The feeling of belonging: the need for union and acceptance

The feeling of belonging, knowing that we are part of something or someone, also favors our psychological health because we all need those roots that take us back to a special place, to a person, or to a family.

The feeling of belonging gives us roots and an indisputable psycho-emotional substrate. We all need to feel part of larger groups or environments, relevant to other people’s lives and even meaningful to a specific place. This set of experiences gives us security, and beyond what we may believe, a good part of our psychological well-being also comes from this dimension.

“Belonging” is a seemingly simple word. However, this concept integrates a good number of processes, emotions, cognitions, and expectations that can benefit us or be the cause of suffering. Thus, that person who does not perceive this feeling in his life is very likely to advance in his day-to-day with the shadow of emptiness and the pain of loneliness.

Although it is true that it is not common to talk about this reality in psychology, we are undoubtedly facing a subject on which it is worth stopping. We delve into it.

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Feeling of belonging: what does it consist of?

We can define the feeling of belonging as a subjective experience that is related to the need for connection to a particular social group, person, or place. They are a set of mental and emotional states that arise when sharing the same experiences, values, goals, desires with someone… Also, this dimension is like that internal light that shines on us in almost any circumstance.

An example, one can live in a foreign country for work reasons. However, his thoughts and memories are focused on that family or those people who are in his city of origin and who make up his emotional refuge in a way. That feeling defines the basis of belonging: there where our roots and sentimental home reside. This concept, in addition, has been studied for decades by psychology, given its implication in our psychological balance.

For example, Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist and promoter of person-centered therapy emphasized this dimension’s importance. As Abraham Maslow well defined at the time, the sense of belonging is a human need, as is the need for food and shelter. Therefore, it is part of the basis of that first psychological substrate that, if missing, causes suffering.

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Sense of belonging as a component of identity and self-esteem

Few things give us as much well-being as feeling that we are part of something or someone. At this point, it is possible that more than one person will say what they do not feel identified with their family. Furthermore, it does not experience roots in a specific place or country. Well, the truth is that the feeling of belonging goes beyond these ideas.

  • This feeling is also strengthened with the ties of friendship.
  • Our passions, work, hobbies, tastes, or that place we go to because it makes us feel good, in turn, shape the feeling of belonging.
  • For some, religion or their philosophy of life also builds the foundations of that experience.

It is important that each of us define our current sense of belonging. This emotional attachment also builds who we are and the vision we have of our own person. They are figures, references, and entities that validate us that make us feel good, and give us security. All of this traces the fabric of our identity and strengthens self-esteem.

Read:Lack Of Social Skills In Adults: Its Effects And How To Deal With It

Lack of attachment / belonging is related to harmful effects on physical and psychological health

The social psychologist Roy Baumeister from Duke University carried out research work on the feeling of belonging in the 90s. Something that was evident was how this lack of roots and attachment could lead in many cases to psychological problems and also to Health.

This is especially striking in childhood and adolescence. The lack of solid referents capable of conferring affection and security in the early stages greatly impacts the infant’s brain. Furthermore, bullying experiences represent a hard break from that much-needed feeling of belonging that a child has with his peers.

This experienced social pain is processed at the neuronal level in the same way as physical pain (Eisenberger, Lieberman & Williams, 2003)

How to achieve a feeling of belonging if right now I don’t have it or I don’t feel it?

We all enjoy that feeling: that of belonging somewhere, that of being part of someone’s life. Knowing that there are people who love us and with whom we can share experiences, thoughts, values ​​, and goals gives us security … It is also beneficial to feel that there is something that ignites our motivation and that gives us meaning at the same time.

Lacking all dimensions is like walking through the world half-naked, without anything that reminds us where we can return to feel good, without those people who clothe us from a distance, extinguishing fears and giving us meaning. We, therefore, need to develop and attend to the sense of belonging. Let’s find out ways to do it.

Ways to build your own sense of belonging

Building this perception of belonging to something or someone requires an active effort from us. Nothing comes to us alone. Our family roots may not be the best. It is also possible that our relationships have not been especially happy. Where then is our sense of belonging?

  • Focus on people, build new bonds, friendships that bring out the best in you. Look for those figures with whom you share common values ​​and hobbies. It’s a good way to start.
  • Clarify your vital meanings. What defines you, what motivates you, what excites you and makes you important? Think about it, look for that trail in your day-to-day life, and unravel what is important to you. That will be your emotional home.

The psychotherapist Carl Rogers explained that we are often forced to accept many things from our past and turn the page often to define our sense of belonging. Only when we heal what hurts do we embrace what comes to us. It is then when we can consolidate new relationships and, with them, those roots that allow us to grow.

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