I have spent far too much of my life pretending to be comfortable in environments I am not - how about you? In the past, my professional trade-offs were around likeability, thinking that was the way to fill my desire for secure employment. “A relationship cannot be expected to fulfill all our needs; it only shows them to us and makes a modest contribution to their fulfillment.” (David Richo, How To be An Adult in Relationships, page 25). Truth bomb, you can be laid off even when your organization likes your work. Everyone needs to earn a living, so becoming attached to making relationships at work, work, is very human, but it doesn’t guarantee an organization can always afford to pay you. The ability to love yourself in your chosen field is what allows you to be resilient in a labour market that is often unpredictable.
...others cannot make you more secure, talented, or whole...
If you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin, you will never be made whole by the esteem and love (professional or otherwise) of others in your work. Even intimate partner relationships can only help fulfill 25% of our needs (another fact from David Richo’s powerful book). The rest comes from a network of interpersonal relationships you hold with family, friends, colleagues – and the majority of it coming from the relationship you hold with yourself. When you get your head wrapped around the fact that others cannot make you more secure, talented, or whole when you don’t feel that way about yourself, you have work to do.
...and leaned into the need to be at peace with myself...
In my case, when I stopped caring so much about others liking me (especially as that is not in my power), and leaned into the need to be at peace with myself (and doing the necessary work to make that happen), a beautiful thing happened. Others were more able to connect with me, allowing me to more easily build reliable relationships that support work I love. My gifts and skills are now more accessible to others, and as a result I am more employable in a greater number of contexts (and less reliant on any one employer).
Loving yourself in your own life and work is what empowers true belonging.
I fight the demons that tell me I am not enough every day. They live inside me, and may always be there, but now they are held “in check” through self-acceptance and a growing understanding of my needs and how to meet them. I now thrive without consistent affirmation from others in my work and, ironically, when I stopped seeking it, more consistent affirmation found me. Loving yourself in your own life and work is what empowers true belonging.
“To trust ourselves does not mean we can be sure we will face life without fear, attachment, control, or entitlement. To trust ourselves means that we surrender to being exactly who we are in each moment and that mindful awareness will kick in to show us an alternative to our ego habits.” – David Richo