We all have a need to belong. Whether it is in our personal life or at work. We want to feel that we are part of a group of like-minded people. We don’t just want to be connected to them on a virtual basis. We want to experience meaningful real-life connections. We want to build personal relationships and feel each other’s presence.
Research indicates that more than a quarter of people feel they don’t belong, despite the fact that they have many social platforms to connect with others. A possible reason for this is that the feel-good hormones of the body (like oxytocin) need face-to-face interaction to stimulate production. Our moods improve and we feel more socially connected when we can see and hear one another.
There are different ways one can experience a sense of belonging. Being part of a community or tribe, a group of close friends, a division at work or a sports team are some of the ways. The Iceland soccer team that is currently playing in the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament reminded me how a team sport can bring people together and create a sense of connection. It made me think back to the times when I used to play team sports.
I started to participate in team sports when I was about 11 years old. At first I played netball and later (in High School) switched to hockey. The wonderful thing about a team sport is that every member of the team has a specific role to play. Knowing that my contribution counts towards the team gave me a sense of belonging. I experienced a deep sense of connection during a match. When we all played towards a common goal it really felt hat we were in it together.
It has been many years since I last played in a team sport. Being self-employed I’m also not working with others on a daily basis. Only now that I’m not part of a ‘team’ anymore I realise the sense of belonging that it gave me. I recognise the importance of engaging with others in meaningful ways such as physically spending time and conversing with them. When last did you really connect with someone? Where do you feel you belong?
Learning: Being part of a team gives one a sense of belonging.
Healing question: How can the way I interact with others translate into meaningful, real-life connections?