We Can Choose to Belong or Not to Belong

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“We can choose to belong or not to belong. The forces that shape all our decisions vary from individual to individual, but our context and experiences play a significant role.”

Belonging would seem like an expected thing, as we belong to many groups in society, ranging from groups we are born in to, such as family, our town, our country even, and to groups which we choose, such as friendship circles, sporting clubs and many more. However, to belong to something requires a great amount of effort, energy and time. Most of us have a longing to belong to groups, and while some scientists argue that belonging is a basic human need, for example, in Maslow’s hierarchy of basic human needs, belonging is ranked highly, even above health and safety. Belonging can bring many advantages, such as safety, security, a caring environment where one can be nurtured and grow, however, belonging can also deny individuals a separate identity, and in some scenarios, the new group they belong to can consume them. This is because joining with others in such a way as belonging needs, typically involves following a set of rules or a code of conduct or creating an appearance and adopting certain mannerisms to satisfy a criteria. Often these “rules” aren’t specifically written down, however they are the accepted form and one must abide if one wishes to feel accepted and belong.

Belonging reflects on our personal values; depending on our personal values, the groups we are attracted to, and hence wish to belong to, are decided. Our personal values and morals are instilled in us since childhood, and shaped by the experiences we encounter throughout life. These values influence every aspect of modern day life, and create us as individuals, and possibly even reflect on the types on groups we belong to, such as a gang or a clique. Values are instilled in us through our family since birth, and the experiences we encounter throughout life shape us. Relationships are based on shared...
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