A sincere apology and owning up to any error often show great strength and bravery. It takes a person with integrity to apologize for any wrongdoing because few people will admit they are “wrong.”
However, no matter how sincere or genuine, an apology or admission can also be taken as a sign of weakness in the presence of bullies or anyone who lacks integrity. We all live a life based on trial and error. In fact, put another way, life is trial and error, and to grow and mature as a person, one must own his/her mistakes and wrongdoings.
Admitting mistakes and giving a well-deserved apology to someone we have transgressed against is a sign of honor and integrity. Only not to those who lack those qualities!
Yes, you should have an open mind. You should be empathetic, generous, and kind, but only in the presence of and to the people who reciprocate the same toward you. On the other hand, in the presence of bullies, extending those virtues is next to impossible and can be downright dangerous! Here’s why:
1. A bully will take your heartfelt apology, turn it against you, and steamroll you with it!
Because he will only take it as further evidence that he’s right, or worse- that you are a terrible person, clumsy, stupid, take your pick. Your apology or admission will only serve bullies’ plans to assert control over you and keep it.
To a bully without a conscience, any apology made by their target only looks like a waving white flag of surrender. Therefore, you must make sure that you’re in a safe environment before extending one. Here are a few examples:
Victim: “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”
Bully: “Damn right, you were wrong! Oh, you’re sorry, alright- a sorry sack of crap!
Victim: “Hey! What’s your problem? I just apologized!”
Bully: “Screw your apology! Your apology means nothing! You only apologize to cover your own butt and keep people off your back!”
When you’re a target of bullying, it’s too easy to get into the bad habit of over-apologizing. And you do it emphatically, even when an apology isn’t necessary, to appease the abuser and avoid being harmed.
I have learned that your apology should be more indirect with bullies because a direct apology will only make you seem weak to a bully and assure her that she has power over you! Here are a few examples of indirect apologies, and they’re what has worked for me:
“Oh, relax! You’ll be alright.”
“You’ll forget all about this by the end of the day.”
“You’ll get over it.”
The above examples may seem callous, unfeeling, and cold. However, it allows you to express empathy without accepting blame.
Always remember that bullies lack integrity and a conscience. Any of the two shown in the presence of those who don’t have it will be shot down. Apologize, yes! But do it without taking any blame. Do it with POWER!
Confidence is the most important characteristic you can ever have, not only during school to ward off bullies, but all through life. It does not matter how smart you are or how high your grades are.
You can have five PhDs and be the smartest person on the face of the earth. But if you don’t have confidence, you will not be able to effectively communicate nor interact with people. Your social/people skills will be lacking and you won’t get anywhere in life.
Whether you choose to believe this, the reality is that other people really do have control over whether we succeed or fail in life. Other people are the gatekeepers to our success and if you think otherwise, you are only fooling yourself.
I’ll give you a few examples: You can’t get that high position you want without being selected for the job by another person- the interviewer, who could be the owner of the company, an HR manager, or supervisor.
Even during school, although the vast majority of teachers and professors are honest and grade students fairly regardless of how they may feel about the individual, it’s still not unheard of for a student to receive a failing grade solely because the instructor didn’t like them. It does happen, though not often.
Confidence= great people skills= charm= great friends and connections= success!!! Great people skills will always trump smarts, good grades, high marks, and college degrees! Always!
Confidence, or lack thereof, is something that people notice right away when they meet you for the first time. When you walk into a job interview and meet your interviewer, he is going to notice right away whether you are confident in yourself and if you’re not, chances are very unlikely that you will get hired for that esteemed position that you have been coveting. The reason for this is that if you’re not confident in yourself, how then can you expect others to be confident in you?
Make no mistake about it. Confidence is the number one ingredient in all areas of your life. It’s the first trait that potential employers look for and not only potential employers but also prospective associates, prospective customers, friends, and dates. Whether or not you are confident is something that everyone looks at unless they are so low on confidence themselves that they can’t afford to be the least bit selective.
This is why you must never let a bully take away your confidence. If another person has already taken it away, you must fight like crazy to get it back. You do this by surrounding yourself with people who love you and lift you up, doing the things you enjoy and are good at, showing off your talents, taking care of yourself, and taking pride in yourself and in your appearance. Only then will you begin to see your own worth.
If a person steals your confidence, they also steal your potential for success and happy life. In short, they steal your future. Bullies are confidence thieves! Never surrender your confidence to anyone! This brings me back to Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said it best when he made this quote:
“If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.”
Bullies don’t want to notice anything about you that forces them to remember that you are generally a good person.
They don’t want to remember that you were once respected and very well-liked.
Bullies don’t want to recognize that you’re a kind and thoughtful person and not deserving of brutal treatment.
They don’t want to see that you’re hurting and you’re the one being attacked.
Bullies don’t want to see you as a human being, deserving of the same rights and considerations as everyone else.
And the reason why bullies do NOT want to see these things is that it would only prick at their consciences and make them feel dirty!
Understand that, regardless of the facts, of what you say or do, or of your intentions, everything will be taken out of context, misconstrued, and spun to support the bullies’ narratives, whatever they may be.
Deep down inside, your bullies, their followers, your former friends who have been turned against you- they all know that you’re a great person. Believe me, they are very much aware of your kindness, your big heart, and of your potential, only they would never in this lifetime admit it. Because to admit it would be to convict themselves.
Admission of your positive qualities would be an admission of theirguilt! That they were in the wrong and that they are a bunch of cruel monsters!
So, to save face and not feel like total scumbags, they can’t afford to acknowledge the truth. Because, again, to do so would be to demonize themselves.
For instance, any time I happen to run into one or more of my former bullies from school at the supermarket, the gas station, or anywhere else in public, they automatically turn their heads and walk away- fast! But I understand where it all comes from.
I don’t feel rejected. I don’t feel the least bit upset about it because I see it for what it is, and what it is, is guilt! It’s nothing personal.
Each time they see my face, they’re reminded of the horrible things they did years ago, and they feel dirty!
No one wants to feel dirty.
So, when this happens to you, don’t be hurt or offended. Don’t feel rejected because it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them and the feelings of shame that they’re so desperately trying to avoid.
I didn’t experience bullying, nothing beyond normal teasing, until I moved to a small Tennessee town after having been an Army Brat and lived in several different areas. Until then, bullying had always been something that happened to kids in the movies.
When I became a target of severe and chronic bullying as a sixth-grader at the age of twelve, I began a long lesson in the human predator/prey dynamic and a battle for my dignity, safety, and my very soul.
During the sixth grade, I never fought back. I’d been taught that decent young ladies didn’t fight. So, I took the physical beatings, name-calling, and abuse.
When I entered seventh grade at the age of thirteen, the harassment by my classmates reached a fever pitch. I was a target of what is called “poly-victimization.” I was name called, slandered, humiliated, threatened, physically beaten, the whole nine. And after enough of it, I learned the hard way that I had two choices, either take a stand and fight back or get eaten alive.
The more I tried to set boundaries, the worse the bullying became.
The physical bullying was brutal. I suffered horrible beatings, and it escalated to the point of having a box cutter pulled on me and my life threatened.
Every morning before going to school, I would feel a huge lump in my throat and swallow hard. It took everything I had in me to step onto that school bus, knowing what would be waiting for me as soon as I walked through the school entrance.
During P.E., I was good at some sports, but not so good in others. I loved volleyball and kickball but basketball and baseball weren’t my strong suits. Music and writing stories were my gifts, not sports.
However, students and a few teachers judged me because I wasn’t an athlete or a sorority girl. I was the musically talented and creative type. So, what they were doing was akin to judging a fish on its ability to fly.
In just two short years, I went from being a confident and outgoing kid who always made the honor roll, to a sad, withdrawn, angry and bitter girl who made C’s and D’s.
Schoolwork had always been so easy for me. I had been one of those lucky kids who didn’t have to pick up a book. All I had to do was to listen in class and do my homework (which I could get done in minutes), and I’d ace every test. But in a matter of two years, the schoolwork went from being a piece of cake to being difficult and overwhelming.
Who can concentrate on schoolwork when they’re busy looking over their shoulder and dodging bullies. Who can learn effectively when they’re constantly in survival mode?
The torment became next to unbearable, and I attempted suicide at the age of fourteen, which landed me in ICU for a week. I almost didn’t make it.
Having my power stripped away was a hell I would not wish on anybody, not even my worst enemy. The trying to keep a calm demeanor amid so much toxicity and the desperately hanging onto my dignity with everything I had was exhausting! I felt as if I were emotionally held hostage by my classmates and yes, even a few school staff as a few of them joined in the bullying as well.
Because I felt powerless, I began to bully those who were even weaker than me in attempts to grab back some of my power, and it is something I’m not proud to confess today.
I had no one to turn to as bullying was considered a normal rite of passage in those days and something I had to deal with on my own. Anytime I spoke out about or reported the mistreatment, I was shouted down by the other classmates and told to “shut up”, blamed for my own suffering, or perceived as a whiner, thought of as weak, and ridiculed. There was no help nor relief.
I was not allowed to be a human being. There was no margin for error.
They would minimize or ignore any good deed, any accomplishments, and any successes. And they would maximize any mistakes.
If I wore a dress and went to school all dolled up (which I often did in high school), I was trying to either impress the opposite sex or get a date and/or laid. If I wore my jeans the slightest bit tight, I looked like a whore.
If I cried, I was too sensitive. If I laughed, I was trying to get attention. If I got angry, I was crazy. If I was friendly, I was either flirting or trying to kiss up. If I smiled, I was secretly plotting something devious.
I was not allowed to be myself and it was exhausting. It felt as if I were suffering a slow and agonizing social murder.
The last straw finally came when I was four months pregnant with my first child. I was attacked from behind, thrown over a teacher’s desk, then kicked as I lay balled in a fetal position on the floor, guarding my growing belly and trying to protect my unborn baby. Luckily, my unborn child survived and was born healthy later that year.
After the last attack, I was done with Oakley High. I changed schools, and the bullying stopped. Words cannot tell you what a relief it was to finally have the opportunity to transfer to a new school! To a safer environment! One which would be much less stressful!
I loved my new school and felt like a bird out of a cage! The feeling was of being released from a nearly six-year-long prison sentence. I had done my time in hell and now I could put it behind me.
While riding along the highway toward the new school I would enroll in, I sat in the passenger seat with my then-husband (I got married while still in high school) behind the wheel and cried tears of joy.
It was hard to believe that it was over! The persecution! The pain that was so great I couldn’t even cry! It was all finally over! and I could start a new and better chapter in my life. Sure enough, I went on to make friends out of my new classmates, but, more importantly, my grades skyrocketed! The transformation of my grades seemed to happen suddenly and like magic!
After five years, I made honor roll again, then finally, graduation!
I now lead a successful life and use what I went through to help bullied kids today. Anytime I hear of an innocent child bullied into suicide, it truly breaks my heart.
What’s even more heartbreaking is the attitudes and remarks I hear from others around me when a tragedy like this happens! I often hear statements such as:
“But that boy was so quiet!”
“Really??? Still waters run deep!”
“But that girl always kept to herself!”
“No joke! Just as an AIDS patient keeps his diagnosis to himself!”
“Shame on him! He was such a coward!”
“Right! Anyone running through the woods from a wild boar would look like a coward to someone sitting safely in a tree! You spend a few years being bullied by everyone you know and see how mighty and brave you are! You’ll find out how quickly your life can go to crap!”
If you haven’t experienced it, you’ll never know what it is to be a target of bullying. I was fortunate in that I survived and moved on to happiness and success. But many victims don’t, which is why writing about bullying and advocating for victims is my passion.
Although being bullied is never a good thing, I did get a few positive takeaways:
1.) Having been bullied has made me appreciate the great friends I have today. It also gave me empathy and compassion for others and a desire to help those who endure the same!
2.) Having been bullied made a strong woman out of me. It made me more determined never to quit until I reach a goal! Knowing that bullies often bully out of jealousy and fear is the motivation for me.’
3.) Being bullied gave me the determination to love myself, put myself first, and the willingness to say “no” anytime I am asked or told to do something which does not feel right!
4.) Having been bullied gave me the determination to follow my dreams, to do things I most enjoy, and to reach success!
5.) Having been bullied has given me hope. Because I know that if I can go through bullying and survive, then I can rise above anything!
6.) It gave me a soft spot and a great willingness to fight for the underdog.
7.) And lastly, it sharpened my BS detector, giving me the ability to read people, spot a bully instantly and avoid being targeted!
Being a target of bullying almost broke me, yes! But in the end, it made me! And if you’re a target of bullying and you don’t give up, you too can survive and emerge a winner!!!
That’s what bullying is to bullies, an aphrodisiac. It’s the only way bullies can feel good. Hurting other people they select as targets is like a drug to them. It’s highly addictive because it gives them a massive rush of power.
I want you to understand that targeting people for attacks and bullying is how they find meaning in their lives. And the only excitement they can add to their meaningless lives is through the mistreatment of their targets. Simply put, bullies bully because they enjoy it!
People crave power, fame, notoriety, and influence- even the best of them. But most people can get those through love, through their hobbies, jobs, talent, and creativity. Bullies, on the other hand, don’t have these things going for them. Some might have jobs but aren’t satisfied in their positions. So, they abuse people instead.
Bullies either can’t get those benefits any other way, or they can’t get enough of them. So, for them, destroying the lives of their targets is the only power they have.
And once their victim is no longer available to them because he’s either quit, moved, or died by suicide, that drug, that aphrodisiac isn’t there anymore. So, what do the bullies do? They search for another target to get their next fix- their power high because they need authority over somebody, anybody.
Understand that this “fix” always wears off, and bullies consistently need another dose. So, again, once their “drug (victim)” is gone, they may even turn on one of their friends if they can’t find a target outside their peer group.
Bad behavior bullying children cartoon characters composition with a group of teenage girls laughing at their classmate vector illustration
My point is that if you’re a target of bullies. You are not the one with the issues.
Your bullies are the ones who have the problems. Your bullies are the ones who are severely mentally unbalanced. Your bullies are the ones who belong in mental institutions; they only hide it behind their undermining and degrading of you and others. Realize that they’re only projecting their problems onto you. Your bullies are using you as a distraction. And they have to work hard at it, which doesn’t make for a good life.
Always remember that, and their insults and stupidity won’t bother you as much. I promise you!
Most seasoned bullies seek to intimidate others by nonverbal means. Why? Because nonverbal bullying is subtle and least likely to be detected.
This type of bullying can occur either at school or in the workplace. Here are a few such subtleties.
1. They lean against the target’s desk, office doorway, car, etc. Anytime we lean against something, we stake a claim to or show ownership of that object.
How you handle it is to tell the bully point blank and in a stern voice, “Get off my desk!”
2. The bully will sit in the other person’s chair. Again, any chair you sit in, you non-verbally lay claim to.
Address it by telling the person in no uncertain terms to unseat your chair.
3. The bully may also pick the target’s notebook, purse, off their desk, touch their property, etc. Understand that anything of yours the bully touches, he is laying claim to.
The unspoken message that the bully is sending is, “I own your desk, car, notebook, and anything that’s yours.”
Don’t ignore it and don’t be quiet about it. Open your mouth and tell the creep to keep his hands off your stuff.
When I was in school, I saw a bully walk up to a table of freshman boys during lunch and pluck a French fry from one of the ninth grade boy’s plates before popping it into his mouth without even asking.
It was clear that the bully was challenging the boy. The message was,
“I just took a piece of your lunch. Now, what are you going to do about it?”
Female bullies will often go through their target’s purses or jacket pockets or flip through their notebooks, yearbooks, or diaries. I’ve also heard of bullies walking into their victim’s homes without knocking.
I remember going on a school trip and finding out that my bullies had gone through my luggage and stolen fifty dollars, a dress, and jewelry from me while I was out of the room. Because there were so many bullies, it was difficult for me to confront the thief. Though I had a pretty good idea who stole my belongings, I couldn’t prove she took them!
Understand that bullies will claim ownership to your space and your property, which only means that they believe they own YOU!
4. Bullies will violate your personal space. Bullies are notorious for getting too close.
Understand that when the bully gets in your face or looms you from behind, he is either trying to intimidate you, dominate you, challenging you, or attempting to provoke a fight. Do what you have to do. Tell this idiot to back the hell up!
Understand that these types of bullies have unlimited audacity, and they do not respect boundaries! With people who are bold and audacious, you must take a stand!
Never ignore them or allow yourself to be intimidated because these kinds of folks will only increase the behavior if you do.