New Years 2016: A Need to Belong to Each Other

I was in the airport waiting to return home from a family visit for the holidays. Two women, just behind me, were having a lively conversation in another language that I recognized as familiar to me. I kept thinking to myself, “Are they speaking Assyrian, the language of my heritage, or Hebrew?” To know for sure, I politely asked.

“Excuse me, are you speaking Assyrian?” “No, Hebrew,” the younger woman replied. Explaining why I was eavesdropping, I said, “I’m Assyrian, and our languages are both Aramaic, so they sounded so alike to me.” “I know,” she said with kind and certain acknowledgment of both of our ancient, Aramaic roots. She then relayed the story to her mother in Hebrew who was visiting the United States to celebrate her 84th birthday with her daughter.  She smiled lovingly back to me, and we wished each other a blessed new year.

I’m sharing this story to say that there was something so comforting to me to hear language that was distinctly of Aramaic origin. I was drawn so completely into the women’s beautiful melody of sounds, as if I was trying hard to recall something very meaningful to me from long ago. I know you know the feeling too. The sense of belongingness and intimate feeling you get when family and relatives chat in their native tongue.

To Belong

To belong is vital to our well-being. The first psychologist who spoke about the importance of belonging was psychologist Henry Murray (1938). He identified three-core psychological needs (need for achievement, power and affiliation) that form the basis of our motivations and well being. Psychologist David McClelland, strongly influenced by Murray’s work, popularized the term need for affiliation that emphasized the necessity of human beings to belong and be involved, if they are to thrive. (1938). Personality theorist Alfred Adler, founder of the Adlerian approach to human development and psychotherapy, based his entire personality theory on the understanding that our individual well being is inextricably interwoven with the groups to which we belong.

Connection to family, friends and society at large makes us feel a part of something important and larger than self that forms our identity and positively affects our physical and mental health. Belonging is imperative to our survival. In less civilized times, people literally could not survive without a group to shelter and protect them. Consider the terrorist groups of today. Groups like Isis, for example, have flourished on the loneliness and separation of social misfits who lack meaningful, life-affirming connections to people. Affiliation with these types of groups promises a feeling of belongingness, power and achievement.

The research supporting the value of belongingness in our personal lives is far too vast to cite here. But, there’s no doubt about it, belongingness is vital to our well-being and survival.

A Need to Belong to Each Other

if-we-have-no-peace-it-is-because-we-have-forgotten-that-we-belong-to-each-other-quote-1I pose today a core human need that is greater than the need to connect solely to people and groups based on the inclusion of some and exclusion of others. We have a spiritual need to belong to each other, no matter our race, culture, religion or country. I thought about the conversation I had with the two women in the airport for some time after. As psychologists do, I reflected upon my need to speak to them. Most obviously, I wanted to know the language they were speaking. But, I also knew something more important was going on inside of me. I wanted to connect to them on a spiritual level that rises above race, religion, nationality, and philosophical differences. My reaching out was more to say, “I’m curious about you”; “I want to know you.” It was really less about the sharing of our Aramaic roots and more my spiritual need to say – we belong to each other because we are human beings struggling to be understood, respected, connected and to make a meaningful and fulfilling life.  

I want to share with you a comment made by my friend and Anthropologist Jack L. Amsell , with regard to the story I shared here today.

“Anthropology makes a clear distinction between race, which is a physical study, and ethnicity, which is a cultural study. To anthropologists there is no human race. There is only a human species. Therefore, a race denotes physical distinctions. So, physically, we are one, but we have some physical differences. More importantly, it matters not what we look like. We can believe the same things or different things, regardless of how we look. Likewise, we can speak with different voices no matter what we look like or whatever we believe. Your story makes that abundantly clear.”

I thank Jack for sharing with me this anthropological understanding of our oneness. We have numerous chances to connect with people who may look, talk, feel and believe differently than us. We have abundant chances to feel one with each other and the world at large. We just need to be mindful of our spiritual need to belong to each other.

A Consciousness of Belonging to Each Other, for 2016

Go into 2016 with a consciousness of belonging to each other, no matter differences in our look, talk, feelings and beliefs. One of the most valuable understandings I’ve grasped from my Psychology in Everyday Life followers is that people all over the world, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians want to be valued, understood, respected and most importantly connected to each other as a human species.

I hope you liked today’s post. If so, please let me know by selecting the Like Icon, Tweeting it to friends or posting on LinkedIn or Google+.

Thanks for letting me share with you today. I want to thank my followers from Psychology of Everyday Life for your continued friendship and connection. Words cannot fully express how much you mean to me. I wish for every one of you out there a blessed, healthy and prosperous 2016 that is filled with new enlivening connections to people who enrich your life.

God Bless, Happy New Year, Deborah



9 Responses to “New Years 2016: A Need to Belong to Each Other”

  1. This lifted me up. Thank you. A friend shared this and it touched me very much.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Serena. I’m so happy you felt optimistic and hopeful by this New Years post. What a great world this would be if we saw our connection to people, no matter our differences. Warm regards to you Serena. Deborah.

  2. avatar Dan says:

    Such a great read! In early fall of last year, I felt a deep disconnect from many things. A failed relationship, a nearly dissolved social circle (mostly due to the failed relationship), and distance from my family all left me feeling very isolated. I reached out to a family member and said that I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. Initially, the comment was brushed off with a “just come over here for dinner tonight!” However, I dove deeper into it to say that I was looking for that deeper connection and sense of belonging. You speak to that here, and I appreciate you bringing it to an even brighter light.

    It’s definitely a focus for me in 2016 and a work in progress, but thank you for giving it a spotlight. That sense of belonging is so essential to beginning a foundation for a healthy confidence towards facing life’s obstacles.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Dan, sorry for the delayed response to you. It’s so common to feel the disconnect you describe here with relationship loss, especially with loved ones and family. I recall many many years ago feeling disconnected in this way – the isolation and lonely feelings are very painful. But, there is light. You are right, a sense of belonging is the foundation for a healthy confidence and happiness. I’m pleased that you will work on bringing this into your life Dan. YOU deserve meaningful, fulfilling connections. Never forget this. See you here again soon.
      Warm regards, Deborah.

  3. Life has become so individualistic

  4. It is an interesting story that has inspired me .


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