The need to belong
Hi Friend, how are you?
I'm sure you are familiar with the word tribe. A modern tribe that is. An on line tribe. Everyone is trying to find their tribe. Why? Why is it so important to be in a tribe?
It's nothing new really. People have always lived in groups, tribes, communities, call it whatever you want. It is a basic human need and a strong one at that.
We can not survive alone. The 'survival of the fittest' , if you really think about it, is not one person who became stronger then the rest and made it. The survival of the fittest is the group of people who has figured out that they need each other and that their survival is better guaranteed in a group. So it is not physical strength that survivors have . It is high emotional intelligence.
In indigenous tribes you need each other for basic survival. Like food and shelter and warmth. That is what Maslow put in the base line of needs in his hierarchy of needs model. Physiological needs come first. These are followed by our needs for safety and security.
The third tier is belonging and love. Right above our basic physiological needs for survival.
The need for interpersonal relationships.
Friendships, family, work, sports, on line groups. We all have this social need to belong. Be it the lunch table at school, a small group at church, a fan club for a band , a sports team we are part of or a book club. We crave to be part of something bigger. A place where we are welcomed, where we have like minded people, where we can share our thoughts and fears and be heard and accepted. Ah, acceptance. Thats a huge part of our need to belong. For example, if you are a young person and you don't feel accepted in your family, you will find a place where you are accepted. Maybe that's school band, maybe its a youth group . Maybe its a gang. Yes , correct. We can fill our God given need to belong in negative ways. For a young teen this might mean promiscuity. For adults this could mean an affair. We will fill this need one way or another.
A word of encouragement to all parents of teens ( since I live with 6 of them and have made tons of mistakes):
Your teen has a heightened need to belong. And he needs to venture out and find ways to belong, apart from his nucleus family. The stronger the bond he has with his family , and the healthier this original bond is , the healthier the choices will be for your teen. Know that you have done your part in building trust and belonging . Know that you can give a little more freedom for your teen to try out different groups. You are his safety net in the teen years. You are there when he falls. If you are wise you will encourage them to try again, because they need to learn where they belong. Even if you know that this friendship he's in or group he joined isn't going to work out. They need to try and figure it out for themselves. I am in no way talking about serious situations, as in your teen is involved with drugs. I'm just referring to different phases your teen might go through. The more he knows that you got his back and that you are there to cheer him on and catch him when he falls and cheer him on again, the more emotionally intelligent choices he will make.
Back to belonging. It is such a fundamental need , it is so universal, it can be found across all cultures and different types of people. The lack of belonging can have dire consequences.
I covered some negative effects of not having female friendships, for example, in my recent talk at MOPS. It increases the risk of dementia, and increases the risk of premature death. Some positive effects are :
stronger immune system
decreased blood pressure
better quality of life
"It is not good for man to be alone".
God said that in the second chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. And the beautiful part? He made us because he is a God who desires relationship with us. And we are made in his image . We are made with a need to belong.
I will close with a Brene Brown Quote
"Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect."
You are loved. Deeply Loved beyond measure.
Until next time
Please write with any comments or questions.
Or call for a free 20 min session with any questions.