Belonging matters. According to anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, our sense of belonging is an important predictor of our well-being. As he explains in this recent episode of my favorite podcast Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda, the number and quality of our close friendships can be the best predictor of our psychological, and physical health and even an indicator of how well and long we're likely to live.
That can feel like a steep hill to climb. Especially during these, now years, of social distancing. It can feel overwhelming to think about making new friends, or even nurturing existing friendships. As we continue to prioritize physical safety, many of us are feeling the desire for connection, and our need for belonging may be trending toward the unmet end of the spectrum.
This week I’m continuing to explore the ABCDEs of human needs, a tool Center for Inspired Teaching developed based on psychologist William Glasser’s Choice Theory. We originally developed the ABCDEs as a tool for teachers to use to analyze, understand, and empathize with students in distress. That original purpose is still a critically important part of our restorative approach to discipline in the classroom. However, as we continue to persevere through the extreme challenges of teaching during this pandemic, it’s wise to tend to our own needs as well - and the ABCDEs can help.
As we did last week with Autonomy, we’re offering a few simple questions to help you gauge how well your need for Belonging is being met right now - and to help you devise some steps to take…to meet it.
“I want to feel connected to and valued by those around me.”
Belonging is our psychological need to love and care for others and to believe that we are loved and cared for in family relationships, friendships, and working relationships. To belong, we must connect with people by cooperating, caring, sharing, and being involved.
Where is this need in your life right now according to this spectrum?
How is this need for belonging being met in your life right now?
What changes might be necessary in order for your need for belonging to be better met?
You can engage with these questions on our ABCDE website.
While it can feel daunting to make changes in order to meet our needs, small steps can be beautiful if they are taken with intention. So start small - and notice the communities which fuel your sense of belonging. (See below for a reflection to help you identify these.)
And while you’re at it, don’t forget about the Hooray For Monday community! You belong to our community of teachers and parents who are committed to making school engaging and meaningful for students everywhere. Your presence in our community, and your practice in your own schools and families, contribute so much. Thank you.