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.

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“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!