Chapter 1Belonging: Are You In or Out?

Chances are you’re a master at reading situations to see where and how you can belong. It’s hardwired into us as human beings. Of all the mammals on earth, we spend the greatest length of time dependent on others. Our survival depends on our being included, cared for, and accepted so that we belong in our tribe. We get very good at noticing how we must behave in order to be included. Even when we’ve moved past the risk of biological need, we remain watchful: “Am I in or out?” Teenagers experience this questioning particularly intensely; that’s probably why very few of us would want to repeat our teen years.

Most of us have been bombarded with religious and cultural messages about what it takes to belong, ...

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