“ A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter.” – Karen Hall Ph.D.

A Sense of Belonging

Feeling belonging and acceptance can foster the ability to enjoy Secure Attachment in a safe and accepting environment.

According to Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary, in their 1995 study, a sense of belonging develops under two conditions:

  1. Frequent positive contact with the same group or person
  2. Relational experiences over a period of time

Different Types of Belonging

Belonging manifests differently for everyone. Belonging largely depends on what makes you feel most comfortable or what is available to individuals throughout various life stages. It also may depend on whether an individual is introverted or extroverted, or simply based on what feels most familiar.

Belonging to Small Groups

Some people prefer the intimacy of a small group or just a few people who make them feel a sense of belonging. This may be a sense of belonging with a close-knit family or a group of trusted friends.

We only have the capacity to develop deep, meaningful relationships with a certain number of people in our lifetimes because intimate relationships require attention and time.

Global Belonging

Other individuals may feel a global sense of belonging. Common beliefs, religion, or even race can create a sense of community and belonging globally. Uniting in a common cause, such as activism or organized relief programs, can bind others together.

Uniting in Crisis as a Sense of Belonging

The recent flooding in the Houston, TX area shows that large groups of people develop a sense of belonging by uniting together in the face of disaster. Even those outside of the Houston area, such as the victims of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, feel a sense of belonging and community with the Houston victims through an intimate understanding of survival and need.

Feeling Like You Don’t Belong

Some people, often emotionally sensitive people, may feel a lack of belonging to any group or community. Feeling different often isolates individuals and past experiences may teach them that it is difficult to gain acceptance.

If you think about high school cliques, certain groups tend to stick together: athletes, academics, artists, band participants, and goths. This concept is a study of belonging on a smaller scale and can be a painful experience for students who fail to fit neatly into any one group.

Belonging through Acceptance of Others

Some groups foster unity through acceptance of differences and embracing diversity. This type of belonging manifests by celebrating that each individual has something unique and valuable to offer.

Belonging through Exclusion of Others

Groups can develop a sense of rivalry and maintain unity by excluding others. All you have to do is look at current political divides to see how two or more groups unite in a common hatred of others with opposing views. As the divide deepens, each of the groups develop the capacity to become more extreme.

People will often behave differently within a group than they will as individuals – perhaps due to a decreased sense of responsibility or because of the emotional “group think” rallying that incites extreme behaviors.

Are You Intrigued about Belonging and Attachment?

Join our next Therapy Mastermind Circle beginning in October. Our online study program features a comprehensive study of Attachment therapy designed to enhance successful clinical practice for therapists, bodyworkers, coaches, and individuals seeking Secure Attachment in their own lives. With monthly expert calls, teachings, demos, and case consults, you can gain deeper mastery of Attachment theory that you can implement immediately into your work.

Throughout the four-month module, we will also discuss trauma, aloneness, loneliness, and isolation and how to achieve a healthier and happier life through Secure Attachment.