A sense of belonging is the emotional need to be a member of a group whether to a family group, a group of friends, or a community group – someplace we feel liked, loved or accepted.
Let’s look at why a sense of belonging is important, and as a starting point, how to create a better sense of it for OURSELVES. Then we will be better equipped to extend that sense of belonging to our loved ones.
Why is belonging important?
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, belonging ranks third in line after physical and safety needs.
Belonging gives us a sense of who we are and where we fit in. It also provides us with a sense of security that someone or many will be there for us when we may be struggling.
How do we increase our sense of belonging?
A good place to start is to reflect on whether you love and accept yourself. It is difficult to be able to recognise unconditional love and acceptance if we don’t know how to love and accept ourselves. Do you smile at yourself and your achievements when you look in the mirror or do you instantly start criticising yourself?
Next, reflect on who is already in your “inner circle of belonging”. Here is how:
- Draw some concentric circles.
- Place yourself in the innermost circle.
- Who is perhaps already in that inner circle with you? That is, who do you love and trust the most? Who makes you feel loved and accepted?
- Decide into which circle you would place the people with whom you associate the most.
- Would you like it to be different?
- What might you be able to do to nurture the relationships that you would like to improve?
Widen your belonging circle by joining a group of people who have similar interests and hobbies. Or be bold and say yes to an opportunity to be with others who you may not yet know. You never know what new friendship may unfold.
I recently reconnected with some of my high school friends. Even though we have lived different lives and have different interests, we have reconnected to the extent where I know they still love and accept the girl I once was, as well as the woman I have become. We have each other’s welfare at heart. In other words, we have each other’s back.
Another way that may help us feel a sense of belonging is to know our ancestry. This way we can feel we belong to a particular bloodline or culture. We can research your heritage by asking questions of older family members, using a genealogy database, or even getting a DNA test done. This can help discover missing links. However, a word of caution, be prepared for the possible discovery of “family secrets” or traumas.
Keeping up the traditions of our family or culture can be a meaningful reminder of our roots. Make a list of existing traditions, or research new ones, and decide which ones you want to keep and pass on.
A sense of belonging is the emotional need to be a member of a group – someplace we feel liked, loved or accepted.
Belonging gives us a sense of who we are and where we fit in. It gives us a sense of security.
We can increase our sense of belonging by:
- learning to love and accept ourselves more,
- inviting more people into our “inner circle of belonging”,
- joining a new group,
- reconnecting with an old group,
- researching our heritage, and
- continuing family traditions.