The Trauma of “Not Belonging”

The desire to belong is common to most mammals and inherent in all human beings. As individuals we behave in accordance with the desires and norms of our groups in order to belong or fit in. Our beliefs, values, and actions are aligned with these groups. When we feel secure in this belonging, we feel a sense of comfort and safety, a grounded emotional base that allows us to explore the world as we grow.

The strongest group we are attached to is our family of origin. After that, we identity with groups that represent our cultural background: family religions, the racial and ethnic backgrounds we were born into, the people in the area we come from, our state, our nation. The values of each of these groups exert an influence on our own values and behaviors.

Sometimes, however, we must break or disconnect from a group. If we marry someone from another faith and convert, we leave the religious group we were previously attached to, which may even include the family. Or if someone is homosexual (in the U.S.) he/she must disconnect from the family values, the family’s religion, and quite often the peer group in which he/she was raised. This disconnection may not be an overt break; it may only be internal. But even so,  whenever we leave a group trauma results.

These breaks with the groups to which we formerly belonged will cause guilt (feelings that come from within) and often shame (feelings that come from without, from the responses of the members in our group to our leaving). This creates another level of trauma. As justified as we are in making these breaks, they will take a toll on us mentally, emotionally, and physically and affect our relationships.

These are traumas that may recede into the background over time. We may not even be aware of them. But they still remain in the psyche and cause deep, untold suffering until they are addressed. While Somatic Experiencing® can help free the individual from these effects, Family Constellations has the added bonus of being able to resolve the traumas between the individual and the group they left. When the two are used together in treatment, they form a deep, soul-expanding whole experience.

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