Belonging is a fundamental human need. We all seek to feel welcome, loved and accepted as we are. To feel part of something greater than ourselves and that we have a place that is uniquely shaped to fit our being. I believe this need is one of the most powerful influences on social behaviour there is. Corporations know this. They know that our primal yearning to be part of the tribe is what sells products filled with promises of social acceptance and love. Its why we become so absorbed in shows like the Bachelor as a cultural learning tool for who and what’s considered ‘lovable’ and what’s not. It why we are obsessed with fitting in and following the rules. How many times have you heard someone say, “I just want to be normal”, as if normality was a guaranteed ticket to belonging. Want to know why ‘sex really sells’? Behind all the styling, it ultimately appeals to our inherent motivation to be feel loved.
Yet this constant seeking of other’s approval - as if ‘they’ are the gatekeeper of our worthiness - is merely a hollow substitute for our true belonging. In fact, this incessant belief that we have to earn our place in this world is probably the biggest lie you’ve ever been told.
Because the truth is -
You were born belonging.
It’s not something you need to achieve or accomplish based on someone else’s standards; it is an innate quality of your physical being. As Brene Brown (my homegirl) shares that “even when we’re utterly alone, we’re connected to one another by something greater than group membership, politics and ideology”.
And no matter how separate we think we are –
We are all connected by our Earthy origins.
This understanding of our wild roots and inextricable communion with the ecosystems that hold and move through us, is what gives Indigenous cultures their identity and a sense of belonging – and it is true for all humans. We have just forgotten this important truth.
So why is it that we forget our belonging in this way? How does its wholeness slip so often between our fingers?
My conclusion is that in the race to modernity and having it all, we have fallen prey to a perceived isolation and separateness from nature that is held up by current social norms and systems. We have rejected our ancient animal selves, sanitising our lives as a means of declaring our superiority and control over nature which can be traced back to early religious concepts of man’s dominion over Earth as granted by twisted perceptions of God. This is not to offend any religious faith, but rather point to the hierarchical view of life that subsequently arose from the suppression of non-religious nature-based cultures who understood their role as equal stewards rather than power-wielding lords.
So sadly, in our desperate attempts to belong and be loved, we have wandered far from home and adopted the tribe mantra without questioning where it’s leading us or what source it came from.
“We the evolved and enclosed, and nature the thing ‘out-there’ to visit once in a while or use as a resource to make all the stuff we think we need to fit in.”
In many ways, I feel sorry for humans because our core will to survive and continue our species (hence why we crave love and belonging in the tribe which was the only way humans have ever survived throughout history) has been hijacked by a system run by wounded people who have confused money and power for their own belonging too.
Gazing across the statistics on depression, anxiety, addiction and the whole plethora of social issues that touch all of us, the consequences of this perceived separateness are evident. All of which can be traced back to our loss of embodied connection with the place we most belong.
But I promise you.
There is hope.
Not the kind of ungrounded or blind hope that you might reach through spiritual bypassing, transcending so high without maintaining your roots in the earth, making you believe that personal enlightenment will somehow make all the problems just go away.
I’m talking about a hope that lies within the core of your fleshy existence. A hope you can access without strict 3am meditation regimes and spending thousands on courses or potions that promise to ‘fix you’.
A hope that inspires action from a place of kinship and love.
A hope that begins with a simple awareness of your bones made from the soil beneath your feet, your veins flowing with networks of river systems carrying the same water that sustained our ancestors, your lungs shaped by a love affair with trees, constantly moving in reciprocity simply through the gift of breath.
A hope that floods your senses as you remember the entire history of this planet is written in your DNA – knowing that the Earth chose to express itself uniquely through you, as you.
What a special gift you are! We are!
So if you ever find yourself feeling alone, tribe-less, searching for approval/acceptance/love ‘out there’, and like there is no-one on your team.
I invite you to turn inward.
Place your hands on your body. Feel your heartbeat as the pulse of the earth that guides you. And remember.
You are home. You are loved. And you belong.
You always have and you always will.