The Art of Belonging

by Barry Kerr and Kristine Gay

Do you ever feel like a “stranger in a strange land”? Given all the craziness on planet Earth, it might be comforting to know you don’t belong here, like maybe you come from a more functional alien planet. That would explain everything, right? Yet, even if that were true, you’d still be feeling a bit alone, like an outsider who doesn’t belong.

It’s a common feeling for most of us, one that comes and goes. Even surrounded by friends and family we can feel alienated and alone. The goodhearted intentions of those around us just don’t seem to meet the deep and meaningful connections for which we long. This can show up in any number of ways. A political conversation can feel flat and go awry because the other people seem to lack a vision for what is possible and become pessimistic. We might share a deep and personal spiritual insight with a close friend or family member, only to find they cannot comprehend it, or perhaps even dismiss it. It typically involves choosing to keep a positive mood and conscious outlook when those around you fall into cynicism, blame and complaint.

For those of us striving to spiritually grow and evolve and apply our life lessons to change the day-to-day quality of our lives, the above experiences can happen frequently; it’s inherent to being in this world. However, there comes a time to notice whether these types of life flattening non-connections with those around us have become the dominant norm in our life. Do our dear old, lifelong friends and family really “see” us anymore? Or do we have to sort of step down the frequency of our thoughts and feelings in order to maintain some kind of familiar bond? Would they tolerate us if we expressed who we really authentically are?

It’s a basic principle of human energy dynamics that people who think more positive thoughts and choose more self-responsible feelings tend to unintentionally provoke discomfort in less positive people around them. Misery loves company, they say. And one of the ways our culture buys into that notion is by confusing compassion and empathy with collusion and commiseration. Most of us were taught that to be a good friend or loved one means that when our friend is whining and complaining, our role is to join in. Try offering an enlightened and consciousness-raising perspective at such a time and we’re likely to be accused of not caring or worse, being a traitor. We’ve probably all been on either side of that equation and an occasional lapse can be harmless. However, when it becomes an ongoing pattern that defines the relationship(s), perhaps it’s time to question the relationship. Does it serve either party anymore?

Virtually everyone who journeys toward living more consciously is going to reach one or more times in life when we have to question all of our closest relationships. If we are to take charge of the quality of our life, we must be willing to let go of or diminish all of our closest relationships. Family may require some contact, but we must redefine and create new boundaries. Friends, on the other hand, are our family of choice, so it’s up to us to choose. It doesn’t require an absolute end. We can continue to love and care about our people, just not give them as much time and attention. If we still spend some time with them, but remain true to our self, they may lose interest in spending more time with us. Happily, sometimes old friends and family grow in the same direction as we do, and the relationship evolves.

Making these powerful choices is really the best way to love and respect others. Sometimes it feels sad to end relationships, but when we do it, we open ourselves to new ones, and if we are then living our lives more authentically, more consciously, we attract similar souls. With these news friends, we share a common vision and thus feel more seen, more understood. As we surround ourselves with kindred spirits, we begin to feel once again that we belong, perhaps still in a strange world, but not as a stranger.

Barry Kerr, an evolutionary astrologer and certified life and relationship coach, and Kristine Gay, a licensed psychotherapist, own Choose Conscious Living in Madison. Both have extensive training in soul-guided healing of mind, body, heart and spiritual systems. They offer healing, coaching, therapy, mindfulness and astrology services for singles, couples and groups. For more information, visit Call for a free consultation and questions.

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