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Belonging Strategies

What strategies do you use to prove you belong to the group and to hide your flaws?

The Four Major Strategies


To deal with our secondary fears around not belonging, we employ a combination of four belonging strategies: value, coping, anti-belonging, and independent. This is usually done unconsciously. The stronger our fears, the more belonging strategies we use.


Value Strategies

A value strategy helps prove our value to the group and affirm that we belong. We choose things we are good at and recognized for by others. We say to ourselves, I’m going to add value to the group by being this kind of person. We typically have more than one value strategy. Some examples are contained in the following value strategies list. Select the ones you use.


Brave * Communicator * Creative * Dependable * Entertainer * Expert * Fit * Follower * Funny * Good * Hard worker * Harmonious * Healer * Helpful * Leader * Loyal * Manager * Nice * Powerful * Pretty * Relationship builder * Resourceful * Rich * Sexy * Skilled * Smart * Strong * Successful * Supportive * Talented * Teacher * Trusted

Coping Strategies

Coping strategies help us hide our flaws, failures, and secrets so we won’t be rejected by the group. These strategies help us survive, and they sometimes help us deal with our emotional and physical pain. They can also cause us to harm ourselves or do bad things to others, even when we know it is wrong. Sometimes, we think it is more important to belong than to do the right thing. We tend to use multiple coping strategies. Some examples of coping strategies and their associated behaviors are contained in the following coping strategies list. Select which ones you use.

  1. Align. Align yourself with someone who is doing well and belongs. They may have wealth, power, or success. You give them whatever they need, even when it is wrong.

  2. Avoid. Avoid failure by never being accountable or responsible for anything. Never commit to anything. Communicate in vague, ambiguous ways. Never do anything directly.

  3. Blame. Blame others and circumstances when things go wrong even if it is your fault.

  4. Bribe. Give money or something else of value in exchange for their cooperation.

  5. Bully. Control others by physical force, intimidation, spreading false rumors, sabotage, withholding something of value, or by threatening to do so.

  6. Collude. Cooperate in a secret, unethical, or unlawful way in order to deceive or take advantage of others.

  7. Conceal. Cover up the faults and mistakes of yourself and others.

  8. Control. Make all the decisions. Control the members of the group because of your position, or through policies, rewards, and punishments.

  9. Criticize. Criticize others and make them look bad while hiding your own flaws.

  10. Escape. Escape your pain and suffering through addiction, bad habits, and other comforting activities that make you feel better temporarily, but harm you in the long run.

  11. Fearful. Be consumed by your fears and enroll others in giving you attention and sympathy.

  12. Helpless. Pretend that things are too difficult for you. Get others to do your work for you. Tell them how smart and talented they are while you act like a cute little puppy dog.

  13. Hopeless. Believe there is something wrong with you. Stay in abusive relationships and situations. You think you deserve this and there is no hope for anything better.

  14. Ideal. Think, look, and act like you are the perfect group member. Keep up with the Joneses.

  15. Invisible. Don’t speak up, stand out, or make any decisions. Play small. Only do what you are told. Hope that nobody in authority notices you.

  16. Perfectionist. Everything has to be perfect or nothing gets done. Everyone else has to be perfect or they are considered to be bad and should be punished.

  17. Pleaser. Make everyone else happy. Always agree, even when you don’t. Never say no, even when you should. Do everything that is asked of you, even if you don’t have time.

  18. Pretender. Pretend to be beautiful, happy, rich, smart, or successful.

  19. Protectionist. Be the only one who has something, can do something, or knows something. Don’t share knowledge, skills, or resources. Only hire people less capable than you.

  20. Punish. Hate, harm, punish, and sabotage yourself. Deprive yourself of food, money, friends, and fun.

  21. Righteous. You always have to be right and make everyone else look wrong, even when that isn’t the case.

  22. Sacrifice. Sacrifice your well-being, when it is not for the greater good.

  23. Steal. Take things from others. Take credit for the successes of others.

  24. Submit. Let people walk all over you and abuse you without limitation. Have no boundaries.

  25. Victim. Play the victim card to get others to feel sorry for you. Blame circumstances and others for what happened to you. Tell others that there is no way for you to recover or move forward. You are forever broken.

  26. Wait. Wait for more information. Wait for others: to help, to approve, to give you your next assignment, or to tell you the details of what you need to do for a specific task.


Anti-Belonging Strategies

An anti-belonging strategy helps you avoid being rejected for your faults by rejecting the group first. You rebel to ensure they won’t ever ask you to be a member. You do things that aren’t aligned with the group’s identity: you act, look, speak, and think differently. You have different beliefs. You might purposely get into trouble with the group. You might destroy or vandalize their property.


Independent Strategies

An independent strategy helps you avoid the negative aspects of group membership without being labeled by the group as an outsider. There is a balance here. You don’t openly oppose the group. However, you follow your own rules, have your own beliefs, and walk your own path. You sometimes work with the group when your interests are aligned, but you don’t need the group to survive.

Explore our solutions to learn more about Belonging Strategies and how we can help you transform your life.

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