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The Unrivaled Power of Belonging 

 December 31, 2020

By  Alan Oviatt

Belonging is the feeling of being part of something and mattering to others. While being included engages our heads, belonging engages our hearts.

Exclusion Hurts

Nearly everyone can think of a time when they have experienced that soul-destroying feeling of not belonging? Now imagine dealing with it every day of your life. Shaped by personal history, everyone lives with some regret, and for whatever reason, at some time in our lives, we had the feeling that we didn't belong.

It hurts, and it's not a feeling easily forgotten, especially for those in recovery. Being aware that you don't fit in because of something once done or the pain you once caused to others leaves you with a sad, pit-in-the-stomach feeling that doesn't go away. It's that uncomfortable feeling that you need to play-down your past or hide from past mistakes. It stunts recovery efforts and triggers depression, anxiety, and relapse.

A Home of 2nd Chances

There is an unrivaled power to belonging with its positive effects playing out every day in our recovery residences. There is a reinforcing message that binds residents together when the culture is one of full acceptance.

Access Foundation has worked hard to improve the acceptance culture in our sober living homes. We recognize every life as a powerful story of overcoming past mistakes. Our residents know instinctively that failure is not the falling down but the staying down. Their stories now are of change, growth, courage, and bravery. Acceptance and belonging are key elements to new and inspiring endings.

Belonging is a Catalyst to Potential

Belonging serves as a catalyst to potential. It sews the seeds of charitable service, a desire to achieve more, reconciliation with family and friends, and a thirst for meaning and happiness. We see much higher engagement, better communication, and more productivity from residents that feel they belong because when seen and valued for who they really are — "our own unique and authentic selves" — they thrive, and so do those around them.

Residents don't need to be popular or liked by everyone, but they do need to have a sense that they belong somewhere and with someone. 

About the author

Alan has an MBA and is the co-founder of Access Foundation. He has been a content writer for the recovery industry for the past eight years.

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