Belonging is Limiting
By Colle Davis
Belonging to any group or organization means giving up some degree of freedom. The rules, guidelines, rituals, and restrictions keep you in line and under someone else’s control; they want your agreements. You are not crucial to their outcomes and goals, and they only want you for your money, time, talents, and as cannon fodder.
If you are still reading, think about what belonging means. In its most fundamental form, you belong to your parents for a few years as you develop your independence and freedom. That belonging kept you alive and growing. It was critical to your being here.
As an adult, as you make your way in the world, you get to decide what group you want to belong to and support. It may be a political party, a house of worship, a union, a joint interest group, or a community.
You pay fealty to their requirements, or you may not stay. That is their rule.
Belonging limits your choices. How does knowing this about belonging change how you feel about being a member of your chosen group(s)? Does it feel the same when you understand that you accept their choices and give up some of your independence?
Or maybe you need/want to belong because it is safe, comfortable, familiar, or fun.
Being independent means, you are free to be loving, caring, fun, funny, supportive, creative, and not under anyone’s control. Being in a group allows you the same ‘freedoms’ as long as you abide by their scripts. Expressing your differences with them may get you removed from their confines, punished, or worse.
- Agreeing with some of a group’s ideas does not make you part of the group.
- It means you agree with specific biases they hold.
- You are agreeing to behave in ways the group accepts.
- Your freedom goes away when you buy their package of biases (their strongly held beliefs).
What has to happen for you to have freedom and enjoy some of the benefits of a group? Join, see what you can get away with, and leave if their rules become too confining. Easy? No. Groups make staying valuable and make leaving scary.
“Be careful of using their model to model your life.
It doesn’t fit, and it was designed for them, not you.” – Paul Portesi
How much do you value your freedom and creativity? Only you can make that call. Religion is an excellent example of belonging and having to give up common sense, science-based thinking, and being around intelligent people. Most fraternal organizations are less strict about adhering to their rules.
An interesting group on rules is AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, where the rules are absolute, rigid, and forgiving. The funny part is many in AA’s are brilliant, creative, and successful people and have the most amusing, deprecating humor on the planet. My wife and I have several friends in long-term recovery, and we enjoy their company.
The organization you work for has a handbook of rules you must follow. They take great pride in letting everyone who listens know they are narrow-minded, petty, and ready to defend their silly rules. On the other hand, you may not be excited about some or all of their rules.
The scariest groups are the ones based on religion or are religion focused. Their beliefs are often nihilistic, rigid, and brutal, and they have no sense of humor. Before you get upset and scream that your group/religion is not that way, take a deep breath and tell me if the group accepts anyone into their world. Do they support all other beliefs and groups? “No,” there is your answer.
When you are ready to step away from your belongings, even thinking about it is traumatic. The break is often sudden, scary, and a huge relief. Leaving the group is not the end. They will pursue you with great vigor because your leaving threatens their commonly held beliefs, and if you do not have those same beliefs, you are dangerous to the group.
Stepping into freedom is much harder than most people think. The break requires knowing what you want for an outcome, accepting that you need/want more freedom, and you have put in place the resources necessary to step away.
“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” – Janis Joplin
Enjoying your freedom requires getting used to it. A friend of mine is going through a divorce. This process has been coming for five years or so, and it is amiable. There was not much trauma, but there were some scheduling adjustments for their ten-year-old daughter for school, whose turn for which house, and getting the locks changed. However, their freedom is confusing to both parties. The husband is a good friend of mine, and his confusion is sometimes hilarious because he doesn’t always have to push back on the ex. His relationship with his daughter has improved in ways he could not have foreseen, and they are both enjoying the freedom. He allocates his time to doing what he wants, what the house needs, and enjoying his daughter’s new freedom.
If you need help with any part of your version of this dilemma, contact me, and we’ll see how we can help you.
Contact me if you or someone you know needs help in these areas. I am a Senior Level Master Coach and Certified Hypnotist with nearly 40 years of experience helping corporate clients. Reserve your free thirty-minute Zoom call with me; your life will never be the same. 804-467-1536 EDT firstname.lastname@example.org