When You Don’t Want to Belong

Photo By Lillian Louden-Mosio

When you don’t want to belong, it might be because you aren’t belonging to yourself first.

Allow me to tell you a story.

Lately, I’ve been choosing to not spend much time online. Sometimes that wonderful soup of tweets, Facebook updates, and blog posts triggers a feeling in me of not doing enough. I am not creating the next big fantastic thing!!! I am not creating that next big thing fast enough!!!!  (exclamation points necessary)

My self-created negative story of not creating fast enough, big enough, is dangerous for me. If I focus on purpose or product too much when I create, I lose my mo-jo and can careen into a blue funk of depression. I have dealt with depression most of my life so I do everything I can to stay healthy.

I am a depression warrior queen!!!! (exclamation points necessary)

Thus I find myself needing to not belong for a time, to heed the call of silent sovereignty, to find my center again.

I have also noticed during this time of not belonging some places how completely I want to belong to the Creative Joy retreat.

I can’t wait to belong to the wholeness of this creative tribe. I already feel the circle forming. It’s a living being. I see us each taking our place along the rim. It feels so good!

So I ask myself: Why do I want to belong at the retreat but not online?

The answer comes quickly: Because I will belong to myself at the retreat. To be an effective retreat convener, I must belong deeply to myself first. That is my job, my main role, and knowing that brings me home to myself at the same time it serves others. (Savor & Serve)

The take-away::

Belonging starts with you and perhaps it’s not always possible to feel you belong to yourself – sometimes you’re heartbroken or exhausted or you have abandoned yourself in comparison or you have thrown yourself hard at a project that has failed and then you might need to not belong, for a time, to find yourself again.

If this ever happens to you, with your family or your office mates or your neighbors, I hope you will give yourself time to rest, to turn within, to listen, without thinking less of yourself.  When I dance, sometimes the teacher says, “Dance with your partner but stay connected to yourself.” That is hard and rich and wonderful and sometimes, to do that, we have to leave, go quiet, not belong.

Then we will find, blessedly, that when we belong to ourselves, we belong everywhere.

P.S. I will dedicate the merits of the Creative Joy retreat to all of you. Please consider taking some time this weekend for your own creative joy retreat. Even an hour or two of creativity for creativity’s sake will be so very nourishing. Know that you belong with us even if you can’t be there in person.

P.P.S. I am attending the World Domination Summit in Portland July 6th-8th. This brings up many issues for me about belonging. If you are there, and feel yourself not belonging for whatever reason, sidle up along side me and say hi. We can remind each other to belong to ourselves first. Okay? Okay!!!!!!


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Debra Eve - June 27, 2012

I suffer from that “not-belonging” feeling often with social media. It’s definitely not an introvert’s safe place. But I counter it with your lessons, Jen — never ever compare and always set conditions of enoughness. I admire your courage in going to World Domination Summit — the name alone scares me! Thank you for this.

Sonya - June 27, 2012

Wow.. your words ring very true for me right now. I am on the tail end of a divorce/property settlement that has been going on for 18 mths now. It’s exhausting. Athough I have a new relationship in my life now it is not going well and I feel has run it’s course…however I am unable to find the words “it’s over” when I am around him.

For 3 weeks now I been retreating inwards… wanting to just be alone in solitude. I spend my days around my current partner barely speaking a word.. nose buried in books… escaping for long hot baths or rides around the city. I long to just be alone but I am concerned I am running away from things and not facing what is in my life. Your words touched me… I am in this space frequently of late.

deb - June 27, 2012

Your psychic powers show themselves again. I’ve been in a trough of depression recently – took a while to recognize it for what it was – and for the first time ever, am not fighting it, not resisting, not railing against it. I’m gently moving from now to now, noticing what I need,  unscheduling just about everything, and responding to myself first. Thanks again, Jen.

Junkies Rising - June 27, 2012

THIS!  Having this very same insight this week is what inspired my upcoming mass deletion of all my Facebook *friends.  I’ve not done it yet, because I need to make a list (always, always, always with the lists 😉 )… there are new faces that I want to keep around… they are the people that I want to belong with.  The ones that are going… not so much.  It’s a huge exercise in letting go for me, letting go and embodying “It’s none of my business what anyone thinks about me”  
Totally feeling this post, Jen, thank you love

Love, Light, & Gratitude

owlsdaughter - June 27, 2012

Thank you for this.. As always, your timing is astonishing and impeccable.

Bless you for the reminder that belonging to ourselves can get lost. I needed the reminder that the spaciousness to reconnect may be, not a group project, but an intimate, private, and deeply necessary journey we must make alone. 

A retreat for myself is now scheduled – in ink!  (I love, love, love using your book for these!).
 ~ Beth

Tara Noelani Correll - June 27, 2012

Thank you for this Jen! I too am at my very best for myself, friends and family, when I pull back and go inward on an as needed basis. This is a great testiment of an action, where there should be no explanation or apology required. I will look for you at World Domination…it’s been years. You’re a wonderful person!

Sharon - June 27, 2012

Damn, Jennifer, you were inside my head again! I have often wanted to create some kind of post or essay on the theme of “don’t follow me on FB or Twitter; if we’re all following, how can we find our way?” or along those lines. It is soooooo easy to feel you are not CREATING THE NEXT GREAT THING!!!! and so much of marketing for coaches and wellness entrepeneurs is focused on that. All I really want to do is connect with people I can genuinely serve and support, and stay as sane as possible in the process. Writing helps. A trip to a local park with cool waterfall is feeling imperitive today. Moving my body to music is pretty darn important. Creativity for the sake of the sheer joy of expression and surprise is balm for the soul…

Mia McLaughlin - June 27, 2012

Thank you, thank you, thank you for validation and articulating so beautifully the reason I have found myself withdrawing from groups and activities the last 6 months that haven’t been “feeding me” anymore and been draining rather nourishing. I have felt a little guilty stepping away from these things but I am letting go of that guilt and will choose to re-engage when I can, or not. 

So bummed that I couldn’t get a ticket to the World Domination Summit, have a fabulous time.

Kimberly Ramsay Stromgren - June 27, 2012

Just recently I have decided to take a loooooong break from facebook. Before I go, I’m asking my friends (the ones who are interested) to send me their mailing addresses, because I’m going to start sending hand-written notes to people instead of clicking and scrolling. I hadn’t thought about this action as me belonging to me, but it does support my true self, and I can’t wait to start writing! 🙂

CoachSherrill - June 27, 2012

Oh, thank you for this post!  Sharing your insights has helped me put a name to a few things I’ve sensed, but couldn’t figure out because they would disappear when I looked directly at them. 

I’m volunteering at WDS, and have been pondering how I want to show up. The two sides of my coin are that I know being in service to fellow tribe members, and so much energy and excitement all in one amazing space, is going to be fulfilling and open me up in ways I can’t expect.  The flip side is how to take care of my Highly Sensitive self in the midst of great transition who wants more time in the cave in the mountains.   And then I get impatient that I haven’t “handled this” yet, and keep struggling with it because I would rather be done and move on. Hmmm….wonder why it keeps showing up? 🙂

Lisa Kewish - June 27, 2012

Like many who have commented…I am right in the middle of this ‘personal retreating’ exercise. And I read your post JUST IN TIME as I was beginning to think myself cold and unconnected.

Well, yes. I was cold and unconnected from my SELF and my SELF was getting grumpy about not getting attention.

Yes…unplugging and not scheduling my calendar with lots of STUFF in order to feel cool and connected.

Me time in a big way.

I thank you.

Patty Bechtold - June 27, 2012

This so resonates for me today. For a long time I’ve purposely opted out of social media but sometimes I think it could be fun, a different kind of belonging. So lately I’m considering jumping in. But every time I get close I’m stopped by the shoulds/musts/have to’s that surround it. There’s so much of that out there. But the other day it hit me…screw that! I can experiment and do it my own way. Kind of like the only way I can do it is to belong to myself first, then see what other kinds of belonging flow from that.

Love what you say about coming home to yourself as a retreat facilitator. I facilitate a weekly women’s creative wisdom circle and it is one of the greatest places of belonging I’ve ever experienced, both within myself and as part of this sisterhood of women.

    jenlouden - June 27, 2012

    Patty belong by following your own rules – screw everybody else’s. And your circle sounds so sweet and strong!

Annegregson - June 27, 2012

Oh, Great Timely One! This week I’ve been feeling that dreaded out of balance almost-panic that I’ve overcommitted. Once again. Feels like back pedaling. But I did take notice, then came home and took my own advice and figured out one thing to do that I absolutely ADORE. Something I’d back burnered. I sang! For an hour!!! Crappy guitar accompanying skills keep me from doing it. So I finally just put the guitar down! (Now to find cohorts who play….) What a dramatic shift. Thank you for solidifying the action with your post!!!!!

    jenlouden - June 27, 2012

    yes! singing with you!!

Christa Gallopoulos - June 28, 2012

Jen, I wrestle with this constantly.  You’ve seen it in action.  I spent so long disconnected from myself that, often, all I want is to be with me.  And yet?  Like every human being on earth, I want to belong to the greater body of beings.  It’s like the tides… that great a pulling, a drawing back and surging forth.

Thanks for putting it out there, and I will be with you this weekend, and in Taos, in some way…

More metta…

Shaanenc - June 29, 2012

Jen, I feel such a kindred connection to you when you write so openly and honestly and fearlessly about where you are (and where you aren’t).  I too struggle with the not belonging on social media and of course the ever present urgency of do-do-do-now-now-now-before you are obsolete.  Getting into this cycle for me leads me to the last blog post about feeling sleepy.  I don’t want to be a cookie cutter of everyone else out there, I really want the mark that I make to be Shaanen-shaped.  And although I am working towards finding out how big (and consistent) that is, I want to partner it with balance, self- care and a healthy dose of enoughness.  

Kristizod - June 30, 2012

When I was a little girl I was a Brownie. We did crafts and ate cookies after school and all was well.  When we grew a little older, we became Girl Scouts. So, I donned my green dress and marched off to a meeting. All was not well. Now they wanted us to memorize a pledge and commit to doing all sorts of community projects. At the ripe old age of eight, I had my first rebellious feeling. I did not like the “group-think” aspect.  It felt like a cult to me. I had other plans for myself, which included homework, playing with friends after school, eating ice cream while watching talk shows and riding my bike; and all this Girl Scout stuff was encroaching on my personal agenda. I did not want to belong.  So, I quit.
Anyway, this feeling of not wanting to belong has followed me through the years and extends to things like not wanting to belong to a single political party because I do not like being lumped together with people whose views don’t really resonate with me. And while I am outgoing and gregarious, I am also quiet and hermit-like. So, while I enjoy having friends, and I don’t welcome rejection, I also do not like being too tightly enmeshed in a single group of friends. I like to orbit around sometimes. 

Samantha Jenkins - July 1, 2012

I too can get into feeling that either I don’t or I don’t want to belong online …I’m relatively new to this virtual world and find myself feeling alienated by the push and shove (and sometimes shallow) limelight I sense in some of the ‘big’ blogging world …I too find my sense of self spiralling at the vast and slick productivity I witness …I lose my Self and my centre as my ego brain goes compare, compare, compare. Thanks for the reminder to dance with others whilst remaining connected to myself. Oh how easily I have let mySelf go. Hope all goes well with the retreat.

Something Good « A Thousand Shades of Gray - July 2, 2012

[…] When you don’t want to belong from Jennifer Louden. Have I said lately how much I adore this woman? I’m hoping at WDS to have the chance to tell her, (hopefully without freaking out, or throwing up on her shoes). […]

Jamie Greenwood Dougherty - July 3, 2012

I love this post!  I too get on the “I’m not doing enough!!!” bandwagon and it immediately sucks my creative juices bone dry.  Not fun.  When I give myself much needed “Jamie time” is when I reestablish my equilibrium and the creative goodness flows again.   Thanks so much for sharing.  I’ll be at WDS next year so I’ll be sure to sidle up to you then.  Much love!

Melissaiquintero - July 9, 2012

I feel butterflies in my stomach when taking decisions. when dating , and feeling pressure from the other person to the point, I dont want to belong anymore to that person.. And belong just to myself..  I am observing myself , observing my behavior and being kind w/ myself.  Is the only thing I can do , when feeling small 🙂 

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