Our sense of belonging has been fundamentally disrupted. Whether we still have a job or not, our tribes are …
Our sense of belonging has been fundamentally disrupted. Whether we still have a job or not, our tribes are dispersing and reforming in a much more fluid and rapid way that we’ve ever experienced before.
If you’re feeling especially uncomfortable right now, that’s a big part of why.
Of course we’re also experiencing grief – lots of grief – for the thousands who have been lost – for the millions who are struggling – for the sheer scale of what is happening around us – for the lack of control – for the lost opportunities.
Many of us are mourning the hugs we can’t have. And even though we know why, it doesn’t help much.
Humans are the ultimate social species and our brains are hard-wired to crave belonging above all else. We interpret the lack of it as life-threatening. So the cognitive dissonance of staying apart to stay safe is intense.
Pretty much all of us are experiencing a massive upheaval in our sense of belonging.
John Cacioppo founded the University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. His research has helped confirm the profound impact that lack of belonging can have on our physical and mental health.
Here’s what he suggests we do about it:
- Recognise the signal from our subconscious that we need to increase connection and don’t deny it.
Understand what isolation does to our brain, to our body, to our interactions.
- Respond …It’s not the quantity of friends, it’s the quality of trusted relationships. One is enough.Confide in them and encourage them to confide in you.
- Share a positive experience with someone else. For those lucky enough to have this choice available, watch a movie, listen to some music, watch silly YouTube videos, have a laugh together.
- Volunteer to help someone else. I have a friend who lives alone and has recently lost his job who is phoning aged care facilities and having long conversations with isolated older people. Such a win-win.
Our need for belonging has never been greater. Happily we can do something to increase it.
Click here to pre-order a copy of Fiona’s new book “Rules of Belonging’