Last week, I wrote about how if someone feels they are a burden, if they feel everyone would be better off without them, they are at a higher risk for suicide. I then wrote about how forgiveness can help mitigate this feeling of burdensomeness and help us to see ourselves, and those that have hurt us, in a different way. Forgiveness can help relieve that feeling of burdensomeness.
Another risk factor that has been studied by Joiner, Van Orden and others is the idea of Thwarted Belonging. The simplest way to explain this idea is that people begin to believe they don't fit in--anywhere.
In reflecting back on all the areas I never felt I belonged, I noticed some self-defeating behavior. I began new opportunities or new relationships believing that who I am is not good enough. I tried to figure out how to change and fit in. If I saw a behavior, even my own, that could be mocked, I mocked it first. I put myself down so that others would see that I agree with them, that I am a mess. Did they even think I'm a mess? Possibly not, but by the time I got done, I would have pushed them away with my negativity and my self-doubt. Sometimes I don't belong because I convince myself and others I am not good enough.
Other times, I have tried to be myself and have been met with ridicule and unacceptance. Worse than that, sometimes I have been brought close to being accepted and I get pumped up and built up and then I make a mistake and I find myself back on the outside. Sometimes people are mean. Some relationships are conditional.
One area that I continue to challenge myself is self-talk. What do I think about myself? What do I say to myself about myself? Do I extend loving kindness to myself? Am I even aware of the words I use to describe myself? My thoughts and my words will influence my beliefs and actions. I need to be aware of what I believe about myself and what I say about myself. If I don't believe I am worth anything, how do I expect others to look beyond my own negative assumptions to find the good in me? Check your self-talk.
Another area to look at is where I am struggling in my relationships. Am I trying to overcome a hurt that someone imposed on me? Am I pretending that I am not hurt? Am I pushing people away because they remind me of someone who has hurt me? If I can begin to forgive people who hurt me in the past, it helps me see my current relationships clearer.
For me, the key to overcoming thwarted belonging is to remind myself about inherent worth. I have worth. I am special, unique and irreplaceable. I am imperfect, but fixable. You are too.
I do not have to believe the people who have hurt me and lied to me. I can forgive them and repay them with kindness, acceptance and mercy. So can you.
It takes courage to fight back against the negativity in the world around us. It seems we are supposed to be divided, but I don't believe that. I believe we all have worth and I believe we all belong. Forgiveness helps me remember this.