Becoming a “Social Chameleon”: Another Defense Mechanism Some Victims Use

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Fake it until you make it. When you’re a target of bullying, you learn very quickly to either blend in with the people around you or get eaten alive by bullies. Some victims learn self-monitoring and to rehearse everything they do and say. The mind equips itself with scripts for every situation and conversation. You pay very close attention to social cues and will mimic others behavior. It proves to be a useful skill. In short, victims of bullying can become social chameleons.

As you get older, you get better and better at acting, at getting people to like you, at impressing people you meet and at ingratiating yourself into all kinds of groups. Social Chameleons get so good at it that they can adapt themselves to any situation and to the moods of others without effort.

Often, victims of bullying learn to swing back and forth changing with their environment. They can be the life of the party or quiet and reserved. They can be introverted, extroverted, funny, charismatic, relaxed, wild, emotional, or stoic. When you learn to detect the moods of others, you adapt yourself to match those moods.

Understand that targets and former targets of bullying do this out of survival instinct. We become masters of deception and of cooling the anger of others in social situations gone wrong. Depending on the situation or people around us, we present different versions of ourselves and become experts at blending in and being accepted. We become highly self-aware and good at reading the emotions and nonverbal cues of others, adapt to them and polish our self-presentations.

It becomes so ingrained and natural to us that we don’t even know we’re doing it. Many targets of bullying are bullied in school but are later able to get along with anybody and are exceptionally well-liked as adults. I have done this myself.

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This is how we ensure we’re never again bullied. This is how we get people to like us. We know too well what not to do or say. The key to being successful at this is to not realize you’re doing it! Any conscious effort, on the other hand, comes off as contrived.

We’ve practiced this for so long that we’ve become intuitively attuned to other’s responses to us and are constantly adapting our behavior when we feel we aren’t making the right impression. We keep a few good saves in our back pocket just in case a social situation goes awry. And we do this so well we instinctively know what’s expected of us before we make a social move. We become uber successful at making good impressions in social encounters with total strangers and in business.
Our personalities become so fluid and unpredictable that we emit an air of mystery that intrigues others, which only adds to our attractiveness. However, this comes at a very high cost!

For me, being a social chameleon got exhausting and I chose to dial that down a few notches. I’ve found that it is much more relaxing to be myself and not to give a crap what others think.

Not only is being a social chameleon tiring, the knowing that you weren’t true to your heart and your core beliefs and convictions leaves you feeling as if you sold your soul to the devil! It leaves an emptiness inside you that you can’t fill unless you start being your authentic self.

It’s much better to be yourself and to stand up for what you believe in. You may make a few enemies but it’s much better than living with being a fraud and I’d much rather have a few people who don’t like me than to give up my identity and my authenticity!

So be yourself and be comfortable in your own skin! Embrace all your imperfections, because we all have them. Give yourself permission to say no and to voice an opinion some may not like. Because to be yourself is freedom!

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Anytime Someone Tells You That You Won’t Amount to Anything, What They’re Really Saying is That They’re Afraid That You Will.

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There’s a reason why some people seem to go out of their way to bring you down, rain on your parade, trash your dreams. Think about it. How many happy people who are satisfied with their own lives do you see sitting or standing around putting others down?

I thought so.

If you have a person or group of people in your life who are constantly bombarding you with insults, horrible names and telling you that you will never amount to anything, reach your goals, achieve your dreams, etc., it’s because they aren’t happy with their own lives. They’re only putting you down to keep from feeling so miserable about themselves and look bigger to others. And although that’s true, there’s yet a much deeper reason:

Those people are deathly afraid that you will amount to something, that you’ll become successful- more successful than them. Even worse? You’ll prove them all wrong and force them to peddle back and eat every word that came out of their mouths.

Let’s face it. Crow doesn’t sound like a delicious dish. No one likes to be shown up, but even worse, people hate it when the person they thought was less-than and would never be anyone reaches success. Why? Because when the perceived underdog shows everyone up, he only exposes those who made themselves out to be the overdogs by highlighting the inferiority that they so desperately tried to hide.

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Anytime you become a winner despite the people who tried to keep you down; you remind those haters, bullies, and naysayers of everything they didn’t or couldn’t do and of everything, they never could and will never be. It is as if you held a mirror up to them and shown them their nude reflections- reflections which included the ugly and downright disgusting parts of themselves they never wanted to see. Most don’t like to see themselves naked for all the cellulite, dimples and bumps of fat.
It’s the same with seeing their true personalities. Your success exposes the laziness and mediocrity they’ve been so comfy and content with living in, yet tried to conceal.

Jealous Girls

“Who do you think you are! I labeled you as a loser, and you didn’t live up to that! How dare you!”

That’s precisely what your bullies from high school will think when you reach your star! I promise you! Trust me when I say that bullies aren’t happy people, though they pretend to be. At their core, bullies are miserable, bitter and afraid.
You see bullies have to make someone else a target so that they won’t become targets themselves. They put you down to hide or distract others from their shortcomings. They must find someone they perceive to be weaker than themselves to degrade in order to take the negative focus off them. Your accolades only put the spotlight right back on them. It’s why they’ve tried to keep you down for so long, and it took a lot of work for them to do it, which brings me to another point; nobody likes the thought of wasted effort.

As long as you’re winning at life, bullies can’t touch you. When you succeed in life, you unwittingly put your bullies in the hot seat because you force them to look like the utter fools they are. You force them to deal with a truth they don’t want to realize. And that truth is that all along, you’ve always had it in you to reach your goals and live a prosperous life.

So, no matter what people say, no matter how others treat you, never lose sight of your worth or your goals!

You are worth fighting for! You are worth living for!

Special Education Kids Are a Bully’s Favorite Targets

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Why? Because, sadly, these particular targets are the most vulnerable and least valued students in most schools. They are virtually defenseless. The heartbreaking truth is that nine times out of ten, the rest of the student body and even the school staff do not see these innocent kids as human beings.

Should it be any wonder bullies prey on sped students the most? It’s because bullies are great big cowards and all too often, these children are unwilling or unable to defend themselves properly. Because students in special education are usually low on social intelligence, they’re easy to get a reaction from and bullies can exploit this at will.

I cannot count the times I’ve seen a bully go up to a sped student, snatch something away from them to get a little free entertainment, then as soon as the child started crying or screaming, the bully said, “Oops! Oh, I’m sorry. Here ya go!” and give the item back as soon as they got the desired reaction out of the poor kid.

Even worse, I’ve also heard gut-wrenching stories of other teachers bullying those in the special ed program. I also witnessed it firsthand during high school when a sped girl in the lunch line just a few heads in front of me was laughed at and mocked by a group of cliquey teachers. Mind you. These women were supposed to be adults!

I saw how these teachers would look down their noses at this child and how they laughed at her, making her the butt of their cruel jokes. I also heard the mean-spirited comments. The teachers remarked about how this poor girl would never find a job nor contribute anything to society. They concluded that she would only be a drain on the taxpayers’ money once she got out of school.

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I have to tell you. Just listening to those remarks made me sick to my stomach! How I wish I’d had the guts to stand up for her when it happened! However, I was only seventeen and a student myself at the time, and I was just thankful that those cackling old shrews weren’t spewing any of their venomous wisecracks on me. Pure prejudice and discrimination were what this was!

Granted, not all mainstream teachers are this way. Most are very caring people who only want to help kids get the best start in life. However, it seems that every school has that one group of about four to five teachers who are cliquey, mean-spirited and who think they’re above anyone else. Every school has those and they are usually the ones who not only mistreat the lunch ladies, custodians, and teachers who aren’t members of their little circle, they also mistreat sped students and sped teachers. And it’s a crying shame!

We must take off the blinders and admit that most (not all) schools and school districts don’t value students in the special education program as they do students in the regular classes. No, wait! Let’s be point-blank here. Most schools are plain biased against these kids; only they would never in this lifetime admit it. And bullies instinctively know this. They know that sped kids aren’t worth much in the minds of school officials and the least protected, which is why they torment these children without fear.

Understand that bullies are the most disgusting, most vile and most cowardly of people. To a bully, harassing a special ed child is like taking candy from a baby. It’s just too darned easy! Bullies are threatened by anyone who is a challenge and would never risk picking on anyone who had all their facilities and could take them on. So they focus on the kids they perceive to be the weakest and most vulnerable. The teachers who bully these kids are no better than the snot-nosed bullies who do it, they’ve only grown bigger. Adults should know better!

It’s high time we passed laws to give students in Special Education better protections!

The Importance of Self-Acceptance

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Anyone who has ever been bullied will tell you that it sometimes takes years to overcome the after-affects, get completely comfortable with yourself and find happiness.

Because of the torment I suffered at school, I was a shy person for years and my shyness peaked during my childbearing years. I would not speak to anyone unless they spoke to me first, out of fear that I would say something wrong. I didn’t like myself because I felt that I was somehow different and that God had put a mark on me like Cain. I felt that I didn’t quite measure up. And this was during my early 20s when I was just beginning to discover who I was and what I really wanted out of life.

Throughout junior high and high school, I was bullied so much that I was blinded to my own feminine beauty (I was a very beautiful young girl). I also did not feel free to express myself and most importantly, get to know myself.

Being in a toxic environment or around toxic people can block you from opportunities, blind you to your own inner and outer beauty, diminish the ability to use talents and natural abilities, prevent you from having your own opinions and feelings and from accepting and being yourself when you are young and haven’t been in the world long enough to know the difference.

When I finally left that toxic, poisonous, downright dangerous environment that was my old school and transferred to a new high school, I felt like a bird out of a cage- like I had just been given a full pardon and released from prison.

From that day forward, I could finally begin working on getting to know ME and I was put on the road to self-discovery. However, that road proved to be a long one.

During my mid to late 20’s I became hungry for self-betterment. I slowly began trying new things and confronting my fears and shyness HEAD ON by actually doing the things I feared most! I discovered talents and abilities I never thought I had and could express myself and my wants and needs without ridicule.

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Like magic, new opportunities and better situations began opening up to me. It was like the floodgates of heaven had suddenly opened and I was washed away in a river of blessing.

But it took years to get through the anger, the sadness, the shyness, the defensiveness and being closed up and guarded before I was finally able to totally and completely accept who I was as a woman. And when I finally accepted myself, which meant accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly qualities, I found peace and happiness I never thought possible.

Am I perfect? No. Do I try to be? Nope. I accept all characteristics of me. I know my good traits: that I have a good heart, that I have compassion and empathy for others, that I am outgoing and confident, that I like to have fun, that I love to sing, dance and write novels. Am I proud of that? YES! YES! YESSSS!!!

I also know my bad traits and I embrace them. I accept that I am sometimes forgetful. I also accept that I no longer have the perfect body after having had children. I am comfortable in my own skin.

I also prefer Tee shirts, jeans, and sneakers over fancy dresses and high heels (which I only wear when an occasion calls for it). Do I like this about myself? ABSOLUTELY!

What I want is for you to completely accept yourself because it is a stepping stone to happiness. When you accept yourself as you are, quirks and all, and stop being so concerned about how you are seen by others, you actually FREE yourself from that ball and chain called self-consciousness. It is like a huge weight being lifted off of you.

Also, you become much more attractive to people and they are drawn to you like a magnet. And the individuals who are waiting for you to mess up actually get bored, give up and stop watching you. I know this from experience. Acceptance of self (all aspects) is such sweet freedom!

No one likes to be around a self conscious and insecure victim. I’ll say it again:
No. One. Likes. A. Victim!

So I want you to make a brand new start today and begin your new life by accepting who you are. Count your blessings, your friends, your family, and your chance opportunities. Anything positive that is happening OR has happened in your life is a blessing. This is where you start. Start by counting blessings. Take a pen and piece of paper and write down each blessing and I guarantee you will be on your way!

I wonder how many people can actually list all of their blessings without running out of paper and/or ink. I know I couldn’t.

Play Salad

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My brother and I come from the last generation of outdoor kids. When we were small children, there was no internet, no smartphones, no computers with virtual games. We played by using our imaginations, and when we’d pretend, we were so imaginative and inventive. We had a sense of wonder about the world that I believe most of today’s kids lack.

Many times while playing together outside, my brother and I would pretend that we were making a salad. We’d grab one of the bowls from my toy dish set, or we’d take a lid from a metal trash can and turn it upside down to make a huge plate.
We’d pick the large, green leaves of the hydrangea bush, which grew on the west side of the house to use for our lettuce. We used the petals from withering carnations for the tomatoes, crumbled old, dead leaves from the past Fall, or peeled the bark off the trunks of crepe myrtles, then crumbled them into little pieces for the bacon bits. We would also use the yellow pulp from dandelions for the shredding cheese, then pour muddy water into the salad as the dressing. Finally, we’d sprinkle dirt as pepper onto our creative little concoction and use sticks as utensils as we both would pretend to eat it.

We’d often use thick mud and a stick to stir it when pretending to make a chocolate cake. We’d “bake” it in the “oven” which was a small, cardboard box.
During those days, our imaginations ran wild, and life seemed so fresh, shiny and new. Everything was exciting back then. These are precious memories I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world, what I wouldn’t give to start over and do it all again!

It was a different world then. Simpler. More carefree. And much, much safer! In those days, we never had to worry about drive-by shootings, sex-traffickers, or terrorists. The worst we had to fear was getting our butts spanked for getting too dirty and coming home late for dinner, falling and skinning a knee while skating or riding our bikes in the street, being beaten up by neighborhood bullies, or our teacher’s wrath for chewing gum in class, playing hooky or failing to turn in homework. How I wish today’s kids could get a glimpse of the world in which my brother and I grew up!

Always, ALWAYS Document Incidences of Bullying!

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Bullying, especially of the psychological and emotional variety, is difficult to prove to people in authority who are in a position to help the target. There are several reasons for this:

1. Bullies are Master Seducers (Charmers). Bullies are charming to the right people. When the victim finally gets sick of the harassment and reports the bullying, and when the bully is questioned by authority, the bully will often charm those in power. Other weapons used to charm and influence teachers, principals, and supervisors are high marks, excellent grades, and class/work performance.

Bullies can also use good looks, impeccable dressing, and grooming to seduce others. Called the halo effect, this is a phenomenon where those who look the best are the most trusted and respected by others.

2. Bullies are Convincing Liars and Actors. – They have a flair for spreading the most convincing rumors and lies. Bullies do this to convince others not to associate with the victim. Therefore, the target loses support and has no one to turn to for help.

Because the victim often reacts out of emotion and the bully puts on a calm and collected demeanor, people in authority will almost always side with the bully because of this false coolness the bully displays.

The bully points out the target’s perfectly normal emotional reaction and twists everything to convince everyone of the target’s guilt and that the victim is unstable, crazy, overly dramatic, or too sensitive. The bully will also feign victimhood by bursting into tears, which is all designed to shift the blame onto the victim and persuade anyone in authority to take his/her (the bully’s) side.

The most seasoned bullies are also master wordsmiths who can explain away and rationalize any bad behavior. They can spin a story that is so convincing that teachers and supervisors will find it hard not to believe it. In the end, the target gets the blame, and either those in authority refuse to discipline the bully or they punish the victim instead.

3. Documenting (or Journaling) offers the disgraced target a voice, enabling them to have a say when no one else is listening. – As stated, the target often gets the blame when he/she reports harassment to the people who can help them. By documenting the abuse, the victim can tell their side without being ignored or having their experiences trivialized by the bully or anyone else.

4. Documenting offers Victims a Legal Record of the Bullying. – In case the bully hurts the target badly enough to require medical attention or worse, a plaintiff can use the journal as proof in court, should the victim or the family pursue legal action. Documentation is admissible in court.

5. Documenting is very cathartic and therapeutic.– It allows the victim to express the emotions they could never show any other way. Journals cannot trivialize the target’s experiences, nor can they invalidate the victim in any way. Journals are also confidential. They cannot go to the bullies nor anyone else and repeat what the victim tells them.

These are the reasons you absolutely must document every day about what you are put through. When you document, be sure to include who the bullies are (full names and if necessary, titles and positions), where each incident happened (school locker room, gym, bathroom at work, etc.), the names of any bystanders and teachers/supervisors present, the exact time and date the incident happened, what happened, what was said and by whom. Also, if possible, write down why it happened (was the bully retaliating because you reported prior harassment?). Write down every detail!

If you have tried telling a staff member or your parents about how classmates or coworkers bully you, only to be silenced or blamed- if no one will listen or offer support, you owe it to yourself to always document the harassment in your daily journal.

You want to document every day to establish a pattern of bullying and abuse. It was how I survived those six long years of being bullied in school. It was the only outlet I had. I can attest to you that if I hadn’t documented everything in my journal every single day, I might not be alive today. When I began keeping a written record during the eighth grade, it was freeing, and I felt as if I were finally having my say.

So, if you can’t talk about it, write about it!

Girls Who Think Male Bullies Are Attractive (Part 2)

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Fast forward five, ten, twenty, thirty years, and you’re now married to this guy. He’s coming home drunk, late or both. He’s cheating on you with different women and putting you at risk of catching an STD. Even worse, he seems to want to sleep with any woman but you! He’s also insulting you, psychologically abusing you and beating the crap out of you every night. It’s not so funny anymore!

Remember the smaller boy that he beat up in school? The trim, long-haired girl in the tight jeans he slut-shamed? The fat girl, the girl with the glasses and braces he cruelly taunted? That mentally disabled kid he slapped and mocked? You now suffer the same abuse they suffered. The same kids he abused, and you thought were losers? Now, you are them!

Now it’s you getting slapped around. You are getting your butt kicked between your shoulders every night he comes home wasted and having cheated with other women. You are the one treated like a pile of manure. Now it’s you who’s sitting at home alone crying every night, wondering what you did wrong. He’s not so sexy now, is he?

Oh, my God! You never thought he could ever do that to you! You never even dreamed that anything like this could ever happen to you! My, my! How the tables have turned! Isn’t it funny how life can suddenly flip the script on an in-control little queen bee like you?

And what stings the most is that most of the kids you and he thought were losers? They’re the ones who are now enjoying happy, healthy relationships, marriages, and family. They’re enjoying successful careers to boot. It doesn’t seem fair to you!
“But how can that be?” You wonder. “They were supposed to be the losers in life, not me! Not us!”

Although I may sound cruel and unfeeling here, I hope that you will think before you get into a relationship with a guy who everyone thinks is cool but who is a complete dirtbag. Understand this. If he mistreats those who are perceived to be losers, you can bet that he will do it to you too.

Get out now while you can. Spare yourself years of heartache and pain. You owe it to yourself. Most of all, treat others, no matter their stations in life, with kindness and respect. Because karma is a booger and it will catch up with you years later. I guarantee it.

Girls Who Think Male Bullies Are Attractive

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Arrogant young Caucasian man with three female admirers

So, you think these guys are attractive? Sexy? Hot? If you’re like most young, naïve, and often shallow girls, you prefer the bully- the bad boy! Why? Because he brings excitement, adventure, drama, and mischief, which is alluring, especially to females who are bullies themselves. He drives the hot car, wears the sharpest clothes and his parents seem to have all the connections in town! He’s a real star!

You like that he’s seemingly fierce, brutal and in control (of others) because you’re like the majority of teens, you equate those qualities with manliness. The bully boy seems to be the very definition of masculinity, and other girls are attracted to him like moths to a flame. Because he seems to be the embodiment of manhood, you want him. You get turned on when he beats the crap out of the smallest boy in the class, whether or not the smaller boy asked for it.

His blood is flooded with testosterone, and it shows! You smile, laugh, or even join in when he slut-shames the trim girl with the tailbone-length hair and tight jeans. You think it’s hot when he cruelly taunts the fat girl or the girl with glasses or braces. You love it when he displays his so-called manhood by asserting dominance over the mentally disabled kid in school, slapping and mocking him in the hallway between classes. You laugh with him, and your friends want to be in your place because he’s a big deal and everyone admires his strength and power (or lack thereof).

You secretly think to yourself, “What a MAN! And I must be one hot mama myself because this man is with me- ME! Otherwise, he wouldn’t have chosen me! He can have his choice of any girl in the place, but he chose me!”.

You make fun of another girl’s boyfriend because he doesn’t look quite as good as the stuffed-shirt you’re dating. Never mind that he treats her with respect and she just might think her boyfriend looks better than yours. You get hostile with and want to bully the girl whose rear-end your god of a boyfriend groped while you weren’t around or the girl to whom he makes inappropriate sexual comments. It doesn’t matter that the girl has some sense and thinks he’s a real POS.

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You’re not concerned that she felt violated and wanted to punch his lights out when he did that to her. You still give him a free pass and blame her for his being a jackass.

You gladly overlook him because you admire, even worship him. You kiss his butt and the very ground he walks on. You want him, and even better, you have him (or think you do). You’ve got it goin’ on, girl! Because you’re dating a guy who’s the most popular guy at school and whose badassery is so well-known it has become a legend; honey, your ego is soaring, and your head is ten times its normal size! That is until (wait for it)- until(gasp)- he turns on you!
(To be continued)

Nonverbal Language of Bullying from Head to Toe (Part 2)

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In the last post, we stopped at the chest and shoulders. This post covers the rest of the body.

Arms- Akimbo. The arms of a bully are often akimbo (elbows out, hands on hips, thumbs forward). This makes the bully appear bigger and more powerful. This is also used to intimidate any opponent and show power and superiority. To ward off bullies, stand with power and send the message that you won’t be a victim. Crossed Arms. When coupled with the jutted chin, bullies will also cross their arms anytime they’re facing someone. Crossed arms are not only a sign of superiority and power, they are also considered closed body language because when a bully crosses his arms when facing their opponent, they are “closed” to anything the other person has to say. Note that victims will also cross their arms in intimidation when confronted by a bully. However, the difference is that instead of using the jutted chin, a victim will lower the head, hide the neck and slouch. This is where paying attention to clustered body language comes in. To keep bullies away, never slouch, lower the head nor hide the neck. Always look confident!

Hands- The Clenching Fists. The bully will often clinch their fists when they want to physically attack their opponent. Always see this as a sign the person wants to harm you and be ready in case they do.

Mid-Section- The Crotch Expose. This is done mostly by boys and men. Although it is a sign of sexual interest in a potential mate, it can also be used to intimidate and for dominance and power. Trust me. You’ll know the difference. If you are male, return the sentiment. If you are female and this is used by a male bully for intimidate, either stand facing the bully with your feet apart and hands on your hips and challenge him with a glare or give him a dismissive look and walk away.

Legs- Legs Apart. Most bullies stand with their feet shoulder-width apart to appear bigger and more powerful. Confident people also stand this way. Therefore, if you want to appear confident and ward off bullies, this is how you should stand. There’s also The Dominant Leg Backstep. This is when the bully steps back with their dominant leg. Boxers in the ring do this just before putting up their dukes! If you see the bully step back with one leg, be prepared to fight!

Feet- The Toe Point. Again, you must pay attention to the whole body to get an accurate reading. The toes always point to where the person wants to go. If a person likes you and enjoys your company, their toes will always point in your direction. If the person doesn’t like you or is afraid of you, they will want to get away from you and their toes will always point away from you.

However, if a bully wants to attack you, their toes will also point in your direction. You’ll know the difference by the other cues their body will give you.

It pays to observe!