It may be true that we come into and leave this life alone, however, while we are here, we seek a sense of belonging.
According to the Oxford dictionary, belonging is “an affinity for a place or situation.” We tend to be most comfortable and ourselves when we feel like we belong. But what is it to belong? Is it just being at ease with others? Is it identifying emotionally with a group or a place? I believe belonging depends on multiple factors and experiences.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, be loved, and to belong.” ~ Brené Brown
Where Do We Belong?
First, we are a part of our family – both nuclear and extended. This unit, in whatever form it takes, gives us an anchor. I identify heavily with my family and their foreign roots. This feeling of belonging to my ancestors has created in me a passion for genealogy. I plan to visit the village my family is from in Ireland. In my mind, I already feel like I will belong in the places where my relatives walked.
We can also look to family order for a sense of belonging and similar experiences. I recently surveyed some of my friends about their birth order. It was fun, and I found that I tend to gravitate to friends who, like me, are the oldest. If you are curious about birth order, check out The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman.
As we move into adulthood and start our own family, we create a place of belonging for our children. That place is home! Making all members of a family feel safe and loved is vital. For me, visiting a grandparent’s or parent’s home as an adult evokes emotions of belonging. Where do you feel the strongest sense of “home”?
Home can be more significant than a house. My quirky example of connection happens when I meet someone from New York City. I was born there, and even though I left when I was young, I feel a bond every time. It doesn’t make sense, but it is a visceral, uplifting experience. Maybe it’s in the water! We want to belong, and we look for affinity.
“Home is ultimately not about a place to live but about the people with whom you are most fully alive. Home is about love, relationship, community, and belonging, and we are all searching for home.” ~ Erwin McManus
Who Do We Belong To?
We are members of the human race first. Then we may be defined in terms of ethnicity, heritage, religion, language, interests, etc. We are in a time of great divisiveness. In good times and hard times, it’s important to remember that we are all one in our humanness.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Mother Teresa
Belonging to spiritual practice, religion, or a group of like-minded individuals can offer great comfort, solace, and fellowship. Whatever our beliefs are, we seek validation both internally and externally. Community is “common unity,” and it involves ever-expanding waves of connection. Groups that practice yoga, meditation, prayer, and healthy living are ones that attract me. That’s why I enjoy Hearts Rise Up as a community. It offers information and feedback in these areas.
When Do We Belong?
We belong when we find a connection. We start to belong when we are born. We continue as we go to school, join a club, a sports team, or enlist in the military. We belong when we marry, become parents, and when we lose a loved one.
We belong when we bond in emotional experiences. I worked at a hospice in-patient center, where I witnessed and experienced many examples of belonging. Part of my job was to train new volunteers. It was amazing to see a group united over what drew them to volunteer and what experiences they had in common. Even more heartfelt was the bond between strangers who would meet in the in-patient center’s library or kitchen while visiting their loved ones. They experienced a shared feeling of impending loss, and it brought them together in a supportive way. It wasn’t about making each other feel better; it was about knowing they were not alone on the path of grief and loss.
“Humanity is our uniting religion, and breath is our uniting prayer.” ~ Yogiraj Siddhanath
In the Hearts Rise Up Community we offer a place of belonging. Whatever it was that brought you to our site, we welcome you and invite you to share what makes your heart rise up and gives you the sense of belonging to something bigger that will bring us all health, happiness, peace, and support.