While we may emphasize our independence in the west, humans are social animals. We relate to ourselves and others through our community interactions, where we feel connected. This brings us meaning, purpose, and value.

That need to be part of a pack or tribe is behind many drivers: the identification with our work roles, the drive for close relationships, our social life – our personal tribe.

When you meet someone, they will usually describe themselves in terms of their roles in their tribes. Their work, their parenting, their social groups. Where they belong and thus what brings them meaning. It also gives us a sense of security.

While belonging is a feeling value, it’s quite subtle. It’s deeper than something like our Love Language.

If we lack a sense of connection in part of our life, that arena will feel unsatisfying, lacking meaning or purpose. And in fact, many people spend large hunks of their lives seeking their role. This has societal effects I wrote about prior.

Are we really seeking a way to belong? And do we sometimes stay in roles or relationships longer than is healthy to avoid not belonging?

The problem for many is their teen years taught them about groups. Where they in the “in crowd”? Where they excluded? Did they play the role of the eccentric or outcast? But these are not adult dynamics.

An adult chooses where they wish to belong. But they have to be conscious of their need and that they have the choice. Otherwise we just react to the felt sense of disconnection.

Of course, there are specific types of groups that have specific barriers to join. Perhaps you need the physical stamina or IQ or some such to belong there. But the vast majority of groups are simply gatherings with a common interest, like a movie or chess or spiritual group.

If we do have no role in society, excluded by job scarcity, mental or physical disability, race, or other such things, there are still ways to contribute. But often such people become alienated. And they become vulnerable to other kinds of groups, like gangs.

Why do people become “terrorists”? Classically they are disenfranchised, have no role in society and become attracted to something to which they can belong and make a difference.

But why would someone be willing to risk their lives to belong? That points to how deep it is. While the ego may identify with the the roles we choose in belonging, it’s deeper than that too.

This is because the need to belong comes out of our lost connection to wholeness. We’re coming out of a dark age in consciousness, an age of disconnection. But we have a deep, subconscious memory of the time when we did feel deeply connected to life and those around us. We very naturally miss that, even if it’s not conscious.

We’ll never find that deep connection in superficial roles. We’ll find it in rediscovering who we are within, then discovering that same wholeness is within everything. We are innately connected. And we innately belong. We’ve simply lost sight of that.

Now, choose where and how you want to express that in your life. Not what I want to do but what I want to contribute. That is your purpose.

Last Updated on December 25, 2016 by Davidya

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    Beautiful insights…I’d add that every tribe, even the human one, needs its outliers, its scouts, those who live on the periphery of the tribe and scout out new sources of water and food, good camping place for the new season, etc. Though it may not be as comfy as living in the core of the tribe, if it’s one’s calling, better to listen to it and be at peace with it. And maybe make a mini tribe with other scouts (-:

  2. Yes – you raise a good point I actually intended to include. In a discussion on the subject, the example of wolves was used. They are tribal animals who run as a pack. But they also go out as individuals scouting, then return to the pack to share what they’ve found.

    It would also be a way to describe what I’m doing here – sharing what has been discovered.

    If you simply stay solo then neither you nor the group benefits. The group needs the outliers, the messengers, the visionaries. Otherwise, inertia will come to dominate.

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