Are you a shapeshifter when it comes to belonging?

9th September 2019

This brilliant clip popped up in my Twitter feed the other day. It’s an excerpt from a 1976 BBC programme in which they’re discussing the differences between accents between Edinburgh & Glasgow. It’s a great wee clip if you’ve got 9 mins – and Billy Connoly is very funny in it, as you’d probably expect!!

I’m very conscious of accents, well maybe more explicitly my own. We moved around a lot as kids, and although I lived in Edinburgh from being a teenager until I left home, I’ve sadly have lost my Scottish twang! You see I’m one of those people that picks up accents wherever I go. Living in Yorkshire for the last 25 years, I suspect I sound like I’ve lived here all my life!!

My hunch is, modifying my accent was a strategy I developed early on, as a way of ‘fitting in’ to new schools and friendship groups. We all have that innate need for connection with others and to feel part of a tribe. For a lot of my childhood I worked hard to blend in rather than stand out as different. As a result, like many people, I learned early on that fitting in, accommodating and not being different, were patterns of behaviour necessary for ‘survival’ if you like!

The idea that these patterns of relating or thinking were needed back then but are redundant or unhelpful now certainly rings true here. That tendency to shapeshifting into whatever we think is the norm or what’s expected, in a particular group is an unhelpful, repeating pattern that can keep us stuck. We lose sight of our true self, in working hard to be like and to be liked by others.

It can be a lot more than just absorbing the local accent and mannerisms. It could be we go along with opinions that aren’t our own. Or we put ourselves under pressure to be something that isn’t authentic and true to ourselves, so we find ourselves in situations, roles or relationships that aren’t right for us.

Talking about belonging, in her book, ‘Braving the Wilderness,’ Brene Brown says ‘To know that you can stay true to your beliefs, trust yourself, and survive it – that is true belonging.’

So much of my own personal development and the work with clients is about developing that deeply held acceptance that I am perfectly, imperfect and OK exactly as I am. I can be true to myself and I don’t need to compromise on that, to feel connected with others.

If like me you can be a shape-shifter when you’re in the company of others, maybe it’s time to change that archaic pattern? Maybe it’s time you developed a greater sense of self compassion and acceptance of yourself, and to stop trying to bend and shapeshift to feel that you fit in?

If you’re ready to unpack any of that and to find some fresh insights into how you can REALLY trust and accept yourself, please get in touch. I can’t promise a quick fix, but I can promise we’ll be able to find some new insights that will help you challenge those unhelpful patterns.