As you may know, given my life experiences, I’m a passionate advocate for belonging and authenticity—and not just in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well.

This is what led me to write The Authenticity Principle, my first book and my new book We’ve Got This: Unlocking the Beauty of Belonging. I want everyone on this planet to experience the magic that comes with standing in your power in how you live, work, and lead.

One of the greatest insights I’ve had in researching and writing in this space for many years is that belonging and authenticity go hand in hand. What do I mean by this? Here I share an excerpt from We’ve Got This that explains the connection.

               Belonging is the feeling of being accepted for who you are by your own self and by the people you choose to be bonded with, so that you feel seen and valued. It’s about your instinctive need to reveal your authenticity and, in doing so, knowing you’ll be honored and respected for who you are across your identities. Because belonging is a feeling, your body will signal to you that you’re experiencing acceptance, through the comforting and affirming sensations within you. You’ll feel safe, calm, and at ease.

               Authenticity is the practice of consistently choosing to know, embrace, and be who you are, especially what makes you different and unique, as much as possible. It’s at the root of what I call the Authenticity Principle: the life tenet that when you consistently choose to be authentic, you’ll feel more joyful and connected to yourself, you’ll bring this spirit into your interactions, and in doing so you’ll invite people to do the same back with you. When you’re practicing authenticity, you’ll feel warm and uplifting sensations all over your body.

              Given these definitions, it is easy to see how belonging and authenticity are inextricably intertwined. To experience belonging, you must be able to reveal your authentic self. And when you feel safe to be your authentic self, this is when you experience the greatest belonging.

              This connection between belonging and authenticity underscores an essential takeaway: the most important relationship you’ll ever cultivate is the one you have with yourself. It’s not until you feel seen, accepted, and loved by yourself that you’ll enjoy deep and meaningful connection with others. Simply put, you won’t experience belonging until you first honor your authentic self.

Excerpted from Ritu Bhasin’s new book We’ve Got This: Unlocking the Beauty of Belonging (release date: June 13, 2023)

Learn more about how to create workplace cultures rooted in belonging in We’ve Got This and The Authenticity Principle.

Dr. Komal Bhasin, MSW, MHSc, DocSocSci

Komal is bci’s Senior DEI Consultant and Mental Health Expert-in-Residence and an accomplished DEI facilitator, coach, and strategist. Komal has over 20 years of experience in providing strategic and advisory guidance and program development across a range of sectors, with a particular concentration in mental health and racial inclusion. Komal is also the founder of Insayva Inc., a social enterprise focused on providing accessible DEI and health equity support to charities and non-profit organizations.

Komal has extensive experience in creating and delivering programming in a range of DEI areas, including unconscious bias, cultural competence, mental health inclusion, psychological safety, and allyship. She is passionate about driving transformational change in workplaces and has worked closely with bci clients — corporations, professional services firms, health care providers, and educational institutions — to embed cultures of DEI within their organizations.

Komal has provided one-on-one inclusion coaching to hundreds of senior leaders and brings a unique approach that is informed by her background as a therapist. She is able to expertly handle sensitive conversations and situations and works with leaders to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to advance racial/ethnocultural, gender, and mental health-related equity across teams and organizations. Komal also offers a performance coaching program designed specifically for BIPOC leaders. This program aims to help BIPOC leaders harness their place, position, and identity to thrive in the workplace and beyond. Komal is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).

As bci’s Mental Health Expert-in-Residence, Komal offers tremendous expertise around workplace mental health. As a doctoral trained mental health clinician, certified health executive, and registered social worker, Komal has assisted organizations looking to advance employee mental health inclusion and well-being through offering programming on inclusive dialogue, anti-stigma, burnout prevention, psychological safety, resilience, and self-care. Komal is committed to advancing mental health and wellness across the life course; she currently serves on the board of the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario and previously served on the board of Children’s Mental Health Ontario and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

When Komal is not working, you’ll find her painting, cooking or snuggling with her cat.