“Familiarity is the social glue that bonds people together, and we deliberately seek out the similar and the recognizable in order to feel secure. If we’re doing the same as everyone else, we must be doing it right, and finding a reflection of ourselves in those around us is a form of validation.”
Joanna Cannon (psychologytoday.com)
This quote is a great opener and explanation as to why humans have felt the need to belong. According to Kendra Cherry at verywellmind.com, the technical term for this need is called “belongingness [and] refers to a human emotional need to affiliate with and be accepted by members of a group.” In other words, the people we surround ourselves with create the footprint of our personalities while stifling individuality.
On one hand, being influenced by a crowd can elevate our mental and physical state. On the other hand, if we rely on others heavily before making a life step, we are relinquishing exercising our sense of self. With everything in life, we have to find balance and learn not to place our stakes on fitting in with others and not becoming so recluse that we don’t learn from others.
In the opening quote, Joanna Cannon stated that people in a community tend to see their reflection and feel validated. I have written many times how important it is to seek validation from self, but I never viewed validation from others as being beneficial.
Before we delve into this theory, let’s define validation.
According to Google, validation is defined as “
recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.” In other words, validation adds self-worth and it is very imperative to surround yourself with positive energy if you are allowing people to add to your worthiness. It is also important not to hinge all of your worth solely on the opinions of others.
I remember early college days when I wouldn’t make a move unless I called all of my friends and gained their opinion first. At times this caused me to doubt some of my decisions; other times it added value to my life. To be able to differentiate what was good for me, I had to learn who I was, what direction I wanted to go in and if this decision would hinder progress. Overtime I chose when I needed that advice and when I had to go with my gut feeling.
When younger we start to mirror other’s personalities in search of our own. The older we become the more we start to dissect certain behaviors. This dissection helps us to determine what is beneficial and authentic for us. The older we get, the more we realize the importance of energy and stop looking to others to validate our journey.
Is Belongingness a Necessity?
“In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, belongingness is part of one of his major needs that motivate human behavior. The hierarchy is usually portrayed as a pyramid, with more basic needs at the base and more complex needs near the peak. The need for love and belonging lie at the center of the pyramid as part of the social needs.”Kendra Cherry (verywellmind.com)
As you can see, self-actualization is at the tippy top of the pyramid. Self-actualization is fulfilling your full potential. According to Anne Bechard, “belonging is all about actualizing your potential [and] always belong[ing} where you can follow the dreams of your heart.” Belonging is dead smack in the middle of the pyramid indicating that seeking fulfillment and building self-esteem trump the need for belonging. Per Maslow’s idea, an individual would first set a build self-confidence and self-esteem before thinking of entering a community. A community may be needed to add to our self-worth but the foundation should be based on how we feel about ourselves.