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We All Need To Belong

We really do need each other. We are all social animals and have an inherent need to be accepted and belong. Our relationships with other people may be the most important variable in determining our emotional health. Alfred Adler, the father of Adlerian psychotherapy, theorized that the goals of belonging are embedded in five life tasks. They are identified as friendship, occupation, love, spirituality, and an understanding of our individual selves.

Friendship: This is probably our best indicator of our social interest because one’s relationship with significant friends expresses one’s attitude towards the whole community.

Love: Fulfillment of this task involves the closest of all contacts between two humans. It eliminates the distance that is maintained in occupational and social relationships.

Occupation: Because we spend so much time with our occupation it becomes a life task that has a significant impact upon other life tasks. Whether our occupation is paid, volunteer work, or as a homemaker, it impacts our identity and self-esteem.

Spirituality: Because religion and our search for transcendental meaning play such an important part in the social fabric of our own individuality, spirituality is a key life task. It becomes an important part of our identity and has a profound impact upon how we relate to others.

Understanding of Self: Being able to define and affirm ourselves means that it is imperative that good relations exist between the “I” and the “me.” Is there consistency between who we are and what we do? Does how we treat others reflect our understanding of ourselves?

None of these tasks stands apart from the others. They are interdependent parts of the wonders of who we are. A consistent theme reflecting our own identity should run between them. There is value in doing a self assessment of these five areas. Are they in balance? Are they compatible with who we want to be?


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Dewaine Rice

By Dewaine Rice
Director of McVay Counseling Center