Tag Archives: human needs

Where do you belong?

As human we are designed to belong. Although, we default to ensuring our basic needs (food, water, warmth) are met – if we’re going to feel secure, feel valued and grow we need to belong. If we do not belong we fell empty, unhappy and in pain.
For most of us, we’ll feel we belong to a family. This may be just a couple of people, it does not have to be the conventional 2.4 kids type family, its members may be step, half or adopted, it doesn’t really matter. If your family is where you belong, they will be people you know you can rely on.
Other people will not have a family unit and will need to seek belonging elsewhere. Some people will feel valued at work and will have a group of colleagues they can rely on, others will find a hobby that fits the bill – there’s no shame in spending hours with the model railway club, the local cycling club or being an active member of the neighbourhood watch scheme, as long as doing this gives you a sense of who you are.
Some people will belong to a faith group. Most religions use language such as “family of God”, “church family” or “society of friends” when describing the group of people who gather for fellowship. The family extends beyond the weekly meetings – there’s a feeling of belonging to a global network.
If you do not have a strong sense of belonging, unfortunately there will be a sense of something being missing but there may not but, not necessarily, an understanding of exactly what it is and the gap may be filled in other ways.
Substance misuse is a common gap filler. The alcohol or drugs will never let you down, they are always there for you and the feeling is predictable. Substances do a good job of temporarily filling the gap – unfortunately, human beings need human contact and substance misuse tends to push people away. The person may turn away from the addiction, become ‘clean’, but if they still do not belong anywhere, their addiction inevitably will return.
Young adults from troubled backgrounds may offend and find a sense of belonging in prison. We wonder why people re-offend – when released ex-offenders are given £46, low employment hopes and limited support. If they do not have family or friends, trying to find where they belong can be impossible, the pull of the ready-made group in prison is understandable.
Mental illness can be both be a symptom of, be perpetuated by and perpetuate a lack of belonging. A lack of belonging may lead to the mental illness, prevalence of anxiety and depression and particularly high but people may develop all sorts of symptoms to cope with what is lacking in their lives. When mentally unwell you feel ‘other’, ‘odd’, like no one understands – if you lack a sense of belonging, the psychiatric world can provide that for you. It can be helpful to be immersed in self help groups, support groups and therapy – these are all going to help with recovery. But there comes a time when you need to find belonging elsewhere – who else are you? Do you identify as ‘disordered’ or could you find identity within a family, group of friends or in the work place?
In a world where we can be in contact 24/7 we’re less connected than ever – this can impact our sense of belonging. Is there anything you’re using to fill the gap?
Are you constantly on the look out for the location of you next selfie? Could you leave your phone at home for 48 hours?
Do you put exercise ahead of meeting friends? Could you choose a more sociable exercise? Or, do you need to re-priorities?
Are you a family who eat in front of the TV? Try turning the TV off and talking to each other, maybe just once a week to start with! Really connecting with those around you is important, our well-being depends on it!
Where do you want to belong? Will they fulfil your needs? Will they value you? Will you feel secure and loved by these people?
Beware though, accepting yourself has to be a priority – belonging to other people cannot fill a void left by not loving yourself.