Human beings all crave to belong. We want to have friendships that support us and make us feel good. However, when we start to feel no longer wanted by others, we experience the weight of loneliness and isolation. We may try different ways to feel connected with the group again. A recent article connected bullying to feelings of not belonging.
Some people will go about this in negative ways such as gossiping, harassing, or physical hurting those whom they believe have hurt their connection with others. This can be face-to-face or online. These bullying behaviors are almost never effective in making us feel like we belong. The more we do these behaviors, the more people will move away from us.
A more positive way to increase feelings of belonging could include accepting the new person in your friend group and inviting them to get lunch with you so you can get to know them better. Instead of creating a foe, make a friend!
Sometimes we are the ones who are bullied. Instead of viewing that person as a heartless, cruel individual, maybe we could see how they are feeling threatened or left out and find ways to make them feel included. Changing how we react to the bullies in our lives will change their behaviors.
If we see someone is being bullied by another, it is also important to tell the bully their behavior isn’t cool. Bullies tend to change more based on what people their age think, and not adults. Remember, the bully is probably feeling pretty helpless themselves – so when they aren’t being a bully, try including them in activities and see if they change their game. (Of course as long as you feel like it is a safe thing to do).
By understanding the background of bullying behaviors, we can change the conversation about bullying. For more bullying advice, check out stopbullying.gov
How have you been affected by bullying? Does this article help you to understand it a little better?