Our Need to Belong - Onespirit Ministers in Connection

Our Need to Belong

By Anne Cross

As human beings our need to belong is fundamental.

For companionship we play together, make love together, stay together for the protection of our children. In order to define who belongs communities have developed their own flavour, values, rituals, and creeds.

This need for us to belong may be what has kept faith groups relevant for millennia. Even with the scientific era bringing into question some of the mythology and magical thinking within religions, our desire for being part of a community, with all its benefits, has remained strong over rational thinking – or at least we have found ways to balance the two.

Within OSMIC we refer to ‘stages of development’. We recognise that through time the values, leadership models and key emotional drivers have changed with each new paradigm.

The ‘Traditional’ (known as ‘Blue’ in Spiral Dynamics or ‘Amber’, in Integral Theory) stage of development is the time when world faith traditions emerged bringing to the field a response to the previous predatory, impulsive style of leadership. With the Traditional stage we have a more conformist, stable and long term style. And for this we needed values and traditions to conform around.

Belonging is at the heart of the Traditional stage of development and is an element that has been included and grown with those who have sought new paradigms, structures and styles.

As we seek to form communities with evolutionary purpose; transparent, accountable, inclusive, participatory, and trusting of all, we might ask what ‘Belonging’ means for us?

We might start by assessing our own experience of Belonging. For many of us a positive experience of belonging passed us by as children. We grew up in traditional families and communities where belonging was equated with the acceptance of unchanging values and codes. This acceptance was seen as essential for progress within a particular community. And so constricting for growth. Indeed, the very intention of the mandate to conform is to stifle growth or change; the overriding intention is stability. (Is this why so many of us are allergic to change? Is this why I’m so addicted to change……another essay there!)

Those of us who find ourselves in unhealthy traditional communities mostly have one of two responses to the idea that everyone must follow the rules to belong; we may try to conform, squashing our individuality into a box marked ‘acceptable’ and ‘lovable’, or conversely, we may run for the hills declaring anarchy and forevermore live on or close to the margins. I’m with Groucho Marx who declared that he would never belong to a club that would accept him. The best activists, changemakers and comedians come from a dysfunctional family structure?

What does a healthy sense of Belonging look like in evolved communities?

Let us first examine the changed context from traditional stage to second tier. No longer is it imperative to maintain a belief structure that marks out those who belong and those who don’t. Gone is the rigidity of markers defining the edges of an organisation, the demands to assent to a creed, or respect afforded based on dominatory rather than natural hierarchy.

In this universal space we lean into the connectivity of all life, human and non-human.  We hear an invitation to the leaderfulness of each one of us in the communal dance of the cosmos.  We acknowledge hierarchy of complexity and leadership of the fundamentals. The balance between agency and communion, between the I and the We, is in harmony. I recognise my autonomy and embrace my role as a part of the whole. I no longer need to justify who I am or trim my awesomeness to fit in.

I ask of my experience of any community I encounter ~ am I free to connect spiritually, physically, socially, culturally? Is there any part of me that I must leave at the door or do I experience welcome for my whole being, my whole offering, my whole purpose?

How do we nurture a culture of belonging in an evolved organisation?

At this stage of development organisational leadership maintains a brisk pace until it needs to go slow, it holds a vision for a defined evolutionary purpose until it is time to realign. Such an organisation embraces conflict as a constant, necessary, and bountiful ingredient to creative unfolding; conflict nourishes and enhances growth, it does not slow its path.

‘Belonging’ in a Teal organisation is bound up with the organisation’s success; your story is our story, your vision is our vision. And through active listening we will each know how my evolutionary purpose is bound up with your evolutionary purpose and with this space.

For in this space, belonging comes not from being part of something static, defined, and cosy, but is fluid, dynamic, and challenging. Belonging begets a confidence that enables a shared understanding of the importance of each being living their true purpose in the place they are called to Be.

For further information:

Theoretical study around stages of development can be found in Spiral Dynamics (Clare Graves) and Integral Theory (Ken Wilbur).

These videos are helpful in understanding more about the Teal integral organisational structures that OSMIC is keen to emulate.

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