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.