Having a Sense of BelongingSep 27, 2022
We all need to feel like we belong to a group. It's essential to our mental health and well-being. A sense of belonging gives us a feeling of connection, purpose, and support. Without it, we can feel isolated and alone. This blog post will discuss the importance of belonging and how you can find it in your life.
We need to belong for our good
Human beings need to belong. We are social creatures that need to have this sense of belonging. We get the appreciation, attention, and validation we want by belonging. Our existence gets confirmed, and we feel happy and fulfilled knowing there are others we can relate to and accept us and get support from during times of need. We feel like we are part of something bigger and matter to somebody else. And when we feel like this, we can get more inclined to take action and participate in various social activities that benefit us.
While the desire to belong is a need, it's not something that we can get right away from people. Acquiring belongingness requires time and effort, and there's no guarantee we can get accepted when we try to form relationships and present ourselves to a particular group. People can be picky and judgmental even if you have the same interests and beliefs as other group members. You might get disheartened when others reject you, and if you have low self-esteem, it might cause depression and social anxiety and discourage you from making further attempts to connect with others. So while it's a human need to belong, it can take some time and action before acceptance comes. However, several things can help create a sense of belonging, and if making close friends and maintaining healthy relationships matter to you, you should try doing these.
1. Accept yourself
Before thinking about wanting to belong, you must start with yourself first, and this means you need to accept yourself for who you are and what you can do. True belonging means others accept you for who you are. So there is a difference between trying to fit in and belonging. When you try to fit in, you present a different side of yourself and adjust according to the expectations of others. While this may work to get you in a particular group, you may have conflicted feelings about your true identity and the crafted persona you present to others to belong. A true sense of belonging happens when others can accept you for who you are. So you must be comfortable with yourself before trying to belong with others. You present all your strengths and weaknesses to others, and if they can't accept you for who you are, try to find the people who will, and they will be the ones you want to keep in your life.
2. Find people with similar interests and beliefs as yours
Belongingness can be easier by finding people with common interests as yours. If you want to feel connected and belong, try finding groups that cater to specific interests and reach out to them. Various groups, both online and offline, focus on particular niches. It's easier to make friends with others who can understand and speak the same language as your interest because you and they have a common relating point. While it's not a guarantee that you will immediately get accepted, at least you don't need to fake out yourself if the group you are trying to belong to engages in the same things that give you happiness and fulfillment.
3. Learn to make small talk
A sense of belonging doesn't only involve membership in groups. You can get the same feeling from an individual who becomes a close friend. A person won't suddenly become a friend unless you put some effort into communication, like making small talk. The art of small conversation allows you to befriend strangers and random people you may meet in different social events and situations. The small communication you make to one of your co-workers, the store clerk, or your seatmate during a public commute can grow into something valuable, and a single friend can be enough to fulfill your need for belonging.
4. Put yourself out there
Belonging requires effort, and if you plan to stick inside your house often and don't reach out to others, even in online groups, it will be challenging to connect and belong to a specific group, which is why self-acceptance is vital. When you are comfortable, putting yourself out there becomes easier and showing the world who you are. It's like advertising yourself and seeing which people will like and accept you and which ones will not. If you're trying to belong, you must find the people who will take you for who you are and don't feel uncomfortable showing your true colors to them.
5. Overcome any limiting beliefs
Those who have experienced difficult times socializing with others while growing up can find it challenging to open up and try to belong. It can make one think that they don't belong or that others will dismiss them when they make another effort to befriend or associate with people. One needs to be open-minded and think that the problem is not necessarily you. Others might be too judgmental, and if they don't accept you, move on and find somebody else. It can get easier said than done to develop an open mind, but having one can build resilience in your mind, not to take it too personally when somebody rejects you. Try to focus on the similarities between you and others instead of the differences, and challenge whatever is trying to tell you that you don't belong.
Belonging is a basic human need. But, while belonging is essential, it is also important to note that it takes time and effort to find the community you belong to and get accepted into it. It is human behavior to judge others and see if somebody is worthy of getting accepted into a group. It is natural for us to fear the unknown, as in the case of somebody new trying to join a group, and we don't know their personality and characteristics. Therefore, one must have patience when it comes to belonging, and it's not something one should force to get. There should be mutual trust between individuals, and trust takes time to build up. When you struggle to belong, remember that each of us has a place in this world, and it doesn't need to be something significant involving many people. As long as at least one individual cares and accepts you for who you are, you already meet your social needs for belonging and life satisfaction. You can always try to make an effort to find more; you have to be patient to find the right people to form part of your peer group and achieve a true sense of belonging.