Sometimes in life we get lessons we weren’t expecting. Although these lessons are necessary for our personal growth, they are not always a pleasant experience. I’m in the process of learning about bullying. Yet, this is not a school situation. It’s a life situation. Bullying doesn’t just happen at school. Kid bullies grow up to be adult bullies. Their actions may become more subtle, but their intention and their needs remain the same. An adult bully may employ the silent treatment. They may make their demands as thinly veiled options. They may exclude or ostracize you. They may ignore your requests. They may set arbitrary deadlines to serve their needs and exert their authority. They may refuse to accept your apology or resolve a conflict.
I think I know how I got myself into this pickle. I was ignoring the signs. Apparently I needed to have a lesson reinforced. “When someone tells you who they are…believe them.” Instead, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t take things personally. I thought I could just ignore them, like you ignore a buzzing mosquito. They were insignificant. If I didn’t allow myself to be a target, they would get bored and find another one. Not yet.
Bullying is an aggressive behavior. It aims to intimidate and harm another, repeatedly, over time. We bully when we feel threatened by someone who stands out and/or someone who seems to have a competitive edge. When human beings feel insecure, they will bully themselves to power. Bullying is a primitive behavior. Animals do it. It’s powered by feelings of weakness or cowardice. There is a perception of scarce resources and competition. Bullying is proof of fear.
As Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Don’t take anything personally.” Bullying behavior, no matter how personal it may seem, is never about you. It’s about the need of the bully. The need for attention. The need for control. The need to dominate. An adult bully can differ from a kid bully in their choice of a target. Often a child will choose a weaker, more vulnerable target. An adult is more likely to take on someone who poses an imagined threat. The behavior may stem from jealousy. Many people are unhappy. They suffer from depression and anxiety. Happy, successful people are an easy target for those who are unhappy. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not about you. The bully may have been bullied. This is a learned behavior. It may be to compensate for their feelings of lack of being in control. Psychologist Kenneth Yeager, director of the Stress Trauma and Resilience program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus says, “Bullies target people who pose a threat to them in the workplace. They will frequently target someone who is smart, competent and well-liked.” Adult bullies are not interested in compromise or trying to work things out. They avoid a resolution of conflict because they are more interested in power and domination.
I’ve learned a few things from this new experience. Perhaps I can help you to recognize and deal with the bullies in your life. I know I’m not alone in having this experience. Unfortunately, our society is rampant with bullies.
I’ve learned that fighting back can cause further problems. Bullies enjoy getting a reaction from you. Once they identify your “buttons”, they can’t stop pushing them. Do not respond. Do not let them know they are bothering you. Tell them to stop. Walk away. Close the door.
I’ve learned that you cannot give in to the bully’s tactics. It feeds their sense of power and encourages them to make more demands. They do not have the authority to make demands. Do not give them the authority. Deny their demands.
I’ve learned that the bully gives the target great power. You are living rent free in their head. A bully focuses on their target. In their desperate need for power, they foolishly give it all to you. The time they spend thinking about how to control you takes away from the time they spend enjoying their life.
I’ve learned not to respond with anger or emotion. Bullies feed on negativity. They hunger for your pain. Deny them this. Starve them. Stay calm. Stay positive. Light conquers the Darkness. In all situations, act with compassion and love. The bully is a sad person. The bully is unhappy. When you imagine the bully as a little child, you may be able to have more empathy for them. Your body responds to your thoughts and your emotions. You do not want to feed your body with anger. You only want to feed yourself with love. Feel love and compassion for that sad little child who lives as an adult bully.
I know my rights. I know I have the right to be treated with respect. I know I have the right to set my own priorities and express my own feelings and opinions. I have the right to say “no”. I have the right to protect myself from being threatened. And I have the right to create my own happy life. Bullies want to deprive others of their rights to take advantage or to control. I know that I have the power and the moral authority to declare that I am the one who is in charge of my life, not the bully. Lesson learned. No need to repeat this one!
#bullying #control #lifelesson