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The Feeling Of Belonging

. Written by Elizabeth Toth

When you think of the feeling of belonging, what comes up for you? Is it being part of a community? A family? A circle of friends? Does it elicit feelings of being needed? Desired? Important?

The Feeling of Belong… and how it influences how we feel about ourselves

The feeling of belonging shows up differently for all of us. One thing we have in common, however, is its importance in our lives and well-being. Community and our belonging to a group shape who we are, from the time we are born. Parents, siblings, and guardians teach us from an early age how to behave. They also influence our values, how we get our needs met, and our place in this world. We often develop a sense of emotional and physical safety (or danger) based on how we are treated from a young age, within these groups. Our place in these groups often set the stage for what we perceive our place in this world to be. Additionally, when we experience pain and suffering, our community represents a place we can retreat to for a sense of comfort and safety.

Brené Brown

“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.”

We know how important community is. What happens though, for those of us without a clear-cut community? What if you are not part of a large family or a close circle of friends? A sense of belonging can be fostered in other ways- you are not alone.

Personal Values and Belonging

Take a minute to consider your values. Are there causes or movements that mean a lot to you? Advocating for a cause often helps individuals gain a sense of belonging, even if you are not on the front lines. Look into social media groups or workshops that align with your values. This goes for religious or spiritual values as well. Even if you aren’t part of a church or religious group, connecting with individuals with similar spiritual beliefs can foster a sense of belonging. Even if you do not feel comfortable connecting with others at this time, looking closer at your values and beliefs can make you feel less alone and can open the door to like-minded individuals.

Consider your various identities- we all have them! Are you a member of the LGBT+ community? Do you identify as an individual living with a disability? Are you a parent? There are groups for many identities you may hold that can offer a sense of belonging and make you feel less alone. The internet and social media often make finding these groups easy.

Tree on blue background
There are groups for many identities you may hold that can offer a sense of belonging and make you feel less alone.
Liz Toth, Student Therapist

Finding Your Sense of Belonging

If you don’t yet feel comfortable finding your sense of belonging in groups, take a look at your life right now. You may have a pet that depends on you. Reflect on how you may find a sense of belonging by providing for your pet and being the person they love most. Do you like to journal? Finding your sense of belonging may for now be in the way you are able to be vulnerable through your writing and self-discovery efforts. If you look at it from a different perspective, your responsibilities at work can provide a feeling of belonging when you reflect on the contributions you make on a daily basis. Tapping into your sense of self-compassion can be a big resource into searching for your sense of belonging.

Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don’t belong.”

Finding a sense of belonging in the world is important for our emotional well-being. Do not despair if where you belong is not immediately clear. We can all foster a sense of belonging, it may just take a change in perspective or finding a connection in what is seemingly insignificant. Belonging is everywhere, no matter how big or how small.

Marleen Filimon - Business Owner - PMP Matters
If you are struggling to find this feeling, there is help. Reach out to a trusted therapist to get support.
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Marleen Filimon is the founder and CEO of Private Matters Psychotherapy
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