Another dimension to connection is belonging. We seek to belong, to groups of ‘like-minded’ people, to social groups, ethnic and religious groups, groups of nationality, to teams at work, family and friend groups, communities based around our hobbies and pastimes as well as those where we live. I’m seeking connection in writing this.
Sometimes connection and belonging needs can be met by something as simple as acknowledgement by another. Acknowledgement that we exist. A look, a smile. This affirms our connection to the human race. To be acknowledged by another human being is very precious.
Yet there is a dark side to this search for connection and belonging. Fear.
Psychologists tell us that fear is adaptive. That it helps us survive. I’ve heard it said we are born with only two fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud startling sounds – both in service of our survival. I don’t know if that is true.
I have seen fear though. I have felt it myself.
The fear I see often in my work as a coach and working with the organisational system is the fear of NOT belonging. The dark side of the need for connection and belonging.
This fear stops us speaking up in that meeting for fear of being judged, for fear of being wrong. It stops us talking about our confidence dip or the worries on our mind, for fear of being judged by our boss or our peers. It stops us being who we are, because we’re a little different, unique, special; but that very uniqueness, that ‘not like others’, means we might be rejected. Rejected from the community. So we seek to conform. Because we believe conformity brings connection.
Yet. Here’s the thing …
When someone you know, tells you their deepest concern, shows their true vulnerability, turns up as their authentic self, how often do you see pure courage? How often do you reach out and offer support?
Show yourself some compassion and tell your story. Share your fear. Be who you are. You might find it liberating. You might find it brings you real connection and a stronger sense of belonging than you’ve ever felt.