The need to Belong


We are social beings seeking connections and it is in these connections that we find our belonging. We are even willing to make adjustments and changes, so that we may feel like one with our families, our groups, colleagues and so on. If I am out with my friends, I may behave in a certain manner acceptable to my friend group but at home, I may behave differently as I connect with my family members through a different set of behavior.

I may exhibit the same behavior but what if I hold a different viewpoint. What happens if I do not share the same view held by other members of my family. Each family has certain beliefs and views and in a way, this becomes a rule for belonging to a particular family unit. Those who go against the beliefs or hold a different view may be made to feel as not worth being a part of the family. The person with a different take on life can be felt like an outsider and hence feel different than the others. This difference sets in a feeling of exclusion.

In Family Constellation work, we talk a lot about exclusion and its impact on an individual as well as its impact on the entire family unit. When someone is removed from the whole, in other words, excluded from a larger unit, then there is a sense of imbalance felt by other members of a family. This impact can continue for generations even when the excluded person may no longer be living.

In his book “no waves without the ocean” Bert Hellinger mentions that “if those who died have been excluded or forgotten and are then accepted back into the family again, it gives a sense of completeness to all family members. When everyone is accepted in the family, the living feel fulfilled and free.”  This Acceptance brings about a feeling of wholeness. Through constellation work, this return to wholeness can be felt.

So how do I accept everyone within my family system? I do it by acknowledging them, even the ones who have been excluded by other family members. To me, acknowledgment is about giving the person a place in my heart. I may not agree with the actions or behavior of the person but by giving the person a place in my heart, I also accord the person their rightful place in the entire family structure. This way I view my family unit as a whole and thus bring about this wholeness within me.

What I love the most about constellation work is this right to belong to your family, irrespective of your views or beliefs. In a family constellation, there is no distinction between any family member. All have the same right to belong – the ones who hold the family views and the ones who do not. What I love about this work is the complete acceptance of every individual without a moral judgment of right or wrong. Belonging means being a part of and every person is a part of the family regardless of his or her behavior, thought or action. It gives every person a rightful place. To me, that is belonging – knowing that I am a part of a whole, irrespective of my thoughts, actions, and beliefs.

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