Support Ukraine with Official Tangled Ball® merchandise!

Belonging and the Tangled Ball of Bullying

That’s so Brené Brown of you.

Which is what my son said to me when we were talking about this year’s personal word. It’s his tradition to ask people to come up with one word that would capture their approach towards the coming year. A very short personal mantra.

Mine for 2020 is belonging. If you have ever read one of Brené Brown’s books or seen her enormously popular TED Talk, you’ll understand why he said this to me.

Two questions that most humans answer (whether we realize it or not) in our own way during our lifetimes:

1.) Why is belonging so enriching and fundamental to happiness? and

2.) Why is the lack of a sense of belonging so painful?

In the absence of love and belonging there is always suffering. – Brené Brown

What bullying behavior does, in essence, is make the target feel disconnected. A sense of belonging is powerful. But repeated, intentional, mean and targeted behavior robs children and adults alike of this positive power. (And get this, there are a variety of reasons why people engage in bullying behavior but one of them is to belong to something themselves, including impressing a peer or guaranteeing their place in a group. Life is ironic.)

Exclusion, name calling, spreading rumors and gossiping online and offline are all ways to cut someone off.

So here’s the message that we can all share with our children, our students, our friends, our relatives, spouses, partners or anyone in our lives. It’s magical.

Thank you, Andy Grammar, for your “Remind You” lyrics:

And when you’re questioning your worth in the way that we all do
And your version of amnesia starts to seep on through
And you know that you are great but you can’t remember why
I will be there by your side

You’re not alone. You belong. We’re in this together.

(By the way, what’s your word for 2020?)