Is Being Part Of The “Group” Hurting You (or helping?)

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Fitting in and belonging to a group can be a great source of other-dependent esteem for the group members.

The other-dependent esteem provided by the group can feel just like self-dependent esteem. There is a difference though. Other-dependent esteem belongs to the group while self-dependent esteem belongs to you. Other-dependent esteem provided by the group is temporary and will be gone when the group is gone. Self-dependent esteem belongs to you and is yours to keep.

Unfortunately for some, it doesn’t matter what the group stands for or what their values are. They simply take on the identity provided for them by the group and often do so without question. It doesn’t even matter if it ruins their reputation. Just being a group member and fitting in is enough. Group members will often make the necessary adjustments to fit in even if the adjustments they make go against their own personal values. The need to fit in and belong can be so strong that one’s own personal values are tossed aside and are no longer of any importance.

The standard for fitting in with certain groups may be considerably lower than others even though quite costly. The student who receives a school suspension for smoking dope behind the fence with the cool group is an illustration of this. Likewise the individual who prefers to go to happy hour every day after work with coworkers instead of going home for dinner with the family may pay a heavy price for the need to fit in and belong. Not only is the family relationship in jeopardy, but what about the loss of employment for coming in to work day after day with an obvious hangover?

What have you been willing to risk just to fit in and belong? What price have you been willing to pay in order to fit in and belong?

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