Connections and belonging: sense of self (post 3 of 5)

While it’s important to connect with others – like we do when helping people, truly belonging means being true to yourself first. Having a strong sense of self means knowing what you value and what you can/will be flexible on and what requires sticking to your guns.

Brené Brown uses the acronym BRAVING when describing trusting ourselves, or others, and how to be both vulnerable and courageous:








You can learn more about Brené Brown’s teachings on vulnerability and bravery here.

When we have a sense of belonging within ourselves (being true to ourselves authentically) it is easier to have confidence in our connections (and have a sense of belonging) to others/in community.

Connection with self

When I was married to my children’s father I lost my sense of self. We went through some very difficult things that I never imagined would be repeated. And yet, it happened at least once more and was even harder the next time around. Partially because of my rocky connection to my own self.

The first time I was young and naïve and thought my marriage had to last forever. I honestly felt like I couldn’t live without him. I couldn’t imagine the thought of failing at my marriage. I went through a lot of reading and therapy around practising forgiveness. But I no longer felt like I deserved to be with someone who would never take action(s) that would cause me pain.

Taking inventory

It was only after our marriage ended that I started looking hard at myself and who I had become. I took the time to think about what had brought me joy in the past, and whether I was including it in my present. It turned out that I wasn’t. I started running and cycling again. I pulled out my camera and re-learned how to make great photographs. And I started writing again. I felt more like myself and was better able to deal with the death of my marriage.

I can’t recall how much of our relationship problems I had shared with my closest family and friends during the second half of our ten year marriage. I do remember feeling judged for making the decision to end things when I did. My family made an extra effort a relationship with my ex for the sake of our two children. I always had a difficult time with asking for help. But I remember one day going to my parents and asking them to consider what I needed, not just their relationship with the girls’ dad. I pointed out that my ex had the support of his own family and didn’t need to be supported by mine, especially at the expense of my own well-being. I just needed to know they were in my corner and accepted my decisions were what was best for me and my girls.

Social supports

The dissolution of our marriage was never easy. But it became much more bearable when I knew I was giving myself the time and grace that I needed. And that I could count on the social support of the people who were most important to me.

Who are the biggest supporters in your life? Can you be brave enough to share with them how you really feel and what makes you, you? Can you be vulnerable with them? Is it a reciprocal support going beyond a statement that they care? Who do you provide that social support to?

I challenge you to take a look at Brené Brown’s BRAVING inventory and consider what you can do to be both vulnerable and courageous with yourself.


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About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two