Connection. Inclusion. Being a part of the group. The feeling we experience when we “belong” is a powerful positive force in our lives. Ever felt like you don’t belong? It can be amazingly disorienting and stressful for most of us.
One obvious example that occurs yearly is on college and university campuses where you will see many students (whether from another country, province/state, city, etc.) struggling to feel “safe” in a foreign situation. This often impacts things like sleep, stress, ability to focus and concentrate, mood, anxiety, depression, among others. But it is not limited to people who have changed postal codes. We can feel like we don’t belong for a variety of other reasons as well.
On a very surface level, new research published in Psychological Science demonstrates that something as innocuous as a stranger not making eye contact with us can make us feel excluded.
Link to article: http://bit.ly/wNIcFw
At a much more profound level are the studies of parenting and childrearing practices demonstrating that children who are neglected experience extremely negative consequences. For a review of these consequences,
Link to article: http://1.usa.gov/wqMx2i
What to do if you do not have a sense of belonging? The simple answer is to seek out places where you belong. Whether it be with people who share similar beliefs, hobbies, interests, etc., enjoying the company of others in a reciprocally respecting manner can bring us that sense of “safety.”
Don’t feel like you belong anywhere? Consider speaking with a counsellor or therapist with the goal of finding out how you can belong in this world. It might seem scary, overwhelming, or even impossible, but having the courage to try may bring the positive change you desire.
Jeff Ross, MA RCC
Jeff is a Registered Clinical Counsellor supporting clients in Vancouver (Yaletown) and North Vancouver, BC, Canada. He supports individuals with such issues as depression, anxiety, stress management, relationship issues, grief and bereavement, career and educational issues as well as growth and development. In addition he also does couples counselling / marriage counselling.
If you have a comment or question about this post or any other, please feel free to join the discussion or send him a private and confidential email. Let us know what Resonates with you!