The need to belong is a driving force behind the motivations, thoughts, and behaviour of us all. These sentiments are echoed in the literature, and consistent with the premise that every child is born with the capacity to connect with others to increase a sense of belonging.
We rely on our connections with others to develop a sense of self and to formulate views, and beliefs about the world around us.
As I reflect on my work with clients, and personal experience; these sentiments seem accurate. It stands to reason that when we feel disconnected from others, we become more vulnerable to emotional distress, behavioural difficulties or sensation seeking practices. While people may be individuals, we operate within a larger social system. Our relationship with families, community, and the universe in general, influences how we choose to live our life; which in turn, impacts the experience of those around us.
So how can we all live a more meaningful life. According to the work by Felicia Huppert and colleagues, five categories significantly impact emotional well-being:
1) Connections with others;
2) Activities - enjoying physical activities with others;
3) A state of mindfulness - increased awareness of sensations, self and experiences;
4) Learning - learning opportunities stimulate the brain; and
5) Giving - acts of kindness increased emotional well-being.
While in-depth analyses are beyond the scope of this entry, it is often helpful to reflect on our behaviour, and explore the motivations for the things we do. It is not uncommon for people to find a relationship between their behaviour, relationships, and a need to belong. We can then often develop healthy, and adaptive techniques to improve how we feel about ourselves, which in turn successfully impacts our behaviour and relationships with others.
I encourage everyone to pay mind to the five categories above and consider creative ways to improve feelings of belonging and acceptance. Perhaps, working on relationships with family members may be improve well-being, and increase social interest; or perhaps working on a relationship with a significant other (friend, romantic interest) may be of benefit, or a sense of belonging at work may improve life experiences.
Whatever it may be, acknowledgement of our primary need to belong cannot be discounted as a significant contributor to our emotional well-being and happiness.
Be aware and stay present!!!