Belonging is something that many people struggle to feel, they feel an outsider in their family, community, school, or work group, it comes up so often in a therapeutic space. We focus so much on what divides us rather than what unites us. As a therapist I am looking for rapport with a client, I am searching for that connection with them, what links us, it could be just the location we live in or our gender, but there is always something. We can argue for our separation or search for what unites us. It is so important for us to belong, as we are pack animals and of course safety comes from belonging to the group, the pack, as an outsider we are more vulnerable. I encourage my clients to draw a word web around belonging to help shift that focus, to really engage with all they have in common with the people around them.
Unfortunately, a lot of bullying at school, work or within a community is designed to push someone outside the group to affirm an individual’s position within the group, but we do not need to create outsiders to enforce our place as an insider. The world of social media creates such an artificial vision of the world, as if everyone else is wrapped in a special bubble of opulence, success, and perfect partnerships, but it is an illusion they are presenting to the world to display their perception of their own status, something to cling onto which is rarely real. So, if we are all battling to feel a sense of belonging, we need to consider what can we do to help someone else feel connected, what small act can we do to engage with someone who may be feeling like an outsider too, look at what we have in common with them instead of focusing on affirming our own position. A bit of human compassion, a sense of being in another’s shoes may be what we need to find our place of belonging, we may find we have more in common with them than we think.