The desire to belong is something we all experience. This desire arises from a universal human need to belong. Although we already belong to the human race, we often experience a desire for a greater sense of belonging: a longing for belonging. The word belonging is now being used extensively in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and represents a positive expansion of the language of this important movement. Beyond the use of belonging connected to diversity, the desire for a greater sense of belonging is widespread and is a driver of our thoughts and actions.

We may think about what belongs to us: our belongings or what we own. We may think about what we already belong to; our communities, clubs, groups, our families, and the human race to name but a few. In this article, rather than belonging to, I have focused on belonging with: belonging with ourselves, belonging with others, and belonging with our environments. This feeling of belonging is in no way exclusive or exclusionary and is so much more inclusive than belonging to something or someone.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased feelings of loneliness and isolation around the world. The lockdowns and shelter in place mandates along with personal desires for protection against the virus have resulted in more time spent home alone for many of us. Video conferencing technology has opened windows to a world we never quite imagined, but communicating with family and friends through computer screens and mobile devices is not the same as physically gathering together. We ended up being alone with ourselves more than at any time in the past. Having a sense of belonging with ourselves, with our own thoughts in our own small world can be challenging.

Belonging

Belonging with others embraces many aspects of our lives. Consider how this longing for belonging is manifested as we think about our partners, families, and friends; the people at work or in our professional and educational groups; and in social circles such as our church, local activity groups, and the multitude of online groups we may have joined. To what extent do we belong with the people in these groups? Are we seeking a greater sense of belonging or are there groups we could let go of?

Belonging to our environment can extend from inside our homes, out to the world where we live and where we go, and beyond to the natural world and humanitarian causes that we are passionate about. We may feel a positive sense of belonging in some of these aspects of our environment. We may also be feeling overwhelmed by the dark times we are experiencing in the world today. Determining which of these environments we wish to belong in may be challenging but it is important to consciously choose where to use our energy.

Relationships with people and places can help satisfy our longing for belonging and energize us, but these relationships can also be draining and result in estrangement or a sense that we don’t belong. Our sense of belonging ebbs and flows, and belongings can often be in transition. Consider a continuum of belonging: beginning, emerging, expanding, strengthening, maintaining, declining, and maybe ultimately ending. The sense of belonging may be temporary or may be everlasting. Consider your sense of belonging in the areas described above. Where are you on this continuum? What conscious actions do you need to take to strengthen your sense of belonging or maybe to let go of a sense of belonging that is no longer serving you? To what extent are you satisfied with your sense of belonging? Where might you take a stand, maybe even standing alone or consciously choosing against belonging?

Five ways to satisfy our longing for belonging:

Being Comfortable With Ourselves

Replacing negative thoughts and limiting beliefs with a sense of self-worth and a belief that we are being the best we can be, and doing the best we can do; creates a feeling of well-being.

Being in Community With Others

Consciously choosing the people we want to be in community with; creating a deeper sense of belonging with others; appreciating our interconnectedness; and cultivating a We-Space where we are fully present with each other with shared agreements and understandings, shared values and beliefs, and a shared sense of belonging.

Being Aware of Our Environments

Taking time for savoring the beautiful world we live in, and actively participate in humanitarian causes we are passionate about.

Being Able to Let Go

Recognizing that the sense of belonging may be temporary or transitory, and being prepared to let go of the belongings that no longer serve us.

Being Conscious and Awake

Consciously inviting into our lives the thoughts, people, and places we desire to belong with and staying awake to the emerging sense of belonging.

 

I am grateful for the sense of belonging explored in recent Conversation Circles where we have engaged in dialogue about this longing for belonging. The feeling of belonging is very personal, and we all experience it in different ways. Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are often aimed at encouraging those who already belong to include those who feel excluded or feel they do not belong; the call to action of this article is to take personal responsibility for our own sense of belonging.

Cultivate the sense of belonging that brings fulfilment into your life. Appreciate the longing for belonging, and cherish the sense of belonging that is emerging and strengthening in you. A sense of belonging is so much more fulfilling than the sense of loneliness and isolation. Engage in meaningful conversations with people you belong with and keep your consciousness alive. Embrace your longing for belonging every day.

 

Photos courtesy of Depositphotos

I am the Consciousness Whisperer, a conscious leadership and conscious living coach, and the author of the book, The Inner Journey to Conscious Leadership.

I am a convener of conscious conversations for people who are Too Young to Retire® and the principal owner of 2Young2Retire, LLC. I lead the 2Young2Retire® facilitator certification program. I divide my time between Portsmouth, England and West Palm Beach, Florida.