By Esther van der Sande

In this short article we would like to stand still by the importance of belonging a human need we all need though not always feel or have been able to create this sense of belonging. What is it …, and what can we do to create a sense of belonging.

Belonging or Belonginess is a fundamental human emotional need to be accepted by those around you. The sense of belonging plays an important role on our physical and mental health and can have many benefits to our overall wellbeing. Being part of a community helps manage stress and provides support during difficult times. This need is more than simply becoming accustomed to one another and more about acquiring acceptance, attention and support from your family, friends or other social groups. Belonging provides a feeling of security and gives us the confidence to be our authentic selves.

Our human desire for emotional relationships is well known and fulfillment of these needs is subjective to the personal experience one has when interacting with others. Most people have an intrinsic desire to belong and be apart of something greater than themselves, which implies that our relationships with one another have greater meaning than just acquaintance or familiarity.  The desire to belong is found across all cultures suggesting that there is a universal need to be included.

In many cases we are inspired to belong to a specific group that shares some commonality with our beliefs, interests or shared goals. Belongingness motivates us to participate in social activities and can provide us with stable and long-lasting relationships, giving us a sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves.

Creating a sense of belonging takes effort, and for some fulling this need can be difficult if you have had negative past or trauma related experiences as well as your personal and environmental circumstances. Taking small steps that suite your level of comfortability can help you seek out activities or groups that share common interests. Showing interest and paying attention to others will help build trust, increase your connection with others and provide comfort and support.

Belongingness can contribute to your health and personal happiness, preventing loneliness, anxiety and depression. This connectedness with others encourages positive thoughts and enables us to achieve our potential and thrive in caring communities.