Community is an Inside Job

So darn thrilled to have Karen from Square Peg People with us today. As you may know, I’m interested in growing the Bliss Habits community in a way that  helps all of us to thrive and foster the best in each other so when I found someone who has done this very thing AND was kind enough to say yes to my guest post invitation I was over the moon delighted. Given that delight is one of my core values, this is not insignificant, so thank you Karen, and for those of you about to meet for the first time, I’d like to borrow Karen’s own words as she begins:

I like to think of this space as an encouraging conversation – like sitting around the kitchen table while we share a cup of tea (or cool water, Margarita, mocha latte…). Please take a seat and join in.

Photo: copyright Lauren Caterson, 2011

When Kathy asked if I’d write a guest post for the Community section of Bliss Habits I excitedly said “Yes!”, and instantly knew what the title would be: Community Begins with YOU (ok, so it’s different now – frequent changes seem to be a Square-Peg thing).

I believe the phrase “community begins with you” jumped into my mind so quickly because lately I’ve been re-learning how important SELF (the you) is in being part of healthy community. Here’s what I’ve been (re)learning:

When I think about community I usually start outside myself – I think of others – a group. But community is, first, an inside job – it starts with connection to SELF.

Only when I’m settled into, and connected to, my own SELF can I go outside mySELF and connect deeply with other selves. I have a feeling this is true for you, too.

If I start reaching out before connecting internally (with my own SELF) I’m likely to be off-balance – seeking external validation and approval. Ask me how I know this (grin).

I’ve experienced some strange stuff when I’ve attempted to connect with community before connecting with SELF: I’ve been hurt, disappointed, frustrated – even angered.

When I wasn’t responded to quickly enough I might get hurt feelings; when someone didn’t agree with me it could feel like abandonment. My emotions might soar when sharing with friends – and then plummet during times when contact was infrequent. Yikes!

All those emotional ups and downs could be traced back to not connecting with SELF before connecting with community!

On the flip side, when I’m in the connected-to-self state I usually feel my deep connection to everything else. I walk IN the connection, rather than seeking it – which makes me better able to give and receive the gifts of community.

So, how to go about connecting internally – building on that connection with SELF?

For me it’s all about finding out (or re-remembering) what I love, what nurtures me (including all the parts of mySELF: emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual) – and doing more of it!

One of the most helpful things for me to remember is that I have to connect with SELF daily (and when life gets hectic, even more frequently); it’s not a once-and-done thing. But so often there’s something I want to do first – so I tell myself: “I’ll spend SELF time later.” You probably know how that works out.

I struggle with making time for self-care (which is another way to say connecting with SELF) – I think many women do. Caring for others first seems to come naturally. I find it hard to remember the oxygen-on-the-airplane rule (you know that one, right? You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first).

But community really is an inside job! I’ve seen proof that when I start from the connected-to-SELF state, I’m SO much readier for healthy community.

How about you – do you find that connecting with SELF first helps you prepare for community? And how do you go about connecting with yourSELF?


Hi, I’m Karen Caterson (aka Square-Peg Karen) – Chief Encourager at Square-Peg People –

where I write about self-care, belonging, body love, creativity – and all things related to living as a Square-Peg (mindful nonconformist) in a round-hole world.

I’m passionate about celebrating uniqueness (yours and mine!) – and focusing on what’s RIGHT with us, not what’s wrong with us!!

Come visit – I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and at Square-Peg People.



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5 thoughts on “Community is an Inside Job

  1. I couldn’t agree with this more! What a wonderful take on community…and such an important acknowledgement on where the responsibility starts to make great community (SELF!!). Thank you so much for this…

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