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Integrated Belonging: Embracing Our Diverse Selves

I've heard it said by many wisdom teachers, that the goal is not to be "good" or fit in, rather is to fully embody and embrace that who you authentically are. This is the gift that is then given to the world, from an individuated and authentic space. This is the story of Jewish parable of Rabbi Zusicia.

The story goes as follows:

Rabbi Zusya, when he was on his deathbed, was said to have expressed his fears about the afterlife. He was not afraid that God would ask him why he wasn't more like Moses or Abraham. Rather, he said, "I am afraid that God will ask me, 'Zusya, why weren't you Zusya?'"

This story has been told in many different ways, all illuminating a core understanding, that perhaps this life is not about being good or bad according to someone elses beliefs or rules, but that you in fact, did come here to be YOU. That through your loving acceptance and integration of all you are IS the pathway to heaven. *This is the core of my coaching work, if you'd like to dive deeper HERE.

To be more of who you are, and less of who you are not is no easy task in a culture that is founded on out-dated models of tribal authority and homogenization. Bio-diversity (for earth, people, culture etc.) demands each living thing to fully embody what it actually is. Imagine a fern trying to be a cedar! How disappointing any efforts would be to change or 'heal' enough to become that which we 'want' to be, rather than shifting our focus inward and surrendering to being all that we already are.

It's actually much easier to be what you already are, than it is to try and be something else, someone else, that society has deemed is better or more worthy. The hard truth is, your belonging and worthiness have never been up for grabs, and deep within you is this current and connection to all of life that is begging you to finally allow yourself to be your strange, unique, radical self in a world that's losing it's sense of self more and more every day.

Imagine life as a vast tapestry, where each thread, each color, and each pattern plays a crucial role in creating the masterpiece. But in our rush for sameness, we forget the beauty of our diversity. We forget what our innate gifts may be good for, what our strange visions may be in service to, how our shortcomings may actually be part of our genius and purpose in the greater context.

True belonging, the kind that is innate and un-arguable, is all about celebrating this diversity and reclaiming all that is authentic. It's about recognizing that we need a rich mix of different voices, cosmologies, skills, and ways of being to truly thrive, both within ourselves and in the wild world around us.

A note on authenticity: The word "authenticity" comes from the Greek word "authentikos," which means "original" or "genuine." It is derived from "authentes," meaning "author" or "doer," and originally referred to someone who acted on their own authority or was the master of their own actions.

In this context, authenticity is not just about being honest or genuine but about connecting with the deeper, more archetypal aspects of the self. It involves peeling away the layers of social conditioning and external expectations to uncover the unique essence or soul of an individual. It means picking up the damn pen of your life, that you have a say, that you already know, that the genuine story of yourself is the better story.

Belonging isn't about just fitting into a one-size-fits-all culture; it's about the beautiful harmony of different expressions coming together, in service to a greater song that tells the story of our shared aliveness here on this beautiful planet earth. Just like a garden flourishes with a variety of plants (and weeds and bugs and micro-organisms), each contributing to the ecosystem, we flourish in an environment that values all the different ways we can be, express and ultimately evolve. We must learn our own unique soul-song as an offering to that great choir with which we are inextricable from.

Individuation is different than individuality, however.

Individuality is often associated with the qualities that set one person apart from others, and can often hyper-fixate on 'specialness' that invites a shadow of unbalanced self-focus and loss of connection to the context of the whole. It's about the traits, characteristics, and preferences that make someone unique. In a mytho-poetic context, individuality can be seen as the hero's distinguishing features, the aspects that make them stand out in a story. It's the surface level of identity, the persona that the world sees, which is important to make peace with, and not manipulate to be accepted or liked.

Individuation, on the other hand, is a deeper, more transformative process. It's a concept popularized by Carl Jung, referring to the journey of becoming aware of oneself, integrating different aspects of the self, and achieving a sense of wholeness - and yall know how much I like wholeness. To me, it's the deeper layer of our unique incarnate expression, that awakens purpose, meaning, and reclamation of the soul. Where as individualization is the hero, individuation is the hero's journey itself. It's the process of going through trials and tribulations, confronting inner demons, and emerging with a more integrated and authentic sense of self. It's about moving beyond the surface-level individuality to discover the unique essence that lies beneath, where the self makes exstatic contact with the the world that 'it' also is.

While individuality focuses on the external markers of identity, individuation is about the internal journey to self-awareness and self-realization. It's the difference between being defined by one's traits (hyper focus on the self as a product) and being defined by one's inner journey and growth (focus on the self as a function and service).

Our individuation is where we find the richness of our collective experience. When we fully embrace who we are, with all our unique quirks and qualities, we bring something truly special to the table. That's the heart of belonging - not just blending in, but adding our own unique masterpiece to the mix.

Belonging is NOT synonymous with 'fitting in' or 'being similar to'. From what I have studied and experienced, it is much more kindred to 'being in service, or connection to'. There is no more ownership, rather there is a holistic awareness that sees the self, as is (this part is HUGE! not the conditional self that needs to change or be better, that YOU that is already good enough), as an integral part of the whole ecology of life.

And on the note of self-love: Yes, it's very wise to evolve as human, to be loving and kind and educated and skilled. But too often the world tells us that we must change or be better BEFORE we can accept ourselves or individuate, and that's not true, I've lived it. The truer thing is that most often, through loving self-acceptance, all the things you wish to change or the ways you want to grow will actually happen much easier, from an energetic foundation of ease instead of shame and judgment. This is also the foundation of my work, just saying. We don't have to hate ourselves into belonging, and it won't feel good when you get there even if you do!

The health, resilience and generativity of our communities, just like natural ecosystems, depend on this ability to individuate. This is where rights of passage and initiatory work comes in real handy. It's about moving away from a narrow focus on ourselves as isolated individuals and seeing ourselves as part of a larger whole. It's about understanding that our well-being is tied to the health of the entire ecosystem, that there is a terrifying yet liberating reality of inter-being that challenging so much of our conditioning, especially here in the west.

So, in the end, true belonging is not about you as much as it is about us; it's a dynamic journey, constantly nourished by our diversity, emergence and our deepening acceptance of authentic selves. It's an invitation to embrace the reality of your being as is, to descend into the truth of who you are, and to add our unique thread to the ever-evolving tapestry of existence. In this symphony of belonging, every note, every voice, and every being is essential to the harmony of the whole.

Enjoy the journey of allowing all that you are to exist without judgement, so that belonging then becomes what it's always been - innate, easeful and already here.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!

And, if you need support in the crucial phase of self-love and acceptance, you know how to get ahold of me :)

With immense care and courage-


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Yesss! We truly grow when we realize we are but a drop in the infinite bucket, we are really one with all that is and being our most authentic self creates a synergistic raising of frequency and harmony for the whole planet/solar system/Universe! 🌟❤️🌟

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