We all stand together 

By  Lysette Offley

Years ago, when I was teaching, I arranged Paul McCartney’s “We all stand together”, otherwise known as the frog song, for the school steel band. It was a great song to choose, and it bounced along beautifully. And so did the kids.

Do you belong?

Did you know that feeling like you belong increases your motivation, health and happiness, not to mention improves your exam grades too?

As Michael Caine apparently never said, “Not a lot of people know that!”

So if belonging is so important to your health and success, how can you develop your belonging muscle? Find out by reading the rest of my article, and please connect with me. Do leave me your comments, and make me feel appreciated! J

How many times have I mentioned that we are social animals, and that feeling connected to other people supports us emotionally and physically?

(A rhetorical question, by the way, but if you would like to read all of my blogs and come back to me with an answer, there really ought to be a prize in it for you!)

(Notice I didn’t say that there would be! Although I would be prepared to give you a free therapy session, since you’d obviously need it after that!)

I digress!

We all stand together - photo of two girls dressed the sameWe’re hardwired to belong.

We’ve evolved to need to be accepted among the fold because that’s what likely to keep us safe.


When you think about it, we’re physiologically the same as we were 10,000 years ago when we lived in caves. It would have been horribly dangerous outside the cave, and the smart women would have handed over the family club and encouraged their big, strong brave menfolk, to pop out for half a mammoth and a packet of peas for tea!

It was of course, relatively safe inside the cave, as long as you could detect the danger signs, and get yourself out of harm’s way… Or better still, smooth things over and keep the peace. It’s thought that that is why women tend to be more attuned to relationship stuff. But the upshot is, even though our lifestyles have changed somewhat, we are all, like it or not, stuck with needing to belong.

To something…

To someone…

To a football club…

(This is for you, Nige!)

Attaching one’s loyalty to a sports team is an obvious way we create a ‘them’, and by doing so, and more importantly, an ‘us’ as we all stand together, er, in the football stands!

We all stand together

Belonging is a Human emotional need.

In fact, the stress response often elicited is exactly the same as though we were in mortal danger. So when teachers (and wives – not thinking of anyone in particular!) deliver helpful feedback, but harshly, it can alienate the very person they are trying to help.

Gotta be careful though. You wouldn’t want to be so soft-centred as to be patronising or apologetic, or in any way underestimate the level of attainment you believe is possible. Research at Stanford University, led by Gregory Walton established that it’s always worth reminding the other person that you have high expectations of them and that you know they can reach them.

We all stand together - photo of sailors wearing uniformAnd his research confirmed that this simple action allows a student to continue to feel accepted and appreciated, in short, that they belong – and that has a massive positive impact on their willingness to stay engaged and continue to make the effort necessary to do well in their exams.

Meanwhile, rather than waiting for someone to do it, how can we increase our own sense of connection and belonging, and play our part in supporting our health and success?

It’s all the same to me!

Have you noticed how some people filter information for similarity? This is like that…

And others tend to spot the differences first. This is different from that…

In both cases, they are right, it’s just a matter of which they notice first. Or at all!

You want to increase your sense of belonging, catch yourself noticing the differences, and deliberately search for similarities. Notice – how are you similar to others?

Let’s face it, we Human beings have more in common with each other than we have differences.


Agree to disagree

You don’t have to agree with someone’s point of view, to simply accept it. It is what it is. It’s what they believe. It’s what they value. Their view is different from yours. Yours is different from theirs. So be it. And by accepting both points of view, you validate each other and feel a sense of belonging, even if you can’t agree with each other.

Work on your acceptance of others



We all stand together - photo of judge's gavelJudge Grinder move over!

Every time we make a judgment about someone or something, we ever so slightly isolate ourselves from an experience we might otherwise enjoy. Instead take your attention away from whatever it is that’s bothering you and focus on the fact that as fellow Human beings, we all need the same things, albeit in varying degrees.


Sticks and stones may break my bones…

Watch your language! Your words reflect the way you think. We feel different emotions and experience life differently depending on the words we use. In fact, bilingual or polylingual (is that a word? It should be!) people can feel more depressed or more happy, depending on which language they’re speaking and the vocabulary they have access to within that language.

Telling yourself that someone is a ‘nightmare’ rather than a ‘tricky customer’ is absolutely going to affect your experience of them. What do you want? To be right or to feel more connected?


Et tu, Brute?

Remember that other people are more like you than not. As much as you might feel ostracised, so might someone else, so maybe cut them some slack, and they may do the same for you.



David Pitonyak on Being Hardwired For Belonging

Our brain is thinking about our social network, nearly 80% of the time.


Please connect with me. Do leave me your comments, and make me feel, ahem, appreciated!   🙂

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  1. I love the frog song – I don’t think I have heard it before as I was not Beatles fan but this one takes some beating. David Pitonyak puts such a lot into perspective and explains why we all behave as we do, including me. He also explains why we still need to be part of a society and need ‘people’ for our well being. All interesting and a lot of food for thought.
    Thank you.

    1. Sometimes you hear people declaring that they don’t need anyone else, and I’m sure sometimes, some of them actually believe they’re better off on their own. But once you realise we’re hard-wired for company, you also realise that theirs is an understandable reaction to having been hurt in the past, in an attempt to avoid it in the future. Unfortunately, that can’t be done, so I figure you might just as well learn the lessons and try again. That can take an enormous amount of courage, I admit – but the alternative doesn’t look very appealing to me!!

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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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