Every person possesses the fundamental need to belong…
The first part to this feature on resilience was covered in the May edition. This is a continuation on the key factors that help people build resilience and it would be helpful if this feature was read after reading part 1.
A second key factor in developing resilience is to ensure that you have a sense of belonging.
Belonging places good relationships at the heart of things. It focuses on reminding people to develop and look after healthy relationships, and to tap into good influences instead of negative ones. Belonging comes through concentrating on the good times and places, finding good people you can count on. Belonging is also about making the effort and remaining hopeful about your ability to build new contacts. Relationships in life don’t always stay the same and resilient people not only nurture current healthy relationships but also develop healthy new ones.
A relationship is not referring to being in a married couple or partnership with a key loved person. It focuses on ‘tapping into good people in your life’ or being connected to people whether that is a neighbour, friend, someone who serves you regularly at the shop or post office, the receptionist at the swimming pool, the staff at the tea room you might frequent regularly, a colleague at work who always makes you that first morning cup of delicious coffee especially when you really want a cup of tea (it is the thought that counts). Encourage yourself to appreciate these people because they also provide a sense of belonging.
One way of thinking about who you have a sense of belonging to or deep connection with is by carrying out the following exercise.
Draw a bull’s eye (a series of circles around each other with spaces in between the circles) on a large piece of paper to map out a network of your relationships. Think of all the people in your life including family members, friends, carers, support workers, heads of clubs or organisations you belong to, teachers/ tutors, sports coaches, acquaintances and other people, such as neighbours, bus / taxi drivers and shopkeepers who are always ready to greet you with a smile or a short chat or conversation. Plot these people on the circle according to how important they are to your life.
For example, if there are individuals you feel close to or who are really significant to you, place them close to the centre of your circle. Then add those people who are in your network that are less important to you towards the outer part of the circle. Now, consider the following questions:
Are there any surprises? Who is central to you? Does it make you think of people you should spend more time with?
Are you putting lots of energy into relationships that are not very helpful instead of focusing on those that are? If so, what can you do to spend more time with those people who are important to you (as long as these are healthy relationships)?
If you need to find a sense of belonging with a wider range of people, you could consider a variety of options including joining local clubs or organisations. You could become a member of a community group that carries out good deeds such as charity events or community gardening / painting projects and so on. In an age where cyber friends are becoming increasingly important, it is essential that adults, young people and children consider clubs in which human contact takes place as this is more likely to develop a sense of ‘real’ belonging.
A little task for the month of June that can be helpful in developing your resilience and of those around you:
Predict a good experience for someone or help someone to experience something new.
Although it can be difficult to guarantee exactly what a new experience will be like for anyone, predicting a good experience enables people to look forward to good things before they have happened.
Perhaps you could provide someone with a good experience that helps to make the new situation enjoyable, especially in the month of June when even walking along a different street and seeing new gardens flourish can bring a smile to us all and help us to feel even that tiny little flicker of belonging to our environment.