“I could never be that desperate and you could never be that lucky.”
That was my comeback to a group of male bullies after one called out to me as I walked past them, “Hey! My buddy says he’s madly in love with you!” Being in the seventh grade and the smartass that I was, I made sure not to miss a chance to deliver a snappy and scathing one-liner to someone acting like a total arse.
I knew that this was his cowardly way of instigating a conflict between me and his buddy, then standing back, at a safe distance to watch. It was also his way of baiting his buddy into insulting me in front of everyone and getting his kicks from my humiliation. Only it backfired in his face.
Those that heard it either shouted, “BURN!” and laughed at the boys, or scowled at me and reminded me of how I’d “stooped just as low as them”, by countering with such a scathing return-fire.
Why am I telling you this story, you may wonder? It’s to make a point.
And my point is that sometimes, you have to go just as low as the bullies- you must not be afraid to get down and dirty and you mustn’t care what anyone else thinks about it.
Understand that with bullies, sometimes there’s no being polite and no being the bigger person. There’s no such thing as “playing fair” nor being nice about it.
Bullies don’t comprehend the meaning of class or couth. They don’t understand morals and scruples. They have no concept of decency and respectability. The only language bullies understand is a language that is cheap, tacky, and unsavory.
Bullies (and anyone who is even remotely impressed by them) are a dime a dozen. They really are. And sometimes you must speak in the only language they understand before they’ll get the message and back the hell off!
I understand your discomfort with this. It sucks when you must get down and wallow in the bullies’ foulness and filth with them. But for purposes of self-preservation, sometimes there’s no other choice but to lower your own moral standards.
The good news is that you don’t have to stay in the mud but only reserve the nastiness for emergencies like the one in the above story.
Fear is the strongest of all emotions. While fear is an excellent asset in a genuinely hazardous situation where there’s the threat of immediate harm, it can be the most dangerous and paralyzing emotion when it unnecessary.
Unnecessary fear is THE number one tool in the bully’s toolbox. Bullies use this fear as a means to manipulate their targets and to control many aspects of their lives.
Realize that the power of fear is the only power bullies hold, and they don’t use it sparingly. Bullies instinctively know that real or perceived fear will shut down a person’s rational and cognitive thinking abilities. As a result, they can manipulate the target into doing what they want by making empty promises of safety and security.
Fear strips away your power. It takes apart the ability to reason, to be proactive, and to make good choices- hence to defend and protect yourself. Bullies have long understood the power of deliberately inducing fear in their victims to control and dominate them.
Understand that a fearful person is easier for bullies to control than a fearless one.
Bullies maintain their oppressive grip on their victims by invoking fear in them, then claim that only they have the power to decide whether the targets can live in peace and be safe from harm. The bullies send the message that if the victim does what they want and says what they want to hear willingly and without getting mouthy and catching a funky attitude, they will leave him alone and permit him to live in peace.
But we all know how this usually ends. Bullies don’t keep promises. They only keep you hanging.
If you’re a target of bullying, I want you to understand that your bullies greatly benefit from your fear, and they won’t give those benefits up without a fight.
So, how do bullies exploit targets through inducing fear? There are many ways.
Rumor spreading and gossip – bullies have a knack for making even the most ridiculous lies sound like the truth and the most insidious abuse respectable, even admired. They slander the target to keep him silent and ensure that he doesn’t speak out about the abuse. If they can turn everyone against the victim, then who’s going to believe him when he finally does open up about the violence?
Bullies will also use fear to turn others against the target and recruit them to become willing participants. Even the kindest of people can become willing co-conspirators because humans behave much differently in groups, then they do on their own.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Repetition -bullies will bully, defame, insult, even physically attack the target repeatedly, over long periods to solidify the target’s fear, along with their low self-esteem and confidence to ensure that he doesn’t protect himself or rebel against the abuse.
Gaslighting – if the bullies can make the target question his own sanity and believe that he must have done or said something to deserve the cruel treatment, all the better! Then he’ll surely keep quite then.
To control everyone else– bullies also use fear to control peers and bystanders. They send the messages that if anyone else dares to help or befriend the victim, they’ll suffer the bullies’ wrath as well.
But there’s hope!
Unnecessary fear has a cure. And that cure is knowledge!
That’s right! You must acquire knowledge of bullies and bullying, and lots of it! It pays huge social and psychological dividends to know the psychology of bullying-
why bullies bully (for social status, to keep from being bullied themselves, ect.)
where their abuse comes from (insecurity, low self-esteem, arrogance, superiority, etc.)
intentions and motivations for bullying
tactics bullies use, the effects of bullying on victims.
And so much more.
In short, you must be knowledgeable of human nature, tactics of warfare, the ways people attain power, psychology, and dark psychology. I would also recommend reading about the Dark Triad- Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Then read about how to counter bullying.
Only then will you be able firmly and confidently stand up for and protect yourself- then ultimately free yourself from your bullies’ grip. Knowledge is the only thing that can defeat your fear. If nothing else, know this!
The first time I saw Carrie was when I was a senior in high school and I couldn’t help but hurt for her.
She’s a high school senior who’s bullied by her classmates and abused by her psychotic and religious fanatic mother. It seems that Carrie can never get away from the drama and she longs for the things that everyone else seems to come by so easily.
One thing she does have that her classmates don’t is telekinetic powers- powers that she uses as a powerful weapon at the end of the movie. And when I got to see her pour out her wrath upon the people who treated her so badly, I was cheering her on inside and find myself secretly wishing that I too had those powers.
I think we all did if we ever saw the movie.
“Carrie” was Stephen King’s first published book that soared to the top of the best seller list, then became a movie in the 70’s. It’s an awesome movie for Halloween. If you haven’t seen it, you should.
There are things you can do to take the sting out of being bullied. These steps can serve as a buffer to the effects of bullying on self-esteem and the psyche.
1. Watch and Listen– Because bullies get talked about too. Believe me when I tell you. Bullies have enemies and lots of them. And why not?
They’ve been walking over people for a long time. So, you can bet they’ve left a long trail of foes behind them, adversaries who are more than happy to dish out the tea.
2. Know that you aren’t the only one these people have bullied– seasoned bullies have had plenty of practice over the years. I guarantee it! There have been others before you, and there will be more after you. Why do you think these people are so good at making you feel bad about yourself and doubt your worth? How do you think they got that good at it? They certainly didn’t get that way overnight. It came from so many years of trial and error, and they figured out what worked and what didn’t. And they had to have had guinea pigs (previous victims/targets) as practice. They’re doing what for so long has worked for them.
3. Collect info on your bullies– find out about their personal and family lives. You can bet that bullies have problems too. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be going out of their way to prove something to an audience at your expense. As I stated earlier, they have enemies. Find these enemies, cozy up to them, and have them tell you what they know about your bullies. I have done it many times, and I can tell you that you’d be surprised at the tidbits you found out! I’ll give you more details on the next step.
4. Ingratiate yourself with others your bullies have bullied– You and these people have something in common, so this should be a cinch! Align yourself with these other victims. Bullies run in packs, so why can’t targets? Understand that strength always comes in numbers. If you ban together, I guarantee that your bullies will think twice before accosting you. Remember that bullies are cowards and would prefer to catch you when you’re alone rather than confront you while you’re in a group.
I love being me – positive affirmation – handwriting on napkin with a cup of coffee
5. Keep company only with people who love you, want the best for you, and make you feel good about yourself– A good sign of a true friend is someone who uplifts you and helps your confidence soar. They uplift you, encourage you, have your back when you’re in trouble, and cheer for you when you reach success. All too often, victims end up with fake friends- frenemies who only tolerate and are passive-aggressive toward them. These frenemies will subtly humiliate victims in public and throw them under the bus when they’re in trouble or danger.
Victims often latch on to frenemies because they’re desperate for friends and companionship. They’d rather have sorry excuses for friends who treat them poorly than to have no friends at all. These victims are under the false belief that anything is better than being by yourself. I made that mistake myself when I suffered bullying in school.
Trust me when I tell you, anyone who belittles you even a little bit is not your friend! They’re only there because they know that you’re lonely. You are vulnerable to them, and they only hang around because anytime you have a weak spot, you’re accessible for them to use and take advantage of you. That is the only reason they come around!
Do you want friends like that? I hope not! I hope that you will do what I finally did the last year of school, ditch those creeps, and find friends who respect you, who genuinely like you and want to be with you!
6. Show off your talents and gifts– If you can sign, enter talent shows! If you can write, enter writing contests! If you know you’re good at something, find ways to show it off! You’d be surprised at what it will do for your self-esteem. I promise you!
When my classmates bullied me, it was so bad that I was scared to show what I could do. I knew that I could sing but was too afraid to belt it out and show off my best voice. If there were do-overs, I would have sung as best I could, came out of my shell, and took every opportunity to showcase that talent! Who knows where it might have taken me?
Anytime people are bullying you, you must take care of yourself. We exercise and eat well to take good care of our bodies, but we forget. We must also take care of our psyches! It is imperative that we also take care of our minds. And we do this by taking steps to buffer our self-esteem from the onslaught of bullying.
7. Do things you enjoy doing, and that fills your soul– whether you love to swim, hike, camp, find opportunities to do these things if they truly make you happy! The more happy moments you have, the less of an effect bullying will have on you!
Doing these things will help to buffer your self-esteem against your bullies attacks. In other words, it will lesson the pain of the attacks because you’ll know you have friends, allies, talents, and positive moments in life- solid proof that counters anything the bullies try to tell you. And you’ll feel much better about yourself.
It will also help correct the imbalance between adversity and success. Many targets of bullying often have a ton of social failures and only a tiny few successes. If you do all these things, you’ll soon achieve a healthy balance between the two.
Once a person suffers bullying for so long, changes in the brain occur- changes that aren’t good. Here are these changes:
1. The target becomes exhausted and loses the will to fight back. Being bullied is extremely tiring. Bullies know this and deliberately wear their victims down to take the fight out of them and wrest control over their lives.
Although at first, the target may defend themselves and fiercely assert their rights to human dignity and respect, most bullies don’t recognize any human rights but only see self-defense and protection as an affront to their power. They then only double down- intensify the hatred until they mentally and physically exhaust their target.
The target finally loses their will to fight back and acquiesces because he’s just worn slap out and no longer has the strength to fight anymore.
2. He loses the ability to recognize mistreatment. When we’re used to being treated well, we can more clearly see poor treatment and know the difference when it happens. But after so long of enduring bullying, the lines get blurred, and our eyes lose the ability to see aggression so clearly- especially if the hostility we face is subtle. We finally reach a point where we don’t recognize the bullying at all!
3. The target becomes conditioned to accept bad behavior from others. After so long, you come to believe what bullies tell you- that you’re a terrible person and that you somehow deserve to be treated shabbily.
These damaging self-beliefs happen after the bullies, their followers, and bystanders have repeatedly prevented you from defending and taking care of yourself. They have, for so long, drummed into your head that you are worthless, useless, evil, mentally unstable- take your pick. They repeat the same lies over and over until they force you to believe it too.
4. The target begins to punish himself. The victim does this by engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors. He may hang with the wrong people and befriend those who only tolerate them. Targeted girls may participate in risky sexual behavior or having relationships with abusive partners.
Understand that we must be vigilant to take care of our mental health and self-esteem if we want to avoid these results in the future. Make sure you have a friend outside of the bullying environment that you can talk to and that your family is supportive. Do things you enjoy and keep company with positive and uplifting people any time you’re away from the bullies.
Your goal is to balance the bullying you suffer by adding healthy and positive relationships and experiences outside the bullying environment. This balance will soften the blows to your self-esteem and provide a buffer to your bullies’ attacks.
Here lately, WordPress, for some reason or another, has put a lot of sincere comments and replies I’ve gotten into my Spam Folder- comments and replies that AREN’T spam. And I’ve found them later.
I try my best to give a prompt response to every comment and reply I get. The only times I’m not so prompt is when I’m sick, asleep, away from my computer, away from home, or when WP mistakingly puts them in Spam.
So, with that said. I’d like to offer a sincere apology to those who have had to wait for an extended time for a response. Know that all comments are important and I have every intention of responding.
Also, I’m having an issue with my Followers List, it seems that it’s not showing the follows that followed before Feb. 15 and I’ve spoken to a technician that says they’re there but there’s a bug in the system somewhere. So, to all my followers that followed me before Feb 15 of this year, know that I have every intention of reading your blogs and interacting with you. I just can’t see you on the list right now and I can’t remember all the bloggers on the list. So, if you don’t hear from me, you will as soon as the developers at WP debug my list page and I can see you again. I apologize to all of you.
Are you ready for this? Here goes: You do it by being yourself, by setting boundaries, and by speaking and standing in your truth. I’ll explain deeper.
Be Yourself. Too many people put on fake personas for friendship and approval. What they don’t realize is that most of their friends aren’t really for them, they only act like they are and can reak lots of havoc in their lives if they aren’t careful! I want you to realize that like attracts like.
When you’re fake, you only attract more like-minded people into your world- fakes, fraudsters, and imposters! But understand that when you start being yourself, these people will naturally be repelled because they won’t like it.
Being real has a way of intimidating and threatening the fake. It strikes fear in them because a person who’s for real has a chance of exposing all who are fake. Is it any wonder that fake people either stay away from or bully those who are real? It’s because realness scares them to death!
Personal boundary. Prohibiting palm, psychotherapy icon vector illustration
Set Boundaries. This is a biggie! Setting boundaries is not easy. It can be frightening sometimes, especially when someone pushes you too far and the situation calls for you to put on your bitch-face and show your booty to people. But don’t worry about what others will think of it or say about it.
Boundaries always expose the fakes. Always! When you start setting boundaries, watch how people react! You’ll be amazed at how many people get angry and upset! You will automatically see their evil sides as they immediately turn against you, trying to lay guilt trips on you or smearing you to others.
But understand that anyone who gets angry at you for having boundaries only does so because they’ve benefited all this time from you not having any. Do you think they want those benefits to stop?
Don’t be afraid to let these people go because they never were your friends and therefore don’t belong in your life. Your real friends, on the other hand, will be happy for you and will cheer you on because they will want what’s best for you and to see you happy.
Speak and Stand in Your Truth. When you begin freely speaking out about past abuse and bullying, you can bet that you’ll make a lot of people angry. You’ll make bitter enemies not only of the people who wronged you in the past but also of those who stood by and watched it happen but fail to stop it.
Even if you don’t use their names and choose not to identify them, it won’t matter. Understand that any abuse thrives on silence. Abusers and most bystanders don’t want you talking about it at all!
They are sometimes those we call friends. Abusers can’t chance being exposed and seen by others in a negative light and they’ll go to great lengths to shut you down.
But again. This is how you weed out all the fakes and expose people for who they are. Deep-six these people. Fast!
Understand that for a garden to not only grow but flourish, you must get rid of all the weeds. It’s the same with the people in our lives. If we are surrounded by users, abusers, and people who only stifle us, we have no chance of growth and advancement.
But when you remove all the junk, you make room for a better quality of people to come into your life. Do these three things, to expose and get rid of the weeds.
You’ll be surprised at how it changes your life and of the quality of friends who come into your life later!
All too often, whether at school or work, it’s the best of the best who get bullied- children and teens with pure hearts of gold, empathetic coworkers, the very people who don’t deserve it, and who want to make the world a better place.
These are the people who are team players, who are cooperative, and who deeply care about others. They extend kindness to others and will give you the shirts off their backs if you needed it.
Understand that simply caring– about anyone or anything is going to be painful. It’s why so many who were once kind and caring people are now cold, hard, angry, and bitter. These people were relentlessly bullied and they allowed it to make them cold and mean. They are often those who adopt the “I’m going to get you before you get me” attitude.
For a long time, I was one of those people. After being bullied, I became no better than they were. I’m thankful that my eyes were opened and that I no longer have to resort to cruelty to protect myself. And I’m much happier and more confident in who I am!
Bullying has a way of taking it all out of you. It can take your self-esteem, your confidence, your happiness, your love and kindness for others, your energy, your health- even your will to live. But only if you let it!
Bullying will either make or break you.
It will either wise you up or dumb you down.
Either way, these results are up to you.
Bullying changes a person, no doubt about it. But don’t let it make you bitter. Let it make you better!