Feeling the need to fit in, the need to please others, the need for validation, acceptance… The desire to be liked is an interesting phenomenon that goes waaaay back to times when we actually needed to be accepted in order to survive.
It’s interesting how some of these old, old patterns of behaviors from completely different eras still play a role in our behaviors today. I’d like to explore both the healthy and unhealthy expressions this desire to belong has in our current society. But first, let’s talk about how times have changed since then.
If you walk down the street alone today, you are most likely not going to be attacked and killed by a tiger, lion, or wooly mammoth. You’ll just walk down the street by yourself. No big deal. However, many, many centuries ago, it would have been extremely unsafe for you to go out alone. You would have needed the safety of a tribe way more than you do today. Being accepted and being part of a tribe equaled staying safe. Having a tribe often helped you stay alive.
Back then, it was imperative to be accepted. (I’ll get back to this in a minute.)
Now, we still like the feeling of being in a tribe. We still get an enormous amount from being part of a community. We thrive in community, actually. Human beings are not meant to be alone. If we were meant to be alone, we would have been biologically created to be alone. We would have all been born with the capability of reproducing without needing another. We would have all excelled at all the same brain functions. We wouldn’t need a person who was great a math, or a different person great at strategy, and yet another who is an amazing artist. We would have a level of excellency of these things within ourselves. Being part of a society, a culture, a tribe, a village allows each of us to enjoy the gifts that others have, and also to share the gifts we have. It’s super duper important. Working together creates a support system like no other. It’s one of the most beautiful things.
Today, you will survive even if you are not accepted into a tribe. It may be a little more challenging to thrive without that communal support, but you’ll be alright. I’m likely repeating myself here but I think it’s important to make that distinction of how acceptance once meant life or death, and now it does not.
But we still want to be accepted. We still have this deep desire to belong because it has been passed down through lineages for so many centuries now.
I’m finally getting to the point, folks, and the point is this: in this day and age, now that we do not need the protection of a tribe to survive, a shadow aspect of acceptance can sometimes show up. Feeling that we need to be accepted is different than simply enjoying being part of a community. When this shadow behavior is running the show, you’ll start seeing a lot of people pleasing behaviors that are out of alignment. You’ll start experiencing yourself agreeing to things that other people want you to do instead of what feels right and true for you. You’ll do inauthentic things just so you’re not alone and so you can be deemed “acceptable” by whatever tribe you are longing to be part of.
Tune in with yourself honestly.
There are behaviors that are healthy compromises, and there are those that are done because you want to feel accepted. Make sure you are making choices that are in alignment with who you truly are. There is a tribe that thinks and feels the way you do. If you haven’t found them yet, maybe they’re waiting for you to start the tribe yourself. As the old Rumi quote goes, “What you seek is seeking you.” Don’t settle. You are worthy of the best of everything. I love you.