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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

I was doing a jigsaw recently and it got me thinking about how one know when they fit in, in the world. Sometimes you can make a jigsaw piece fit where it doesn't belong but ultimately it will be found out and the jigsaw won't come together if it stays where it is.

When you try to fit in you are forcing yourself to be something you are not to align yourself with the needs or wants of others. Over time this makes you feel disconnected from yourself and makes you question whether you are really wanted at all, or is it the version of you you portray to fit in.

This got me thinking about what it feels like to fit in. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you'll see I posted a reel about this. Belonging is an attachment need and when it is met it contributes to your feelings of secure attachment. Belonging is also a feeling, it is the feeling that you have a place in the world and that you are wanted. Being an NLP trained coach, I was intrigued to see if I could create the feeling of belonging within myself and how it would change how I felt in the world.

I started by practicing belonging was I went for my daily walk. I repeated in my head, 'If I belonged how would I feel?' I started to soften in my body. I swung my arms more. I payed less attention to other people but also more attention to saying hello. I found myself smiling as I walked around feeling like I was exactly where I was meant to be and that no one would judge me for being there. I relaxed, boy did I relax.

I also thought about how I would be if I felt like belonged in work contexts. I had meeting coming up so I mentally rehearsed before I went. I thought about my posture, my tone of voice, the words I would use, how tense or relaxed I would feel. I considered my feelings of stress or anxiety and I noticed my breath. Much as I suspected just like my walk the feeling of being relaxed of not having to perform of just being became very apparent. I knew I was on to something and as this was part of a bigger personal project of creating self-love and security with my own self and the parts of me who show up when I am struggling, I decided to create and online workshop to share this with others.

Through this process I have understood that belonging is fundamental to feeling of self love. When you belong you trust yourself, you are not afraid of the judgement of others, you feel confident and you feel like you matter. These are all the feelings that go with secure attachment and if you bring secure attachment to yourself and the parts of you who feel like they don't belong then you can feel more secure in the world.

I am so excited to share this with others. The workshop will be practical and filled with mindfulness and somatic practices. Booking is open until the 26th and the workshop starts at 7pm that Tuesday. The replay, handouts and a guided meditation are all included. you can book here. I'd love to see you there.

Thanks for reading. I hope our paths cross again in future,


  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

Lately, I have been exploring the topic of self-love and self-acceptance as part of my own personal development work. It's been difficult to admit to myself that I never felt truly loved as a child. That's not to say I wasn't loved, I was, but it always felt conditional and that shaped me in ways that I never truly understood until I accepted that I wasn't loved the way I needed. This is not a criticism of my parents, they loved me the way they could, and I know they did in their own way, but their insecure attachment meant that I never had the secure love that is unconditional and that is what contributed to my own default avoidant attachment.

What does this mean for me now?

Firstly, it has created an inner critic in me that made me think I had to be a certain kind of person to be loved and a belief that people were always watching for my faults or waiting for me to fuck up so they could point it out to me. Secondly, it has also meant that I felt like I was the consolation prize and that most people only wanted me while I was useful or until the one they really wanted came along.

So, what have I done to remedy this? In the past few months I have been exploring how I can bring secure attachment to my relationship with myself. How does this how up in real-time? It involves recognising the parts of me that I have in the past rejected or dismissed. It has been listening to their pain and not trying to make it go away but being a responsive parent who holds space for how they feel and loves them in spite of their mistakes.

And what has this meant for me? It has brought a contentment and ease in who I am and a feeling that I am good enough. It has reduced my fear of being rejected and it has helped me to see myself through the eyes of others, not to make myself feel better, or special, but to see what is about me that is lovable. I am working on bringing this to my clients, creating a non-judgemental space for them to learn to love themselves too. It is much easier to be your authentic self when you love who you are.

  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

It came to my attention recently that in certain contexts I behave out of character for how I usually am and I became curious to understand why this was happening. It only shows up in group contexts and with certain people. In the past I blamed it on feeling anxious or on my avoidant attachment. If you don't know about attachment I suggest you join my online course Mindfulness for Attachment Strategies. My default attachment is avoidant. This means I suppress unwanted feelings and use specific strategies to avoid feelings of shame or guilt, sadness or anger.

I have done a lot of work on this so it doesn't show much at all in my close relationships but it still does, sometimes, in groups situations. For example I am inclined to say no to invites with more than two other people, I avoid parties and work dos and I know it is to avoid feeling awkward or like I don't fit in. More recently I became curious to understand why I do this and so when I was in a group context a few weeks ago I decided to pay attention to how I was feeling and what was going on.

Getting to know the protector parts

I became aware of two protector parts of me. If you don't know about parts-work then check out my online course From People Pleaser to Boundaries Badass. One of my parts is the one who says no to group events and another is one gets frustrated when I become too eager in groups and try to make people laugh or act like I am like others by telling stories to get me to seem like I fit in.

Finding the Exile

I became aware quite quickly that the eager beaver part who is desperate to fit in is a child part of me who is exiled by the other parts, and so I took the time to get to know her. In a meditation I took time to tune in to her. She's about 7 or 8 and I can clearly remember the time when she came into being. As a child I was a very poor eater. A mixture of avoidant attachment, wanting to control a very unpredictable home life, and a arft of health issues that only were diagnosed this past 5 years were the cause. Understandably my parents were very frustrated by this and did everything they could to get me to eat.

One such tactic was to leave me in the kitchen to eat my food whilst everyone else left the table and went into the living room. One particular occasion came to mind very clearly, as I sat with this child part of mine. I was about 7 and I was left in the kitchen to eat what was left of my dinner and everyone else went inside to watch the TV.

I can remember sitting in the kitchen feelings cold, cold food in front of me, wishing I was inside in the warmth laughing and watching TV with my family. Eventually my mother came inside and said if I ate two more bites I could have my dessert and then join the others. I can remember walking inside and feeling like a complete outsider. No one said anything and so I sat on the floor away from everyone. I was desperate to be seen and desperate to be included. I wanted to be part of the jokes and to know what I had missed. I can remember trying to get everyone's attention by attempting to be funny and asking questions and pretending like I knew what was happening.

The do-over

Suddenly it became very clear to me why I was feeling like this as an adult. It made sense that this part would blend with me still desperate to repair that time in the past by being seen in the present. As I sat with her I asked her what she wanted to happen. What she needed was for her to be seen so we did a redo on the past and gave her waht she needed. She needed my mother to tell everyone I was there. She wanted my father to say 'ah there you are' and aknowledge that I had arrived and she wanted my siblings to make room for me on the sofa and fill me on what had been happening on the TV show. So that's what we did. We ran the memory as she would have liked it to be and she immediately relaxed. I brought her to the present then and let her let go of any sadness or pain that was left and she took on the qualities of calm and confidence so that she could feel the way she needed in future.

Afterwards I went for a walk. I felt like something had shifted in me and lightness in my body. I can't say yet if everything will be different as I haven't tested things out in a group yet but I definitely feel like the pressure to be something, or to be seen, will be greatly diminished. I'll keep you posted.

I love parts-work. I love how it allows you to get to know yourself more fully and to heal the moments in the past that trigger you in the present. I love sharing this work with my clients and helping them to get to know their own parts too. Thanks for reading. If you are not already following me on social media, I would love if you would connect with me and say hi.

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