ALIGN: Maps of Belonging


We’ve looked at how we use personal stories to make sense of the world, I now want to take a quick look at how our landscape, and the people that create the cultures that live within them, also affect these stories we tell ourselves.

Cultural norms are instilled in us as children by our families and of course the environment we’re surrounded by.

Between the ages of zero and two, 1.8 million neural connections are being created every second, and as this is happening, children are being influenced by their surroundings as they’re working out how to make sense of and control the world around them.

At the same time parents or caregivers are influencing them as they tell their children morally charged stories and teaching them cultural norms through play.

And these cultural stories and norms have been argued to be rooted in the landscape in which people and cultures find themselves in.

2500 years ago, in the west, mythology grew from the Greeks.

They found themselves living in rugged and hilly landscape, with a significant coastline. They had to be self-reliant to get by. Therefore, Greek Mythology favoured the conqueror, it celebrated the individual’s success and of course gave us the Olympics.

In their mythology the individual was so important that a singular Hero really could change the world, one person could slay demons, leave for far of lands and then return home with the treasure.

Compare this to the East where fertile lands led to extensive farming that relied on communities coming together to work the land. Here the emphasis was on the group succeeding rather than the individual, with a person that sacrifices themselves for the good of the collective, whether that’s the family, community or country, being celebrated.

In the West stories have been on the search for victory, and in the East a search for harmony.

And this culture, the collective narrative, reflects how we see our reality.

In the West reality is made up of individual parts, broken down into the smallest pieces, examined with the hope to tame and control.

In the East reality is seen as interconnected forces, where harmony is sought so everything can exist together.

Both the stories from the West and the East share the purpose of ‘controlling’ / shaping their people and communities.

Changing the MAPS

Once we have our stories of the world in place, the ones that are tied to our identity, whether they favour the individual or the collective, something really interesting happens, our brains continually look to prove us right.

If something comes into our reality that might suggest we’re wrong, our brains kick into action and they do or say something that tries to prove that we’re right and the other person or the belief is wrong.

And if we can’t immediately prove they’re wrong, we can dwell on the issue for a long time, playing it over and over again in our minds, trying to work out how we’re right and they’re wrong.

So much so that we enjoy surrounding ourselves with people, art, and media that supports the stories we tell ourselves.

This is where our MAPS of Belonging now comes in.

Instead of being at the mercy of these realities that we unconsciously navigate our lives from, it’s time to change your story, as you become familiar with your own MAPS and inner landscape, so that you can then create a new one.


And as you create your MAPS of Belonging, you’re going to

  • MARVEL at your uniqueness
  • ACCEPT who you are
  • PROTECT your boundaries
  • And SUPPORT yourself fully


As you create your MAP, you’ll get a much greater sense of belonging to yourself, a sense of belonging so that you feel deeply rooted into your own being and can deeply trust yourself again.

Are you ready?

VIDEO: Creating Your Own MAPS


Hello and welcome to MAPS of Belonging.

Are you ready to take a journey to understand and navigate your inner landscape?

Our inner landscape controls everything about us.

It controls the narrative, the stories that we tell ourselves, how we show up in the world.

So we’re going to create a map so that you can really understand yourself more so you get a real sense of belonging to yourself, an understanding of what makes you, you.

So of course… MAPS is an acronym standing for:

We’re going to start with ‘M’ as you explore every part of your inner landscape, you’re going to MARVEL at Your Uniqueness.

You’re going to take the time to be in awe of how complex you are, to really give you an understanding that there is no one else like you around. There may be people that have similar skill sets to you or a similar sense of humor, but nobody that has the map that you have.

Then we’re going to ACCEPT Who You Are.

Yes, there may be parts of you you don’t like, experiences you wish you’d never happened. There may be areas that feel a little bit tentative for you to go in and explore. But we’re going to accept that, we’re going to accept all of you.

And then because it’s a map we’re looking at our inner landscape, our internal territory, we’re going to PROTECT Our Boundaries.

We’re going to say, this happened, and this is what I need to move forward. We’re going to say, actually, this is what I will accept and this is what I won’t accept. We’re going to put in fences, electric fences, barb wire fences, if you must. But we’re going to put in boundaries for ourselves, but also for other people, how we respond to people in the world.

And then ‘S’ you’re going to SUPPORT Yourself Fully through this process.

Having this map is going to help you to understand how you show up in the world, to understand what triggers you, what supports you, where you want to go, how you navigate a particular situation, a particular set of people.

This is your sovereign kingdom. We’re going to really allow you to become that sovereign energy over your inner kingdom.

So to remind you, MAPS:

MARVEL at your uniqueness.

ACCEPT who you are.

PROTECT your boundaries and,

SUPPORT yourself fully.

So when we look at our MAPS, I mentioned that it’s our stories that we tell ourself. I’ve already mentioned in the class about stories, they help us to learn from each other. They can inspire us forward. They teach us values and they allow us to imagine new ways of being.

So this is the kind of energy that we’re looking at when we do our internal map, it’s that energy of what have we learned, What have we been taught:

What are the values that I’ve been taught?

What are the values I’m choosing for myself?

How can I use this information to find a new way forward?

How can I use this information to support me?

What do I need to let go of?

What have I outgrown when we’re talking about protecting our boundaries?

It’s like, yep, that story gone. I’m leaving that out. I’m kicking that out of my kingdom, it’s not welcome here anymore.

Then we’re going to use this to really connect deeply to yourself, to learn more about yourself, to share more of yourself with others, to become more intimate with yourself, to support yourself, to know when to ask for support and when not to ask for support. When you know that you have to do these things by yourself and actually when you need to get in reinforcements.

So as you go around your map of yourself, you have your shape and then you might want to go around and ask these questions:

Where are the warm fuzzy feelings in your body?

What are those warm fuzzy feelings?

What are those memories? What are those experiences that make you just like, ‘Oh lovely’. And where do you store those in your body? Are they easy to access? Are they hidden deep away?

Do you have seasons in your body? Does one part… when I’m saying body, I mean the body of the map, your body of the map may have been a physical body or for me, when I shared, mine was shaped like a tree… So in that shape in your map, do you have seasons? Is their that one area that feels more like spring? Another one that feels more winter. Maybe there’s monsoon season, or maybe there’s an Indian summer. Where are those seasons? If you feel any at all.

Do you have areas that feel like family traditions, holiday traditions? Where are those? The energy that feels traditional, like it goes back through the ages that maybe you can’t change. Maybe you don’t want to change. Maybe if it makes you feel safe, maybe it makes you feel secure or maybe it makes you feel bound.

Notice where those energies are showing up for you.

Do you hold memories in your map; past, present, dreams of the future? Are they ‘good’? Are they ‘bad’? Are you holding on and nurturing, ‘bad’ memories, sad memories, painful memories, or are we supporting the joyful memories?

None of this is good or bad. This is just information. This isn’t about judging yourself. This is just about you noticing how you are showing up for yourself and what is, what’s your territory, how you’re using this, all this information to show up in the world.

Do you have areas are beloved places, whether they are cityscapes or nature scapes, your first memory of kicking through autumn leaves or making snowman, your first time of being in a city and saying, ‘wow!’ The lights of a city mesmerising your.

What places do you carry in your map?

Where have you been on holidays?

Do you carry holidays in your map , or homes?

What homes have you lived in? What neighborhoods? Do you carry those in your map?

Perhaps all of the places you’ve lived in during your life are in one area of your map or perhaps they’re scattered throughout. What does that tell you?

What does the placement of these memories, holidays, homes, locations etc tell you?

Are they close to the centre and does that mean they’re close to your heart or are they to the edges and does that mean that they’re not that important or if that at the edges they are giving you definition? Are they giving you boundaries?

There is no right or wrong here. This is just you looking at the information and going, Oh, that’s curious. This is important to me. Maybe that’s not so important to me.

Can you get the idea here?

So in your map, is there an area that you hold more spiritual connection? Is there a place that feels more connected to yourself deeply and intimately, maybe to something else? God, Goddess, Universe, whatever it may be.

Where do you feel most present?

Where do you feel most connected?

Where do you feel the most trust for yourself.

Do you hold any prejudice in your map? Do you hold any injustice in your map? Whether you’ve received that or whether you’ve witnessed that, how did you respond? How does that feel in your body? Is it something that you’re like, yes, I’m standing up for this, or this is something where you’re like, Oh, actually I, that makes me feel uncomfortable.

Again, just notice the information.

Where do we hold that in your map? Challenges, challenges overcome, challenges lost. Where do you hold that energy? How is that showing up? Perhaps it’s in one place. Perhaps it’s weaved throughout. What does this tell you about your inner landscape? How can you support this more so you can move through the losses and celebrate the wins more?

Where do you hold emotions, is there a place for all the emotions, are they in one location or again, are they spread out?

If so, notice what is joy next to. What is grief next to, where is hope? Where is sadness? Where is despair? Where is love?

Maybe you want to look through all the emotions.

Maybe you’re just going to scan the map that you’ve drawn and be like, Oh yeah, I feel like this emotion is here, or this is my emotional place.

So how is your map showing up? It’s all just information for you to get really clear on who you are, how you show up in the world. To give you a deeper insight into why you might respond to certain things a certain way. How to really build on your strengths and how to support the areas that maybe need more support.


MARVEL at Your Uniqueness.

By the end of this, you’re going to look at your map and be like, wow, nobody else in the world has a map like this, because they can’t, because only you have lived your experiences. Only you have your thoughts and you have your dreams and desires.

You’re going to ACCEPT Who You Are and be like, wow, this is me. I can’t change that. This is my history. This is what I’ve experienced. This is how I’ve thought. This is how I’ve shown up until this very moment in time. We’re going to accept that, the good, the bad, the indifferent, all of it. It’s all just information.

And then we’re going to PROTECT Your Boundaries to get rid of those things that no longer serve us, to change the stories, to reframe the stories, to celebrate more, to just say; I want more of this and I want less of this, but to make those decisions consciously.

And then you’re going to SUPPORT Yourself Fully, to embrace and hone the map and to be like, actually that’s not really serving me. How can I change that? How can I support myself more in those situations? Or; my goodness, I love this. I want more of this, but I’ve not been doing this, so how can we support you more to embrace that fully?

This process is really about you getting really, really comfortable in your own skin, to accept who you are, to know that you’re aware of the stories we tell ourselves. I’ve spoken a lot already about stories, but we can change those stories. We can acknowledge that story is amazing and decide to carry that story with you, you can put out a neon sign on your map saying ‘more of this’.

Maybe there’s another story where you decide it’s time to bury that story. It’s no longer serving you. Yes, it’s made you who you are right now, but now it’s time to bury it. It’s no longer serving you.

So… I hope you enjoy this process.

As you dive deeper, looking through the symbology, and you start looking through all of the areas and answering some of these questions, I think you’re going to be quite surprised by what comes up. And you’re like, Oh, that explains why I might behave in this way. Or maybe that explains why my family has behaved in that way, because that’s the cultural story of your family. That’s the tradition of your family. But it’s a story. And we get to change those stories. We get to rewrite those stories.

So when you create your own map, this is your MAP of Belonging. This is the map of you being sovereign of your own kingdom.

I hope you enjoy the process and I look forward to hearing how you get on.

Creating Your Own MAPS

Trust your intuition and let your imagination run wild.

This isn’t an intellectual exercise, nothing has to make sense, but trust the images and messages you’re shown, as their meaning will be revealed.


Part One

To create your own Personal MAP first of all you need a container.

So answer the following question – remembering that the first answer is often the right answer.

What shape is your inner-world?

You might be a person shape, shaped like an object, or even a shaped like a shape.

There is no right answer, just the intuitive answer you received.

Now draw this shape onto a large piece of paper.


Part Two

What’s in and/or on you and around your inner-landscape shape?

Allow yourself to explore in and around the shape you’ve been given that represents your inner-landscape.

What do you find?

You could find, but not in any way limited to:

  • Colours
  • Shapes
  • Objects
  • People
  • Animals
  • Memories
  • Feelings
  • Events

Add these to your Map shape. You can draw, colour or write down the words.

You can be literal or give them fairytale names such as:

  • The Gremlins of Anxiety
  • The Lake of Fears
  • The Mountains of Past Relationships
  • The Rainbow of Hope

Give yourself plenty of time to wonder your inner-landscape and Map out your inner territory.

Be curious and see what comes up for you to explore.


Part Three

What do all of the items in and on your Map represent to you?

Nothing is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ it’s all just information.

This information is what currently makes up your inner-landscape, the territory of the stories that guide you through life.

When I did this exercise I was a tree shape, and on me there were apples, birds, an owl, a snake, and all of the bark fissures were a record of my experiences.

To me the apples represented wisdom, the birds were having a voice, the owl was knowledge, and the snake was transformation.

These may represent very different things to you, and that’s perfect for you. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do this exercise.

Explore what comes up for you.


Part Four

Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has anything surprised you?
  • Do you feel anything is missing from your Map?
  • Is anything hiding from you?
  • Is there a deeper layer to explore?
  • What are your first thoughts about your personal Map?
  • Is there anything you’re ready to banish from your Map?
  • Is there anything that you want to introduce to your Map?
CLASS November 2020: Creating Your Own MAPS