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January 6, 2016

A Sense of Belonging

The Teenager’s Point of View: Not Just for

Teenagers.

Dear Readers,

Welcome to 2016. This year I am launching a new blog series to help you with different issues. Every month we are going to focus on a different common issue. My goal is to help you to see you are not alone in this world. The first theme is belonging.

#1 A Sense of Belonging.

 

Not everyone has a sense of belonging all of the time. In fact, many people, regardless of their age, occupation, or social status face times when they simply do not belong- or rather they feel that they do not belong. Why won’t anyone listen to me? Why am I not accepted? Why don’t I belong?

Without a true sense of belonging teenagers and adults alike can be haunted by a loud internal silence, a false sense of rejection, an intense isolation that prevails even more when many others are in the room. Ever heard the expression alone in a crowd? And isolation, depression and low self esteem are just the beginning. Without the essential fulfillment related to belonging, individuals can move through daily life exhausted, depleted of energy, enthusiasm and motivation.

A strong sense of belonging to a community or communities can increase happiness and improve overall health.  When we connect to others, we realize that everyone struggles and goes through difficult periods. You will know that your isolation is an illusion and you are not alone.

A sense of belonging or connectedness fills an essential need outlined in the third tier of Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of essential needs. Just after the basic physiological and safety needs comes the need for intimacy, which includes, yes, belonging. Theoretically, without a sense of belonging, an individual could be stifled and prevented from achieving the esteem and self-actualization needs further up in the pyramid.

People can achieve a sense of belonging not only through family but also through community. A sense of acceptance at school, work, church, clubs, and other organizations is equally important.

You Can Establish a Sense of Belonging Through Sustained Practice.

  1. Focus on your similarities with others instead of your differences
  2. Follow your passions. Getting involved with groups that do what you already love will fuel natural relationships and belonging!
  3. Accept others for who they are and what they believe.You do not have to agree with someone to accept them. Be open minded and willing to learn new ways of looking at the world. Don’t compare yourself with any other person. Comparing is a losing game. Teenagers and children go through a stage of comparison but that is only a stage. Only compare yourself to yourself.
  4. Say yes! Accepting opportunities to be part of activities that you may know little about can be great. Fully embrace whatever that activity may be.
  5.  Stop judging. Judgments most definitely create barriers. It is a subtle way of looking to exclude rather than include.
  6. Focus on people more than environment or things.  Annoyed that your friends chose to meet up at a noisy restaurant? Not too thrilled with the choice of cuisine? Try and focus on the purpose of your get together, and connect with the people at the table.
  7. Get beyond self criticism. Stop finding ways that people won’t enjoy your company. Its astonishing the superficial excuses people can come up with to put up obstacles.
  8. Pay attention to what you say and how you think! Words can build unity or create separation. You don’t need to “fix” other people. Everyone has their own unique perspective and contributions. Acceptance is what makes up a strong community.

Read more about why this is happening in our next blog.

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