Close your eyes and picture “home.” Perhaps, a clear image of a physical structure comes to mind. But can there be more to a home than the physical structure?
When we broaden our idea of what home is, it becomes apparent that the word is actually hard to define. It has a meaning that is unique to each of us.
A Closer Look at How YOU Define Home
For some of us, home is very much rooted in the physical structure. Sometimes the physical structure we picture in our heads as “home” and our actual place of residence are the same. However, this is not always the case; particularly for those who have moved somewhere different.
If it’s not the physical structure, what else is home?
For some of us, our definition of “home” has to be a particular geographic location. Maybe it’s the place of our ancestry, a place we grew up, or a place we spent the majority of our lives. Maybe we didn’t grow up or spend most of our lives there, but it could be where we experienced a meaningful part of our lives.
Yet, for some of us, our definition of “home” has to include certain people. Maybe it’s our parents, certain family members, significant other, and/or close friends.
Sometimes it’s not just one element. It has to be an exact combination of the physical structure, location, and people. For instance, if you were to uproot the physical structure you reside/resided in and place it in a completely different location, or if you were to not have certain people in it or living nearby, it will no longer be considered home.
Why Is All of This Important?
Home can mean a lot of things. Knowing what it means to you can help you determine if there’s a dissonance between your idea of home and your reality. This dissonance can stand in the way of you feeling completely relaxed and comfortable wherever you are. It can also affect your level of joy and happiness in ways you may not be aware of or be able to explain.
This dissonance can be termed as homesickness. However, we’re going to be more specific and call it home deprivation, because the brain is actually being deprived of an essential need–a need to feel at home. As humans, we are wired to need and crave a sense of belonging. Our individual definitions of home is a blueprint for exactly what we need to have to feel some of that belonging.
To determine what home is for you, here are a few questions to reflect on:
- Where does your heart reside?
- Where have you been that made you feel right at home?
- Does what you picture as home differ from the place you currently reside and go to sleep most nights?
- In your mind, does this home need to be a particular geographic location?
- Does this home need to have certain people?
- If someone were to ask you at random: “Are you going home?” Where does your mind immediately jump to?
Once you know what home means to you and what it takes to feel there, the final question is: What can you do if where you currently live doesn’t feel like home?
- Packing your bags and moving is one option.
- Frequent visits “home” is another.
- Yet another alternative is to consider how you might incorporate your key elements of home to where you are now.
Whatever you do to remedy your feeling of home deprivation, know that your total mental health and wellbeing do weigh in that decision.