“I don’t belong here” can turn into “I’m right where I belong”. But how? Start with thinking about the last time you did feel like you belonged. What were the circumstances? What thoughts did you have? Why is now any different?
Listen in to Learn:
- How to fit in…
- Why is a sense of belonging is vital to life.
- How to create a sense of belonging today.
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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you’re listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 98. I feel like I don’t belong. Hey, I’m Jennie, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again, it’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast, the LDS mission podcast, where you get mental and emotional tools to handle anything that comes your way on the mission, or after the mission, or before the mission. Or if you’re a missionary Mom, I’m here to help all the LDS missionaries and their families create the mission experience that they want. And that is super fun work to be doing. So thank you for being here. Thanks for supporting the podcast. Thank you for your reviews, we gave away some fun amazon gift cards in the month of April, a drawing every single week for people who wrote reviews, and then the second week in May. So next week, I’m going to announce a winner. And I’m going to compile all of the reviews, all of the people that have written reviews on Apple podcasts, and I’m going to draw a winner and that person is going to get free 10 session package with me. So tell all of your friends, if you know a missionary who’s leaving, who could use some mental and emotional tools, send in my way, if you are a mom, and your missionaries coming home soon, and you want to get them some help in that transition, go and just write a review. It’s pretty simple. Yeah, and I will be announcing that the second week of May. So congratulations to all the people that went to Amazon gift cards, and I can’t wait to draw another name for the program sessions for free 10 of them, it’s going to be amazing. This week, we’re going to talk about belonging. And actually, you know, periodically, I have shared with you guys some of the stuff from the Relief Society lessons that I teach on Sundays. And I want to do some of that here, because I think some of the stuff was so powerful for missionaries, and for even stuff with your roommates, whatever it might be going on for you right at this exact moment. And so some of the stuff that was shared in that conference talk was just super amazing and super powerful. And it’s from D Todd Christofferson ins talk in last conference, October 2022, called the doctrine of belonging. And, again, there’s just some amazing things in here. And so I want to be able to share you share with you some of those things. I want to start though by telling you a story, which is, when I was in high school, I actually tried out for the High School Musical. When I was a senior I was in the musical when I was a junior and then I tried out when I was a senior now. I remember sitting in that auditorium, as girls were trying out and here’s the thing is, I was a decent singer. But back then I just didn’t have the confidence. And so what I was doing was I was sitting in that padded auditorium watching all of these other girls try out for the lead in the musical. And what was amazing about them is they could sing the high A, so not just the A above middle C but the high a and if you’re singer, a singer or a soprano, you will know which a I’m talking about. And this particular musical, I had done all my research. It’s called The Fantasticks if you’re interested, I had done all my research and listened to all of the music and this particular musical had so many high A’s. And what they were doing is they were having a scene, this song that had like high a after high a after high a after high a, I’m sure because they wanted to know whether we could hack it or not. Well, I’m watching these two girls, Julie fry and Sonia Parmalee. I’m watching them and they’re just killing it on those high A’s. And I’m just sitting there I’ve got my jean jacket like draped over the back of that auditorium seat. And I’m funny that jean jackets are in style again now. But I had that jean jacket sitting there, and I was leaning against it. And I just had this thought, in my mind, I don’t belong here. Like, there’s no way I can do this, I don’t belong here, those girls are so much better than me, they can flawlessly sing those high A’s. And then there’s me, who is nervous, who is overwhelmed, and not feeling confident, I just don’t belong. So I would love for you to take just a minute. And see if you can think of a time in your life where you feel like you didn’t belong. And that might be happening right now, actually, you might feel like, you don’t belong Well, in your companionship, in your district, in your zone. In your mission in general, you might feel like you don’t belong in your apartment, you might feel like you don’t belong in your family. There’s a lot of places that you might feel like you don’t belong. So I’m just going to give you a minute to sort of think first of all of a time when you felt like you didn’t belong. And my guess is something comes immediately to your mind. And then I want you to think of a time where you did feel like you belonged. I want you to kind of think about, like, what was going on? What was the situation? What kind of emotions were you feeling? So so just keep those two stories in mind as we kind of go through more of this talk by D. Todd Christofferson. So the question, one of the questions I have is, What does belonging mean? I actually looked it up, I was like, is belonging, a noun is belonging a verb? What is belonging. And what I found was, it could be considered a noun, like I have all of these belongings, right in my home, that are mine, or my scriptures are one of my belongings, or my wedding ring is one of my belongings, that would be a noun. But also, it’s a verb, meaning belong to I belong to something, I actually also looked up kind of the origin or the history of the word belong. And one of the things that I found was, it’s a form of B, and then dash longyan, which means to stick with or be together for a really long time. So if you think back to those experiences, when you think I don’t belong here, what are some of the emotions that you feel when you think that thought? I know for me, when I was sitting in that auditorium, I was feeling insecure, I was feeling sad. I was feeling isolated, I was feeling lonely. Those are some of the emotions you might feel too when you think I don’t belong here. On the other hand, what are some of the emotions that you might feel? If you think I belong here. Maybe you feel content, or peace, or calm, or one of the ones that I love that the sister has mentioned, in my word was, I feel safe, when I think I belong. Now, here’s the interesting thing about belonging is it’s actually a physiological psychological thing that our brain needs.
8:52 So that lower brain that I talk about a lot here on the podcast, is constantly kind of on the lookout, comparing ourselves to other people to make sure that we fit into quote, unquote, the tribe. Because if you think about back in the day, we were reliant on our quote, unquote, tribe to stay alive. So our brain even now that our society is more evolved, still is constantly looking around, like, do I fit in here? Do I fit in here? Do I fit in here, I need to feel like I belong, so that I don’t kicked, get kicked out of the tribe. Because to your brain, getting kicked out of the tribe means death. So it in a very real sense, your brain sees belonging as life or death, which I think is super good to know. So anytime your brain is offering you thoughts about whether you belong or not, you can just create a little bit of space and a little bit of work of awareness around that and be like, Oh, it totally makes sense that my brain is worried about this. The other example I like to use is if you’ve ever watched Animal Planet, or Disney nature or anything like that, if you were in a group like say, like we were watching that, and there was a group of gazelles. And then all of a sudden we see this cheetah come along, and it’s about ready to find its prey. Right? Tell me who is the gazelle that gets eaten? Right? It’s usually the slowest one, the smallest one, the weakest one, it’s usually the one that sort of doesn’t belong. And so that is why our brain is constantly scanning, scanning, scanning. Do I fit in here? Do I belong here? Do other people see that I belong. It’s actually a psychological phenomenon. One of the things that Elder Christofferson said was that belonging is important to our physical, mental and spiritual well being. And I totally agree with this. I 100% agree with this. So here’s the question I have for you on this podcast. Do you get to choose if you belong? Is it up to you? So in other words, we could ask it in the first person, what I want you to ask yourself right now, do I get to choose if I belong? Is it up to me? And let’s talk a little bit more about some of this other stuff. And and then by the end, I want, we’re going to ask that question again. Okay, so, Elder Christofferson talks about three aspects of belonging. He said that the doctrine of belonging has three parts. Number one, the role of belonging in the gathering of the Lord’s covenant people. Number two, the importance of service and sacrifice and belonging. And number three, the centrality of Jesus Christ to belonging. So what I actually did, and if you guys think this would be fun, I don’t know. Lately, I’ve been taking conference talks and kind of making like graphs out of home, and like trying to organize them in a way that my brain makes sense. And I sort of made these like boxes. And there’s one box that says this prevents belonging, and this creates belonging. And then across the top, I said, for others and for myself. So instead of reading you all of the things from this conference talk, I’m just going to list a few of them that I came up with. So here are a few things that prevent belonging for others. So when and these are all like direct quotes, from Elder Christofferson talk. And also, he told some stories in there. Like, I don’t know if you remember the one where he talks about the woman who was struggling with infertility and how she felt really sad after I don’t remember if it was a Relief Society lesson or gospel doctrine lesson. I think it was Relief Society actually. And so all of these things aren’t just stuff I made up. It’s all directly like highlights that I took from the actual talk. So if you were interested, you could go and do that to like highlight. This prevents belonging, and this for others, and this prevents belonging for myself. So number one, preventing belonging for others is when we impose expectations on them. He also said when we communicate in subtle ways that the worth of a soul is based on achievement or callings. You guys know I talk about this a lot. If you are confused about this, go back and listen to do versus be the Easter edition. Podcast. It was a few weeks ago, right before Easter. Another thing that prevents belonging that he mentioned was having assumptions about people also having just one perspective on something, and also only seeing people’s outsides. So I thought that was interesting ways that we prevent belonging for ourselves, is when we think we don’t fit in, we feel like we’ll never measure up. We impose similar expectations that we have or other people we impose on ourselves, when we’re not sharing or being vulnerable about what we’re really feeling. And then he says when someone concludes that they don’t belong, because they don’t meet a certain standard. Okay? So I don’t know if any of those resonate with you, but all of those things prevent belonging. Now, what are some of the things that create belonging in the gathering of covenant people, okay. In his so basically gathering, covenant people was his number one aspect of the doctrine of belonging. So he said Creating belonging comes from diversity, no racism, tribal prejudice or other divisions. He also said to be one, he said to look on the heart, care about others, people’s desires and longing, ministering to all people, leave judgment in the hand of the Lord, treat others the best way we can. He talked about asking our Heavenly Father to show us how to treat other people. He said, to root out prejudice and discrimination in the church homes and hearts. I love this part. One of the things he said for fostering belonging and other people is to welcome he says, our welcome must grow more spontaneous and warm. I love just spontaneous as fun, because we kind of have to go with the flow like oh, okay, and it has to be spontaneous and warm. And then he says, and then everyone has a voice, and listen to all perspectives and see all of the perspectives as valid. So that’s some of the things we do for others to create belonging, and then some of the things we do for ourselves to create belonging is we look on our own hearts, instead of at the things we do, except our own desires and longings, we choose to belong, we can see a bigger picture and decide that we are welcome. treat ourselves the best way that we can, we can also ask Heavenly Father, how that we can love ourselves more and create more belonging for ourselves, and being open and sharing other’s perspectives. Now, I love all of this stuff. And what I want you to know what’s super interesting moving forward, is that was just the first part. And the first part that he talks about in the talk, he talks about how we create belonging for others, and how we create for ourselves. But listen, you guys, the rest of the whole talk, had nothing to do with how we create belonging for other people. The other two aspects of belonging that he talks about, all have to do with us and how we create our own belonging.
17:25 So again, I made sort of like this little graph, how we prevent belonging for ourselves in the way of service and sacrifice, because that was number two, is the role and the importance of service and sacrifice and belonging. So one of the ways we prevent that for ourselves is excessive focus on our own needs, waiting to be ministered to. And he talked a little about about anything difficult is a form of oppression. Okay, so some of the opposite things of this ways to create belonging, as far as the importance of service and sacrifice go, again, not how to create belonging for other people. But how to create belonging for ourselves is we make sacrifices for others in the Lord, we reach out to help another person, we accept difficulties as a normal part of life. You guys, I know I talk about all of that. I talk about that all the time on this podcast, the 5050 rule that this is just a normal part of being a human. And then he also says, understand that difficult teas can cause us to be patient, kind and loving. So just accepting all of that not as a form of oppression, but as a way and a means to transform us and make us more evolved caring, open individuals. So isn’t that interesting, though, is this second part and then again, the third part, we have to decide for ourselves and create our own belonging. So again, with the third aspect, let me read it to you again, the centrality of Jesus Christ to belonging. So some of the ways that we would prevent this would be to believe that we are in the church for fellowship alone. And one example I have of this is sometimes I hear women complain, like, Oh, I’m just in the nursery. I’m just in primary. I’ve just been here so long, so no one can fellowship me. And I’m a little bit like, you know, what, is that why we’re here? And, and fellowship is part of it. But what he’s saying is that we start to believe that we are in the church for fellowship alone. He also says that sometimes we can prevent our belonging within the central role of Jesus Christ, when we have these high hopes that discourage us, instead of inspiring us. And then another way is when we think that the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His matchless power doesn’t apply to us, that some of the ways we can prevent belonging again for ourselves, within this framework of the central role of Jesus Christ. The ways that we can create belonging for ourselves within this framework of the central role of Jesus Christ is we can, and again, these are all things that were right in this talk if you want to go find them. That we go to church, and we believe in our church, because of the redemption, that we gain through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. We joined for the ordinances, we joined to establish Zion. He talks about how covenants that that connection that we make in our covenants, creates a deep sense of belonging, covenants bring us closer to Jesus Christ. And so all of these things that are creating belonging, understanding that we have a special place in God’s heart, have our high hopes in, like his high hopes for us, inspire us. That’s how we can create more belonging in ourselves. And being one with the Spirit. He says, Being one with the Holy Spirit is without doubt, the ultimate belonging. So I just want to circle back to a couple of these. Because, um, I think there’s a couple important things to note here is, number one, going clear back to preventing belonging for ourselves within the gathering of covenant people, is this idea of not sharing and being vulnerable. This prevents belonging. So I want you to think about, maybe you’re in a district meeting, maybe you’re in your Relief Society at BYU or Utah State or something like that. And you hear a bunch of people kind of talking the same way or talking about the same thing. And sometimes I think what happens in our Relief Society meetings and Sunday school meetings, is everyone sort of gets on this bandwagon? Where everyone’s like, yes, yes, yes, that’s right. I think about it that way, too. Oh, I think about it that way, too. And sometimes, we might have a little bit different way of seeing something. Or we might have a little bit different perspective because of the experiences that we’ve been through. And so I think it’s important for more and more and more of us to be willing to be vulnerable, and share another perspective. In fact, my husband is on the High Council, and he was at a meeting, a high council meeting, and our State President had said, to the High Council, that if you’re in a meeting, or a presidency meeting, or it could be a district meeting, or it could be a work meeting, and everyone kind of gets this like groupthink, where everything’s kind of going the same way. And you feel the Spirit telling you like, hey, they didn’t think about it this way. And you feel moved by the Spirit to say something our state president was like, that’s your job to then say it. Instead of getting in this groupthink, then everybody starts to believe, Oh, well, I’m the only one that doesn’t see this the same way, maybe I don’t belong. So instead, we can just be more open and more vulnerable. I also love this idea of when we’re sharing and teaching. I’m sharing both sides, both like two sides to a story or two ways to think about something so that you can become more inclusive. So even the story that Elder Christofferson tells about the woman who was struggling with infertility, maybe just being able to say, like, and I know, some people, you know, it might be really challenging to, to have children or some of you might not even want to have children. Right, and, and just like opening up, and helping everyone know that they belong, and it’s okay, and the way that they feel and the way that they think is totally fine. Or a couple of weeks ago, we had a sacrament meeting about marriage, let’s say, and it was all about celestial marriage, and what are some celestial marriage looks like. And I was just sitting there and like, this is all really good stuff. But there’s a lot of people in this congregation whose celestial marriages have ended for good reason. And I think it’s just so powerful and useful to include them in the conversation and just even say the words like, Hey, I know some of you that it hasn’t worked out this way and you’re good to your or celestial to. Or, I feel particularly this way about missionaries and ones who returned home earlier than they expected or service missionaries. Instead of just excluding them from a lesson or whatever you’re teaching, we can be more inclusive, and talk about them in a way that helps them feel like they belong to. And I think we could talk about a lot of different areas that this could happen. And we could introduce two sides. One of the things Elder Christofferson says in the church there are widowed, divorced and single members, those with family members who have fallen away from the gospel people with chronic illnesses, or financial struggles, struggles, members who experience same sex attraction members working to overcome addictions or doubts, recent comforts, new movements, empty nesters, and the list goes on and on. And I think it’s just so valuable to when we’re teaching, and when we’re sharing and being vulnerable, that we include other people in that conversation. So the other question, when we’re creating belonging for ourselves and other people, and we talk about be one? I mean, it’s just interesting to think about that, because we’re such a diverse church now. And yet, we’re told to be one. And so how does that even work? How can we be one, when we all have different ideas, and for me, I think a lot of people think Zion, or like a unified district or a unified zone, or you unified mission is going to be all people who think and feel the same. And I don’t agree with this, in my mind, Zion, is going to be a place where everyone has different ideas, ideas, everyone has different feelings, and we’re all one in Christ. And I love the scripture that he shares.
27:00 Because he talks about how, in First Corinthians 12, that For as the body is one and have many members, and all the members of that one body, being many are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit, we are all baptized into one body, whether it be we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. So it doesn’t say everyone has the same ideas, or feels the same, like think about the Jews and the Gentiles. But we’re all drinking from one Spirit. And in my mind, that’s the spirit of love and compassion, and openness and acceptance. And we all have the same care for each other, hopefully, Christ like care in Christ like understanding and compassion, I also love he talked about Ephesians 413. It says, till we all come in the unity of faith, and have the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man and to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. And I love that it says fullness of Christ because to me, that means all these people come together. And they might all have different ideas and ways of thinking of things. But we’re all one in Christ. One in being able to really love each other with a Christ like unconditional love. Okay, I actually also Googled ways to feel more belonging in your life. And interestingly, all of the suggestions even online, not just in Elder Christofferson talk had to do with things you do for you. So let me this one’s from very well. mind.com Increase your sense of belonging by making an effort, being patient, practicing acceptance, this says focus on the similarities, not the differences that connect you to others. Okay, this was from the Mayo clinic.com. So what can you do to increase the sense of belonging in yourself, make an effort, be mindful of others, keep and teach an open mind? Practice an attitude of acceptance, there’s that acceptance again, and validate action. Give people encouragement and give yourself encouragement. When you make the effort and you’re putting forth the work even though at times it can feel discouraging. It’s what it says. So I love that so much. Okay, so all of that comes down to this question again, that I asked you at the beginning. I want you to think about those times again, when you didn’t feel like you belonged. Versus when you did feel like you belonged. When you felt a sense of belonging. And what you might discover is that there was some outside forces, but much of the way that you felt About Your belonging had to do with you. Let me finish telling you the story that I started off with at the beginning. So you remember, I was in that auditorium, with my jean jacket, on the chair behind me. And I’m watching these girls, just kill it on scene, all of those parts, the high A’s, and the whole series of them, one right after another. And you remember, my thinking was, I don’t belong here. And then something deep inside of me was like, Wait a second. If they belong, then I do too. And I started believing like, wait a second, maybe I can do this, wait a second, maybe I belong. Wait a second, maybe I have the ability to be just as successful as them if not more. And so I went up there, and I sung the audition. Now, it was a couple of days, until I found out whether I got the part or not. And so a couple of days later, they were posting the results of the audition on the doors of the auditorium. And I watched Mr. Ritchhart go and tape up the yellow paper. And I raced up to it through the crowd of people. And there it was, the part of Louisa will be played by Jennie Swenson. That’s my maiden name. So what was the only difference? The only difference was me nothing outside of me. The only difference was the way I decided to think I decided on purpose to decide that I did belong, that I did have what it takes, that I did deserve to be there the same as everybody else. So again, ask yourself these questions, this question, do I get to choose if I belong? Is it up to me? And the answer is, yes. Because here’s the hard truth, you guys, if you have this thought, I don’t belong. I don’t belong in this mission. I don’t belong. In this companionship, I don’t belong in this high school class, if I don’t belong in this young women’s group, if I don’t belong, like if you, there’s tons of places that we belong and where we think we don’t belong. But as soon as we decide that we don’t, if that’s our thought, and then we create on the emotions, we’re never going to feel like we belong. It’s impossible. So as soon as so choose to belong, that’s the hard truth, you guys, if you’ve decided I don’t belong, you’ll never belong. And your brains still gonna want to go, they’re still gonna be looking out for the cheetah, eating the weakest gazelle. And that’s fine, just be aware of it, know that your brain is going to do that, and just decide on purpose and said, I belong. I belong here. I belong here the same as everyone else does. One of the things that was interesting, as I wrap this up, is I kind of went through and decided like, when we’re talking about belonging with the gathering of covenant people, do we have a choice with that one, like in all of the things that we can do to prevent and all of the things that we do to create belonging? And the answer is yes. With number one, we have a choice with number two, in the importance of service and sacrifice. Do we have a choice of whether we do these things? And think this way? Yes. And number three, with the central role of Jesus Christ and belonging, do we have a choice? We do in that we have a choice in the way that we think about it. But we also don’t have a choice. Because you guys think about this, we just belong within the framework of this eternal family, and Jesus Christ, family, we all belong. And so even on the days when you think I don’t belong, you still belong. And even on the days where you feel like you don’t belong, you still belong. And even on the days where someone else sees you that you don’t belong, you still belong. Because your belonging when it has to do with the central role of Jesus Christ is infinite. And it’s indisputable. It just is. And that’s why I Have one of the things that Elder Christofferson closes with in this talk, and I’ll leave you with this. This is how he says it in the end. Other Kristofferson says, I testify you do belong. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen is what he says. He’s like, I testify, you do belong, period, end of sentence might drop. There’s nothing you can do or say about it, you do belong. And I love that. He says, I testify you belong, because testifying is about eternal truth. Right? That’s an eternal truth that we belong, even on the days when you don’t think you do. So just choose it, just choose to believe it and think that all right, you guys, I hope this helps you. I hope it gets your mind thinking about ways that you can create belonging for yourself, because no one else can create it for you. You get to create that for yourself with the way you choose to think about others, and the way that you choose to think about yourself. All right, sending you a so much love. Have an amazing week, and I will see you next time. Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges, and many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you’ll want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries, my video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call.
36:48 If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in. Just know that Jenny, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.