After some reflection and exchange of ideas around “belonging” vs “fitting in” with another colleague, these are my thoughts on how to differentiate them. It’s important to know the difference, because “fitting in” makes us more emotionally vulnerable. “Belonging” is less so.
I wonder if this rings true to many of you.
A sense of ”belonging” requires self awareness, self understanding, self compassion, and most importantly, self acceptance without the need for external acceptance, although having external acceptance would be more ideal for workability in the real world.
“Fitting in” requires external acceptance without the need for self acceptance, although having self acceptance would be more ideal for inner harmony/happiness, and psychological flexibility.
A sense of “belonging” is more of an internal experience. Whereas, “fitting in” is more of an external experience.
Not surprisingly, most of the patients I see struggle with the sense of “belonging”. I am sure that you share the same observation.
Helping our patients to have both “belonging” and “fitting in” is the real challenge isn’t it?