Making friends and finding a sense of belonging

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A sense of belonging to a greater community can improve your motivation, health, and happiness. Studies demonstrate that a sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. That is, if you don’t feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles.

If you are feeling lonely or like you don’t belong it is important to remember:

  • You are not alone – It is common to feel like you don’t belong, especially after starting something new like a new job, or a new university program
  • Don’t give up – Everyone has the opportunity to find belonging. Don’t give up yet, community may start with the next person you meet.
  • It gets better – Even if you feel like you don’t belong right now, does not mean this will be forever.

Tips for building a sense of belonging wherever you are:

  1. Say yes to new opportunities. If you take a risk and try something new, you might meet new people or find a new place you belong.
  2. Be open and approachable. Try to be empathetic, trustworthy, and compassionate and people will be more drawn to you.
  3. Set achievable expectations. Go easy on yourself and practice self-kindness. Despite what you see on social media, most people have a small group of close friends. Don’t feel like you need to achieve hundreds of close friendships.
  4. Monitor your thoughts. Keep track of your thoughts and reframe negative thoughts.
  5. Find the common ground. Look for similarities between yourself and people you meet not differences. Finding commonalities can help you empathize with other people and help people bond with you.

A sense of belonging won’t come over night. Keep practicing these tips and remember to be kind to yourself. If you feel like you need extra support, contact Counselling Services at 519-888-4567 ext. 32655.