Without a doubt, belonging is a basic human need. We experience belonging when we are accepted by others for being our True Self. When we don’t experience belonging, youth and adults often have an alternate plan…fitting in. We try to fit in by changing something about ourselves or pretending to be something we aren’t in order to be accepted. Even if this works, it never satisfies our need for belonging because we haven’t been our True Self.

At Top 20 Training, we contend that experiencing belonging is necessary for human development, learning, and mental health.

While observing one of our trainings, Dr. David Walsh, a long-time friend and supporter of Top 20, who has dedicated his professional life to helping parents and educators understand and nurture the lives of adolescence, said to me, “Connection and belonging prime the brain for learning.”

After asking him what that meant, David informed me that the brain was a social organism that was always trying to make connections. When connections or belonging occurred, then the brain was ready to learn. In other words, connection and belonging get us to a different part of our brain where learning takes place. Without experiencing connection or belonging, we don’t activate that part of our brain.

Thank you, Dr. David Walsh! As a result, much of what we do at Top 20 is intended to create belonging and connection. Some of you might be familiar with our 4-at-the-Door or Pods processes.

Ron Reif, another long-time friend who is now doing wonderful work supporting parents, educators, and schools for Top 20, has shared a story from his school days. Click here and listen to Ron share his personal journey from trying to fit in to belonging.

The power of belonging not only resulted in life-long friends for Ron, but also put him on a healthier and more productive life path. Everyone Ron has met since then has been the beneficiary of what the Jefferson boys and parents did by simply creating an experience of belonging.

·      Who do we need to thank for doing that for us?

·      For whom do we need to create an experience of belonging?

Grateful to our Top 20 team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…for creating that experience for me and so many others.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training