THE GIFT’S OF Imperfection. pdf

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“No. No. No. How can this be?”

Defining Love and Belonging

For years I avoided using the word love in my research because I didn’t know how to define it, and Iwasn’t sure that “C’mon, you know, love” as a definition would fly. I also couldn’t rely on quotes or song lyrics, however much they might inspire me and speak truth to me. It’s not my training as a researcher.As much as we need and want love, we don’t spend much time talking about what it means. Think about it. You might say “I love you” every day, but when’s the last time you had a serious conversation with someone about the meaning of love? In this way, love is the mirror image of shame. We desperately don’t want to experience shame, and we’re not willing to talk about it. Yet the only way to resolve shame is to talk about it. Maybe we’re afraid of topics like love and shame. Most of us like safety, certainty, and clarity. Shame and love are grounded in vulnerability and tenderness.Belonging is another topic that is essential to the human experience but rarely discussed.Most of us use the terms fitting in and belonging interchangeably, and like many of you, I’m really good at fitting in. We know exactly how to hustle for approval and acceptance. We know what to wear,what to talk about, how to make people happy, what not to mention—we know how to chameleon our way through the day.One of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing, and, in fact, fitting in gets in the way of belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us tochange who we are; it requires us to be who we are.Before I share my definitions with you, I want to point out three issues that I’m willing to call truths

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