We need to belong to something special, to something we care about.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

We need to belong, to something special, to something we care about. To some group, or some one. A tribe, a relationship, a best friend, a job, a company, a team, a country, a family, a group of friends. We need to be good enough to belong to it, or better than the competition to be comfortable, to relax. We can’t rest until we are.

We fear rejection, and mourn the loss of things and people we value. We worry, or work, or both. And if we can’t do it? The alternative is unbearable, and while suicide is extreme, anxiety and depression are common.

What is the cause of the problem, and what is the solution?

  • The cause is meaning, and the solution is feedback
  • To understand meaning, we need to understand connection
  • To understand feedback, we need to carry out a test


We are born needing protection to survive, and to enable protection, we are hardwired to cry.

When a child cries, that cry means something to a member of the group, and when that member understands what that cry means, it will provide what is needed, so long as the child is sufficiently valuable.

If the child’s cry is not heard, then it will not survive. If the child’s cry is heard but not understood, then it will not survive. If the child’s cry is heard and understood, but it is not valued, then it will not survive.

If we do not feel like we can be heard, understood, or valued, then we will experience the sensation of being in survival mode, with feelings of fear, or frustration and anger, and this will result in fight, flight, or freeze behavior.

We need to feel connected to feel safe, because it is in our nature to survive.


We have awareness of the experience of life, and this post is about the meaning of that experience. What we experience is imagination and reality.

Imagination is experienced by the mind. The imagination has an internal voice that speaks our thoughts, and as you read this, you can hear your internal voice reading the words, asking questions, and making comments. You might be asking yourself right now if your internal voice is working. This is the voice of the imagination.

When we day dream, we are immersed in the imagination, but when we are talking to someone, we experience a blend of imagination and reality. We hear the voice of the imagination speaking our thoughts, commenting on what we are seeing and hearing in reality.

Reality is experienced by the body. The body has internal sensors and external sensors. The internal sensors detect information inside the body, like feelings of hunger and pain, and the sensations of chemicals like hormones and drugs. The external sensors are the five senses, and detect information about the world outside the body.

Imagination and reality are experienced by awareness. We are aware of our thoughts and sensations, and what they mean will generate behavior, and make us do things. If we get the meaning wrong, then our behavior will not make sense to people around us. When our behavior stops making sense to others, it generates friction and damages relationships, and this damage will start to generate problems in our mind.


Imagine that you are talking with someone at home. Imagine that the conversation is going badly. Do you feel that you are not being heard, understood, or valued? Do you have sensations of fear or anger? 

Try walking away at the first sensation of fear or anger. Let them know that you love them, that you need to get some air, and that you will be back. Let the body calm down. Then return to them. If the person can be calm, then when they are, ask them how they felt. Did they feel as though they weren’t being listened to, understood, or valued? Did they have sensations of fear or anger? 


This is information is feedback, and if it changes your behavior, then your meaning of their behavior has changed.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Find Our Tribe

    Why We Need a Tribe & How to Find Them

    by Terri Kozlowski

    The Secret Sauce of Kindness – Connection

    by David Fryburg, MD
    PeopleImages / Getty Images

    3 Research-Backed Ways to Become a Happier Human Being

    by Eric Barker
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.