Yes, they can. There are many things targets can do to protect their social lives. Understand that social damage equals emotional pain. So, it’s essential that you do everything possible to protect your social life because when you do, you automatically protect your emotional health as well.
- Establish relationships and make friends outside the bullying environment. If you’re being bullied at school, then make friends of kids that do not attend your school. If you’re bullies at work, make friends and forge relationships with people outside your place of work.
- Maintain distance from your classmates or coworkers. Get your social support elsewhere.
- Realize that your bullies, coworkers, and classmates aren’t the most important people in your life. They’re not the only people in the world who’ve ever known you or will know you in the future. They’re only one group of people who’s views of you are based on lies and false information. So, realize these people should matter the least to you. Your friends and positive relationships are outside that toxic environment and there will be more positive relationships to come. I promise you!
“But how do you forge new relationships and social networks elsewhere?” You ask.
- By joining interest groups, places of worship, clubs, communities, organizations, and taking classes. For instance, a kid is bullied in school. Although he may be intensely hated by his classmates, he could join a scout troop or a martial arts class and be very well-liked by all the kids there.
An adult may be ostracized at his workplace but may join the American Legion, a Freemasonry group, or a church and find wonderful friends and a network of support in those places. The target may also advocate for a cause, take an art class, or join a music club.
Just don’t tell anyone what you’re going through at school or at work. That stays where it belongs, in the bullying environment. Take time for them to get to know you. The only places that will be appropriate to bring up what’s happening at work are religious and therapy groups. But feel everyone out first. The goal is not to find a place to dump all your problems, but to find one where you’re valued and respected.
- Fake it. Appear calm and confident even when you feel like you’re about to fall apart.
- Don’t vent nor gossip. It will only make you look as bad as your bullies. You’ll also look unstable. Distance yourself from your bullies. It’s true that they’ll notice it and accuse you of being stuck up, anti-social, or standoffish. But what they think shouldn’t matter because your focus should be self-care. And self-care is of the utmost importance when you’re a target of bullying.