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. However, too much of it 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.
a little girl hiding behind her mother’s skirt
Each and every one of us is born with confidence and a heart of gold. However, 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.
The Slow Erosion of Self-Esteem
Young girl bending down, covering her face with her hands, trying to protect herself from men’s’ fists, finger guns, and hands pointing at her. Women’s rights. Violence against women. Domestic violence.
Before long, we regard others’ feelings and suffering with indifference. In other words, 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. Lastly, we come to that evil place where schadenfreude takes hold of our personalities. In other words, we secretly or openly take pleasure in seeing others, especially those we despise, suffer.
We must make a conscious effort not to allow negative outside influences to make us cold and mean. Just as we take steps to protect our health, finances, property, etc., we must also take steps to protect our self-esteem. And we do that by how we allow others to treat us. We protect our self-esteem by setting boundaries and standards.
You regain your power by changing your mindset. Realize that a victim mentality only breeds a funky attitude.
I may have been a target, but I was never a victim. I thought I was during the entire time I was bullied and for a while after it was over. Understand that a victim mentality, when taken to extremes, serves no purpose. It only breeds laziness and entitlement. You feel that the world owes you something. It doesn’t.
I had the same attitude and it got me nowhere!
Also, if you hold on to it and let it define you, you’ll only attract more bullies and abusers in your life. We are what we think, and the universe will provide more of the stuff that matches our thoughts.
That is why it’s so important that you shed this mentality of defeat. Only then will you re-empower yourself and win true peace and happiness!
Here’s a list of several things you can do to rip the mask off and keep yourself safe.
1. Know your enemy.
How you do this is to stand back and always OBSERVE the people around you, but without looking like you are watching them. Pay close attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. I can’t stress enough the importance of this. This is how you find out who the trouble makers are.
If you see another student or coworker gossip and make trouble for others, you can be sure that in time, they will do the same to you. This is how I now know who to avoid at all costs. However, be advised that avoidance will not work if you have a determined bully after you. If a person wants to get to you badly enough, they will seek you out until they find you.
2. Document everything!
As it has been said, “if it isn’t documented, it never happened”. Keep a journal and write down everything. I did this in junior high and high school just in case one of my bullies either hurt me bad enough to hospitalize me or worse…killed me.
You must write down the names of your bullies, the names of any bystanders or authority (teachers, principal, or any member of authority) present at the time the altercation took place, the date, time, place it happened, what happened and if possible, why it happened. Also, record what is said and by whom. Document every… single… detail!!
3. Do not reveal any information about yourself that you would not want to be told to anyone.
Including your friends! If you do, you’re asking for trouble because if you are the target of a bully, you can be sure that your bullies will, at some point, either try to pry information about you out of your friends or they will turn your friends against you altogether.
4. Keep a low profile.
Don’t do anything that may draw attention to yourself. And stay away from places the bullies may gather. Think, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Just don’t make it obvious to your bullies that you are ducking and dodging them. I avoided several confrontations by simply laying low.
5. Save any threatening texts, emails, and/or voice mails for evidence.
And if possible, set your cellphone to record during any altercation brought on by a bully, provided it is hidden in your pocket. You certainly do not want the bully to know what you are doing. keep your composure and be sure not to tarnish the recording by yelling or using foul language.
Schools are now becoming more aware of the issue of bullying. If you happen not to have a cellphone, keep a digital recorder handy (if possible) and be ready to record as soon as the torment starts.
6. NEVER brag about any evidence you have against a bully.
Not even to your best friend…PERIOD! Again, bullies have a knack for prying information out of people, even your friends. They can also turn your friends against you, making them more than happy to volunteer the information. Don’t do it! Anytime you are a target of bullies, you are in no position to trust anyone!
7. Call the bully out in front of an audience.
This is risky and could bring retaliation. However, the bully will also know that you are on to him/her and you just might intimidate them enough that they will leave you alone. It happened for me on a few occasions.
But keep in mind that this doesn’t happen for everyone. Calling the bully out in front of people can also humiliate the bully and make that person more determined to get you. So access the bully’s personality and the situation carefully before you decide to do this.
Bullies are notorious for playing fortuneteller to their targets. They laugh at your goals and dreams. They try to derail and sabotage your progress. And they do it because they’re so darned insecure in themselves. Why do you think bullies work so hard at bringing others down?
Realize that all this is very telling about the bullies’ own lives. In many cases, you’ll have the smart kid in your class who always makes straight A’s and makes high remarks and he’s targeted by bullies.
There’s also the girl who can sing like a professional, the boy who wins all the awards, the girl who writes the most beautiful poems and interesting stories, the guy who always gets the promotions at work, or the woman who always gets noticed by potential suitors.
One thing they all have in common is that they’re the ones bullies come for to make their lives as miserable as possible.
In school, I could sing, and the music teacher would pick me to sing solos in the school choir. I also write stories and poems back then and I cannot count the times my bullies told me:
“You’ll never make it in the music business.”
“You’ll never publish any books.”
“No book publisher will ever choose any of your lame stories.”
“You’ll never amount to anything.”
“You’ll never be anybody.”
“You’ll never get married.”
“You’ll never have children.”
“You’ll never be worth a damn.”
And the list goes on…
And each time I’d hear garbage like this from my bullies, I’d think of the sounds I’d hear every time I’d watch Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang and see them talking to an adult, whether it be their parents, or a teacher in class.
I would think, “Wa-wa-w-wa-wa-waaaaaa.” That’s how little I valued their words when it came to things I enjoyed doing and my dreams and goals.
With bullies, it’s always the same old you’ll never this and you’ll never that. But, here’s the thing. People who haven’t accomplished much themselves will always try to drag you down when they think you’re striving for something. And because they haven’t tasted success, they don’t believe that anyone else will (or should) either.
Understand that when bullies predict your failures, they only reveal all their failures and disappointments. That’s right! They’re speaking from their own perspectives. Anytime they tell you that you’ll never succeed at anything, it’s because they’ve never succeeded at anything and likely never will.
What these bullies are also telling you is that they’re afraid that you will succeed and make them feel even more like the losers they are. Realize that your bullies are trying to wreck your optimism, kill your confidence, and crush your self-esteem. And they want to do it before you end up winning at something.
Bullies want you to fail and they want it so badly they can almost taste it. Because, if you do reach success, your win will only reflect back to them their own laziness, failure, and mediocrity. Therefore, they relentlessly try to drum their words of doom into your head to condition you to not even bother to try. Because they know that not trying only ensures failure. In trying to condition you to not try, they’re only trying to ensure your failure.
That’s why it’s imperative that you turn a deaf ear to your bullies’ bogus predictions of your future because they can’t possibly know what their own futures entail, much less yours. You must not allow them to discourage you and cause you to lose sight of your goals and dreams.
Let the trash they talk go in one ear and out the other. Tell them, “That’s your opinion” and laugh at them or maybe scoff and give your bullies a scornful eye-roll. Then turn your back to them and walk away snickering. Look on your bullies with scorn when they try to predict your outcomes because they only do it out of ignorance and stupidity.
Do these things because it’s the only way you’ll keep your power and continue to feel confident. Your self-esteem will thank you for it later!
Telling you to “get over it” is typical of bullies. The reason they tell you this is to shame and to silence you. In telling you to “let it go,” bullies make you out to be unstable or a drama-filled person who carries a grudge and can’t leave the past behind.
I don’t hate my classmates. I thank them. Because if it weren’t for my classmates, I might have never found my niche and the thing I enjoy doing the most. In their torment of me all those years ago, they inspired me to become a champion for the bullied, an author of 4 books, and a blogger whose niche is bullying. So, I thank them from the bottom of my heart. In truth, I can never thank them enough.
Here’s the thing. There’s a difference between holding a grudge and accepting that you suffered abuse. You can acknowledge what happened without holding onto bitterness and hate.
Grudges, bitterness, and hate – unhealthy
Grudges are unhealthy. A person who carries a grudge has anger, resentment, and hate boiling inside them and will often seek revenge. A grudge-holder handles any past victimhood he suffered in very destructive ways.
People who hold grudges only let the past hold them back from growing, from enjoying new friendships and relationships with others, and from success. Because a grudge holder carries so much anger and bitterness, they only repel people who would be potential friends and partners. They only attract more negativity and adversity into their lives.
Acknowledgment of Past Victimization – healthy
On the other hand, acknowledging or accepting prior victimization and how it hurt you is one of the healthiest things you can do. The person who does this doesn’t hold a grudge and doesn’t hate the people who abused her. She only feels sorry for them.
Survivors who accept the past realize that there can be valuable lessons learned from being a past target of bullying and abuse and often use it as their rocket fuel. Like I have done, they do years of research into bullying and into bullies’ mindsets and the victims they select. They consistently search for answers as to why bullies bully, what bullies look for in victims, and much, much more.
They then speak out about their experiences and the pain they suffered to bring awareness to the world- consciousness that, yes, such evil does exist. A former victim who accepts the past freely talks of and spreads awareness of bullying and abuse only grows and acquires wisdom. She then uses that wisdom to reach out to others who endure the same or prevent others from experiencing the same pain.
You would be surprised how rewarding this is to a survivor. Through using past pain for good, many survivors have achieved healing and gotten closure. Also, these people often make fulfilling and life-long friendships and connections through their work toward their cause.
Expect your old tormentors to come for you if you raise awareness.
Sadly though, it’s easy to get these two things confused. Former classmates from school have accused me of being bitter and full of hate. They have blasted me for having the gall to speak out and write about the brutality and the vile and downright devilish behavior they displayed years ago. Luckily, I see right through them.
‘You see? Even years after the fact, abusers despise it when you take the pain they caused you in the past and turn it into something that can help people. And when you take something that was meant to defeat you and turn it into something that helps others and only makes you stronger, oh man, do they hate that!
All that time, they tried to tear you down! All that combined effort! And still! You didn’t drown! You only took it and turned it into something positive, and all that work they put forth to bury you ended up wasted! Understand that bullies become furious when they realize they weren’t able to destroy you.
Anytime you speak out about any past abuse you suffered, it should be not only accepted but expected that your old tormentors will come for you, telling you to get over it. Not only are they angry at you because you didn’t crash and burn, but they’re also very much afraid that you’ll expose them somehow or that you’ll succeed. Don’t take it personally.
Instead, take it as confirmation of their guilt- as proof that they were and still are the ones who have the problem. When old bullies bash you for speaking out, they only out themselves. Don’t let them silence you, nor allow them to stop you from reaching out to those who need to hear your story because you might end up saving a life!
Turn your pain into power! Be a friend and advocate for the bullied!
When you walk into a room, you shouldn’t wonder if the people there will like you; you should wonder whether you’ll like them. Whenever you get nervous upon meeting new people, the root of the nervousness is that you’re afraid they won’t like you. Don’t do that! Understand that when you worry about how others will perceive you, you’re taking value away from yourself and giving them too much of it! Not good!
Stop giving people you don’t know the worth they haven’t earned!
That’s right! When you meet new people, they (and you) are starting with a clean slate, and as far as you’re concerned, it’s up to them whether they fill that slate with negatives or positives. They must prove to you whether they’re people that you want in your life, not the other way around.
When you worry needlessly whether other people will like you, you give them all your power and leave none for yourself. And you’ll likely go out of your way to prove to them that you’re worthy of their time. Bullies will sniff that out, and they’ll take advantage of it.
Stop! It’s too much work, and it’s beneath you!
When I was a young teenager, I did the same because I didn’t know any better. And it cost me! Today, I’m the opposite. When I meet a new person, I wonder if I’m going to like them. If a person wants my friendship, trust, and my time, they have to earn them.
Be picky about who you allow in your life because you don’t want to let just anyone in! And you don’t want to let them in right away. Observe them first. Note their demeanor and how they carry themselves because it will tell you a lot.
Realize that when you make friends and associates, it’s because you chose them out of a vast number of people you’ve met.
Selectiveness adds value to a person. So, always value yourself.
Females are hardwired to nurture, maintain, and enjoy relationships, whether they be friendships, family, or romantic relationships. With teenagers, although family relationships are still meaningful, it is mostly about having close relationships with friends and romantic relationships.
Therefore, if a young girl is not getting those wants and needs met through her peers at school or family at home, she may try a different route to meet her needs.
Sadly, some girls, particularly those who are targets of bullies, think that having a dating partner makes up for the lack of friends and positive relationships at school. I say this because, unfortunately, I was one of those girls with the same mindset. I leaned on dating and romance for comfort.
At the time, being in a romantic relationship felt like such a welcome change, like a soft pillow to land on during a fall. It seemed to buffer my self-esteem from the attacks and take the sting out of the torment I endured.
Having dating partners and suitors gave me a much-needed rebuttal to the daily degradation and humiliation brought on by classmates and a few sadistic teachers. It assured me that I was a great person and worthy of being loved. Male attention was a testament to my beauty and confirmation of my value as a young woman.
I looked to these guys to rescue me. They were my refuge from a cold, cruel world that hated me. Looking back now, I realize how needy I was back then. Around young guys who didn’t know me from school, I acted like a totally different person. I smiled, batted my eyelashes, and flirted my behind off to get their attention.
During school, because I had no real friends, I turned to grown men of late teens and early twenties to get the acceptance I wasn’t getting at school, from people my age. Although I was a gorgeous girl to look upon, bullies and their followers had destroyed my once-good name and with it, any prospects for dating and love among peers my age.
But by dating guys who were already out of high school, I was able to get around my trashed reputation and have opportunities for romance. These college-aged men had never met me, nor were they aware of the falsehoods and labels tied to my name.
I’m ashamed to say that, back then, I felt that my good looks and feminine wiles were the only things I had going for me, and often used them to get what I wanted. I thought I had to use trickery and charm to attain what most others seemed to come by easily and effortlessly. And thirty years ago, underage dating was more accepted than it is today.
I want you to understand that when a person is beaten down for so long, they grow afraid to ask for or pursue their wants and needs the right way. As a result, manipulation and deceit become a way of survival. Realize that this is a person who doesn’t need judgment; they get enough of that already. What they need is help.
For bullied victims, partners are a proverbial band-aid to their feelings of hurt and inadequacy that come with the onslaught of bullies. Sexual partners and activity are a means to feel loved, wanted, sexy, and beautiful. And it works, if only temporarily.
However, this is dangerous because it can easily lead to co-dependency. Relying on a dating partner for confirmation of worth is never good because the person eventually comes to believe that if he/she is not half of a couple, they are nothing and this kind of thinking is wrong.
This mindset only sprouts desperation, and there is no dignity in being desperate for a partner. No one should ever see a romantic relationship as the end all be all. They should never look outside of themselves for happiness. Men and women come and go, and if the person continues to depend solely on them for their fulfillment, they’ll be in for a huge disappointment.
When someone looks solely to a partner to validate them, it’s a sign that the person doesn’t know their worth as a young lady or young man. Potential dates can sense this, and are either repelled or see them as someone they can use and degrade.
The person risks attracting a predatory partner of low integrity, one who will hang around as long as it takes to get what they want before dumping them and leaving them devastated. Also, people of quality and integrity do not want a partner they have to fix or rescue, and if they sniff out the slightest bit of neediness, they will disappear, and fast!
If you are a bullied girl or boy, I can’t stress enough how important it is to fall in love with yourself and with life before you fall in love with anyone else. Love should come from within and never from the outside. A relationship doesn’t complete you, and just because a person has sex with you doesn’t mean that they love you.
You are just as beautiful and whole without a partner as you are with one. Just because you’re dateless doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Single doesn’t mean defective.
In the meantime, do plenty of deep soul searching and make positive affirmations daily. Count all your good qualities, talents, and gifts. Continuously remind yourself that you have value, and soon, you’ll start to believe it with your whole heart.
Be patient. Know that the right person will come into your life when you least expect it, and you aren’t looking for them. And when they do, they’ll be well worth the wait.
If a bully cuts their eyes at you, return the gesture. If she tries to stare you down, never look away because she will only take that as fear, and from then on, you’ll be her new source of power. Always glare back without blinking and stand with your feet apart and arms akimbo to take up some space. This is known as a “power pose.”
You may have to stand that way and stare for a while if she sees your response as a challenge, but if you hold your position long enough, she’ll finally get tired and move on.
Understand that any time a person uses this type of body language toward you without provocation, they are clearly saying that they’re superior to you and attempting to dominate you. So always, always reciprocate any dirty looks and dominate or intimidating body language. Assert your power this way, and soon, the bully will get the message that you’re confident, fearless, and not one she should mess with.
independent 20s girl with threatening body language
It’s not what you say. It’s what you do. Nonverbal communication is over eighty percent of communication. Talk is cheap, and if your words don’t match your body language, bullies will pick up on it, and they will eat you alive!
If you’re the timid type, there are plenty of books you can read to learn confident body language and power pose. Once you read, practice, and learn what nonverbal cues convey power, you must practice those poses until they become comfortable to you.
Remember that bullies always target someone they perceive to be lacking in confidence, timid, and insecure because that person is least likely to fight back. To look confident, fearless, and secure, practice open body language.
Stand with your feet apart and arms uncrossed (crossed arms are closed body language and make you look insecure and untrustworthy). When a bully confronts you, never look down or away. Always look the bully in the eye, and she will see that you aren’t afraid and likely move on to someone else.
Any time a target gets tired of the abuse and calls a bully’s bluff. The bully will more than likely justify their behavior to others. Here is a list of the most famous statements you’re likely to hear, from most popular to least.
1. “She’s crazy.” or “She’s unstable.”
2. “He’s just mad because I called him out!”
3. “She’s so fake.”
4. “She’s too sensitive.” “She’s overreacting.”
5. “He’s a crybaby.”
6. “She doesn’t want to admit when she’s wrong.”
7. “I was just trying to help you.”
8. “She’s just jealous of me because of…”
Always listen to your gut feeling- it will always tell you the truth. If something doesn’t feel good, your gut will tell you. Remember that the sensations of the body never lie. You should expect bullies to act this way when you finally assert yourself; it only goes to show what kinds of people they are- and who you should avoid.
If you don’t love yourself, who will? And how can you love anyone else if you don’t first love yourself?
These are valid questions.
When a person doesn’t love themselves, we can tell. We can see it in his demeanor, his face, and his posture. We can hear it in their tone of voice and the way they talk. Why do you think these people attract users and abusers to them? Why do you think they end up with people who mistreat and control them?
Here’s what happens when you don’t love yourself:
1. You’ll never be able to love anyone else properly. You will be codependent- always searching to get love from another source- a source outside yourself, instead of letting love come from within. When you finally find someone who does love you, you won’t love them the way they need to be loved. Instead, you’ll only smother your partner to death because you’ll always have to be right there under the person’s nose.
Also, you’ll be suspicious of others, wondering if your partner’s going to leave you, wondering if they’re cheating, etc., you’ll wonder if your friends like you or if they’re only pretending to. In essence, you’ll end up making a new partner or friend pay for something someone else did in the past, and it’s not fair. Being in constant worry and suspicion is no way to live!
2. You’ll rely too much on others to make you feel loved and wanted and you fear being alone. You will always believe that to be happy, you must always be one half of a couple. But understand that if you aren’t happy single, you won’t be happy in a relationship either.
3. You’ll move too quickly into a relationship. Once you are in a relationship, you’ll love your partner more than they deserve, and before they’d had time to earn that love. Also, you’re likely to scare the other person away. Realize that love needs time to grow.
4. You’ll give away your power. When you give away your power, you automatically put yourself at the mercy of someone else. And believe me, they take full advantage. You’ll put your own needs on the back burner and always put your partner before yourself, doing all the giving in the relationship in exchange for your partner’s love. You’ll even do things you really don’t want to do just to satisfy the other person.
You’ll stop making your own decisions and allow someone else to choose for you. You’ll also agree to every single thing he or she says. When you do this, you leave nothing for yourself. After a while, the feeling of unfairness will slowly build. Soon, you will become resentful after so long of not getting anything in return. Never give another person that kind of power! You must have your own mind and be your own person.
5. You may become a little too controlling of others. You can never control how another person acts nor how they feel about you. What happens when your partner gets tired of you and decides he/she no longer wants to be with you? It will devastate you. It’s only natural that the end of any friendship or relationship is painful. But it should never be crushing. It should never feel like the end of the world.
6. You’ll be on an endless search for love and friendship. You’ll spend your whole life searching for love. That in itself is not only off-putting to others, but it’s also exhausting to you. You’ll waste your time, hopping from relationship to relationship.
When one partner gets bored with you and leaves for someone who challenges them, you’ll be on yet another search for someone else to take their place. And this cycle will only continue to repeat itself. Then before long, you’ll have a string of broken relationships behind you. Not good!
7. You’ll settle for just anyone. And you’ll get even less than what you settled for. No one should settle. Ever! If the person isn’t the person you want or is less than what you thought they were, you’ll be much happier if you move on to something you really want. Always be selective of the friends and partners you choose and of the company you keep.
8. You’ll attract takers instead of givers. Predatory people have a keen eye for those who are desperate to be loved and accepted. And they’ll smell you from a mile away. These people will be more than happy to befriend or date you just to get what they want from you.
Once they’ve used you long enough and bleed you dry of resources and dignity, they’ll only drop you and move on to the next poor sucker. When you stop being afraid of aloneness, you begin to repel predators and attract better people.
9. You’ll repel the people who would otherwise love and accept you. If, by chance, you happen to find someone who truly loves you, you won’t be able to relax and enjoy it. You’ll be so scared of losing the person that you’ll be too clingy and likely run them off because of your constant neediness.
Understand that when you do this, you automatically make them responsible for your happiness, and it’s not fair. Being held accountable for another person’s happiness is a heavy load for anyone to carry! You’ll only zap the other person’s energy as you expect them to fill a void that can’t be filled by anyone but you and God. Realize that only you are responsible for your happiness—no one else.
10. You’ll stay in a toxic relationship and put up with shabby treatment and abuse just to keep from being alone. You’ll likely end up with an abuser who’ll physically or mentally abuse you. Love and friendship shouldn’t be painful. You may also end up with someone too lazy to work and who expects you to keep their worthless ass up.
No one has to work that hard to keep any relationship, and if you do, it’s a sign that you need to show somebody the door- and fast. The last thing you want is to be tied down to some broke chump who treats you like crap or won’t get off their dead butt and work to help pay the bills. I’ve seen this happen to so many people I’ve known in the past.
Being alone is a part of loving yourself. It’s not the worst thing that can ever happen to you. It’s very healthy sometimes because you get to know yourself during times of solitude. But when you’re afraid of being by yourself, you’re likely to give others control of your life and put yourself at their mercy! STOP THAT! Never cheat yourself by settling for anything less than what you deserve! And never put your happiness in someone else’s hands! Ever!