The sense of belonging is the feeling of identification of a person with a group or with a specific place.
Belonging implies the creation of emotional ties that produce positive attitudes in the individual towards the group and the place where its existence takes place.
Thus, individuals demonstrate an interest in participating effectively in the development and production of common meanings. Strengthens collective and individual memory.
Characteristics of the sense of belonging
It is a feeling of identification and connection with a group or close environment that involves the well-being of individuals.
For psychologists and anthropologists, individual identity derives from the social bond, within which it finds recognition.
In turn, the social bond produces a commitment to the group, which makes social identity and group affinity possible. The identity of place is defined from the correlation of the individual with his physical context, container of spatial, social and historical references.
Sense of belonging and identity
The sociologist Manuel Castells locates belonging in an identity space that gives meaning and shelter to habitual practices in a kind of collusion determined by common languages .
Belonging defined in these terms implies the creation of specific codes for the understanding of reality , value systems , behavioral models, ways of life, of thinking and feeling, which determine daily tasks in conjunction with others.
The sense of belonging and individual identity are correlated . Identity is the idea that an individual has about himself. But beyond that, it is the perception that subjects create of themselves in their relationships with their peers through a process of internalization.
On the other hand, the sense of personal identity is one of the essential aspects for self-definition. When this is related to the collectivity of birth, we speak of cultural identity, which involves referential and distinctive aspects of a group, such as ethnic traits, social and cultural heritage.
Other considerations on belonging and community
However, the sense of belonging to a community does not necessarily depend on cultural identity, since it does not obey a decision and the free will of people . For there to really be a sense of this type, it is essential that the individual experiences a feeling of identification with the symbols and meanings of the community in question.
The only identity is possible with the presence of others. This is built under the alterity. In this sense, individual identity is structured from the relationship with others and the collusion of meanings and experiences. So, it is worth affirming that group identity is produced thanks to group interrelations.
Characteristics of the sense of belonging
Its characteristics can be summarized in the following items:
- It has a very important effect on self-concept. It is known that individuals are gregarious, that is, they tend to establish group relationships, from which they feed. People depend to some extent on what others think of them and how they are treated. Self-conception feeds on these factors; the idea of oneself can be seen modified by the reference group. This phenomenon is most evident in adolescents and young adults, but it can occur throughout life.
- It also implies the incorporation of new ideas throughout the various stages of life. Values and attitudes can vary, which is perfectly natural in social life.
- It is critical in building self-confidence. Being aware that your own ideas and ways of thinking are sponsored by a group strengthens self-esteem .
- Give individuals a routine . Belonging to an athletics group ensures, for example, a training routine and implies a dose of physical and emotional well-being. Well-being, health, are thus strengthened. And from an identity point of view it provides security and trust
- The group membership support creates bonds serving in extreme situations of life. The diverse nature of support from the collectives, the institutions, to which the subjects belong, can create a virtuous system or network of co-creative possibilities.
The importance of a sense of belonging
As can be seen, the sense of real belonging is more linked to affections and will than to impositions or circumstances , although without a doubt belonging in many cases is taken for granted.
Consequently, the effects of belonging “to something” can be negative or positive. Therefore, it is up to everyone to assess the relevance of belonging to a group or sector.
A citizen X is born in a place with a certain cultural load, which he will surely assimilate throughout his life.
Although the gentilicio is fundamental in the conformation of the cultural identity, it is not decisive, since it is subject to the decisions and new experiences, that a person experiences from his childhood. Finally, the individual decides what and how to be and what to identify with.
The sense of belonging is important on several levels
The group of friends largely determines the behavior and activities with which individuals identify. Sports, for example, bring together athletes by disciplines, categories, ages, etc., but they are brought together by a passion for healthy competition and physical training.
Everyone decides the group to which they want to belong , guided by human values or not so constructive ideas.
This is also modified by the type of family in which a subject has lived. The family exerts a very important influence in shaping the psyche of its members. Therefore, in the constitution of their tastes and behaviors.
Religion, politics and sense of belonging
Religion and politics are the ideological strata that generate the most controversy and define membership in specific groups, although a person is free to modify their religious and political orientations throughout their life.
In addition, it is strengthened on these two levels. At the world level, the ideas of left or right, center-left, center-right or center divide humanity. In countries like the United States, the division is clear between the sense of belonging of conservative groups on the right versus Democratic groups, closer to the left.
Its importance is so great that a variety of aspects of people’s lives depend on it: starting from everyday behavior, passing through language and its symbols, to the way they conceive the world.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.