Nov 14, 2022
With Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen, Stanford Professor and Author of the book, “Belonging”
One of our most fundamental human needs is feeling a connection with others to avoid feeling lonely and isolated. As social creatures, our need to bond and connect with others is an important part of our basic survival instinct. History shows that being a part of a group is not only important for our continued survival but accomplishing tasks is far easier with the aid of others. When we think of a group we tend to think of large organizations with many members, but in reality, a group can be as small as two people. When the group comes together, there’s an understanding that all the needs of the group will be protected and confidences maintained. We take comfort in knowing we belong and we’re valued.
Today we are speaking with Stanford University professor and author Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen. His new book, “Belonging,The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides” studies our fundamental desire to belong and how our perception of group membership can impact our sense of security along with our mental and emotional well-being.
What You’ll Hear on This Episode:
From the time we are school-aged children and throughout our entire lives, whether we are at home, work, or within our communities, the need to feel seen and heard is critical to our emotional development and mental health. Belonging to a group combats feelings of isolation and loneliness. Therefore, the fear of being rejected or excluded from that group can be one of the most alarming and painful life experiences. Being accepted by a particular group not only validates us as individuals, but we also feel a sense of connection and security. Sometimes we will go to great lengths to stay part of a group even if the group culture is at odds with our personal beliefs. For example, think of all the stories of young, naive college freshmen that pledge a sorority or fraternity and put themselves in harm’s way with excessive and dangerous alcohol consumption. They do so simply because of their deep-rooted desire to be accepted by their peers. Just as we desire to be perceived as members of a particular group, we may be equally determined to keep others out of that group. Whether an “us vs. them” mindset stems from feeling threatened or a perception that resources are scarce, many problems in society come from our inability to see others as individuals. Instead, we ostracize an entire group and choose to align ourselves against them. Giving another person the opportunity to feel seen and heard is a gift. As we heard, it’s important to empathize and communicate in a way that invites cooperation. Instead of alienating others, we can give them the gift of acceptance by allowing them to feel included and by respecting them as individuals. Remember that every day is a gift. Be good to yourself and be good to those around you. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”
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