The Importance of Belonging

Feeling a sense of belonging is key to happiness. We’ve been accustomed to believing that feeling belonging is supplemental to all our other essential needs and drives. Or even worse, that a need to feel belonging is a sign of weakness. We are encouraged to be independent from a very young age. But if needing to belong is truly not important anymore then why do we feel so stung when we are left out?

Connected

Being able to conduct our lives from behind a computer screen is fast, reliable and convenient. We are more connected than ever before. However, just because our social lives have moved into a virtual forum, our emotions haven’t. People are still feeling left out of groups, if anything, it’s now just easier to tell when it’s happening. Our young people are living through unprecedented times. We have no idea of the longitudinal effects living in this age of ever present technology will have, because no-one’s ever done it before.

Feeling a sense of belonging is the basic root of happiness. We are naturally conditioned to live in social groups. Every fibre of our being is made to connect. Isolation is a problem in our society today because people are losing touch with those connections and ultimately, their sense of belonging.

Faith and Healing

Personal connection is an important linking thread throughout all stages of our lives. There are many studies on attachment theory regarding infants and their place within the family. We have discovered that a lack of connection as a baby and child can result in catastrophic effects. As a young adult, friendships and relationships contribute heavily to our feeling of wellbeing. And adults thrive when they feel a personal sense of belonging. Studies have been done around when employees feel belonging to their company how that impacts upon the overall outcomes of the business. That’s where ‘team building days’ came from. In health, results of studies on patients recovering from stroke suggest that those with a religious faith had better recovery outcomes overall than those who didn’t. The researchers linked their results to the idea that those patients with a faith felt a sense of belonging to their community.

Acceptance

Feeling a sense of belonging can actually heal you! That’s amazing and so powerful. We all know how important it is to feel accepted; the the next step to that is feeling belonging. In an age where individuality is king, we must remember how to serve each other because that is where the sense of community comes in. And whatever community that is that you’re a part of, or want to be a part of, there are ways to help yourself connect into that group. There are ways to be yourself and never again feel like the one on the outskirts of the clique.

This is the first in a series of posts all about belonging and over the series I will be exploring the idea of how to connect in to those groups you want to be a part of. I will be doing a Facebook or Instagram live this week to expand on the ideas and studies I’ve written about above so if you’d like to follow along you can just click those links to follow. There is also a podcast about this series on the way too which I am most excited about!

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The Importance of Belonging

Should I Cut My Baby’s Hair?

I’ve been thinking about taking my little boy for his first hair cut. It’s one of the ‘firsts’ parents talk about and write in memory books. Beb is 15 months old and he’s still got that fluffy baby hair (I love it!) but it’s long enough that I find I’m side swiping it across his forehead to get it out of the way. I feel a bit unsure about getting his hair cut though and it was this feeling that got me thinking about children’s hair cuts in general.

Little Boys with Long Hair

Hanging around in the home ed community a lot lately, I have noticed a lot of the boys have long hair. Not long-ish, or grunge-y type long, but waist-long flowing golden locks. I’ve met so many boys with the same hairstyle I began to wonder if it is a home-ed thing? And if it is, then why? Why long and not blue or spiky or anything else?

Should You Cut Your Baby's Hair?

I like sharing pics of the back of his head on Insta.

I started thinking about Beb’s hair and when I should get it cut. The word should was what struck me. ‘Should’ according to what? Well-meaning advice? The infamous red book? I decided just as soon as it got a bit long I would take him for his first hair cut. He’s going to hate it. I just know. Then like a bolt from the blue it clicked into place. Maybe the mums of the boys I have met being the awesome thinking outside of the box type people they are, have chosen to disregard the unwritten rule book of children’s hair cuts. And maybe there are some very good reasons they have.

Rights and Decisions

Perhaps it’s more than just a hairstyle. Perhaps the thinking behind it is to enable their children make decisions about their own appearance and not enforce perceived norms upon them in the meanwhile. I mean, who decides boys or men have to have short hair? Do I have the right to decide for my child how he will look, or what is the ‘right’ way for him to look?

I know this thinking will probably face some criticism, after all I choose his clothes everyday for him and so forth. I do make a lot of decisions for him and on his behalf, some of which he is generally unhappy about (nappy changes spring to mind). But while he is busy being a baby and later, a child playing or running around a park, not thinking about his hair or other people’s opinions of his hair, would it hurt for me to wait a while and let him make his own decisions about his appearance? Is his first haircut setting me on an oblivious path of only being able to consider my child’s autonomy when it suits me?  It’s such a minor thing, hair. I wonder if leaving his hair to grow out until he wants to make his own decision on it allows a stronger message to reach my kids about making our own personal choices.

Should You Cut Your Baby's hair

Another picture of the back of his head.

Prejudices

Maybe these Mamma’s have gone before me and reached the same fork in the road and have considered their actions the same way I am. Isn’t that always a comforting thought to remember people have walked the same path before you?

A simple haircut that seems a small thing has thrown up a chance to consider my parenting, and to help my children navigate their way through society’s pre-set ideas about how they ‘should’ look. I had a real a-ha moment there in my kitchen thinking about kids with long hair. Suddenly I had even more respect for the women and families who are encouraging their kids to be who they are by actions and thoughts as well as words. What an amazing gift to their children.

As a famous company strap-line says, ‘There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a good place to start.’ I’m glad Beb’s first hair cut got me thinking about these things. I still even after this soul searching will more than likely take Beb for his first hair-cut. What can I say, I’m not strong enough to confront society’s prejudices so openly quite yet? Maybe that’s another blog post.

 

Relationships and the Zombie Apocalypse

If you had a time machine what would be the first thing you would do? A knee jerk answer might be “win the lottery!” but if you really think about it, I bet the answer has something to do with relationships.

I really like zombie films, and anything post-apocalyptic based. Some of my favourites are The Walking Dead, Hunger Games, Legend and 28 Days Later. The premise fascinates me. In these films there is usually a small group of people on a search for other people. Part of it is to pool their resources but mainly they just need to find other people because, when you think about it, life is all about relationships.

friends

Friends

I was walking along a path beside a large field the other day and there was no-one else for miles around and I thought ‘Oh it’s like one of those films’. I thought how nice and quiet it was and yet if it was the apocalypse how much I would long to talk to another human being. No matter who they were, or how loud they chewed their food. We all know relationships are important .

family

Family

We all love our families and children and endeavour to continually pay into those relationships. We have close friends, and acquaintances and now even people on Facebook who will walk straight past you in the street but like your status online (what’s that about?!) but I got to thinking about how *all* of life is about relationships. Even the little polite conversations we have daily with complete strangers. Our personal relationships make families and friendships, this on a wider scale creates community which makes up society, and many societies make up the big wide world. Our every relationship is important.

I’m not saying we should be happy and smiley every day of the week or that every friendship should be perfect, that’s the very beauty of it. Some friendships will withstand distance, some will not, some are intense and need a lot of regular input, some function perfectly well intermittently. When I think of all my relationships they are all so different and it’s just because they’re with different people. The different mixes of personalities and traits define the dynamic of each one. My best friend lives 328 miles away (I just checked Wales – Newcastle!) she moved there when we were 10 and even though we may not speak for weeks on end I still feel a very deep connection with her.

BFFs

Me and my BFF

Relationships also change over time, they ebb and flow. Like tearing muscles to build them back up stronger we have disagreements that teach us how to be with one another once we have been through it. I saw a post that said in Japan when a vase is broken it gets repaired with gold so that the more broken it gets the more beautiful and unique it becomes. I think God made relationships invisible on purpose so that no record is kept.

kintsugi

The art of Kintsugi

We are all always so busy and on to the next thing. It’s the kind of age we’re living in. The more I think about it though the more I want to take a leaf out of the older generation’s book and slow down to appreciate the interactions in my everyday. Wave at the toddler, speak to the cashier, listen to my daughter in the car. I think life is all about relationships because if I was the only person on earth life would be pretty rubbish!

In one of my favourite films -About Time- the main character can time travel and the most important thing he wants to do in all the world is spend time with his dad. What would you do? Is there someone who you would like to travel to, to spend more time with?

Twin Mummy and Daddy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Sparkles At Midnight
Mummy Times Two

Putting on a show

If you’d asked me do I feel I ever put on a façade for others I would have answered categorically no, definitely not. That was until I found myself plumping the sofa cushions today.

A new mum friend was coming to visit, someone I don’t know very well, so I’d tidied the house ready. When she popped round to offer her apologies –she couldn’t come after all her babba was unwell- I thought oh well the house is sorted now at least. As I switched the plug in off I thought “Oh how funny, I must have had that on expressly for her visit.” Then I went round and did a few other things, I opened the window, I made a cuppa, I realised actually there were a few things I had done in order to present myself in a certain way to this person I didn’t know very well. I thought that was really interesting.

In college I failed my psychology A-Level and a couple of others too (cough cough) but I remember learning about conformity. Zimbardo did this awesome albeit completely unethical experiment in 1971 called The Stanford Prison Experiment which I see on TV quite regularly in varying forms. He basically pitted two groups of people – volunteers – against each other as prisoners and prison guards and the surprising results were not just how horrible the guards became with the prisoners but how compliant the volunteer prisoners became.

There are different ways people conform to things. Basically what I like to think of as the wishy washy and the true die hards. I fall into the true die hards camp. If I agree with something I take it on fully. Balls to the wall, no holds barred, I’m in or I’m out. This is probably why I was smoking 20 a day by the time I was 21. As I’ve gotten older I can see that most of life is a massive grey area and therein lies the beauty (turns out there are many societal factors that play in behaviour like smoking so not quite so rebellious after all) but I am still prone to strong opinions and I am still prone to not really caring what people think of me. To be honest, I think it was what Rich found so attractive about me. It certainly wasn’t the smokers cough.

I’m an informed decision kind of person. It doesn’t matter to me if all my friends are doing the cry-it-out method, if there is a good reason I don’t want to then I won’t. I read and research things, I go my own way when I have to because I know that ultimately it’s me who has to be happy with the consequences of my decisions. That’s not to say that some of my decisions are not sacrificial. I love hearing people’s opinions and I love it when my thinking is challenged. In fact let me just take this moment to say those people are my favourite. The ones who can discuss without arguing, who present me with a totally different viewpoint and go but what if…? And it makes my mind open like a flower.

flowerAnyway I would never in a million years have thought that I was the type of person who does something, anything just because it’s what other people do. Until today when I plumped those pillows and considered waiting to use the loo in case someone knocked my door. Did I want her to think my home was lovely? Yes. Had I decided the best way to show her that was to have a nicely presented orderly house? Yes. That was somewhere in my consciousness. Did I want her to think my house smells nice? Yes. That’s just a funny I like nice smells too, I sometimes spray air freshener even when no-one has done a poo. When I get to the root of it, what essentially is the point of all that? I wanted her to like me. I turned that plug in off and all this came running through my mind -and now you have had the pleasure of coming on this mini journey with me- and I thought “Oh.” ” I wonder what other strange little ‘please like me’ things I have been doing all this time.” Perhaps I would have been a lot more compliant in that experiment than I ever realised.

“…in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa.

Church Macmillan Coffee Morning

After having a lovely time at Bloggers Meet for Macmillan I wanted to host a coffee morning myself at our church. We always have teas and coffees and a chat after church so cake is an added bonus.

SAMSUNG CSC

I signed up on the Macmillan website and they sent me a free coffee morning hosting pack in the post within the week. At church Beg and I set up a little table and put the cakes out, there were loads of decorations in the pack to make it eye-catching. The bunting was my favourite bit. Beg wrote out the cake labels they looked really cute in her handwriting.  I had a feeling my #churchfam would be receptive to the idea and I was right, everyone was very generous and in total we raised £73.96!

Macmillan’s Coffee Morning seems to be gaining momentum and I was really pleased to be a part of this year’s event and completely surprised we raised so much. It was a lovely morning, I knew I could rely on my church family to support such an amazing cause.

If you would like to get involved, it’s not too late to join in as there’s loads of free downloads and ideas on the Macmillan website to help you host your own.

If you live in Newport or nearby and are looking for a friendly bunch of people to call your own #churchfam you’re welcome to come and check us out at Faith Church

Thank you to everyone who donated! 🙂