Belonging is a powerful aspect of human existence.
Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist best known for his hierarchy of human needs, concluded that love and the sense of belonging become the highest priority after basic survival needs have been met. He argued that a fulfilling life is impossible to achieve without meaningful relationships.
You are hardwired to connect with others and to find yourself in relationships.
Some of these relationships are close, intimate and exclusive, like family, friendship or a marriage. Relationships at the other end of the scale are broader and inclusive of a wide range of people, the connections looser, less binding. And there are a myriad of variations in between. Some group connections are self-chosen. Others are imposed by custom, environment, history or heritage. The more personally meaningful a connection is, the more you will invest in maintaining it.
This complexity of relationships shapes how you are seen by others as well as how you see yourself. This is the essence of identity. Who you are and where you belong are two sides of the same coin.
Your connections matter!
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that anything that disrupts or changes your existing network of relationships will have an effect on your sense of belonging and on your sense of identity. Whether you initiated the relational changes or they were imposed from the outside, the impact of the changes will be reflected in your over-all sense of well-being.
This impact can be positive or negative. Recall how bad it felt to be excluded from a group to which you had previously belonged or to which you wanted to belong. Or when you lost a close friend. Conversely, remember how good you felt and how rosy the world looked when you were accepted into a group after being on the outside. Or when you found the love of your life.
Loneliness and a sense of isolation are two indicators that your sense of belonging may have been disrupted. On the other hand, the experience of support and care can signal how strongly you are connected with others. That being said, the experience of belonging is complex and unique to the individual.
Has your sense of belonging been disrupted? Are you are struggling to reconnect, or to form new relationships? You don’t have to walk this journey alone. Contact us to see how we can support you to find your place again.