The Human Need to Belong

belonging02Human beings all crave the feeling of belonging. We want to have familial relationships and friendships that support us and make us feel good. However, when we start to feel others no longer want us, we experience the weight of loneliness and isolation. We may try different ways to feel connected with the group again. A study found a connection between bullying and the bully’s feelings of not belonging.

Some people will deal with feelings of rejection in negative ways such as gossiping, harassing, or physical hurting those whom they believe have hurt their connection with others. This kind of bullying can be face-to-face or online. But you know what?—these negative actions almost never make us feel like we belong. The more we hurt others, the more they will move away from us.

A more positive way to increase feelings of belonging is to accept the new person in your friend group and invite them to eat 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 the ways we react to the bullies in our lives might 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—only 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

What kinds of bullying have you witnessed in your life? What kinds of bullying have you experienced yourself? How has it affected you? 

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