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Belonging Episode 2


Where or when did you last feel like you belonged… or did not belong? What are the differences between belonging and fitting in, and how can you create a greater sense of belonging for yourself?

· 38:25


[00:00:00] Mark: This is how a unicorn walks, and this is how a unicorn talks. This is how a unicorn hoops. This is how a unicorn. Oops. This is how a unicorn struts. Oh, watch you shake your unicorn butts. Now you are in the unicorn. No. Soon you'll be a unicorn pro.

[00:00:19] Anya Pearse. Uh, I do believe that friendship is magic. Uh, and the words of My Little pony are words to live by. Especially today,

[00:00:28] Anya: Well, I think every day, quite frankly, that there are mental images coming, which are gonna be really hard to shift for the rest of the duration.

[00:00:35] Mark: are you suggesting that they're watching me? Shake my unicorn butt is an indelible image that will never leave you

[00:00:42] Anya: Pretty much, yeah,


[00:00:42] Mark: Welcome to the A to Z of Happiness, with Anya Pearse and me, Mark Steadman. Join us as we unpack the science of happiness, one letter at a time. This week it's B for belonging.


[00:00:58] Anya: Well, I'm gonna, I'm gonna confess something on the get go. This is something I really struggle with. Um, you know, I, I, I would love to have these conversations when I go, yeah, yeah, this is, this is what I do, this is what I know and I'm amazing at this. No, this one is like, I've included belonging because I, I struggle with it like a lot.

[00:01:19] Um, and it's one of the favorite topics of one of my favorite author and researchers, Benet. . Um, you know, one of the reasons why I, I wrestle with belonging and investigate my lack of it, my sense, my internal sense of lacking it, uh, so much is because of something that she first identified in her first book, actually The Gift of Imperfection.

[00:01:47] Um, you know, she says of this, I'm certain after collecting thousands of stories, I'm willing to call this a. A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to.

[00:02:17] We break, we fall apart, we numb, we ache. We hurt others. We get sick. There are certainly other causes of illness, numbing and hurt, but the absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering. And I think this is why it becomes so foundational for me, is as a core part of Happiness, you know, we are, we're, we are species or social species.

[00:02:45] You know, and it is this idea of an irreducible need. And you know, just reading through her work, you know, she talks about how it's intrinsically tied into to love. Actually, it's very hard to feel like you belong somewhere or to have this experience of belonging without it being tied into our experience of love and love as a practice rather than as a, you know, a slogan on a t-shirt.

[00:03:14] So

[00:03:17] Mark: There. The belonging is so intrinsic, so important to us and to our, I guess, mental, psychological survival that I feel like the absence of it or the fear of the lack of it, the fear of being outcast, the fear of being ostracized or not part of a group can lead us to do things. That expose our UGLi asides, which I find really, really fascinating.

[00:03:48] There's so much that we do because we want to prove our feely or prove that we are part of a tribe, a community, a group. Uh, you know, in, in my improv, in my, my early improv days, we talked about in group and out group stuff and how. Exclusionary comedy is, is tends to be more aggressive and it tends to, it pushes people away.

[00:04:13] And anything that, that is more inclusive, where everyone's in on the joke and everyone feels like, you know, it, it almost gets into like punching up, punching down. Like there's so much in there that all comes to, we, we just, we all wanna feel like we're, we're, we're part of the same hole or, or at least part of a hole that we can call ours.

[00:04:33] That's hole with a.

[00:04:35] Anya: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, you just, you know, I'm gonna touch on this in a moment, but, you know, you're talking about, you know, wanting to show our field teeth, you know, to, to, to doing all these things. You know, this, she also says in the same book, um, you know, the gifts of imperfection, you know, most of us use the terms fitting in and belong.

[00:04:55] Interchangeably. And she says, like many of you, I'm really good at fitting in. We know exactly how to hustle for approval and acceptance. We know what to wear, what to talk about, how to make people happy, what not to mention. We know how to chameleon our way through the day. And one of the biggest really surprises in my research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing, and in fact, fitting in gets in the way of belonging.

[00:05:22] Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.

[00:05:36] Mark: Yeah, there is a, there is probably a, uh, if, if, if, if my English was betterer, I would probably have a sense of the. Types of word for this, but there's a almost a sort of a noun versus a, not adjective, the other one,

[00:05:53] Anya: Adverb.

[00:05:54] Mark: no, uh, a noun versus a verb. That's, it was literally verb was the word I was after about two, two.

[00:06:02] Two. Belong, or, or the sense of belonging as a, as an adjective, as a, a state rather than the act of fitting. And that's, that's really interesting. Like the fitting in is an action. Belonging is something that we are, we belong. And like, like that quote says like, we, we don't have to do anything. If we truly belong, we belong Hopefully for, for most or many of us, at least we belong with.

[00:06:31] We don't have to fit in with our family. There are issues or, or there are moments where we don't, where we are, not where we are different from. and so we might not fit in with our family, but we belong if, if we are fortunate enough to do so.

[00:06:46] Anya: Yeah, I, I, yeah, just picking up on the fortunate enough to do so, you know, my, my, my background, um, and having spoken to a number of, you know, people who have, uh, complicated childhoods, I think that's the most diplomatic way to put it. Um, a lot of our coping mechanisms that we are, are adaptations to adverse experiences in childhood actually are to fit into a family where we do not feel we belong and actually are.

[00:07:19] Innate gifts. Our innate sensitivities are, um, innate quirks and, and differences are considered to be a threat to the cohesiveness of a family. And a lot of masking can actually develop, um, to, uh, create this, this pretense of fitting in. Um, and yet a lot of people actually, you know, I, I speak to people who are in the BT Qia, a polyamorous, et cetera, et cetera, um, communities and, you know, they do not feel they belong in the family because, you know, the belonging is not an option.

[00:08:12] Only fitting in is. And I think, you know, in an ideal world, you would all have a sense of belonging. You know, our mutual, one of our mutual friends, Lana Yellen, you know, talks a lot about, um, our ancestral connections. And sometimes, you know, it can be easier to connect with an ancestral lineage rather than an immediate family.

[00:08:34] Um, but I do wonder. A sense of not belonging actually starts with the family unit, um, and is then amplified elsewhere. It kind of takes me into like attachment theory work, you know, very much. And if you have a secure, secure attachment with your family, if you have good enough parenting, then you are gonna internalize that sense of belonging because you are accepted exactly as you.

[00:09:04] Without having to, to change and there's gonna be good enough attunement, there're gonna be times where, you know, no, no one can be attuned to another person wholly and completely all the time, 24 7. Um, but it's the, it's the ruptures and repairs aspect. When that attunement is misaligned, how. , you know, the caregiver then repairs that, break that rupture, which is where trust and this internal sense of things can be difficult.

[00:09:32] But then they can, they can be okay again, um, in relationship with another rather than what happens in more challenging situations where things are not okay. And rather than being able to be soothed by the person who I would normally expect to be soothed by the person to whom. We have a biological sense of belonging with, um, we either have to self soothe and detach or we, we suppress and we numb and associate, um, you know, we, we develop these stories that explain what's happening, which puts us in a position of, um, being the perpetrator because otherwise the idea.

[00:10:19] The person who brought us into the world, who, who looks after us, who loves us, who cares us, is actually acting in a way that proves otherwise. In fact, possibly the, the direct opposite means that we, we cannot hold that truth. Going back to our previous thing, our previous, uh, episode on acceptance, we can only accept the truth that we bear.

[00:10:39] And if a child relies on an adult for its sheer survival, it cannot bear the truth that the adult is harming. It's much easier to think, oh, I am bad, rather than my mom or my dad is being bad to me, et cetera.

[00:10:55] Mark: So Parking childhood, um, because I mean, I say parking childhood, I mean, take the car outta park for a second. Um, one of my earliest social memories is around belonging or a sense of lack of, um, and I've been doing the, the, uh, inner journeys, the inner work at the moment to try and figure out. It comes from, it feels like it's something internal because it's not something that I was brought up to believe, but I, I remember being, must only have been about five years old and.

[00:11:36] In a Methodist, one of these little, uh, Methodist church halls where a bunch of boys were running around doing b bunch of boys running around things. Um, probably, well, I was gonna say probably football, but when you are five, just running around, it's sort of what you're doing going, ah, that's. Screaming and that's kind of the thing. And I was sat on the sidelines, terrified to go in, and I, I remember that. I remember seeing that. And I remember being terrified to, to go in years later in that same Methodist hall, I would be 13, 14, and speaking to, uh, the guy who was with me. Then that, uh, 10. Previously, and he'd said you were terrified because you thought the kids would laugh at you. And that's not my memory. That doesn't mean it didn't happen. But the, it's, it's interesting that that was what, what he perceived and. It's, yeah, it's it, you know, trying to look at various things, trying to look at attachment theory or various other things and trying to understand where this, where this came from.

[00:12:46] And it's something that I've known all my, all of my life is at that difficulty. Now. You and I were lucky enough to meet up, uh, a couple of months ago, and. I felt a profound sense that I've not felt in any other time where I've been in any kind of congregation of l you know, seemingly like-minded individuals where there absolutely was that sense of belonging. It there just, there just was, and it was, it didn't, it almost didn't need to be said. I think maybe part of that was the rituals that we underwent, but I don't think really think it was, I think there was, there was the warm welcome and, and, um, and a few other things really, but. Yeah. It's, it's, it doesn't, it feels like it's not the kind of thing that can always be fixed, , or, or, or could be fixed once.

[00:13:34] And that now you understand how belonging works. It's, we have different tribes and we have different, uh, moments where we feel able to, uh, we, we feel secure enough. We feel like we, yeah, like, like that, that we do belong. But in our work and in our lives, you know, that we talk. Something that, that comes up so often in, in what we talk about is imposter syndrome, and that stems or it has to, uh, um, and I'm sure you'll, you'll, you'll, uh, you'll, you'll bring the kick, kick kick me the new knowledge here.

[00:14:07] Um, that imposter syndrome has to come from a sense of, or a feel of, of lack of belonging.

[00:14:15] Anya: Yeah, absolutely. And I'd love to, you know, and just invite this question, you know, for, for if, if you're listening right now, you know, you know, where or when did you feel like you belonged or did not belong? Because a lot of it is our internal sense, um, and you know, There's a lovely exercise, which I've learned through except as a commitment training where you draw a big capital letter.

[00:14:39] I kinda like, like a blockout outline of it, and then you just start jotting in little eyes of your different qualities. . And so, you know, you might, might put a little eye in for, oh, I've got dark hair, you know, I wear glasses. Um, you know, I, I I, I was born in April. All these different things. And then you, and, and then you think, okay, so what qualities do I have?

[00:15:02] You know, and then, and it's really helpful if you have other people to help, you know, fill this in. And you just realize actually, you know, part of us feeling like an imposter is because we focus on one tiny little detail. that we think sums us up. And so it might be inexperience, it might be, um, some kind of personality difference.

[00:15:27] But if, you know, if you look at us as a whole, all these other different qualities, you know, that just take, makes up a tiny fragment. Of the, the, the, the richness that we are. And I think, you know, my, my experiences of not belonging have very much come from me focusing on one small detail. Um, I, I, I'm thinking about, you know, three years ago, pretty much the day I went, I.

[00:15:56] Found out about, um, an entrepreneurial event, which was helping people, you know, take an idea, you know, and see it all the way through to launching it. And it was, it was for free, it was in London, you know, I looked at the location, I thought, oh my goodness, I could actually get to it. But I was like, look, I'm dis, I'm disabled, I'm on benefits, you know, I don't belong in that place.

[00:16:21] And I actually set, forwarded it on to a friend, you know, said, oh, you should go to this. This looks amazing. And he was like, well it does. I can't go. Why don't you go? Um, and I was like, cuz, cuz, cuz like I, I had a whole list of reasons why I didn't feel like I belonged. Um,

[00:16:41] Mark: I wanna pick that, that, that . So that makes me think of something, those moments when, and I think we, a lot of us do this. I've certainly noticed it myself. invites you out to a party and it comes to a couple of hours before and you're still in your pajamas from, from the morning and you've been watching Netflix, and you just do not feel like going out.

[00:17:01] You just don't want, you love your friend. You, you. It's one of those, you are sure you'll have a nice home and you go out, but you just can't. And you just can't. And so what you end up doing is you text the person and you come up with a lit. Of reasons why my car broke down. And also I don't have a car and um, my bike is now, uh, banana and I haven't got any legs anymore. And whereas if you actually just said, I feel crap today, I've got a cold. Or whatever. Um, one reason because the, when it, when it's in real life, you, we pick one reason. When it's honest, when it's true, and when we know that that's the case, we pick the one reason and we say, good or bad, this is why I can't come.

[00:17:46] And it sounds like we do the same things. Or it sounds like in that instance you were doing the same thing to yourself. You were coming up with all of these different reasons when actually maybe you just felt a little bit more secure in your PJ's watching Netflix, metaphorically.

[00:17:58] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's, you know, it's, it's that thing of, you know, justification. You know, we justify things, you know, um, you know, we all have. this, you know, negativity bias. And so we will find as, again, you know, we'll find one little detail and then we will create this whole story to, to support it, you know, in, at the end of it, you know, end of this, you know, back and forth with my friend, I went, screw it.

[00:18:26] I'm gonna apply cuz it, it was like you had to apply even, it wasn't even just like buying a ticket or get anything. You had to apply. And I got in and that was my first, that was my first experience with being in a room with, uh, Carlos Sabba and, and, uh, Lawrence Mihail

[00:18:39] Mark: ah, who are, who are the people who are responsible for, uh, for us knowing each other,

[00:18:44] Anya: They are indeed. Yeah. That was my first in-person experience at the Happy Startup School. And, and, and, you know, . And even for like the first year when I was a member, I didn't feel like of, of the community, the online community, I didn't feel I could contribute because again, you know, I had this sense of, oh, I don't really belong here, and who am I to like message and talk and share with people and stuff.

[00:19:08] And I suppose this is kind of like the next kind of invitation I'd love to offer for people is, you know, where can you invite or create a greater sense of belonging for yourself. because, you know, I, I know for myself, because I'm socially isolated, you know, I, I have a lonely brain. You know, my brain is more hypervigilant to try and perceive, uh, social rejection, social cues, um, and it being more sensitive to the possibility that, um, I may be overstepping the mark.

[00:19:44] And this kind of, you know, hypervigilance can be, can be exhausting. . And you know, it's that thing of, I mean, you know, Brene Brown talks about it in one of her books, I think. I think it might be Deving Greatly actually. You know, in her research about belonging, the only difference between people who thought they belonged and those who thought they didn't belong was the thought that you either belonged or didn't belong,

[00:20:10] Mark: Mmm.

[00:20:11] Anya: you know? Um, and so, There was nothing in my experience that in any way, shape, or form in that community. Said that I didn't belong there. You know, I've, I I, I've had instances where it's been explicitly said, I, I wrote to something which was, uh, about coaching and therapy and I got chat and, and I just, cause I thought it was interesting, um, and.

[00:20:37] The, they're the two worlds which I kind of meld together. And I, and I was trying to, someone at the end of the day, I'd had a lovely day, chatted to people, had some amazing conversations, you know, and I just off offhandedly said to someone, you know, and I'm neither a coach or a therapist, and she was like, well, you know, so you don't belong here,

[00:20:55] It was like, well, you, oh, the equivalent of, you know, you not, you're not coaching a therapist. What are you doing here? Um, and it. Okay.

[00:21:07] Mark: Yeah. And, and that, that to me, I mean, it's interesting. You, you would, you would hope that someone, well, I was gonna say, you would hope that someone who is a cultural therapist would, would know better, but perhaps they were going there to learn a little bit more about their craft. But, um, that to me speaks of, again, that, that thing I was talking about right at the beginning that almost.

[00:21:26] Toxic toxic belonging or that toxic clinging onto No, this is my group and we, we see that play out across the internet. We see that in, in, so, in, so much discourse around that of, of, no, but this is, this is my, this is my place, this is where I hang out. You can't,

[00:21:48] Anya: Oh

[00:21:49] Mark: you can't come in here and be neither a coach nor a therapist. because you know, now you're in MySpace,

[00:21:56] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. Cuz it's, it's, yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's a, it's a thing about, it's when, cause I'm not just thinking about identity and when it is, how strongly it can be caught up in our sense of belonging.

[00:22:16] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:22:17] Anya: say that in group, in the outgroup, if we define our belonging by having a certain identity, certain labels, certain interests, and then we can have this tension.

[00:22:30] I think Matthew Bellinger in his work talked about this a a lot about, um, um, category violation.

[00:22:36] Mark: Hmm. Mm-hmm.

[00:22:39] Anya: I'm like this, I like these things. If you like these things as well, that's violating the categories. That means that I'm, it doesn't feel safe anymore for me to be like this because I consider you something else.

[00:22:54] Mark: Yes.

[00:22:55] Anya: You know? And if you like the same things, does that change my self identity? You know? And.

[00:23:02] You know, and we can get into this kind of thing of, you know, the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world, really, that can be so hard for people to see in ourselves. You know, we all have our cognitive biases and just, but recognizing that, you know, we are, we are story making creature.

[00:23:27] Mark: Hmm.

[00:23:27] Anya: just coming up with stories to explain ourselves to ourselves and the world. And if someone happens to impinge on that narrative, um, and our sense of identity, our sense of belonging, our sense of who we are gets threatened, you know. But like I say, you know, at the beginning, you know, this, this is like a fundamental need that we have and people act in very reactive ways.

[00:23:52] Mark: Yeah. So how can we increase a sense of belonging for others?

[00:23:58] Anya: I think this is a really important one cause it's really, you know, ties in with what we've been talking about and. You know, in Brene Brown's book, um, Atlas of the Heart, you know, she talks about some lovely research and, uh, some very important research actually, um, by, um, Gregory Walton and Shannon Ty Brady because about belonging uncertainty. And, you know, she says that it is more a. It is a more general influence drawn from cues, events, experiences, and relationships about the quality of fit or potential fit between oneself and a setting. It experiences a feeling of being accepted, included, respected in, and contributing to a setting or anticipating the likelihood of developing this, this feeling.

[00:24:49] And actually, you know, bringing this in is an awful lot of talk now about, you know, diversity, equity, and inclusion. D e I work and, you know, Brene Brown talks in the book, you know about how actually the, the key part of that is belonging. That's what underpins all of that. Um, and so there are a number of ways of this, you know, if you're thinking about in kind of like a structural sense, you know, Being, talking about encouraging, creating safe and brave spaces, this is something that Lana Yellen is doing, you know, and performing the lion, the lion share of emotional labor to help someone communicate what it is that they need to feel like they belong.

[00:25:34] You know, how can people bring their full selves into a space without, uh, negatively repercussions or judgment?

[00:25:40] Mark: How so I wanna, I wanna take that, take that, that, that whole thing there. And how do we make that practical? Is that, uh, so if, for example, the next time we're at, uh, a work event,

[00:25:56] Anya: Mmm.

[00:25:56] Mark: you know, like a, a conference or a, or a convention or something like that. And we feel sort of secure enough maybe that, that we, we sort of feel safe in this environment, but maybe we spot someone else who is looking a bit lost or a bit sort of on isolated or on their own or doesn't know who to speak to.

[00:26:18] Is it about going up then and, and making that connection with them and, and showing them. they, they, they're, they do belong here.

[00:26:28] Anya: I think that is the thing. I mean, ideally, because very often people may not even get into the space in the first place because the way things are communicated, um, you know, I.

[00:26:46] Mark: right from the beginning. This is, this event is not for you.

[00:26:50] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and it's implicit, it's, you know, conversations about if, if someone doesn't talk about disabled access,

[00:26:59] Mark: Yep.

[00:27:00] Anya: if someone doesn't think, you know, say there's, there's a quiet room for, you know, a silent room for people with neurodiversity to chill out.

[00:27:09] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:27:11] Anya: You know, if there's not like designated spaces, things articulated, I'm not just saying, you know, Yeah, you know, there's a lift or whatever. Um, actually breaking it down and having someone on the, the organizational team who has lived experience of.

[00:27:31] You know, different accessibility needs and riders because with the best will in the world, you know? Oh, oh. And having a, a couple of people actually, because you may have, you know, I, I have mobility issues, but I'm, I'm not able, I'm just one person. I won't be able to be able to advise on everything having, you know, a couple of different people, you know, just checking things over and giving their feedback so that in the first instance, even before that person gets in the room, they have a sense that I am explicitly welcome here.

[00:28:07] You know, the organiza organizers have explicitly thought about someone like. and, and rather than having the usual line of, if you have any accessibility issues, just email us. Actually say, here's a tick book, here's a checklist. You know, this is part doing the emotional labor first. What sort of things do you need?

[00:28:30] Do you need, um, you know, I often need like a carer, um, you know, a a a volunteer to support me, you know, in, in these environments actually. thinking ahead and actually having people, and even making the contact. And so you can have like, you know, rather than just being lumbered with someone, you know, there's like a couple of people and if you don't get on, you know, you can find someone else, you know,

[00:28:56] But honestly, you know, it's, so, it's about creating that space and just remembering, you know, Chris relate, Christopher Peterson, one of the fathers of positive psychology, you know, summed up the field. This is the three words. Other people matter and actually, conveying that, um, oh, sorry. Sorry to go on a quote fest, but one of my favorite quotes is by John Ta Roshi, uh, my Buddhist master who says, you know, attention is the most basic form of love through it to be blessed and are blessed.

[00:29:31] And actually it's just that quality of paying attention that can really be so helpful in that. approaching someone in a safe and grounded space. You know, if you are flustered and they're a bit anxious as well, you're just basically going to amplify each other. This is what polyvagal theory points to, you know, the whole co-regulation thing.

[00:29:54] And so just being able to be, uh, calm and friendly, respectful, you know, the way we approach someone can actually. , um, really help with whether we trigger someone's fight or flight response or not. You know, come, come on straight on rather than from the side, you know, give personal distance, make eye contact first, and then, you know, in a more, in a more general setting, you know, because this is, you know, there's like a, you know, meeting strangers or whatever, actually having conversations with people in our lives.

[00:30:33] you know about their experience, about what's going on for them, about showing acceptance. You are not just commiserating with the bad stuff. Actually, there's something called, um, active constructive responding, which shows that some of the most wonderful connection can be delivered and created, not just on empathizing with the bad stuff.

[00:30:54] But actually hearing someone's good news and amplifying that and asking more about that, it's so, you know, we think that, oh, you know, misery loves company and that's the most empathetic thing to do. And it is, you know, not, not throwing that out with the bathwater, but, but you know, particularly in the uk, you know, we may feel, um, shy or that we're gonna be, you know, the tall poppy syndrome.

[00:31:20] If something good's happened in our life, we're gonna be cut down for it. Actually having someone who says, oh, that sounds amazing. You seem really energized about that, tell me more. Because then you're basically increasing the other person's positive emotions and you know you're gonna be this beautiful amplification effect.

[00:31:37] And to be honest, it's quite rare to find someone who I'm hearing good news. Goes, oh, that's amazing. Tell me more. Rather than, oh, lucky you. Oh, you know, when that, when that happened to me, this happened. Or, or, or gives you that sense of, oh, don't get too big for your boots, you know?

[00:31:56] Mark: can I make it about me again?

[00:31:57] Anya: Yeah, yeah, yeah. How can I make it about me again?

[00:31:59] You know? Um,

[00:32:01] Mark: make it about me again. Um, that, that, I love that because if I'm, if I'm completely honest with you. I was gonna say, I don't care about people's good news. That's not, that's not, that's not true. I do, I, I care about people's good news. I don't care about the details of people's good news.

[00:32:16] What I care about is people feeling good and I like to, I like it when people feel good. I like it when, you know, especially if I, you know, it's a bit selfish if I can make someone feel good, I like it. And so I like that invitation then to ask for that. Not because you need the information, but because the other person could use that moment to go, oh yeah, actually, you know what?

[00:32:36] I haven't been celebr. Uh, for this, like, I, I actually, I really like it when people say things like, this is really small. This is gonna be really small, but I did this thing today. Or like, those kind of things. I just, I, I'm just like, anything that's this kind of, uh, maybe a little bit under underappreciated or stuff like, that's when I'm like, oh, tell me, tell me.

[00:32:55] Because like, I really like those little things, but. I really appreciate that invitation to, yeah. To, to, to say, tell me more about it. Not because you actually need to know or even want to know, but because you can help that person celebrate and feel better and, and potentially create a, a, a better bond as well.

[00:33:12] And also just leave them with a, a little bit of, uh, of a sense of sunshine that they may not have other otherwise had. If you'd have just gone, huh, well done

[00:33:20] Anya: Yeah. Cuz there's something about, for me, this quality of witnessing another person, you know? And. , you know, go, going back to the, the previous episode about acceptance, you know, accepting. not just the parts of us, which we feel, you know, shame about, or guilt about or uncomfortable with, but also accepting, you know, our gifts, our abilities, our, our accomplishments, our achievements, you know, without it necessarily, cuz this, this can often be the thing, you know, someone's brightness can cause, can for many of us cast a shadow on our own deficiencies.

[00:34:02] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:34:05] Anya: you know, and so actually being able to go to, to, to, to recognize some discomfort, you know, sometimes, you know, the, the, the, the green eye monster comes up and it can be a really helpful sign to go, ah, if you're feeling jealous or envious, this is a sign that you want this for yourself,

[00:34:22] Mark: Yes. And, and, or you've just, again, you've made it about you and I I'm really ping. That's really ping for me at the moment, so, yeah.

[00:34:27] Anya: yeah, yeah.

[00:34:29] And just there's a, there's a, there's a kindness. the, to, to, to having a delight. There's, I think it's Tony Morrison. I need to double check the quote, but she says that something along the lines of, you know, you know when a child enters a room, he wants the eyes of every adult in it to light up with their presence.

[00:34:50] Mark: Oh, what a 40 year old man called Mark enters the room. That's exactly what he wants. But yeah.

[00:34:58] Anya: and, and it is being able to have, you know, if you think about this, this, this childlike quality within us that, that is wanting to be, to be witnessed, to be paid attention to, to, to, to be loved, to feel the sense of belonging. , you know, being able to respond in this in an active way, you know, actually asking questions and being po and being constructive.

[00:35:24] You know, kind of not just listening and taking things apart, but like building on that and being this level of attunement so that you respond with, with

[00:35:36] a level of excitement and enthusiasm and, and frankly, , you know, how, how beautiful would that be to not just to receive, but to give that gift to someone who you care about

[00:35:50] Mark: On that note then, Um, would you like to take us home with a blessing for

[00:35:54] Anya: I would, I would, and I had to go for John O'Donohue, who, um, has so many beautiful blessings at the end of, uh, for, for so many different things. And this is, you know, for belonging. May you listen to your longing to be free. May the frames of your belong. Be generous enough for your dreams. May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart.

[00:36:30] May you find a harmony between your soul and your life. May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted. May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time. Maybe there be a kindness in your. When you look within, may you never place walls between the light and yourself. May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

[00:37:08] Mark: Speaking of kindness. I think we have one final invitation.

[00:37:12] Anya: We do. And you know, thank you for listening and I would just love you to, yeah, just ask yourself right now. Maybe even place your hand on your heart if it feels comfortable to do so, and just ask yourself, you know, what's the kindest thing you can do for yourself? Right. Even just a little bit and yeah, and I'd love to give you the permission to go and to go and do that right now.


[00:37:41] Mark: The A to Z of Happiness is presented by Anya Pearse and me, Mark Steadman. It's produced by Origin and you can find us at atozofhappiness.com, where you'll also find links to the things we discussed. If you know someone who could benefit from hearing this episode, please share it with them, whichever way is easiest for you. Take care and do join us again next week on the A to Z of Happiness.

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Creators and Guests

Anya Pearse
Anya Pearse
Intuitive adviser, facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Coach helping digital creatives with big feelings


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