Fear will enslave you if you let it. It’s like a prison without walls because a fearful person is a controlled person. The good thing is that you don’t have to let fear imprison you.
So, how do you break out of that jail?
You face your fears. You do the thing you fear anyway- and you do it scared!
Many people have the wrong idea of the word “fearless.” Fearless doesn’t mean you don’t feel the fear. What it means is that, although you may be scared to death, you do it anyway. A perfect example of this would be jumping out of an airplane with a parachute on your back.
I skydived for the very first time during the summer of 2004, and let me tell you! The fear is the worst right before you go out the door. But if I’d let my fright stop me, I never would have known that awesome rush I got during the 75 second free-fall before the chute opened. I never would have seen the beauty of the world below me as I floated downward, and would never have known the thrill of skydiving. Even worse, I would’ve been kicking myself later, because skydiving was something I’d always wanted to try.
I consider myself blessed to have gotten the chance to parachute and I’d love to do it again and again. And when I do, I plan to do a solo jump instead of tandem. So, if there’s anything you want to do, anything at all. Don’t be afraid to do it scared! After all, you only live once.
Go ahead. Take the plunge. Do it while you can and before it’s too late.
No! Insecurity and a lack of confidence are not characteristics that we’re born with. They are taught! Not only by bullies or abusive family members but can also unwittingly programmed into us by caring family members who call themselves trying to teach us humbleness and humility.
These characteristics are both good virtues to have, but only in moderation. Too much of it, however, can cause us to suppress a little too much of ourselves and hide our own awesome personalities, talents, and gifts, which can grow into insecurity and in worse cases, self-loathing.
I believe that each and every one of us is born with confidence and a heart of gold. Yet over time, our environments, circumstances, and sadly, the people in our lives can slowly erode the natural confidence and goodness we were born with.
After being hurt for so long, we withdraw from others and put up a barrier to protect ourselves. We turn cold and began to harden ourselves to numb feelings of rejection and the pain that comes with it.
Before long, we regard the feelings and suffering of others with indifference- we just don’t give a crap about anyone, how they feel, or what they think. Sometimes we even grow cold toward the people who love us because we have lost the ability to trust.
We no longer have any respect for others, much less ourselves. We end up doing and saying things that only further degrade ourselves and others. Lastly, we come to that evil place where schadenfreude takes hold of our personalities and we secretly or openly, take pleasure in seeing others, especially those we despise, suffer.
Just as we take steps to protect our health, finances, property, etc.; we must also take steps to protect our self-esteem. Self-esteem determines our life course. Therefore, we should guard it as we would our lives.
The words we hear from others can affect how we see ourselves, but they don’t have to if we don’t let them.
Targets of bullying are picked apart daily in every minute detail, and in every aspect of their existences. A bully may criticize something as minute as the way they write. Bullies may criticize a woman for sitting with her legs crossed or the way she applies her makeup. But I guarantee that it has nothing with the way the woman sits or puts on her cosmetics, it has everything to do with the bullies’ own insecurities that are buried within themselves.
In reality, the bullies may think the woman is awesome and their criticism could be taken as a compliment because the bullies know they can’t compete with her and certainly don’t deserve the time of day from her because they know they aren’t even on her level, so, they do whatever they can to tear her down and bring her to their level.
However, the criticism surely doesn’t feel like a compliment and can make you feel like crap, so, I’m very careful when I use my words here. Insecure bullies and abusers will say terrible things to us and they can stick with us if we’re not careful.
“Your clothes look like hand-me-downs!”
“Your hair looks too straight!”
“Your nose is too long!”
“Your ears are too big!”
“Nobody likes you!”
“You don’t have any friends!”
This doesn’t mean what they say is true, but so many times, we let the words of bullies get into our heads. When bullies assault us with hurtful words, targets often sit and wonder:
“Why don’t they like me?”
“Why am I not good enough?”
“Am I too fat?”
“Am I too short?”
“Am I too weird?”
“Is it my makeup, my hairdo, or my clothes?”
And they do it regardless of whether what was said to them is true.
Understand that our insecurities will scream at us from time to time but if we chose to listen to those pesky little voices, which are most often only voices from past abusers, it only serves to damage our self-confidence and self-esteem. Granted, there will be times when you will question yourself and this is perfectly normal. But when you make it a habit, then it becomes a problem.
There will also always be someone prettier, better looking, smarter, or financially better off. That’s just life. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything going for you because you do but again, there will always be someone with more.
Therefore, never compare yourself to another person because you do yourself more harm than good. Realize that each one of us is blessed with great qualities, although some may not know what they are.
Insecurity is a tricky animal because it has a way of hiding in obscurity. Sometimes, we don’t even know we have it. Bullies are such people. Most bullies are bogged down with insecurities, which is why they always point out the shortcomings of others in attempts to hide their own and the self-esteem fix they get from it is only short lived. Then bullies will only come back for more.
Another reason why insecurity is so tricky is because the insecure person not only doesn’t realize it exists, but they also don’t know when they became insecure nor what caused the insecurity.
We aren’t born with insecurities. They are given to us by other people, those who unfairly criticized you during your early years. Maybe someone called you stupid, or ugly. Maybe someone told you that you didn’t look good enough or, weren’t smart enough to pass that class.
Maybe you had an abusive parent or family member who told you that you would never amount to anything. Maybe your dad left and never cared to spend any time with you. It could be that you had an older sibling who bullied you. Maybe your classmates repeatedly told you that you weren’t good enough and never would be. Maybe others trivialized your successes and told you that they didn’t matter. They stem from many different factors.
Nevertheless, there had to be that first person who berated you- that person who planted that seed of insecurity and they repeated the same behavior and nurtured that seed so that it would grow. Maybe others helped to grow that seed and it’s only festered inside of you. And that seed has negatively affected your relationships with others and continues to do so today.
But understand that we all have flaws and the best way to get comfortable with them is to own them and accept that you have them. You might as well get comfortable with your flaws if they’re things you can’t do anything about. Also, once you embrace your flaws, no one can hold them against you any longer. By accepting and embracing your flaws, you take back your personal power and squash any power that bullies ever had over you because the insecurity ceases to be.
Many bullies have also been victims of others. This is the reason they try to break your confidence, only bullies refuse to have that discussion because it would only cast them as being vulnerable. Also, bullies never took the time to acknowledge and heal their own hurts and insecurities.
Therefore, bullies will tear you down with their actions and words because they feel either inferior to or threatened by you.
Once and for all, I want you to understand that there will be that partner who tells you that you dress like a floozy even though you dressed the same when your partner met you and you actually dress rather conservatively. There will be classmates who criticize your laugh or your smile. There will be people who flat out tell you to shut up when you speak even if the words you speak make sense.
The criticisms that hurt us the most and have the potential to destroy us come from spouses, family, and friends- people we love and trust the most. It is those remarks that can do the most damage because these are the people who are supposed to love us, take care of us, and protect us. And we believe they do. We believe they only want what’s best for us so we attempt to modify and change who we are to satisfy them and gain their love and approval. And the more they berate us, the more we shape-shift, trying to attain that allusive approval, until we twist ourselves into a pretzel!
It amazes me how many broken children there are out there who don’t yet understand that there was never anything wrong with them. These children become bullies and grow up to be angry and bitter adults who will only spread their toxicity to others.
It’s much easier to make others feel small than to deal with what others have done to us. I was broken for a lot of years, brainwashed into thinking I wasn’t worthy of being treated well. I always thought I was vermin compared to others because that’s what I’d been told repeatedly by others.
It took me a 2 ½ decades to realize that there was nothing wrong with me and that none of the bullying, abuse, and torment people subjected me to was ever my fault. I was not defected, and I was never a bad person. In fact, I now realize that I’m an awesome person and if people who don’t know me choose to judge me and have issues with me, it’s their problem not mine.
And I hope and pray they get their mental stuff together before it’s too late because it takes someone who lives a miserable existence to go through life making other people feel like dog shit to feel superior.
Insecurity is a seed that plants itself deeply, which is why it can be difficult to deal with. But in order to heal, you must cut out the roots of it too.
And if you don’t take the time needed to deal with and heal it, you will continue to carry the insecurities that someone else gave you and they will affect the way you handle people and your future relationships- every one of them, whether they’re romantic, friendships, or family.
Realize that the insecurities you have were caused by other people who wanted to look and feel better and more powerful than you. They saw a good quality in you that threatened to overshadow them somehow. So, they went on a mission to tear you down to keep you from stealing their spotlight.
Always remember that the bullying and abuse was never about you, it was about them. It was about their fear of you overshadowing them. It was about their being afraid that you’d reach success and leave them in the dust. It was about something they saw in you that threatened their fragile egos.
When you’re a target of bullying in school or at work, you can’t afford to put all your trust in anyone, not even those who seem to be your friends. I’m not suggesting you be completely paranoid, only nonchalant. Because in a toxic area, you will have a few nosy wolves in sheep’s clothing around you, who will try to get close to you for no other reason than to probe for intimate details about you and your life.
They will also study you like a lab-rat to see how you react to certain things and find out your opinions, especially opinions of your bullies and other people you go to school or work with. Why? So they can take the juicy deets and report back to your bullies with them.
Here are ways that you can pick up on your classmates or coworkers’ hidden attitudes and intentions.
1. Always observe the people around you – without looking like you’re watching, of course. Use your peripheral vision to scan them and your environment, and you’ll quickly pick up on the moods and sense the elephant in the room (if there is one).
2. Look for body language that isn’t congruent with words and context – Actions speak louder than words. If their body language isn’t congruent with words, background, or the situation and shows even a hint of hostility and discomfort when they’re around you, then “Houston, we have a problem.”
back-stabbing colleagues threatening an employee with scissors and knife
3. Watch for micro flashes – If you’re not careful, you’re likely to miss those tiny, split-second micro flashes of contempt people give without realizing it or when they think you aren’t aware of it. There are good actors; don’t get me wrong, but there are certain things the body gives away involuntarily, and if you look for it, you’ll see it.
When you’re around fake friends, sometimes, as you turn your back, you’ll see a tiny micro flash of contempt on their faces out of the corner of your eye. Then, you’ll get that nagging feeling in the pit of your gut. Don’t ignore that because you don’t only imagine things! Eighty-six, these creeps fast!
4. Notice the person’s feet – You can tell a lot by the feet! If the person is talking to you, facing you, but their feet are pointing away from you, that means they aren’t as “with you” as you think. Put some distance between you and that person.
5. Watch for crossed arms while talking to the person – If you’re having a conversation with the person and they cross their arms over their chest, that’s a dead giveaway! They’re exhibiting closed body language, and they’re closing themselves off to anything you have to say. It’s time to make an excuse to end the tete-a-tete and walk away. You don’t want this person around you.
6. Looking at you without blinking – if they do this, it’s a sure sign of contempt, or they’re trying to intimidate you. Either way, this person is not the person you want to be around.
7. Other signs to look for – a furrowed brow, one corner of the lip slightly raised, an icy, piercing stare, smiling at you with their mouth but not the eyes (no crinkles around the eyes). Any of these signs, you might want to distance yourself.
8. If they look at you, then look at each other when you walk away – again, you want nothing to do with these people.
9. Watch what you share– Very important! Don’t tell anyone anything they don’t need to know. Not even to those who seem friendly Don’t reveal information that’s better off private. Don’t badmouth anybody, especially the bullies, to anyone. They may smile in your face, but you can be sure they’ll report back to the bullies with anything you say and try to fan the flames.
10. Watch for eavesdroppers – If you have an innocent conversation with someone in the hall, be on the lookout for eavesdroppers. Don’t talk near corners or open doors. Many times people will listen in on your discussion, then report back to the bullies with it. Pay attention to people who walk by.
And if you see other people standing around while you’re speaking and those people aren’t a part of the conversation, take the discussion to a place more private.
It wasn’t the attacks from the bullies themselves. The bullies were the people from whom I’d come to expect that kind of behavior. From them, any vitriol, any vile and disgusting words and actions came as no surprise to me!
What hurt more than anything was the betrayal– when those I thought were my friends would so quickly and without question believe the lies and rumors that my bullies had spread. It was akin to being kicked in the stomach. Also, these so-called friends in school never had my back. Some even had the power to stop the bullying and protect me but refused, only throwing me under the bus.
Friends are supposed to be the people who believe the best of you. They are supposed to have your back any time someone attacks you. They’ll speak on your behalf when another person so much as badmouths you behind your back but in front of them, and they’ll stick up for you even when you’re not around to see them do it. Real friends are with you no matter what, especially when the chips are down. They will go to hell and back for you.
But sadly, during school, the people I thought I could trust did the opposite; they’d either go along with or believe the lies- and without bothering to ask me first!
My fake friends often sold me out- delivered me up to my bullies- with my head on a plate.
Rejection and mistreatment from a bully are easier to deal with because, from a bully, you expect nothing more. It’s much harder to take when it comes from someone you think is a friend and think highly of. When I look back now, I realize that I didn’t have friends in school until I was in the twelfth grade.
Before senior year, I only kept these so-called pals around and put up with them because they were the only options I had. It was pathetic.
The betrayals I suffered years ago is why I’m so selective of who I let in my life today. It’s also why I prefer to keep my circle small. I’d rather have only a handful of real friends than a million half-baked, fake ones. But we don’t value ourselves like we should when we’re teenagers and haven’t been in the world very long.
Too many people are overly concerned with having a large number of friends but don’t realize that real friends- people who have your back, who have your best at heart and will go to bat for you under the worst conditions- are a rare commodity and don’t come around every day.
Finding genuine friends is like opening a thousand empty oysters and finding only five or six pearls. These are the friends who are worth more than gold! And if you have them, you’d better appreciate them for all that they are!
When I meet a new person for the first time, I no longer wonder whether they’ll like me; I now wonder if I’m going to like them. I choose who I let in and who I give the boot, and if I stop having anything to do with someone, you can bet they betrayed me somehow, and I consider betrayal a deadly sin that will get someone dismissed very quickly.
I know what I want in a friend, and I won’t settle for anything less because anything less than desired is unacceptable. Loyalty is a virtue I look for, and if the person isn’t loyal, they aren’t worthy!
I want you to understand that if you have friends who are so quick to believe the lies your bullies tell them that they get angry with you and refuse to speak to you, guess what? These people are not your friends. They never were! Why else would they take your bullies’ word over yours and be so quick to turn against you?
Maybe those you thought were your friends only tolerated you because they felt sorry for you. And why would you settle for someone’s pity? Or, maybe your so-called friends didn’t have many options themselves, and you were only a second choice friend, or worse! The last-resort-friend! Ewww! Who wants that!
If you have friends who don’t stand with you and fade into the woodwork when your bullies attack you, they’re not worth your time or energy. Friends like that don’t deserve the privilege of being a part of your life. You’re better off without them.
You need to ditch these losers and find better friends, even if it means you have to be by yourself for a while. Hey, I know it sucks. Nobody wants to be alone. However, you must learn to be your own best friend before anyone else can.
Sometimes you must clean out all the trash to make room for the good stuff- the people who deserve to be in your life.
Most people who become targets of bullying are genuinely good-hearted, pure, and sweet-natured and would never dream of hurting another human being in any way.
On the other hand, bullies are consistently thinking up newer and more sophisticated ways to inflict harm on others. Their hunger for power is such that they have left a long line of victims in their wake and are always looking for new targets.
Most good-natured people become targets of bullying because bullies are notorious for taking kindness for weakness. Sadly, to protect yourself from becoming the next target requires that you adapt the bully mindset. You must think as they do to predict their next move, but NEVER act as they do.
I realize this can be difficult because a bully’s mind isn’t a very pleasant place. It’s downright ugly!
Another sad truth is that to think as a bully takes a certain degree of identifying with the person- that’s what really sucks. And if you can figure out what their next move will be, you can stay a few steps ahead of the bully and protect yourself and others.
Though it won’t be easy, as the mind of a bully can be a real cesspool, sometimes you must wade through a ton of crap to keep yourself safe and your name and reputation clean.