The Difference Between Playful Banter and Bullying

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“Can’t you take a joke!”

Bullies are notorious for that line when targets speak out and call them out on their abuse. It’s the most manipulative and dangerous and most popular excuse for crappy behavior because it uses social pressure to make the target out to be a party pooper who doesn’t know how to relax and have a good time.

Understand that bullies use this old, worn-out comeback to cover themselves and dupe bystanders and witnesses into believing that the abuse was just playful banter while making the victim look and feel like some dysfunctional whiner who’s just too sensitive and needs to lighten up.

But how do you know the difference between playful banter and bullying? Here are your answers:

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1. There’s no power imbalance- With bullying, there’s always a power imbalance and harm is intended. Also, the relationship is always harmful and abusive. Banter is done strictly among friends, family members- people with equal power. There’s no harm intended and people who exchange banter have a positive and fulfilling relationship.

2. In banter, people respect you enough to stay away from your “no-go zones”- Your “no-go zones” are often called your hot buttons or triggers. These are things that you’re insecure about- something you’re embarrassed about, ashamed of, or can be any adverse experiences you’ve had in the past. In banter, people know to stay away from those areas and won’t bring them up.

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Bullies, on the other hand, will deliberately zero in on things they know you’re insecure about and will only continue to bring them up in front of an audience when they see that you’re upset.

3. In a nutshell, it all comes down to how it makes you feel and the relationship you have with the other person! If the person is not a friend or family member- anyone you have a negative or hostile relationship with, they do NOT get the privilege to banter or joke with you! Ever!

Understand that banter is reserved for the people you feel good about (Close friends and family members)! Because they know your triggers and remember never to go near those tender areas!

4. Always read the person’s nonverbal body language- If the person is smirking and snickering instead of genuinely smiling and laughing out loud, that’s a sign of contempt, and it’s more than likely bullying instead of banter.

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Sadly, anytime the bully plays the “Can’t-You-Take-A-Joke card, many targets are caught off guard and left speechless or paralyzed by humiliation. They’re left so upset they walk away feeling indignant because it’s sometimes difficult to adequately address the bully’s comeback without being made to look and feel even lower.

So, here is the perfect way to clap back at a bully who claims to be playing or joking and walk away feeling great about yourself and that you handled it like a boss!

You can shut him/her down by saying something to the tune of:

“Only my friends can joke with me like that! You’re not my friend, so you need to back off!”

Or,

“Newsflash! I don’t like you! You’re not my friend! So, you don’t get to say that, I don’t give a __ if you’re playing or not!”

And say it like you mean it! Then watch the bully pathetically slink away with their tail tucked between their legs! It has worked for me and it’ll work for you too!

Shame! I Feel Like a Dummy!

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Not long ago, I was nominated for three blog awards. I still have yet to post them because I still don’t know how to retrieve the title photos. When I worked on the announcements to post, I literally wracked my brain trying to figure out how to copy and save the pictures. And boy was I embarrassed. LOL I’m still embarrassed that I have to admit this.

Boy it sure beats looking like an unappreciative heel. So, guys, I want to let you know that I still appreciate you so much for nominating me. But I don’t want to post the announcements if I’ve forgotten how to copy and paste the Blogger Awards photos from your pages. Please allow me to apologize.

If you will, please give me the steps to this as I’ve completely forgotten how to do it! Thank you so much in advance.

A Lesson from “Good Will Hunting”: Know Your Worth

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When I watched the movie “Good Will Hunting” for the first time twenty years ago, the character Will Hunting reminded me a lot of myself during high school- bullied, angry, lashing out at people and would fight at the drop of a hat if someone stepped on my toes. I wasn’t a genius like he was. But still, there’s a moral to the movie.

Will, although uber-smart and talented, had been conditioned to think he was worth less than what he was, hence his working a job as a college janitor at the beginning of the movie. With his smarts, Will could have any job he wanted. He just didn’t know it.

Because this poor kid had a terrible start in life, he had long ago lost sight of his worth as a person. Just as I, and the character Will Hunting, leaned the hard way, you must know your worth to be happy and have a good life. Know that you have value and that you matter because if you’re blind to that, you’ll never be successful at anything.

For example, if you do not know your worth, you’re likely never to reach your true potential. You’ll end up settling for less than you deserve. You’ll sell yourself out in every area of life.

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You’ll settle for crummy dead-end jobs that pay a pittance, dates, and partners you aren’t interested in and friends who treat you shoddily.

As the old saying goes, “If you settle for less, you get even less than what you settled for.”

And that’s the gospel truth because I did that when I was young and got even worse than what I thought I’d accepted. It was all because others had programmed me to believe that the mere crumbs I’d received were the best I could do. And let me tell you, it royally sucked!

That’s what bullying does if you let it!

Fortunately, I eventually scratched and clawed my way out of that mindset, and now live a better and happier life. It wasn’t easy, but it got better once I began drumming into my own head that there was more out there for me and that I deserved a good life as much as anyone else.

Isn’t it time you started getting more of what you want and deserve out of life?

Make the decision today to begin aiming higher! Apply for that 90K per year job you may or may not qualify for. Go ask out the girl who you initially thought was out of your league. Command respect and love from others and return the same to them.
Aim higher than you ever have and watch your life begin to change for the better and become more rewarding!

The Bully’s Façade

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We all know that bullies are cowards who hid behind a façade. But what makes that façade? What are the exact ingredients that make up the bully’s façade?

Before I give you each ingredient, in detail, let me tell you that bullies are like peacocks. They like to strut around and fan out their tails, showing us their prettiest colors. And they do this to collect admirers, followers and allies. That’s exactly what the bully’s façade is used for- to draw people to them. And bullies are good at duping their cohorts into thinking that they’re perfect and can’t be touched

Only their targets know what’s behind the facades- victims know the real people behind the masks. So, again, what exactly are the ingredients that bullies use to build their carefully crafted facades and promote those fake images?

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Here are your answers:

1. Impeccable Attire. Most seasoned and well-practiced bullies dress in the best and latest fashions. These people love to be pleasing to the eyes because they understand that, sadly, most people are materialistic and beauty-obsessed, and everything is based on appearances. So, they wear the fanciest clothes, the sportiest hairstyles, the sexiest makeup and look the freshest.

They show off these things not only to look the best, but also to give the appearance that they’re rolling in money and that their life is perfect, to impress others. Most of all, bullies also do it for one-upmanship!

And…here’s something else! Many of my bullies didn’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out. Not that being poor makes a person bad, but!

Most bullies will go flat broke buying fancy clothes and sporty cars to pimp around town in just to keep up a fake persona. And they’ll be up to their eyeballs in debt. Many of these people are constantly having a hard time paying or failing to pay their bills.

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They’re the types who will run to mommy and daddy for bail outs and handouts, yet they spend a fortune on clothes, hairstyles, manicures, pedicures, facials, cosmetic surgeries, you name it!

Because of this, I’ve known many workplace bullies who committed crimes such as theft, embezzlement, and forgery because they lived way beyond their means and got their butts in a crack they couldn’t get out off. And they got caught!

2. They put on a good show. Seasoned bullies are also the best showmen. They put on an act to gain admiration, support or sympathy. They make grand gestures. They’re good at reading people and finding out their likes and dislikes and how they react to certain stimuli. They make themselves constantly hyperaware of the people and moods around them, then adapts to them.

You’ll often find these bullies standing in the very center of even room they’re in and they’re the types who despise being outshone, outsmarted, or outdone.

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3. They’re master wordsmiths. They use dumb clichés and loaded words to impress others with their speech. They also use big words to prove how smart they are when, in reality, they’re as incompetent as they come. They also tell people what they want to hear and say everything with conviction. This is why they’re such convincing liars and why they’re so good at making the target look like the bad guy.

But here’s something else you need to know:

Although seasoned bullies are very popular among people, they’re also hated and feared by rivals and enemies. And they do eventually get brought down. I’ve seen it happen many times.

Julius Caesar was one such example.

“Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First, his Cromwell…” – Patrick Henry.

Cyber-Bullies, Cyber-Stalkers, and Trolls: Should We Take Them So Seriously?

sad and scared female teenager with computer laptop suffering cyberbullying and harassment being online abused by stalker or gossip feeling desperate and humiliated in cyber bullying

scared and sad female teenager with computer laptop suffering cyberbullying and harassment being online abused by stalker or gossip feeling desperate and humiliated in cyber bullying.

Bullies are cowards, but Cyber-bullies are the biggest, most pathetic ones. They sit in the safety of their homes (or their mom’s basements, attics, and backyard sheds), hide behind fake profiles and screen names, and troll the internet and social media in search of victims.

If you’ve ever dealt with a cyber-bully, I knew how you feel, and I understand. Words do have power and it’s easy to be hurt when anyone attacks you, online or off. I, too used to get upset and feel bad back in the early days of the internet when I’d look at my instant messages and find that some plonker had sent me a flamer.

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However, today, I’ve learned to see it for what it is and the cyber-bullies for who they are. And that in itself can be a real boost to the self-esteem.

When I think of the term “cyber-bully,” I instantly get a mental picture of one of two types of people:

1. Some broke, unemployed and shirtless fat guy sitting and typing on a computer in his granny’s basement, while stuffing his face with Cheetos and sporting a man-bun.

2. A skinny, pimple-faced, bespectacled geek who only trolls the net to compensate for the lack of sex and a social life in the real world.

Any time I have a cyber-bully who’s hot on my trail, and I occasionally do, one of those pathetic pictures immediately pops up in my mind, and I can’t help but chuckle to myself. Because cyber-bullies often use a fake profile or screen name with either a blank photo or one that’s fake, it only shows that they’re faceless cowards and not to be taken seriously.

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These losers talk so big and tough behind that keyboard- oh, yeah! They’re real badasses online, but you can bet that if they ever saw you on the street, they wouldn’t have the sack to step up. So, ask yourself these questions.

Should we take these wusses so seriously?

Should we give these worthless schmucks the power to make us feel bad about ourselves?

Should we value their useless gibberish?

Though I can’t speak for anyone else, I have a hard time valuing the worthless opinions of anyone who doesn’t have a name or face. Any person who’s a Rambo in cyberspace but a George McFly on the street, I can only take with a horselaugh and a grain of salt.

You either have a big, brass pair or you don’t.

It takes a real zero to spend even a few hours a day trolling other users. You just know that the person has no ambition, no prospects, and no life. Understand that when you’re cyber-bullied, often you’re dealing with a poor soul who is bored, lonely, and miserable. And the only way he/she can feel good about themselves is to do what they’re doing now.

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Therefore, if any cyber-bully attacks you online, you shouldn’t put a lot of stock into their opinions. Their words don’t carry a lot of weight. Understand that cyber-bullies are often people who flame others because they’re insecure, self-loathing, and have nothing going for them.

Online is the only way these pathetic people can have a social life, and that alone speaks volumes about the kind of people they are and the crappy lives they lead. So, again, should you take these losers seriously? Are they worth getting angry or depressed over? These idiots can’t make you feel bad about yourself unless you allow them to.

Though words have power, and they can hurt you, you should always consider the source. Because in truth, most cyber-bullies live miserable existences and should only be pitied.

I Struggle to Find the Words of Comfort for Family/Friends Affected by Bullycide

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Bullying and life – pictured as a word Bullying and a wreck ball to symbolize that Bullying can have bad effect and can destroy life, 3d illustration

Since I’ve been advocating for the bullied, I’ve met and talked to so many families- parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, spouses, children, cousins and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide. I’ve read, heard about, and listened to their heartbreaking stories. I’ve watched them cry, and I’ve often struggled to find the words to tell them how my heart breaks for them. What are the right words to say to someone who has suffered so significant a loss?

I’ve listened to stories from grieving parents who have lost a child to bullying and suicide. While they told me the story of the events which led up to their child’s death, I could hear the anguish in their voices. I could sense the many questions which continue to flood their minds that may never be answered! I could feel the injustice of it all, and let me tell you; it shook me to my core!

I can’t help but feel a wide range of overwhelming emotions- heartbreak and empathy for the surviving parents and family, intense anger toward the bullies who pushed that child over the edge and disgust at the school and school district, who did nothing to help, or worse, only intensified the child’s suffering. I feel nothing but rage and contempt for a system that failed this young person and their family and at the people in power who were in a position to help the poor young man or lady but didn’t!

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Although I have lost a spouse to suicide and know what it is to experience the loss from it, I realize this: The loss of a spouse is terrible and heart-wrenching. Yes. But it isn’t quite the same as losing a child.

I try to put myself in the parent’s shoes, but it’s unbearable. I cannot imagine what a parent goes through. The unanswered questions, having dreams of their child’s future, disappear! Not long ago, I looked into the eyes of one grieving mother, and I wanted to cry but managed not to. I wanted to be strong for her because she needed me to be!

My oldest son went through a period of bullying, so I know this could just as easily have been him years ago. And I honestly don’t know if I could have held up as well as this mother has!

Try to imagine having that baby you once carried for nine months- the baby you felt move and kick inside your belly- ripped from your life forever! Imagine losing that precious, tiny creature, you once held for the first time in the hospital, whose sweet little face you gazed lovingly on, and were unable to take your eyes off of!

Rebecca Sedwick

FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 file photo, pallbearers wearing anti-bullying T-shirts carry the casket of Rebecca Sedwick,12, to a waiting hearse as they exit the Whidden-McLean Funeral Home in Bartow, Fla. One of two teenage girls charged with stalking Rebecca Sedwick, a Florida classmate who complained of being bullied before her suicide no longer faces any criminal counts, her attorney said Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)

I cannot fathom the despair of having to bury the child I was sure would someday bury me! Understand that this goes against the natural order of things! I cannot imagine the total shock and disbelief- that feeling of being kicked in the gut that goes with such a loss! And I struggle to find the words to comfort any parent who has lost a child to bullycide!

What are the right words? How do you communicate to a grieving family member how much you hurt with them and how much you long to ease their suffering and wish you could? And how you wish that there was some way- SOME way you could bring that loved one back to them.

If you have a heart as I do, you want to reach out and hug that person! You want to hold them. You want to console them. You want to take away their pain. But anything short of doing the impossible, you know, will never be enough to ease their suffering.

Like me, you try to imagine how you’d feel if it were your child, but you can’t. You can’t bear the mere thought crossing your mind. But these families have lived it, and they continue to live it every day. Understand that this is a massive loss that this mother, this father, this sibling, this grandparent will carry for the rest of their lives!

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Nothing will ever be the same from them again. Realize that this is a new normal (if that’s what you want to call it) that they will never be able to adjust to. Every day from here on will be another day of struggle- another day of fighting to keep it together- another day to act like you’re okay because you’re afraid of overwhelming the people around you. How long can these broken parents keep up the charade?

Again, words can never say how my heart breaks for them. All I can do is be there for them and listen as I struggle to find the words of support and compassion they so need to hear.

Maybe the reason I struggle for the right thing to say is that there are no words! There are no words that could ever quell the grief of a loss so heavy and so devastating! No words can ever provide complete consolation or comfort. And no words can ever bring justice to the loved ones left behind.

To all, who have lost a family member- a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, especially a child, to suicide or bullycide, know that I’m here for you. It doesn’t matter if we know each other or are total strangers. And even though I struggle to find the words to tell you, rest assured that I care. My heart cries with you, and I have the utmost love, sympathy, and compassion for you!

You are always in my thoughts and prayers!

Believe In Yourself

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Free woman enjoying freedom feeling happy at beach at sunset. Beautiful serene relaxing woman in pure happiness and elated enjoyment with arms raised outstretched up. Asian Caucasian female model.

Believe in yourself even when it seems that no one else believes in you.

Love yourself even when it looks as if the rest of the world hates you.

Be yourself even when those around you are trying to change you.

And keep your smile even as others try to turn it upside down.

Believe in yourself no matter what!