Kevin Monroe has a one-on-one chat with listeners this week about our need for belonging. We are wired for belonging: we all have a desire to be seen, accepted, valued and loved for who we are, not what we have to become to earn approval or acceptance. Often however, we settle for just connection. Kevin discusses four aspects of this important subject: the beauty of belonging, barriers to belonging, the battle for belonging and the birthright of belonging.
Listen to the Episode:
The Epidemic of Loneliness
Most people have many ‘friends’, especially on social media, that they are connected to, yet loneliness has reached epidemic proportions. People may be socially connected, but they are lonely because they lack a sense of belonging. Loneliness is a greater health risk than obesity, Kevin says. The risk of dying from obesity is 30%, whereas the risk of dying from loneliness is 50% greater than that.
The Beauty of Belonging
Much of what humans do, according to a study by Baumeister and Leary, is in the service of belonging. Kevin invites listeners to reflect on the things they’ve done in order to belong. He states that there is beauty in belonging. What is that place of deep belonging for you, he asks. What are the memories and feelings you associate with that place? The best experience of belonging, he declares, is a place where no credentials are required. You feel a sense of home there.
Barriers to Belonging
There are many barriers to belonging, such as economic, social and institutional barriers. Perhaps the biggest barrier for most of us, Kevin says, is the personal barrier. We have this narrative running in our head that tells us that we don’t belong, and gives us the reasons why. When we enter a new place, we go in looking for resistance and rejection, and our confirmation bias ensures that that’s exactly what we see.
The Battle for Belonging
We have been sold a lie, mostly by mass media, that belonging is beautiful but only the beautiful belong. This idea is funded by billions of dollars to tell us that we don’t belong, but we can buy our way into belonging. But if we have to buy belonging, what happens when we can’t afford it any longer? We’re booted out. Kevin discusses the various ways we are made to battle for belonging.
The Birthright of Belonging
We belong, simply because we are part of the human race. It’s our birthright and we don’t have to do anything or buy anything to earn that right. Kevin says that we can’t make someone feel that they belong, but we certainly can create an environment where people feel welcome. Stop erecting artificial barriers and entrance exams that do more to keep people out than let them in. Look people in the eye, smile, shake hands, hug. Call them by name. See people and let them see you. Have conversations with people who are different from you. Don’t just stop at connection, Kevin says, move beyond it to belonging. Let’s create hospitable environments that welcome people and allow them to experience belonging.
Barriers to Belonging report
Baumeister and Leary study