9. Places We Go When We Search For Connection

Belonging, Fitting In, Connection, Disconnection, Insecurity, Invisibility, Loneliness


Belonging is a general inference drawn from cues, events, experiences, and relationships, about the quality of fit or potential fit between oneself and a setting. It is experienced as a feeling of being accepted, included, respected in, and contributing to a setting, or anticipating the likelihood of developing this feeling.

It a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.

Belonging is not passive and simply about joining or “going along” with others. When we sacrifice who we are, we not only feel separate from others, but we even feel disconnected from ourselves.

Belonging uncertainty is the term sometimes used to describe questioning one’s social belongingness. Belonging uncertainty can be high among members of marginalized groups, and this can have real consequences.

Authenticity is a requirement for belonging, and fitting in is a threat.


Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.


Disconnection is social rejection, social exclusion, and/or social isolation. These feelings of disconnection share the same neural pathways with feelings of physical pain.

Authenticity is a requirement for connection, and perfectionism (a type of fitting in) is a threat.


There are three types of insecurity:

  1. Domain-specific insecurity occurs when we are insecure about a specific domain or resource in life, for example, food insecurity, financial insecurity, or a lack of physical safety. Combating domain-specific insecurity is about access and resources
  2. Relationship or interpersonal insecurity occurs when we don’t feel we have a supportive and trusting relationship. It can happen either in a specific relationship or as an overarching feeling about all of our relationships. It makes us feel uncertain about being loved, trusted, protected, and valued.
  3. General or personal insecurity occurs when we are overly critical of our weaknesses. This may include being overly critical of our body image or our performance at work. The opposite of personal insecurity is self-security, which is the open and nonjudgmental acceptance of one’s own weaknesses.


Invisibility is a function of disconnection and dehumanization, where an individual or group’s humanity and relevance are unacknowledged, ignored, and/or diminished in value or importance.


Loneliness is the absence of meaningful social interaction—an intimate relationship, friendships, family gatherings, or even community or work group connections.