Have you found your place? Can you remember when you were at a large group celebration, a wedding, or a corporate event. That is, before COVID-19. You are wandering around the tables looking for your name, your place. Have you ever been the one to swap the table name cards so that you could sit near someone else! You either recognised that this was not the best place for you or for the other person. It’s a small fact of life and not one that is likely to have much impact. But what about other situations when finding your place is not so easy.
Most of us, all of us who are not homeless, have a place where we belong – our home. Inside our home there are other places we identify with. A chair, a bed, our place at the family dinner table. It becomes our routine, we are comfortable. Yet why is belonging, finding our place so important?
It is human nature to seek out connection, to belong to something bigger than ourselves. For most of us who were born into a loving family, we find our place. We are loved and it has a settling affect on us. We are home. We have our place. We are comfortable. We are okay.
But place is more than a home where we live. As we go on this journey of life, we have to find our ‘other’ place. This includes at work, with colleagues, with friends, with neighbours, within our community. The road is sometimes difficult. As others already have their place, their network. They are comfortable there. They are not open to sharing their place with others.
Think back to when you were at school or university. A new year, a new class. How did you go at finding your place? Were others prepared to welcome you into their circle. Or did you find yourself on the edge, never quite finding your place?
Finding your place through connection
We might know where we belong and gain security when it comes to where we live. But what about connection to the world beyond our security blanket, of home? Where do we fit in when it comes to our neighbourhood, our community?
In our neighbourhood we can be friendly and welcoming to others. We do not always have to agree. We can even have different ideas about how we ‘should’ be living. But some people do not crave connection even though it is good for them. They isolate themselves at their place and get on with life. They have found their place and are happy there.
Yet there are occasions when we have to venture out of our bunker, our place, and interact with the rest of the world. Even if briefly. We all need to socialise and form relationships for our health and wellbeing.
Some of us live alone. If we do not find connection close by in our neighbourhood then we have to move out wider into the community. We have to take the risk and explore the world around us. Even if finding our place does not happen on our first exploration trip.
Disconnection from our place
It is when there is disconnection or dislocation from our place that problems start. Think of the impact of an earthquake. There is no sign a disruption is about to happen. Disconnection can happen quickly, unexpectedly. It comes in many forms. It can come as a result of losing your job, losing your home, or losing a relationship.
Disconnection happens in all life situations. As a couple, a family, at church, through work, within groups. It can also come through fostering or adoption. If a child does not receive acceptance and belonging there is immediate disconnection. When this happens, the disconnection is devastating. Finding the way back is not only difficult but painful.
Then there is the subtle disconnection that comes within families. Even families that appear ‘okay.’ What about the word said in anger and without an apology? Or a punishment that is too severe? Or shaming or belittling a child or a partner? Then comes the feeling of disconnection. The search continues. We look for acceptance, security and belonging – our place.
Connection after disconnection
How do we heal the wounds of the past? It is more difficult to find our way, our place, after we have experienced disconnection.
As I tread my journey of life I philosophise about such things.
My first step is to never try to be someone different. At least not all at once. That is impossible. We all have to start small. One tiny step of change.
We cannot wait for someone else to push as in the right direction. We have to take responsibility for our own pathway out of disconnection. As Carl Jung said ‘your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakes.’