It is said that we come in to this world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing. While we are here, however, it is important to belong. Abraham Maslow, famous for his humanistic theory of psychological health, and pyramid of human needs, placed our need of belonging in the third tier only after basic physical, safety and security needs. We are all social beings who require personal interaction–admittedly, some more than others.
Another concept presented in psychology is the attachment theory, speculating that needing and maintaining connection with significant others is innate, or a primary motivating force within human beings. Attachment and its associated emotions are the core defining feature of close relationships. Secure dependance fosters autonomy and self-confidence. Thus, the more securely we are connected, the more independence we can enjoy! A healthy balance is one in which we share interdependency with others–connectedness–rather than living cut off from others. We are fueled by connectedness, becoming confident enough to live as an independent being.
Healthy relationships stabilize us during times of transition, hardship, or tragedy. In a time of crisis, it is not our bank account, status at work, degrees earned, or property owned that means the most to us. It is the relationships that we share with others. It is in fact, the act of rekindling relationships with family members or friends that become a positive by-product of a tragic event.
Additionally, the beauty of connectedness also lies within the opportunity to give love and acceptance to others. Healthy relationships are reciprocal. Win-win. These types of bonds require an investment of both time and energy–sometimes forgiveness. They do not “just happen.”
All relationships are not healthy for us. Toxic connections may be found within a family, friendship, marriage, church, or an organization. Perhaps at the workplace. Situations exist when achieving health and balance require that a connection be severed. It could be that one’s psychological and emotional health is dependent upon ending a relationship. This can be extremely difficult, especially in the case of family. I have worked with clients who achieved well-being only by separating from his/her biological family and creating a “chosen family.”
A healthy sense of belonging involves friendships, positive interaction with groups bound by service to others, a hobby, exercise, or the study of a shared interest. An experience that is fun–allowing us to live in the moment, sharing joy with others.
“Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.” ~Harriet Lerner