Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Sense of Belonging

Yesterday I did a tiny bit of research on "a sense of belonging," and not surprisingly found that a sense of belonging came with a sense of well-being. The lack of the feeling of belonging was a predictor of depression.

I know that a sense of belonging in AA is a predictor of sustainable sobriety.

When I came to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was welcomed warmly. I was given phone numbers and encouraged to use them. People treated me kindly and I appreciated that. I was glad I had AA meetings to go to and people to call.

But when I got elected to be the group's treasurer, everything changed. I became a part of the group. They needed me! I had a true sense of belonging. Maybe for the first time in my life.

I don't believe a sense of belonging comes from other people warmly welcoming me as a guest. I believe a sense of belonging comes from having an investment, a commitment, a share in the deal.

I learned early on from that experience that I needed to be involved. It was stressed to me when I was new that I needed to "do something" whether it was stacking chairs, washing cups, chairing meetings, or being part of the service structure. But I had to do something - and everyone can do something.

I cannot passively wait for someone else to make me feel I belong. I need to do that for myself.
It is a life or death proposition.


Mary LA said...

I so agree with you -- the key to belonging is commitment and what one can do for others, to be of 'maximum helpfulness'. That is what erodes our selfishness and brings us into community.

Syd said...

I also agree. Standing back and hanging in the wings will only tend to isolate me further. It was when I began service work that I fully felt that I belonged.

Anonymous said...

Amen! Whether in our program or life in general, I think that getting involved and regularly interacting with others is the key to so many good things for us. Thanks for the reminder!1

garden-variety drunk said...

This has been my experience as well. My first sponsor had me get a commitment within weeks of coming to my 1st meeting. As greeter, I had a chance to meet everyone at the meeting and felt fantastic everytime someone remembered my name. It was like Cheers, only better : )

Kim A. said...

To feel a part of something greater than myself..one of the gifts I have received in Alanon.


Kathy M. said...

Thank you for this post. It mirrors my own experience exactly. I never felt I belonged in my Al-Anon home group until I took a service position.

My first service position was a humble one: set up. I took it because it gave me something to do. I would have to actually talk to anybody. But people treated me differently. They started asking me questions, as if I had any authority!

Next, I tried greeter, which was really pushing my boundaries. I decided to hug everyone, not knowing how people would react. To my surprise and delight, they reacted very warmly and started hugging ME. It changed everything. And it was just the beginning.

Scott said...

MC, I think you're onto something. I can sure relate. I wish my wife would read this psot because you're describing her to a tee.

Thanks, my friend :-)

Ed G. said...

Agreed on all points at all levels. I feel so sorry for those who can't even put a nickle in the basket because, well, they choose not to belong. I fear many will not survive this disease.

Blessings and aloha...

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