Identity, belonging, and self-understanding comes from a multitude of sources. As you read this, consider the nature of humanity and the connection we have with people all over the world. Now, consider the differences that arise as we look at the different societies or nation-states which span the globe. Physical location, financial status, employment, diet, religious identity, ethnic background, choice in media consumption, friend group, educational background, or family make-up changes how we understand these groups.
- Who decides who belongs and who does not?
- How do the groups we identify with change our self-perception?
- What happens when a person is different from a group in some fundamental way?
Group acceptance, rejection, and everything in between can drive the way a person views and connects with themselves or others. In today’s political and social climate, in-group and out-group belonging can mean the difference between life and death. In this age of social media, people have received the tools to connect in ways that our ancestors only dreamed about. Now, we can see how these groups act within a matter of seconds. We can make judgments about these people’s actions which further highlights and solidifies our belief systems or group identity. All of this (and more) swirls in the heads of clients we see in our offices.
For all this opportunity to connect, many voices seek to foment division and conflict. People question if their life does in fact matter to others, feeling fear as they see greater conflict and destruction within their communities, neighborhoods, businesses, and homes.
We help people understand for themselves- Where did this conflict start and how will it end? When a conflict arises within early relationships, a person’s identity or sense of belonging can become tenuous, rocky, unstable. As a solution to these conflicts, there is a tendency in people to conserve tradition, routine, and structure to promote safety for one’s self and their loved ones. Others may look to create systemic change by altering or eliminating traditional systems and bonds. When these two methods of conflict-resolution meet, the differences in identity and group belonging become even more apparent. Where do I belong? Who accepts me?
Therapy serves as a safe place to explore these differences, traditions, changes, and how they impact a person’s life. A therapist’s role is to meet the client, honor their worldview, learn about their beliefs, and foster a connection which promotes the client’s safety, growth, and development. This message, along with the services we have to offer, is to assure you that your life is important and to invite you to see the infinite potential for connection amidst the conflict; in your family, in your home, in your community, in your nation, in the world, and, most importantly, in yourself.