Cyber-Bullying: Bullying of The Most Devastating Kind

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I’m fortunate enough to have grown up in a time when cyber-bullying was unheard of. When I was in school, “Street Bullying” or “Playground Bullying” was the type of bullying targets of my generation endured.

“Street Bullying” happens face to face. It happens on the playground, in the hallways, the bathrooms and locker rooms at school. Years ago, a student could escape it and have some form of refuge once the dismissal bell rang and school was over for the day. And when it got too much to endure, the victim simply changed schools and the problem was solved.

Sadly, those days are long gone. With today’s technology, bullies have unlimited access to their targets by way of “Cyber-bullying”. During the last twenty years, the advancement of technology has introduced email, text and social media. These new vehicles of communication have their benefits. However, they also have their pitfalls.

A bully can nowadays get online and torment their targets for as long as they want without ceasing nor accountability. They can, in essence, reach into the target’s own home and torment them from afar.

Cyber-bullying, or online bullying, is harassment of another person with the use of social media, text messages, voice mail, email, and instant messages. It is, in my opinion, the worst kind of bullying there has ever been. Here are the reasons:

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  1. Bullies are COWARDS!
    Your attackers have the ability to hide behind a fake screen name or they may create fake social media accounts to conceal their identities. They do this to avoid detection and the risk of accountability for their evil actions. With a cyberbully, you do not know who is attacking you. Also, they can use several different screen names to make it look like a multitude of people agree with them and are attacking you, when it may be, in fact, only one poster committing the harassment. This is done to further intimidate the target.
  2. Gone are the days when bullying only occurred on the playground or in the locker room. In the days of old, before technology took off, a target could finally escape their tormentors with the ringing of the dismissal bell at school.

Back then, you could go home to your family and not have to worry about being bullied again until the next school day. You could at least get a break from the torment. However, not so anymore. Technology has a lot of good qualities, one of which is convenience. Unfortunately, nothing is 100% foolproof. With the rise of social media, text, voice mail, and email, bullies can now pursue their targets 24-7. There is no longer an escape!

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  1. The third reason why cyber-bullying is much worse than traditional or street bullying is because the taunts, insults, threats, rumors, and lies can be read by a much wider audience, causing loss of relationships, family, friends, businesses, finances, and opportunities.
    On the emotional side, the target may experience feelings of shock, bewilderment, anger, sadness, despair, depression, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide.

Traditional bullying is terrible and causes those feelings as well. However, it is something that you can get away from. On the other hand, you can never escape cyber-bullying. This alone is what makes this type of bullying so sinister and so devastating!

If you are a victim of cyber-bullying, it is imperative that you do not respond to the incendiary posts of cyber-bullies, no matter how tempting it may be. However, I realize that some attacks, especially those, which hit you in the jugular, can cause you to respond out of emotion.

This does not mean that you are a bad person for responding to attacks. It does not mean that you are stupid. It only means that you are a human being with feelings and our first instinct is always to defend ourselves and our loved ones when threatened. It is completely understandable.

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But no matter what our circumstances may be, we must try to never respond to the ignorance and stupidity of bullies or cyber-bullies. As difficult as this may be, it is better to never give internet trolls what they want. And what they want is a response, any response.

They want to kick you while you are already down and inflict even more pain. If you respond in any way, shape or form, they will know that they have reached their goal. But if they never hear from you, it’s going to disappoint them and they just might give up and move on to someone else.

4. Instead of responding, out them! Take screenshots and expose them!

Cyber-bullying can happen to people of any age. Not only children and teens, but adults can also be cyber-bullied. Although as an adult, I have gotten along with mostly everyone, there have been a few times that I have been cyber-bullied, one instance being right after the death of my husband. I can tell you that after refusing to respond to any of it, the harassment died and the thread was eventually removed. No one has bothered me since.

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In their weak attempts to put me down, my cyber-bullies unwittingly made me so many new friends and I received so much support from all over the country. It is amazing how the actions of a bully can sometimes turn into something wonderful.

I will be forever grateful to the people (even strangers) who stood beside me during this tragic time. I hope this helps you in the event that you are cyber-attacked. And I want to assure you that there is always hope, no matter how hopeless a situation may be.

Cyber-bullying can be stressful enough on adults, but devastating for minors. Adults are emotionally better equipped and therefore, more adept at handling themselves in bullying situations, whereas children and teens have yet to fully develop good coping mechanisms.

Children do not have the cognitive thinking skills, nor the processing ability that adults possess. Adults can be hurt by online bullying because they are human and have feelings also. However, any well-rounded adult is better able to look at the situation and see the lies posted online for exactly what they are…LIES. And they have the ability to analyze the bully and see the person as he/she is- useless trash who is in desperate need of a life.

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And that in itself can actually be a boost to the bullied adult’s self-esteem…just knowing what a bottom-of-the-barrel, miserable piece of garbage the bully really is. In most cases, an adult can usually laugh it off and go on about their business, provided it doesn’t affect his/her family, marriage, business, opportunities, or way of life. An adult can refuse to accept the lies of another bullying adult and tell them to go blow it out their ear.

A child has not learned to do that yet. Children and teenagers have totally different values than adults. While most “mature” adults place the most value on family, career, and home and less value on popularity; children and teens place the most value on popularity…their friends and being accepted. Most children and teens place emphasis on how others (mainly their peers) see them.

They want to fit in, be liked, and be “cool”. And when those things are threatened, as they always are when he/she is cyber-attacked, it can have devastating effects on self-esteem.

As parents and grandparents, we need to teach our children confidence as confidence is the best weapon against a bully. In my opinion, teaching confidence is the most effective way to protect them because bullies are cowards and they always seek out kids who are insecure, self-conscious, and have low self-esteem. And they do this because they know that a child with low self-esteem is less likely to stand up to them.

Be Careful What You Share

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If you are a target of bullying, never share anything with anyone- not even your best friend. Because, in a situation like this, you cannot afford to trust anyone. I don’t care how close you and your friends seem to be. It’s still not a smart move because you never know when your bullies will succeed in turning your friends against you and those friends become willing participants in bullying you.

So, never divulge any info that’s private or personal- anything you wouldn’t want to be known.

Examples of things better kept private are as follows (Some of these are no-brainers):

  1. Your sex life, or lack of.
  2. A drug addict in your family.
  3. Any medical conditions or diseases.
  4. Any mental illnesses.
  5. Any legal troubles- even as minor as traffic tickets.
  6. Family issues- divorce, child custody, births, deaths, etc.
  7. Your past (if you’re old enough to have one).
  8. Past abuse you may have suffered.
  9. Your personal info.
  10. Email and passwords to social media accounts.
  11. Names of your family members.
  12. Never brag about your daughter’s beauty pageant or your son’s perfect grades.
  13. Your views about the recent scandal at school or work.
  14. Your hobbies and interests.
  15. The TV show you watched last night, especially if it’s a slasher show or filled with hot-buttered sex.
  16. Never talk about politics! Ever! That’s a no-no subject!

 Bullies are already looking for dirty laundry. So, why air yours? When you’re a target of bullying, the less they know about you and your life, the better.

The Importance Of Loving Yourself

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When you are a target of bullying, loving yourself can be very difficult when it seems that the only thing you hear from others is negativity. Constantly being bombarded with ugly names, cruel taunts and attacks over a long period of time can very easily have a cumulative and devastating effect on your self-esteem and if you aren’t careful, you too will begin to believe the cruel falsehoods that mean-spirited others tell you.

However, no matter how viciously others may treat you, it’s imperative that you do everything possible to hold on to self-love! Even if you have to look at yourself in the mirror every day and make positive affirmations.

“I AM an awesome person”
“I AM beautiful”
“I AM worthy of being loved”

You must maintain your self-esteem and never let anyone brainwash you into thinking that you are less than.

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You must love and respect yourself before anyone else can love and respect you. You must take care of YOU. You must command respect and love from others, including a few family members that you love dearly and be willing to make some very difficult decisions in order to receive that love and respect.

Sometimes, you have to walk away, knowing full well that there is always a chance that the person may never see your worth. And this means coming to a place where you no longer care even the slightest about the outcome.

However, there is a strong chance that your value will go up in that person’s eyes and they will eventually see your worth and treat you better than you ever thought possible. It may not happen overnight. In fact, it may take up to several years, but it can happen.

If, by chance, it does not happen, realize that you did not turn your back on the person because you did not love them, but only because they did not love you enough to treat you with the love and respect that you know in your heart of hearts that you deserve.

You must love yourself or nobody will love you. Never look outside of yourself for love and validation. Never depend on others for assurance of your value. Let love come from within your heart!

Please Hold On! It Won’t Last Forever! Your Well-Deserved Happiness is Coming!

 

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To those of you who are being bullied now. Your pain, although intense- even unbearable, will only be temporary and I do not say this lightly. I know what you must be thinking… “But she doesn’t understand! Nobody understands! She’s isn’t going through it and she doesn’t understand the hell I go through every day at work or at school!”

I understand because once upon a time, I was stuck in the same spot that you are in today. I know what it is like to want to smile, laugh, sing, and dance and have it beaten out of you. I understand the pain of wanting to believe in yourself and see your own value, only to have others repeatedly and seemingly deliberately, drum into your head that you are nothing.

To want to speak and have your voice heard, only to be silenced with the threat of either physical harm, further degradation, and humiliation, suspension, the loss of your job and livelihood, or the threat of having opportunities for future employment ruined! I know all too well the feeling of wanting to move forward and go places, only to have bullies hold you back.

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To want to escape the torment, only to be stuck in a toxic environment with toxic people, against your will! I know the horror of having your very existence cursed by others and to be bombarded with death threats. To be forced to sacrifice your own needs and wants for the satisfaction of others! To see others getting gratification and entertainment- all at your expense. I know what it’s like to be marginalized, shut out, devalued as a person, even slapped, kicked, beaten, scorned, disregarded, walked on!

It is a feeling of being run over by a truck, whose driver then stops, throws it into reverse and backs over you again. Then the driver shifts back into drive and mows over you- yet again. Then stops the truck, opens the door, sticks his head out, and asks, “Are you dead yet?”

And any signs of life- any whimper or movement only encourages the driver to close the door, shift into reverse again, and back over you again- just keep running and backing over you until you finally succumb to the trauma and die.

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Yes. This is what being a victim of bullying is like. Bullies want to destroy you and it seems that they won’t relent until they are sure that they have done just that.

But know this. You will not have to deal with these people forever and Karma does repay- in spades! If you keep believing in yourself, you will go on to become successful and happy and your bullies won’t even matter to you when you do reach success.

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You are beautiful! You are smart! You are awesome! And one day, you will cross paths with people who will see your worth and love you- unconditionally- just for being YOU! And you will find a teacher, school, supervisor, or employer who will see the good you bring to the table and view you as the asset you truly are!

Don’t give up. You are worth fighting for!

 

Suicide is Never the Solution! (Part 4)

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In the previous segments of this post, I discussed how despite how beat down by bullying you may feel, you should never let it push you to taking your own life. For this last segment, I’d like to give you advice on how to overcome those feelings.

First, be positive and take charge!

Make their bullying your motivator and become that much more determined to live—to live a happier, more peaceful, and more successful life. Spend as much time as possible doing the things you enjoy and being around the people who love you the most, especially the positive people who lift you up and make you feel awesome. The caring people. The loving people. The happier you are, the less the ignorant actions and words of any bully will affect you.

Always look your best—for yourself, not for anyone else. Always do your best at any task—so you know, no matter how it turns out, that it represents all you can do—excel in your studies and pursue your interests and talents, whether art or music or sports or anything else that you do. Do what makes you feel good about yourself, just as long as it causes no harm to another person.

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It’s okay to feel emotion when someone hurts you, but don’t get wrapped up in self-pity, no matter how bad things get. Be angry. Be sad. Cry, beat a pillow—do whatever you need to let those emotions out because you certainly don’t want to hold them in. And never dwell on them. Get out of that hurtful place as soon as you can to protect your confidence and self-worth.

Be a positive person! Be kind (without being a pushover of course). Meet new people. Interest yourself in others and what’s going on in their lives—folks love you if you are genuinely interested in them. Let them talk about themselves, their hobbies and interests and listen to them. While they are talking, listen with your eyes focused on them. People love someone who is excited about them. Show genuine interest in what they tell you about and get excited about their dreams. Be happy for them when they achieve those dreams and wish them well. Smile and greet people, calling them by name. Doing this, you will eventually make lots of friends and live down any bad any reputation caused by bullies.

That’s how I did it. I no longer have the horrible reputation I once had. I have so many friends today that it’s hard for me to keep up with all of them. I’ve also won over many of my former bullies from school. That’s right. Several of the people who once bullied me in school are now some of my closest friends!

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I did it by taking my focus off of me and acquiring a genuine interest in others. I did it by replacing hate, contempt, and bitterness with love, acceptance, and forgiveness. I did it by loving myself and seeing my own worth as a person. I quit worrying about what others thought of me and I made my goal to do the right thing always.

Did that make everybody like me? Of course not. But instead of concerning myself with what others think or do, I focus on how good I make others feel about themselves. Did I put a smile on someone’s face, someone who would otherwise be sad? Did I make a difference in the life of at least one person today? Did I restore someone’s hope? Was I the difference in someone deciding against taking his or her own life?

I always hope so!

Build yourself up by building up others. Meet new and interesting people and connect with them. You’ll be surprised how having those people in your life will push aside your experiences with the bad and turn things around for you. You have too much to experience and too much to offer. So get out there, do your best, make a difference, and enjoy each and every day for the gift it is!

8 Ways to Help with Healing from Bullying Once You’ve Left a Toxic Environment

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Bullying is very traumatic and makes such an impact on self-esteem; it often takes many years to heal. People who’ve never endured bullying cannot comprehend how it can change your life. The good thing about leaving a toxic environment is that once you’re gone, you can begin healing and rebuilding your life. However, in many cases, it’s easier said than done.

Here are eight things you can do that can help you heal quicker:

1. Seek Therapy. Though I realize that there’s a certain amount of stigma that goes with it, getting therapy is the best and most important thing you can do for yourself. You must do what you must do to take care of yourself. Don’t concern yourself with the opinions of others about your care. Right now, you must do what’s best for you.

2. Rest. When you’re fresh out of a bullying environment, you’re more than likely to be exhausted. Get plenty of sleep. Take some quiet time for yourself. Go on a walk in the park on a beautiful day, or take a pajama day. Get all the rest you can get for a few days.

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3. Music. Music is therapy in itself. Once you’ve got plenty of rest, put in some easy listening for relaxation, maybe some slow jams like TLC, or Keith Sweat? Or pop in some dance grooves and rock and roll to make you feel upbeat and like dancing.

There’s nothing that lifts the mood like shaking your booty around the house to some Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul hits or rocking out to some Van Halen, Judas Priest, or Def Leppard. Whatever your taste in music, you’ll feel much better when you do. So get out those CD’s or stream some music on your computer.

4. Lean on the people who love you. When you’re recovering from bullying and a toxic environment, one of the most important things you need is a network of love and support to balance the positive with the negative. Keep company with the people who uplift you, love you, and make you feel good. It’ll help you salvage the confidence you’ve lost.

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5. Do things you enjoy most. Indulge in your hobbies and favorite activities.

6. Exercise. Exercise is a major stress-buster. And you can get rid of all that negative energy like anger and depression by sweating it out either in the gym or, if you don’t feel like going anywhere, a workout DVD.

7. Take a trip. After being in a toxic environment for so long, sometimes, we need to get away for a while. Visit a family member in another state. Embark on a camping trip in the mountains or hit the beach and relax in the sun as you listen to the sounds of crashing waves. I guarantee that you’ll return home feeling much, much better!

8. Treat yourself to a day or night out with the guys or gals. You and your pals could go to a concert or out to lunch or dinner. Maybe go window shopping or to a bar and listen to a live band. The key is not to isolate yourself. Get out and have fun. Because sometimes it pays to go out and paint the town red!

Just go easy on the drinks, as alcohol is a depressant!

Bullying and the Innate Fight or Flight Response

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Any time a person has been the object of relentless bullying at work or school, over an extended period of time, that person comes to be in a constant state of high alert. Although useful in short, immediate circumstances, this hyper-vigilance can be unhealthy if the person remains in this state for too long, causing stomach issues, headaches, and fatigue among many other ailments.

Even worse, such a continuous feeling of being under threat can also cause the person to overreact in response to certain occurrences.

Here’s an except from “From Victim to Victor (A Survivor’s True Story of Her Experiences with School Bullying).”

From Victim to Victor

“…Every living creature has an innate and perfectly natural physiological reaction in the event of a threat or attack. Called the Fight or Flight Response, it protects us from harm in dangerous situations in part through the release of adrenaline. When adrenaline is released into the blood, it becomes next to impossible not to do either of two things- fight or flee.

When I was being bullied and abused during school, escape was not an option for me. Usually, I was cornered or surrounded, either backed into a wall or some large object. With flight cut off to me as an option, what did I have left? Fight! I lived on this adrenaline every day, all day long. Just being around my classmates put my body and mind on constant alert. It was a horrible way to live.

Getting on the school bus and walking through the entrance to the school felt like a death march. In the afternoons, I had horrible headaches that triggered violent nausea. For so long, I had managed to keep from vomiting.

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Strict Boss: Angry upset young business woman with blank speech bubble on white on gray background. Vector illustration.

Eventually, my luck ran out. I recall an afternoon in English class when my mouth and eyes began to water. I swallowed hard to control my gag reflexes as I approached the teacher’s desk to ask to be excused to the bathroom.

‘What do you want?’ Mrs. Caraway asked rudely.
‘I don’t feel good.’ I replied.

Without a word, she gave me the hall pass and I scurried my way to the girls’ room, barely making it to the first stall before launching a stream of the bitterest, most horrible tasting green liquid into the toilet.

This was followed by a long series of dry heaves which were quite painful. Instead of making me feel better, the vomiting made me feel worse and my headache became next to unbearable.

I’ll never forget the sound of the bathroom door as it flung open and the teacher stormed in, demanding to know why I was taking so long. I began to cry and in between gags and wretches, pleaded with her to let me go to the office and call my grandmother….”

She accused me of making myself vomit so I could go home early

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When you’re a bullied kid, even a few teachers, having heard the rumors and falsehoods being spread about you, begin to bully you too. It’s a very lonely and heartbreaking position to be in.

As time went on, the fear of going to school and having to face my classmates grew in me. It was like an infected tumor getting bigger and bigger with each passing day. My stomach would draw up every morning when I set foot on that school bus. The next eight hours was like walking through a minefield, never knowing when my next step could mean BOOM! and I would be hit, shoved, kicked, or bombarded with a torrent of taunts, insults and names. It was a situation I saw no end to, and to say that I was afraid would be an understatement. I was petrified.”

Most never think of the magnitude of fear the victim must live with or the health consequences of living in that perpetual state of fight or flight. And sadly, although the impact to the physical health of the victim may not show up right away, it may rear its ugly head later in life.

But this doesn’t only happen in school, it happens in the workplace also. What was believed to only happen to school-aged people also happens to adults in the workplace. Bullying knows no age group.

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Many bullied victims get into serious trouble when the bullying finally escalates and becomes physical. Every day, innocent targets are unjustly suspended and expelled from school or fired from work because they were forced into fight mode to defend themselves.

Bullies have a real flair for charming and seducing supervisors, managers, teachers, and staff, lying very convincingly and making the target look like the aggressor. Victims are often severely punished for nothing more than trying to protect themselves, while the bullies are either given a slap on the wrist or escape with complete impunity.

However, school staff and workplace management should know well that, just like all God’s creatures, targets of bullying have this fight or flight instinct.

It’s only natural that if you corner a dog and kick it enough times, sooner or later, you’ll get bit!

Targets of Bullying, Here’s Why You Have So Many Reasons to Live!

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If you are a person being bullied and are considering suicide, this message is for you! Please hold on. Stay strong. Continue the fight.

Know that you deserve love and friendship just as everyone else does. Know that you are just as good as everyone else. Above all, rest assured that life will get much better! Instead of thinking of reasons why you should take your own life, think of reasons why you shouldn’t. There are so many reasons to keep living.

Let me put this another way. If you resort to suicide, you will cheat yourself out of the possibility of one day overcoming your present circumstances and out of so many exciting firsts. You will cheat yourself out of so many wonderful years that lie ahead.

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If you’re under 16, you will cheat yourself out of driving a car for the very first time and let me tell you! That feeling of sliding in the driver’s seat, behind the wheel of a car and your hands on the steering wheel? There’s nothing like it! It’s one of the most liberating experiences!

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You will also miss out on prom and high school graduation, another one of the most exciting and hopeful times of life.

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You will also forfeit the magic of falling in love and the joy of marrying your soulmate.

And I can tell you that love is one of the most intoxicating and fulfilling experiences life has to offer!

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And lastly, you’ll forgo the beautiful experience of having your first baby!

I want you to imagine yourself, five or ten years into the future: You’re married to your spouse and you’ve become a new parent. You’re holding that precious little life in your arms for the first time and gazing into that precious, tiny face! You’re now able to have a life beyond your own! You’re holding that soft, tiny body against your chest and watching it sleep against you! I can’t explain what that feels like or the love and joy that goes with it!

You have so many firsts…so many magical and beautiful moments yet to experience and enjoy, so much beauty yet to behold and so many awesome people, potential friends and family yet to meet!

However, if you die by your own hand, you’ll cheat yourself out of all of it! On the other hand, if you’re patient and you keep fighting, life will reward you with such beautiful moments!

Another thing I want you to consider is that if you give up, the bullies will automatically win! That’s right! Your bullies will win and you will lose! Do you really want to let them win? Do you really want to give them such an easy victory? Think about it for a minute. Really think!

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As long as you are alive, there’s always a chance that things will improve…and improve drastically! But once you’re dead, that chance dies with you and there’s no coming back! Death is final and there are no do-overs! So, if you ever consider suicide, I beg you! Talk to a close family member and if you can’t talk to a family member, talk to someone! A loved teacher, a trusted friend, a stranger- someone!

And give yourself a chance! Give the people who love you a chance! Give love a chance! You won’t be disappointed!

I promise you that you’re worth it! If you continue to fight for yourself, I can guarantee that there will come a day when you will look back on this moment and thank yourself. You will look back and be glad that you fought the good fight and stayed alive. I’m living proof!

You are worth fighting for! You are worth living for!

Let Them Talk

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Businessman not listening to nonsense

Gossips are everywhere! Too many people worry needlessly about what people are saying about them. But here’s the thing, people talk. They’re going to have something to say about you until the day you die. Get used to it. Better, yet embrace it! Love it!

Here’s Why:

1. When people talk about you, they make you relevant! Good or bad, it means you’re an exciting topic- you’re not dull. Remember that it’s much better to be good or bad then to be boring.

2. When people engage in petty gossip about you, it means that they can’t get you off their minds. Somehow, someway, positive or negative, you’ve made an impact on them. You’ve stirred emotions up in them.

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3. When people talk about you, it means they don’t have lives of their own and are obsessed with yours, which means your life must be more exciting than theirs.

4. When people talk behind your back, they reveal much more about themselves than they do you. Remember the old proverb, “Great minds discuss ideas, Average minds discuss events, and Small minds discuss people.”

5. When people can’t shut up about you, you’re the one who’s in control of them. Because you occupy a large amount of space in their minds, you’ve affected them profoundly and with little or no effort.

6. The people who blab about you expend a lot of their energy on you while you get to save yours. They’re thinking of you without getting so much as a thought from you.

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7. When you’re the topic of others’ discussions, it means that they’re your fans, only they don’t know it.

8. In a nutshell, when people can’t stop running their mouths about you, it only means that you have a tremendous amount of power over them and you didn’t have to make an effort to get that power! Yay, you!

So don’t give their talk any validation by reacting. Just sit back and be amused by the talkers, provided it’s just petty gossip and not defamation. I’ll distinguish between the two in a future post.

A More In-Depth Explanation of Frenemies

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Every single one of us has had that one “friend” or that handful of “friends” if that’s what you prefer to call them. They seem to really like us and want to be around us all the time. They cozy up to us very quickly (too quickly), seemingly mesmerized by us, bombarding us with attention and laying the flattery on super-thick really early in the relationship and wanting so badly to be a part of our lives.

They butter us up with compliments, smile at us and pat us on the back, making us feel great about ourselves. If you’re being bullied and are feeling insecure like I was years ago, this is such a welcome change!

You’re bullied, lonely, rejected and this seems to be just the thing you’ve been waiting for, giving you that much-needed shot of dopamine you’ve been craving for so long!

Suddenly you feel great about yourself and think that maybe, the bullying might be coming to an end. Soon, however, you notice subtle signs in the person that doesn’t feel so good, occasionally seeing out of the corner of your eye those split-second flashes of disdain on the faces of your “new friends”…a sneer here, an evil, piercing glance there.

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Although your gut begins to sound off, telling you that something is “off” about this person (or these people), you only mentally make excuses for them.

“Maybe he/she is having a rough day.”
“Maybe someone made him/her angry before they came to visit.”
“Maybe they’re just in a bad mood.”

Wanting to believe the very best of the person(s), you mentally explain away the signs which are only telling you that something just isn’t right. Then, when it happens again, you begin to ask yourself,

“Was it something I said or something I did accidentally to offend this person?”

Next, your new buddy or buddies seem cold toward you. They begin to alternate hot and cold and you’re left bewildered as to the causation, all the while your sixth sense is telling you to put some distance yourself and these people and to do it fast! But you don’t because this person is a friend. You love them and don’t want to seem like a heel or that you don’t appreciate their friendship.

Clique

confident blonde teen standing in front of clique

Also, the bullies have suddenly disappeared and you want to keep it this way. Even worse and more pathetic, you dread the possibility of going back to square one…eating your lunch alone, walking alone in the halls, and once again, being the target of bullies. So, you continue to tolerate behavior which is unacceptable because, deep down, you don’t think that you can find better people to be pals with. You’ve been bullied and shamed for so long that you have actually forgotten what a true friend is and what it’s like to have one.

When you finally work up the nerve to ask the person about his/her behavior, they either lie about the behavior, downplay it, or worse, tell you that you’re imagining things or being too sensitive. However, as time goes by, those tiny micro-expressions of ire, the split-second glares, and subtle, back-handed compliments and coldness only become more frequent! Now, your Spidey-senses are screaming! Others you thought were decent toward you are now giving you the silent treatment and you don’t know why.

Suddenly, BAM! It happens! The person lashes out at you for reasons that are so trivial, or worse, reasons which seem to be made up! You know you should tell them to take a hike, but you only blame yourself or give misplaced apologies instead, looking even more pathetic to bystanders and witnesses! Even worse, now, you look like an even bigger target to bullies!

(To be continued in Part 2…)