I’ve seen so many bullied targets- even people who aren’t victims pander- or, in laymen terms, suck up. No doubt about it, bullies can be intimidating, even downright threatening. Anytime someone feels threatened, their first instinct is to do anything they have to do to quell the danger. That, I completely understand.
But is it always a good idea to pander to your bullies? Hmm. Let’s find out.
Vector illustration of a grovel in business
First let’s ask these two questions.
1. Would pandering really change things? No. Why? Because when we pander, we only give away more of our personal power. And that’s exactly what bullies want. Also, bullies see pandering as bowing down and kissing their feet. And they only get a huge power rush and ego boost from it and, as we all know, bullies can’t get enough of those.
2. Would it change your bullies’ minds about harming you? It might for the moment. You may indeed pacify them, but the appeasement will only too quickly wear off. Trust me on this one, your bullies will come back for more later. That is a given.
3. You’ll end up feeling like a complete wuss later. You’ll only ruminate, asking yourself over and over again, “Why the hell did I just kowtow to this creep?” or “Why do I continuously let these people take a deuce all over me every chance they get?” Trust me, your self-esteem will take a huge dent and you’ll end up kicking yourself for it later.
Pandering is for pansies. I can tell you that if you start thinking for yourself and standing up to anyone who violates your boundaries, it’s true that they may bully you harder for it. You may have to fight harder and for longer to assert yourself.
And yes. The harassment may get worse before it gets better. But, in the end, you’ll feel better about yourself knowing you didn’t bend over for those morons. You’ll feel more confident and be proud of yourself, knowing that you stood firm and that you eventually overcome. And there is no better feeling. I guarantee it!
My grandmother once told me this: “Never. And I mean never let anyone get comfortable with abusing and mistreating you.”
She was right. By the time she gave me that little gold nugget of wisdom, it was already too late. I was in high school and had been a target of bullying since moving to *Oakley School District in the sixth grade. But right then, I understood what my very wise grandmother meant and why she gave me that advice.
Here’s what Uma (what I called my maternal grandmother) had already known by being a people-watcher and very good at people-reading:
Once the mistreatment of a person has gone on for so long, the people around them get comfortable with mistreating that person. They grow so accustomed to being cruel to the person that they don’t even think about, nor do they care about how they hurt that person. Even worse, they come to expect the target the take the abuse without question, without talking back, speaking about it, and without defending themselves.
Put another way, if a target firmly stands up to bad treatment in the early stages of being targeted, it’s more likely that others will respect his right to be treated well and either leave him alone or began treating him better.
Whereas, if the target lets the bullying go on for a long time, then begins to stand up for himself after getting fed up with being everyone’s doormat, others will more than likely be only angry and resentful of the person for daring to open his mouth about it. They will then double down in their abuse or eliminate him somehow.
Once a person gets comfortable in mistreating you, it’s much more difficult to fight. Therefore, always speak out the moment the bullying begins. Never let it go on for any length of time. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to assert your rights and avoid retaliation.
It’s because bullies need scapegoats. The use of a scapegoat is nothing new. People have used them for many millennia! During the Medieval Period, scapegoats were often used by kings to make sure the monarch’s hands stayed clean- or at least looked clean.
Back then, it was common practice to execute scapegoats for the wrongdoings of kings. Blaming them, then putting them to death kept the scapegoats quiet and the kings above reproach, unquestioned, and smelling like roses. Bullies do the same today, only in different ways.
Bullying and scapegoating go hand in hand.
The purpose of scapegoating is to force another person to accept blame for sins, which you, yourself, are guilty. Sadly, the person blamed is often innocent. Even sadder is the fact that he’s usually the one least likely to fight back. The person is then punished and sacrificed.
Bullies are notorious for refusing to accept blame for any wrongdoing or mistake. So, they search for the most convenient person to lay blame on- their target. And what’s the victim going to do about it?
The ability to transfer guilt to their victims gives bullies immense power. Understand that bullies depend on appearances to maintain their fake facades of gleaming-white perfection. Well-seasoned bullies must appear to be god-like at all times.
They’re very much afraid that if they don’t keep up this pathetic charade, they’ll lose their power and with it, the foothold on their targets. What better way to maintain that power than to scapegoat the target?
“Blame so-and-so for my shortcomings by pointing out his!”
“Blame so-and-so for my imperfections by distracting others’ attention to his!”
“Blame so-and-so for my despicable behavior by claiming he did something to deserve it!”
“Blame Joe Blow for my pathetic incompetence and stupidity by saying that he caused me to screw up!”
“Blame so-and-so for any tiny thing that goes wrong, and I get to hitch a ride on his back to move up!”
A selfish man walks the heads of people as on the steps to the highest post behind the crown. Conceptual scene is a narcissistic and selfish person
“Because I’m number one, and Hell will freeze over before I give that up! And blaming so-and-so is so easy it shouldn’t work!”
I want you to realize that bullies, bystanders, and friends will scapegoat a target of bullying for one reason and one reason only: He has the least power to fight back!
Targets are often either naïve or exceptionally intelligent and pose the biggest threat to the bullies’ positions. If the victim is naïve, bullies will exploit his naivete to the fullest because they know that naïve people aren’t taken seriously. Also, the naïve tend to overdo their claims of innocence. And people often mistake it as a sign of guilt.
Intelligent targets, bullies will undermine and wear down with constant smear campaigns, exclusion, and personal attacks. Also, smart victims will often overdo being calm, and relaxed, which can also be mistaken for guilt, because people will assume that his keeping it together is only an act and that he’s hiding something.
Here’s another reason bullies need targets. They need someone to make responsible for their negative feelings- feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and hurt. And when they make the victim responsible for their bad feelings, the target becomes the offender who must be punished and eliminated.
To combat their negative emotions, bullies demand that their targets show them respect at all times- even while they’re abusing them. They also have the attitude that the victim should do whatever they tell them to do and make them feel powerful.
In short, bullies need the target to use as a dumping ground for all their mental and emotional issues.
Here’s a third reason, bullies and bystanders need a bottom rat to ensure that they themselves don’t end up on the bottom. If you’re a target of bullying, they need you to stay on the bottom and will go out of their way to keep you there. Any pecking order needs whipping boys (or girls) – easy victories for the higher-ups to collect.
If you are a target of bullying, I want you to understand that bullies consider it to be of the utmost importance that you stay on the bottom and you make them look good and like the innocent party. When they brutalize you, everything must appear as if you had it coming – that they were wronged or betrayed by your stupidity, incompetence, or evil.
If people are using you as a scapegoat, the best you can do is to get out of the environment. Just pick up and leave. Only then will you be able to preserve your dignity, your sanity, and your life.
Too much sugar is never good because it doesn’t only eat away at your teeth, it eats away at your self-esteem and your life. In a world with so many evil people, it isn’t wise to be a pushover because too nice equals no backbone and no boundaries.
And there will be many people who’ll take your kindness for being a fool. And don’t think they won’t take advantage of you.
Here are signs that you’re too danged nice:
1. You tolerate crappy behavior from people. And because of it, others think you’re pathetic.
2. You over apologize. You apologize for things that aren’t your fault and that you have nothing to do with. Keep this up and others will find it too easy to lay guilt trips on you whenever it is that you can’t give them what they want. They will blame you for the tiniest of things because they know that you’ll bow down and take the blame.
3. You end up a slave to the whims of others. You bend over backward to take care of everyone else and often, they don’t appreciate it. They only demand more of you. You always feel tired and exhausted because you’re so busy pleasing others that you don’t have time to take care of yourself.
4. You say yes when you really want to say no. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or piss anyone off, so against your better judgment, you say yes rather than no. You may be dog tired and want to go to bed, then someone shows up at your door at eleven o’clock at night with a problem! You agree to help them with or solve their problem when you should tell them to take a walk and never to darken your doorstep at such a ridiculous hour! You’ll also rescue people from bad situations that are self-inflicted. You’re an enabler.
5. You take on others’ moods. Instead of refusing to let some Negative Nancy get you down, you let their funky moods rub off on you. Not good!
Understand that the reason some people are too nice is that they feel they’re not enough. They feel they have no right to say no to anything- that they don’t deserve to take care of themselves. And it’s because they’re terrified of conflict.
They want to be approved of, liked, and loved and feel that the only way to do it is to bust ass for others. Sadly, the opposite usually results because people lose respect for you! No one respects a pushover!
Unfortunately, most don’t realize all of this until they reach your limit and get fed up! But you don’t have to waste years of your life being a doormat if you follow the guidelines below:
1. Never put up with shabby treatment. Life’s too short for that. You must stand up for yourself when someone violates a boundary, whether it be physical or psychological. Realize you deserve to be treated well and you deserve it just as much as the next person. Always speak up for yourself.
2. Stop apologizing so much. Realize that some things don’t warrant an apology. And standing up for yourself and saying no are only two of those things.
3. It’s okay to put yourself first. Take care of yourself first. Only then will you have enough energy to take care of others.
4. Again. Say no if you don’t want to or don’t feel like fulfilling a request. Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t want to do something or don’t feel like doing it.
5. As difficult as it might be, don’t let the moods of others around you affect your mood. If you have a Debbie Downer who is always negative, there’s nothing wrong with calling them out on it or staying away from them. Whatever you do, don’t try to rescue them or argue with them. It won’t work.
Sometimes, taking care of yourself means facing conflict because some people will be selfish and demanding. They won’t be able to see past their own needs and desires.
Never be afraid to stand up for your rights. It’s okay to take care of others. But don’t forget to take a little back for yourself. Only then will people respect you and recognize that you also have feelings and rights.
Putting others first isn’t a bad thing. It shows that you care about your fellow man and that you’re willing to contribute some good to the world. It’s an outstanding character trait to have.
Many people have been conditioned, often by well-meaning parents, that the polite thing to do is to put others ahead of ourselves. That making sacrifices for others shows manners and that we’re “good people”- that we are well-mannered and have morals. Nothing wrong with it.
However, when that courtesy is overdone or done at your own expense, that’s when it becomes a bad thing. The problem is that people will come to expect you to be a yes-person and take their crap. You’ll soon attract users and abusers and become a doormat.
In taking this advice, many of us found out the hard way that giving too much of ourselves sometimes involved overlooking abuse. Even worse, we found that it didn’t make the mistreatment go away but only encouraged the person to abuse us later.
Growing up, I heard every excuse you can imagine.
“Oh, they’re just having a bad day.”
“Maybe they have an abusive or cheating spouse at home.”
“Oh, but you never know what that person is going through.” Blah-blah-b-blah.
A few adults in my family and a few teachers advised me to,
“Give them a break.”
“Cut so-and-so some slack.”
“Try to overlook him.”
“Oh, but try to put yourself in her shoes.”
That got old very quickly. I eventually grew fed up and wanted to scream, “Um- EXCUSE ME! I’ve been ‘reasonable,’ and the only thing I ever got from it is taken advantage of! Would you be reasonable if this happened to you?!”
The point is that no matter what anyone tells you, it’s okay to put yourself first. And no law or rule says you have to tolerate unacceptable behavior- from anyone! Ever!
Anytime you’re mistreated, then advised or forced to “be nice” or “understand what Joe Blow is going through,” it only means that, subconsciously, the givers of this advice either don’t care about your boundaries, or they’re afraid of making the offending person angrier, and of the situation escalating. Some people can’t handle conflict.
They are only trying to silence you to appease the person who’s being a total jackass.
These kinds of advice and expectations can do one of either two things to you as you get older:
A. It can program you to be over tolerant of unacceptable and abusive behaviors and set you up for a life of getting bullied by other people.
You grow up being so afraid of pissing anyone off that you accept any abuse to avoid conflict. You end up living a life of being crapped on by others.
B. It can have the exact opposite effect and give you an “F-you” attitude and a bad case of The Don’t-Give-A-Shits.
Because of being forced to accept bad behavior in the past, you become a mean, bitter, and apathetic adult and could care less about anyone. That’s not good either.
I’m one of the lucky ones. It gave me an equal blend of both. I believe in treating others how I’d want them to treat me and don’t mind lending a helping hand to someone who needs it.
But if for one moment, I suspect that someone is taking my kindness for being a fool, I’ll drop that person like a bad habit and they’re on their own!
It’s okay to be kind. It’s okay to put others before you, but only in particular circumstances.
It’s perfectly fine to give an older adult your chair in a crowded doctor’s office.
It’s okay to get up and offer your seat to a combat soldier in a crowded airport.
In fact, it’s called having respect for elders and servicemen and women who fight for your country.
But never take abuse nor accept excuses for unacceptable behavior. Anytime someone crosses a line with you, go ahead. Respond in kind. Give it back to them because only then will the person realize that you aren’t a doormat and find someone else to abuse.
This is not selfish or being self-centered. It’s called self-preservation.