another profession. She, of course, proved them all wrong.”
Here is to following your dreams, writing the book that you will love to read, painting canvases that speak to your heart and express your soulfulness, singing those songs that lift you up, dancing that lets your spirit fly and be free, creating whatever that is inside of you yearning to be expressed, all because it makes you happy.

Here is one last clip of Viola Davis speaking about learning to receive love:


Mojo Monday ~ Loving Yourself

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Dr. Margaret Paul holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years.


Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages.

Dr. Margaret Paul and Dr. Erika Chopich

 After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, and together they created the Inner Bonding® process. They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years.


 Margaret shares that the number one problem in relationships is self-abandonment.  She explains how common it is for people to enter into a relationship with the belief that this other person is going to love them and will make them feel good, and make them happy.  They also often have high hopes that this other person will make them feel worthy and lovable.  The result of such expectations is that both people end of feeling very disappointed.  What often follows is that each person then wants to make their past, their partner, God and other things responsible for their unhappiness.  According to Dr. Paul and Dr. Chopich the key is to learn how not to abandon yourself and how to deeply love yourself.  They are very clear that if you do not love yourself you will not be able to love another in a healthy manner. 


When you heal the core shame of believing that you are not good enough, and create the vital connections which bring joy to life, you also heal self-abandonment. When you heal self-abandonment, you also heal problems with spouses, partners, friends, kids, family, co-workers, aloneness, emptiness, anxiety, depression and addictions.

Have you tried everything to feel good about yourself but you still experience feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy?

Do you turn to various addictions because you don’t know any other way of managing your painful feelings?

Self-abandonment, which comes from core shame, is the underlying cause of all these problems. Self-abandonment is the cause of disconnection from self, loved ones and Spirit. The practice of Inner Bonding develops the deep self-worth that creates inner peace, joy and loving relationships

Dr. Paul has written a series of books, has a series of DVD’s and the on-line program called Inner Bonding®.  Her books are as follows:


•Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?
•Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook
•Healing Your Aloneness
•The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook
•Inner Bonding
•Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids?
•Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?

 Here is an article by Dr Margaret Paul called When You Love Yourself, You Let Others Off the Hook


Do you believe that loving yourself is selfish? Discover why this is not true!


Frequently, when I start to work with a new client, they believe that loving their self is selfish. Nothing could be further from the truth. A more accurate definition of selfish is expecting others to give themselves up and do for you what you can and need to be doing for yourself.

Letting Others Off The Hook

How are others let off the hook when you love yourself? Let us count the ways!

• Others don’t need to read your mind when you are meeting many of your own needs, and asking outright when there is something you need help with.
• Others don’t need to hold back, be careful, or walk on eggshells when you are taking care of your own feelings.
• Others can receive great joy in giving to you when they don’t feel obligated.
• Others can speak their truth when they know that you are open to learning and wanting to grow. They can be honest when they know that you will deal with your own feelings rather than blame them.
• Others are free to take loving care of themselves when they know you are doing the same, and that you support them in their highest good as part of being loving to yourself.
• Others can be spontaneous with you, knowing that if they ‘make a mistake’ you will take responsibility for your own feelings about it.
• Others feel free to be with you because they want to, not because they feel they have to.
• In a primary relationship, your partner will likely feel attracted to you when you are coming from your power rather than from your fear. If your partner feels obligated to have sex with you because you have made him or her responsible for your happiness and sense of worth, your partner is likely to feel resistant to sex with you.
• Laughter, fun and play flow spontaneously when neither person feels responsible for the other’s feelings, or feels obligated to spend time, give approval or have sex.
• Each person feels free to pursue their passion and purpose, knowing that their partner is taking care of themselves and not waiting for the other person to make them happy.

Loving partnerships are about learning, growing, and sharing love and companionship. They are not about taking responsibility for making the other person feel happy, safe, secure or validated. Paradoxically, when you fully take on the responsibility of making yourself feel happy, safe, secure and validated, a loving relationship supports and enhances these wonderful feelings. But when you expect your partner to do this for you, then your self-abandonment creates your misery, insecurity and lack of self-worth. As long as you are abandoning yourself and expecting your partner to do for you what only you can do for yourself, your partner’s love will never be enough to give you the happiness, safety, security and sense of worth that you seek.

Loving Yourself Means….

• Attending, moment-by-moment, to your own feelings, so that you know immediately when you are abandoning yourself with self-judgment, addictions, staying in your head, or making someone else responsible for you.
• Compassionately opening to learning about your own fears and beliefs that may be causing your self-abandonment, and open to learning about what it means to be present and loving to yourself in the face of life’s challenges.
• Exploring your limiting beliefs and resulting behavior that may be causing your painful feelings.
• Opening to your higher self for information about the truth regarding your beliefs, and the loving action toward yourself.
• Taking loving action in your own behalf, based on truth rather than on false, limiting beliefs.
• Evaluating how you feel as a result of taking loving care of yourself.


Mojo Monday ~ Freeing Your Spirit and Dancing with Life

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A melancholy feeling had overtaken me.  My most recent music mix even took on a slightly gray hue of sadness.  I knew it was bad when spending some time in my artist room playing with paints and glue and glitter could not pull me out of my funk. In fact the funk grew deeper as the art piece I had envisioned and was attempting to create would not come together.  Instead of feeling pleased with the creative process I grew more frustrated because what I was seeing on the canvas was making me feel more mediocre than ever.  My woe-is-me attitude began to spiral into questioning my purpose and bemoaning that I don’t have a local women’s circle.  One way for me to try and short circuit the negative thought patterns is to pick a favorite book to read or take a bath.  Even better yet is to combine the two.  So that is exactly what I did. 

As soon as I was immersed in the hot comforting water I began to read from a well-read copy of Finding Joy: 101 Ways to Free Your Spirit and Dance with Life by Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD.  My spirit chose well that evening because the short excerpts in this particular book were so perfect for what ailed me. 

There are twelve themes in the book and each one has a multitude of topics within it. The twelve themes are as follows:
  1. Discover the Power of Joy
  2. Loving Yourself, No Matter What
  3. Tapping the Power of Your Mind: A Training Manual for the Brain
  4. Lighten Up: Finding Balance in a Crazy World
  5. Marvel At Your Amazing Body
  6. Reaching Out, Breaking the Rules: Tips for Making Life Easier
  7. When You’re Sinking Grab a Life Line
  8. Loving Your Body In Spite of It All
  9. Loving Children, Discovering Ourselves
  10. More years, More Wisdom
  11. Dancing with Life
  12. Joy to the World
Here are some excerpts for you to explore.

From Discovering the Power of Joy ~ #10 Allow Grief and Other Scary Feelings

One of the barriers to joy is a pent-up grief, sorrow, or anger.  Other barriers are the secrets we keep because we are ashamed.  Burying emotions and keeping secrets is like wrapping a shield around your soul that shuts out the smells of spring, the delicacy of touch, the softness of love.
It’s difficult to feel free and open when we’re congested with buried pain or rage or secrets. Joy flourished when we accept all of who we are.  This includes experiencing our feeling and clearing out guilt and shame by being honest. How can we ever know we are loved if we show only a little part of ourselves to others?…
In my work as a psychologist I frequently see people emotionally constricted by repressed grief and anger.  Over the years they become divided, detached or distant or turn to addictive substances or relationship.  Because the human psyche is a holistic system, to numb one part of our being is to numb the rest and create constant inner struggle.  I have worked with many couples who believe the love between them is gone. Often, after they open up and express their anger, hurt, and frustration, the love starts to return.  It feels like magic, but it’s not magic; it’s the power of our ability to shift to new states of consciousness as we unblock the illusions that come between us and our love…
So when we sob with grief over a loss, cry because we’re hurt, respectfully express our anger and frustrations, or tell our shameful secrets, we are freeing ourselves emotionally and physically, which makes room for joy.  This is a process that takes time.  We need to be gently yet remind ourselves that freedom comes when we stop repressing our feelings and honor the truths of our inner world.

From Tapping the Power of Your Mind ~ #30 Accept Yourself, Remembering and Forgetting.

You get on the path of exercising, saying affirmations, writing regularly, paying the bills on time, not criticizing your partner, and then…yikes!  You revert to old behavior.  You can’t seem to drag yourself out to exercise, you start carping at your partner, you gorge on food, In short, you forget to do all the things that are good for you.
One the path to joy, it is important to accept that we wax and wane like the moon.  We remember, we forget—and it’s all part of the dance.  We push through our fears, get organized, take a risk, then retreat for a while.  After a break, we once again push through inertia, and get going again.
Remember, you never have to do anything perfectly. Four affirmations are better than none.  Walking one a week is better than once a month.  Fresh vegetables three times a week is better than an unmitigated junk food diet…The important thing is to watch yourself play the remembering and forgetting game and be gently at all times.  How you fall of the path is part of the path.  It’s easy to love yourself when you’re winning.  The real test is maintaining that love on the tough days.  So keep remembering (until you forget) that it’s all drama, it’s all a dance, and it’s all okay.
From Reaching Out, Breaking the Rules ~ #48 If It’s Worth Doing , It’s Worth Doing Badly
Many people block themselves from undertaking new endeavors—from learning a language to taking up a sport or music lessons—because they are afraid of being clumsy and mediocre.  I suggest that clumsy and mediocre can be wonderful compared with burying one’s dreams and shrinking one’ life.  It is excellent for the spirit to be a beginner at something.  Being a beginner keeps us humble, helps us understand children, and can bring tremendous pleasure if we stop judging ourselves and just enjoy.  Better to a be a run-of-the-mill piano player than go to the grave regretting you never tried.
From Reaching Out, Breaking the Rules ~ #50 Stay Awake, Stay Aware—Learn from your Struggles
Sometimes we resolve to control a behavior and then find ourselves doing it again.  At 8 am we say we aren’t going to eat sugar and at 10 am we’re munching on a sweet roll.  We tell ourselves we shouldn’t spend more money and three hours later we’re ordering a new dress from a catalogue.  It feels like something driving us that we can’t control, but it’s usually a substitute for a deeper, underlying need. Lonely?  Eat.  Angry?  Seduce someone.  Ashamed of a mistake?  Blame someone.
The stay-awake-stay-aware approach helps you gain insight when you are going against your principles but can’t seem to stop yourself.  The basic principle is that by adding awareness to compulsive or addictive behavior you transform the behavior.

From When You’re Sinking, Grab A Life Line ~  #56. Connect, Connect, Connect

We have talked about feeling overwhelmed or feeling like a child.  Usually when children are upset they need to get rest, be held, be reassured.  There are several types of connections that can help us out of an emotional jam.  We usually need to do one or more of the following:
1)     Connect with feelings.
2)     Connect with another person.
3)     Connect with our spirit.
Connect with feelings.  When you suddenly feel disconnected, scattered, self-abusive, or nasty to others, it can be the result of repressing feelings about an event that recently occurred in your life.  Backtrack to when you first go off course.  Did you not stand up for yourself when you were angry with someone?  Did you feel misunderstood and not tell anyone?  Have you been rationalizing your feelings and need to be honest with yourself?….
Connect with another person.  When we’re in crisis or being hard on ourselves, making a connection with another person can reassure us.  No, we’re not unlovable to the core.  No, we’re no the only one who ever blew it.  Yes, other people care about us even when we get scared or make mistakes.  Talking with another person can bring back perspective on a situation.  The goblins in our mind get bigger in isolation….If you tend to tell yourself you shouldn’t bother people with your troubles or that you should figure it out on your own, you may have to push through shame to call someone.  But on the path toward joy, connecting honestly with another person and sharing your vulnerability is crucial…
Connect with your spirit.  Simply remember, this is drama, it’s not about your worth.  You are sacred, you are life.  You have the capacity for joy no matter how buried it seems at the moment.
When melancholy looms large in your life what do you do?
Did any of the excerpts shared spark something for you? 

Author Charlotte Kasl describer herself this way on her web site
“I wear the hat of psychotherapist, author, and teacher, but at my core, I am a peace and social justice activist. I believe the starting place for healing the planet is in our hearts and in the ways we practice respect, empathy, understanding and equality in all human relationships, including our relationship to ourselves.” ~ Charlotte Kasl

Charlotte has written a number of books.  One I have already read is called If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on A Spiritual Path. Her newest book that has yet to be released is called If the Buddha Had Kids: Raising Children to Create a More Peaceful World.  It is one I will read once it is released.

Have you read any of Charlotte‘s books?  If yes, do you recommend any?

The Chocolate Cabinet by Geneen Roth

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The Chocolate Cabinet
by Geneen Roth

A mother of an 8-year-old was desperate. “My daughter is gaining weight by the second,” she told me. “I am so afraid that I have passed on my troubles with food to her, and I don’t know whether to remove all candy from the house, take her to a doctor, or put her on a strict diet. Help!”

“What is your daughter’s favorite food?” I asked.

“Chocolate,” she said.

“Does high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes run in your family?”

“No,” she said.

“Is your daughter’s health good?”

“Yes.”

Desperation calls for radical measures, so I said, “On your way home, stop at the store and buy enough chocolate to fill an entire kitchen cabinet. In your kitchen, designate one cabinet The Chocolate Cabinet and fill it to overflowing with the chocolate you bought. Now, tell your daughter that this is hers and hers alone. Tell her that she can eat as much of it as she wants and that you will fill it back up when the cabinet gets even a tiny bit empty. Do not criticize her. Do not watch her with hawk eyes. And make sure that cabinet is brimming with chocolate. Wait three weeks, and then let me know what happens.”

She looked at me in disbelief. “Have you lost your mind? If I give Gracie free rein over chocolate, she will devour every single piece before I can get to the store and buy more. She will gain a million pounds. I will create a monster!”

“Try it,” I said. “Let’s see what happens.”

Fast-forward three weeks. The desperate mother says, “When I first told Gracie about the new plan, she didn’t believe me. She waited until I left the kitchen, and then she plowed through the contents of her cabinet before I could change my mind. I filled up that cabinet four times that first week (with gritted teeth, I admit). But when Gracie realized I was not going to criticize her and that I was absolutely serious about letting her have as much as she wanted, she ate less and less. By the second week, I only had to buy a little chocolate, and by the third week, none at all. She is more relaxed around food. She is losing weight. I am a chocolate-cabinet convert!”

Does this story (it’s true, by the way) make you excited? Slightly hysterical? Have you come up with 25 reasons why this wouldn’t work at your house? You are not alone.

However, while some of your reasons may be based on fact, most of them are about your own relationship to food and hunger and abundance, not your children’s. And here’s the litmus test: Ask yourself what would happen if you filled one cabinet with food you wanted but believed you’re not supposed to have. What would happen if you let yourself eat it without criticizing yourself? I can’t swear to this, but I bet you have (at least) 25 reasons why that wouldn’t work.

It’s not about the food. Although the chocolate-cabinet idea was radical, I was almost positive that what Gracie wanted wasn’t candy. She wanted her mother’s (positive) attention. She wanted her mother to trust her. But mostly, she wanted to believe in and trust herself, and only way she could do that was by first learning those skills from her mother. The drama around food and weight gain was the language that Gracie was using to communicate with her mother. The real issue is never the food.

My mother was a fat kid whose own mother took her shopping in the Chubby section of Macy’s. Growing up, my mother felt self-conscious, ashamed of her body around boys, clothes, socializing. Because she loved me and didn’t want me to suffer the way she had, when I was a kid she began watching what I ate, restricting certain foods from my diet, telling me I was getting fat.

How did the hawk-eye, restrictive approach work?

Not so well. In response, I began hiding frozen Milky Ways in my pajama pants, sprinting past my parents’ room and sitting over the trash can in my room eating the candy bars as fast as I could, ready to spit them out if my mother opened the door and caught me. I began feeling as if I needed to look a certain way for her to love me, eat certain foods for her to approve of me. And so I began living (and eating) a double life: When I was in front of her, I’d eat cottage cheese and chicken without skin. When I was out of her sight, I’d stuff myself with everything I wasn’t allowed to eat in her presence. Food became the language of our relationship. And although, as my brother often points out, I’ve made a career from the dysfunction that resulted, I would not recommend this path to anyone.

When I hold my online workshops, mothers from all over the world ask me questions about food and their children. Mothers from Montana and New Jersey, Thailand and Brazil all have the same concerns. They all love their children and don’t want to pass on their pain to their daughters (or sons); some of them have children who are already showing signs of starving themselves or stuffing themselves. They all want to know: How do I best love my child when it comes to food? What will help her the most? 

I tell them, “Attend to your own relationship with food first.” Be honest with yourself about what you actually believe. Do you believe you can’t trust your hunger? That if you really let yourself eat what you want, you’d start at one end of your kitchen and chomp your way across the country? Do you believe there is an abundance of what you need, want, love? 

After you begin exploring your own relationship with food, be mindful about what you communicate to your children. Deprivation, force, and shame do not ever, under any circumstances, lead to positive change. If you judge your children, if you create a moral standard about body size, if you withhold approval based on what they weigh, nothing good will come of it. They will begin judging their bodies, hiding their food, and defining their worth by what they weigh. 

And ask yourself this question: If you could fill a cabinet with anything — food, attention, time — what would it be? Chances are, it won’t be chocolate. Commit to being lavish with yourself with what you really need. As you do that, you will become a living example of self-care and trust and love. You will be who you want your children to become. Believe me, they’ll notice.

Geneen Roth has authored many books:

Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

When Food Is Love

The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It

Breaking Free from Emotional Eating

Feeding the Hungry Heart

When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair

Appetites — On the Search for True Nourishment

Why Weight? A Guide to Ending Compulsive Eating

Mojo Monday ~ Belonging

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This weekend I found myself contemplating belonging.  The subject came about from a personal experience where I felt completely out of place and also from a post made by a friend on Facebook about seeking the approval of others.

Wikipedia describes “Belongingness” in this way.  “It is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, or a sports team, humans have an inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. The motive to belong is the need for ‘strong, stable relationships with other people.’ This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity. The need to belong is the need to give and receive affection from others.”

The picture above makes me reflect on my own childhood and my trying to fit in with my sibling group.  There is even a photo of my five siblings posing together in their chorus outfits and I am running into the photo from the right because I want to be with them.  My older five siblings were all very close in age.  I wanted to fit in with the pack, but in some ways I never really could as a child.  My desire and need to fit in created a people-pleasing tendency that I carried into adulthood, as well as heightened my skills in asimilating into various groups of people.  This can be helpful at times and I did find myself with an eclectic group of friends throughout my twenties and most of my thirties.  It can become unhealthy though if you find yourself suppressing parts of yourself or your honest preferences and views in order to fit in with a group.  Truth be told if you speak up and share an unpopular opinion or if your lifestyle becomes incongruent within a group you can find yourself on the outside rather quickly.
The television show Glee continually takes on the subject matter of groups and belonging.  The show has taken to the extreme the various groups that exist in a high school setting, the jocks who throw the geeky kids in dumpsters and who also throw slushies in the geeky kids faces.  There are the cool cheerleaders, also know as the “cheerios” on this show, who also take part in putting down other kids. 

The Glee Club offers a place for those who have felt like misfits to finally belong.  Yet to fit in with this group you better be able to sing and dance.  Check out the video clip from Glee below.

Wikipedia goes on to explain how Psychologist Abraham Maslow suggested that the need to belong was a major source of human motivation. He thought that it was one of five basic needs, along with physiological, safety, self-esteem, and self-actualization. These needs are arranged on a hierarchy and must be satisfied in order. After physiological and safety needs are met an individual can then work on meeting the need to belong and be loved. If the first two needs are not met, then an individual cannot completely love someone else.

“Other theories have also focused on the need to belong as a fundamental psychological motivation. According to one contemporary viewpoint, all human beings need a certain minimum quantity of regular, satisfying, social interactions. Inability to meet this need results in loneliness, mental distress, and a strong desire to form new relationships.
One reason for the need to belong is based on the theory of evolution. In the past, belonging to a group was essential to survival. People hunted and cooked in groups. Belonging to a group allowed tribe members to share the workload and protect each other. Not only were they trying to insure their own survival, but all members of their tribe were invested in each other’s outcomes because each member played an important role in the group. More recently in Western society, this is not necessarily the case. Most people no longer belong to tribes, but they still protect those in their groups and still have a desire to belong in groups.”

“In order to be accepted within a group, individuals may convey or conceal certain parts of their personalities to those whom they are trying to impress. This is known as self-presentation. Certain aspects of one’s personality may not be seen as desirable or essential to the group, so people will try to convey what they interpret as valuable to the group. For example, in a business setting, people may not show their humorous side but they will try to show their professional side in an attempt to impress those present.”

“Individuals join groups with which they have commonalities, whether it is sense of humor, style in clothing, socioeconomic status, or career goals. In general, individuals seek out those who are most similar to them. People like to feel that they can relate to someone and those who are similar to them give them that feeling. People also like those that they think they can understand and who they think can understand them.”
There are even web pages devoted to showing photos of a group of people with one or two people who stand out because in appearance they don’t seem to belong, such as the image above. 
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you struggled to find things in common with the other people present?  If yes, how did it make you feel?
Have you ever had a friendship fade because your interests and views went in different directions?
Have you ever felt you didn’t belong?