After Being Bullied for So Long, You Seemingly Grow Accustomed to It

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It’s one of the most heartbreaking aspects of being bullied- enduring it for so long that you finally grow accustomed to it and resign yourself. Sadly, targets eventually grow numb because the bullying has gone on for so long that the attacks don’t even hurt anymore.

What happens it that you get so used to the torment that the more subtle attacks no longer sound cruel. Some people think that targets are better off when they no longer realize they’re being bullied. But are they really?

I don’t know. In some instances, yes, and in others, no. If you don’t react because you don’t know to, some bullies will get bored with the lack of response and leave you alone. But others will only bully you worse because either they know you didn’t catch it, or they get angry because you must be ignoring them.

Either way, there comes a point when the target just says, “F it!” and doesn’t care anymore. In order to survive and keep your sanity, sometimes it becomes a necessity not to give a damn.

 

Definition of “Bullying” and Examples of What Is and Isn’t Bullying

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Because people use the term “bullying” so widely today, they too often misuse and abuse it. In today’s climate, people throw the word around flippantly, and “bullying” is used in situations that don’t fit its use.

Many are too quick to stick the “bully” label on anyone who says anything they either disagree with or don’t like. There’s so much confusion about what is bullying and what is only rudeness, being a jerk, or voicing an individual opinion, whether good or bad.

Therefore, I feel an obligation to point out the definition of bullying and to clarify what truly is and isn’t bullying.

Here is the definition:

Bullying – an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical, and/or social behavior that intends to cause physical, social, and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening (https://www.ncab.org.au/bullying-advice/bullying-for-parents/definition-of-bullying/)

All too often, bullying is confused with:

1. Disagreements and truthful debates

2. Misunderstandings

3. Stubbornness

4. Incivility and jerky behavior

Bullying has become a blanket term to describe anyone who is only rude or opinionated. The label of “bully” is too quickly stuck to people who are not necessarily bullies but only uncivil jerks and jackasses- basically anyone who says, does, or believes anything that the labeler doesn’t find comfortable. This is wrong.

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For something to be considered bullying, there must be all of these ingredients:

1. An imbalance of power

2. Repetition

3. Repeated attacks against the same person over a long time.

4. The behavior has to be a habit or the same pattern, against the same victim.

If a 6’5” tall and muscular knucklehead on the street bumps into you and says, “Hey, idiot! Watch where the hell you’re going!”, then keeps walking. That’s not bullying. Is the person a total jackhole? Absolutely. But he isn’t necessarily a bully.

Now, if he deliberately ran into you and shot his mouth off to you every day, every time he saw you on the street. And he made a habit of it by continuing to harass you, then yes! He would be a bully. Because he would be using his size and height to intimidate you and he’d be repeating the behavior every day.

Here’s another example:

A person is voicing an opinion. When someone asks them if what they think of their new next-door neighbor, the person answers by saying,

“I think he is an arrogant, egotistical jackass.”

This is NOT bullying. It’s only voicing an opinion.

But! If the person continued this behavior for a length of time and smeared the new neighbor to everyone in the neighborhood in an attempt to turn everyone against her, then yes! It is bullying.

If two people are arguing over different beliefs, it’s not bullying Even if the argument is heated.

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Only when one of the arguers resort to repeatedly (notice I said, repeatedly) calling their opponent names and shaming them because they don’t agree nor share their beliefs, and the harassment goes on for a long time, against the same opponent! That, my friends, is bullying!

To prevent innocent people from being labeled as bullies, we MUST get clear on exactly what it is that constitutes bullying! Only then will we be able to apply it to those who are truly deserving of the label.

Bullies Always Count on a Target’s Predictability

Being unpredictable can be your best weapon against bullies. Anytime you are predictable in a climate of bullying, you’re a sitting duck. Bullies will soon know what gets you upset, what will get you to fly off the handle and do something irrational and how to sabotage you socially and academically. You must be versatile if you expect to throw the bullies off-kilter.

Predictability is human nature. People are creatures of habit and have a need to see familiarity in the actions of others. If you’re a target of bullying, any predictability on your part will give your bullies the idea that they have control of you.

Understand that the reason bullies have so much power over you is that you’re too darn predictable. You make it too easy for them to predict what you’ll do. Because they’ve studied and picked up on your habits, they have the foreknowledge of what your reaction will be. And they’ll weaponize it every chance they get!

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But when you flip the script and begin deliberately exhibiting behavior that has no consistency and no objectives, you automatically throw your bullies for a loop! Take your unpredictable behavior up several notches and bullies will be intimidated.

Now. Before I go on, let me mention that here’s one good thing about your predictability- you’ve gotten your bullies so used to your patterns that you’ve lulled them off to sleep, which will make any versatility on your part all the more powerful once you start deliberately changing your reactions to their attacks.

So, here goes:

If you’re a target of bullying, you want to make it look you have no clear strategy. You must scramble your behavior patterns and your reactions to confuse the bullies if you want them to back off. And when you do, not only will it confuse them, it’ll scare the stupid out of them!

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I’ll use a scenario with one of my old classmates as an example:

Just two years ago, Carol, one of my old classmates, attacked me online after she found out that I was collaborating with a producer out of New York on a screenplay adaptation of my first published book.

Let me start by saying that we hadn’t seen each other since high school. Back then, I was quiet, shy and timid girl, but with a hair-trigger temper when I was pushed too far. That’s how Carol had remembered me.

And had she verbally attacked me back then, I either would’ve walked away from her without saying anything back to her, or, on a bad day, I would’ve fought fire with fire- screaming back at her, cursing her out and calling her every name but a child of God.

This time, I did neither. As you’ll see in the screenshots below, I reacted in a way she never expected me to.

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Carol expected me to fly off the handle, have a moment of sheer stupidity, and counter-attack with the same vitriol and craziness she dished out to me first. Then she could have used my counter-attack against me and made me look like the instigator. That’s exactly what she had plans to do, and I knew it.

However!

Instead of reacting, I responded.

I remained calm and told her how it was without name-calling, without cursing, and without using all caps. And boy! Did it throw her into a hissy fit! Carol literally FREAKED! ‘Had a complete meltdown online as she sent me hateful message after hateful message. I happily took screenshots and outed her all over social media before finally blocking her.

By reacting in a way I knew she never expected, I threw her off balance and not only instilled fear, but induced panic and rage in her. I shook her up so much so that she couldn’t think clearly nor rationally. She stumbled, making blunder after blunder.

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In being unpredictable, I forced her to give me the goods I needed to expose her with. She fell face-first into the trap I calmly laid for her, and I have to admit. Outsmarting her felt soooo good! Carol played right into my hands and didn’t realize her mistake until after she’d calmed down. But by then, it was too late. Carol had made herself look like a complete lunatic and had I acted as she had, I would’ve looked just as nutty as she did.

‘You see? When you deliberately respond in ways your bullies don’t expect, you throw them off-kilter and force them to react out of fear, confusion, even anger. And when a person reacts out of pure emotion, they make a truckload of mistakes, blunders, and gaffes, then end up making a colossal fool of themselves.

Even better, after I exposed Carol online, many other old classmates, out of loyalty to her, came to her defense and attacked me the same way she had. Although they knew that she was in the wrong and that she’d attacked me without provocation, their loyalty to their old high school buddy was much stronger than their sense of right and wrong.

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Carol’s, brother, sister and son also joined in the vitriol. They even went to the pages of my husband and my son and attacked them too. Carol’s allies didn’t private message them but went to their public pages where all could see. In doing this, they also exposed themselves for the idiots they were while we sat back and laughed.

That’s what reacting out of emotion does. It causes us to make dumb mistakes.

Needless to say, after I exposed them (or they exposed themselves) those people backed off quickly and I never heard from them again. Neither did my family. They now stay far away because they were surprised to find that I’m nowhere near as naïve as I was in high school. I stayed calm and was smart enough to deflect their attacks and use them against them.

Again. Understand that by doing something unexpected, you gain a huge advantage over your bullies. And when bullies can’t figure out what you’re going to do, it scares them to death and they’ll almost always react out of fear!

Nothing is more frightening than when you make a move nobody would ever expect. It’s the reason natural disasters are so scary because no one knows when and where they’ll hit next. It’s why deer hunters can track down their prey and kill them. They know the habits and patterns of behavior of the deer they hunt.

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Realize that habits and patterns are the worst things that go against a target of bullying because bullies pick up on your routines and use them against you.

In closing, you must learn to unsettle your bullies by allowing them to see you do things they’d never expect. If a bully launches an attack, you should counter-attack suddenly, without warning, in a way they’d wouldn’t expect you to, and when they least expect it.

You must purposefully mislead your bullies to trick them into an emotional reaction!

If you’re going to be predictable, don’t stay that way. Do it for long enough that your bullies get used to your patterns and are lulled into a false sense of security, then strike suddenly with something unexpected! And that’s how you get them to leave you alone!

Are You Being Accepted or Only Tolerated?

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When people talk of tolerance, I immediately cringe. I don’t find the word very attractive because let’s be real here. The word itself has an ugly ring to it. To put it bluntly, it sounds downright gross!

Sadly, many targets of bullying are so afraid of being alone that they settle for friends who aren’t friends at all. And the people the target associates with may keep the target under the impression that he’s being accepted when, in fact, they may only be tolerating him. And you can tolerate someone without accepting them.

I know a few who assume that acceptance and tolerance mean the same but they don’t. The difference between the two is huge.

For example, you’re in polite company and the guy sitting next to you, (who happened to scarf three huge bean burritos for supper last night, then put away three eggs for breakfast this morning) covertly eases forth a silent but deadly fart. You catch the first nauseating whiff but can’t hold your nose nor leave the room without seeming rude to everyone else in the room. Instead, you only sit there, trying to keep a poker face, and nonchalantly hold your breath until you’re sure the smell has dissipated. That’s what tolerance is.

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Tolerance means that people allow the target to be around but secretly wish she’d go the hell away. And it has a way of seeping through in how they think of the person, how they act around him, and how they behave toward him.

So, how is the target to know if he’s being tolerated?

Here are the signs:

1. The target will be excluded from any events or social gatherings.
If you’re the target, you’ll often hear the rest of the group talking about the barbeque or sleepover they had over the weekend. You know, the one that none of them thought to invite you to? Show these morons you have a modicum of self-respect and walk away. You don’t need them.

2. The target will feel left out because the other members of the group will be communicating with all other members except the target.
You’d much rather be alone than to be lonely. Alone is when you’re physically by yourself. Lonely is when you’re among people, yet you’re still alone because to them, you don’t exist. You can be alone but not be lonely. Realize that if you ever feel lonely and you’re in a group, that’s the time to tell them to go kick rocks and be on your way.

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3. The target will feel as if he’s tagging behind the group.
Again, if they seem to always leave you behind, eighty-six them and bid them goodbye.

4. Other members of the group will voice their hatred of the target anytime he isn’t around to hear it. The target will then hear about it later. If they stab you in the back, it’s time to ditch them. You’d much rather be by yourself and keep your dignity rather than stay among those who strip you of it.

5. There’s always that sickening “elephant in the room” feeling.
Feeling awkward around these people is a sure sign that they don’t deserve your friendship. Understand that this is only your gut trying to warn you about these people. Listen to it!

If people tolerate a person, they only permit having them around when there’s no other choice. And they’ll take every chance of voicing their seething hatred of the person when he/she isn’t around to defend themselves. They allow the person to be around because there’s no way they can make them go away or say anything without looking like a heel. When the tolerated person is present, the rest just grin and bear it.

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Here’s why the target should drop these people:

1. By continuing to be around people who tolerate him/her, the target decreases his value as a person. That’s right. Anytime you must crawl behind people who don’t give a crap about you, you make yourself look like you have no other options. People who see this lose all respect for you and think you’re weak. Therefore, your value will drop like a meteor!

2. You’ll risk being used and abused. Any time you’re desperate to have friends, you’ll settle for any crumb of human connection. You’ll be willing to put up with shabby treatment just to keep from being alone.

Users and abusers will take notice of this and hang around only to get something from you. And those who are decent people and would otherwise be good friends will want nothing to do with you because desperation is so off-putting and only repels them.

3. You’ll only embarrass yourself and further erode your self-esteem. If you don’t have respect for yourself, no one else will either. No one respects anyone they deem pathetic. You need to muster up some pride and stay away from people who make you feel bad about yourself! Begin rejecting them and have nothing more to do with them. Then watch your value rise again and see how much better you feel about yourself afterward.

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Tolerance just plain sucks! For both parties! It sucks for the others because they don’t want to be around the target but don’t know how to get rid of them. It also sucks for the tolerated person because he/she in a place they’re not welcome and in a situation in which they’re mistreated and even abused. It sucks for everyone involved because the overall mood is bad.

Anytime a person in a group of people is only tolerated, everyone feels it.

Tolerance includes resentment. It’s gritting your teeth, sitting there with contempt on your face, and drumming your fingers until the person finally leaves. Tolerance makes the tolerated person feel crappy because it’s begrudging and there’s suffering on the part of the tolerating people.

We tolerate people we find disgusting and abhorrent.

Acceptance is a much better term. With acceptance, people are at least willing to see the value the disliked person brings to the table although he’s a person they wouldn’t have chosen. It’s receiving the person and allowing them a degree of freedom and respect despite differences.

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Acceptance is sitting quietly and letting the person just be. It’s embracing her good qualities regardless of your dislike of him.

With that said, understand that you don’t deserve to be around the people who only tolerate you. Better yet, they don’t deserve the privilege of even being in your presence. It’s much better, not to mention healthier, to be by yourself until you meet people who will not only accept you but celebrate you.

I can’t stress this enough! You deserve to be among those who love you and who care deeply about you. Never, ever settle for people who only tolerate you just to keep from being alone.

Sometimes life tests us and we must be alone for a while before it finally rewards us with people who are meant to be in our lives. In the meantime, use this time of solitude for a deep self-evaluation and for getting to know yourself again. You just may discover strengths and qualities you never knew you had!

Bullies Despise It When You Outshine Them

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Especially those who are narcissists. These bullies have to be at the top of the game in everything. They must be the center of attention- all the time.

Anyone who outshines them in any way is fair game for attack. If you have any talents, anything at all you’re good at, or in which you’re super successful, these bullies will never stop coming after you.

They’ll often accuse you behind your back of the following:

1. “She’s just showing off.”
2. “Oh, she’s just trying to get attention.”
3. “He just loves to flaunt his (money, material possessions, masculinity, etc.)”
4. “She’s not so hot!”
5. “He’s a wuss, wimp, etc.”
6. “She’s arrogant, full of herself, pompous, stuck up, etc.”

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But notice! These bullies will often accuse the target of the same things they are guilty of themselves.

By displaying your talents, winning awards, and favor with others and charming those in authority, the target unwillingly offends the bullies’ own excessive vanity. The target instills an imbalance of the bullies’ sense of self and makes them doubt their superiority by poking holes in their importance.

These jealous brutes are often at the top of the pecking order- the popular kids at school or the high executives in the workplace.

Understand that people such as these can’t accept being outdone in anything by anyone. And if they’re outshone by anyone they deem as inferior- their targets, all the worse! They’ll then stop at nothing to “put you back in your place.”

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They don’t care about your talents, your natural gifts, your successes, or smarts. If anything, they despise them. They hate any threat to their superiority.

These bullies will have followers who will kiss up to them and many others who are afraid of them. You’ll know these people right away when you meet them.

They’ll be loud, obnoxious, and arrogant. These bullies will be in a clique and will have attitudes of self-entitlement. They’ll also expect perks and favors and more than likely get them. Anyone outside of their group, they will treat like dirt under their shoes.

Although talk is cheap and what they say behind your back is just a bunch of hot air, be careful your bullies don’t try to do something harmful to you.

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If you attract these bullies’ ire, here’s a short list of ways to keep them at bay:

1. Never reveal your plans and goals.
2. Never share anything you wouldn’t want anyone to know.
3. Display your talents, yes. But don’t brag about them.
4. Don’t dumb down for anyone, but don’t be too flashy with any intelligence, especially in the workplace.
5. Politely thank those who compliment you. Nothing more.
6. Humble yourself, yes. But you don’t have to undermine yourself to satisfy these brutes. Quiet confidence is key here.

Do these things, and you’re less likely to have a target on your back!

What Being Bullied Taught Me

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Although being bullied is no fun and can be damaging to the psyche, there are many lessons that can be learned from it. Here’s what it taught me.

1. The evils humans are capable of and their predatory nature. People can be the evilest and the cruelest of all living things. Not everyone is inherently good. Being bullied taught me to be on the lookout for those who would secretly wish to harm my loved ones or me. It taught me to watch for enemies disguised as friends and to pay close attention to body language, expressions, and any micro flashes. And it taught me exactly what signs in other people to watch for.

2. Empathy and Compassion. Being bullies taught me empathy and compassion for others. Because I know first hand what it is and how it feels to be a target of bullies, I make it a point to extend kindness, especially to people whom others have unjustly marginalized and misjudged. I believe in spreading the same goodness and dignity to the janitor as I would the CEO.

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3. To never take anyone for granted. Because I know what it is to be rejected by everyone and to be left alone to fend for myself, I have nothing but appreciation for the people in my life and all the good they bring. I make it a point never to take my family and friends for granted, and I will fight to protect them if they’re being mistreated or are in some trouble. I value loyalty, and I extend it to the people who matter to me. If you are a person I love and you tell me a secret, you can bet that your secret will be safe with me. And if anyone trash talks you, I’ll defend you even when you aren’t around to see it.

4. To value, love, and take care of myself. Because, let’s face it. No one else will. It’s so important to put yourself first. No matter what anyone thinks or says, be true to yourself. Be yourself. And don’t let bullies distort your self-esteem or tell you “it isn’t cool” if there’s something you really enjoy doing. Take care of yourself. Stand up for yourself. Do what fulfills you and makes you happy. And forget the rest. Confidence and self-love are the most important things you can have.

5. To go after my goals and dreams. If there’s anything I want in life, I go after it. I work hard for what I want because I’ve gotten enough of what I don’t. Being bullied gave me the tenacity to reach my goals and dreams. And I’ve made several accomplishments- accomplishments I probably never would’ve made had I not been a target of bullying. Bullies only fuel my motivation to reach more successes and live a happy life. So, instead of holding grudges against your bullies, use them as your drive to reach heights you never thought possible! Because happiness and success are the best revenge you can ever take.

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6. To never be afraid to say “no” or set boundaries. I learned the hard way that if you don’t say no nor set boundaries, people will walk all over you. And sometimes, even if you do, there will be those who will double down and challenge those boundaries. But you must stay firm no matter what. You might be retaliated against for it, but at least you’ll feel better later, in knowing that you stood up for yourself. And as the old saying goes, “I’d rather die on my feet than to live on my knees.”

Finding the lessons in bullying will make you a happier person later on. It did me!