Why Bullies Crave Power (And Can’t Get Enough of It)

Simple. Because it feels good.

“Power is not what you have. It’s what the enemy thinks you have.”  ~ Saul D. Alinsky (Rules for Radicals)

Bullies crave power like a fat kid craves McDonald’s Big Macs. Power tastes delicious. Understand that most bullies attack in groups, or more appropriately, mobs. Being in a mob gives people tremendous power and bullies know it.

Power feels good because it can get people prestige, street cred, notoriety, and popularity. Power has a way of cushioning the ego, and as we already know, most bullies have meaningless lives outside of the mob and bullying environment (school, work, community, etc.). So, the power they get from being a part of a mob adds “meaning” to their lives that they could never get by any other means. Power is what gives bullies a cause and a purpose in life.

Group power is even better! Because in a mob, each individual can bully a target, lose themselves in the bullying, and get a degree of anonymity. Therefore, bullies are much safer in the group. The group shields each bully from taking any responsibility for their appalling behavior. Groups provide protection from exposure and personal consequences.

So, how do you fight back against a mob?

One way is to call out one or two of their members by their names and tell them to “get a grip,” “knock it off,” or “calm down.”

I recently read this in a book about survival and it makes perfect sense. Anytime you call out a few members of a mob by their names, it brings them back to themselves by personalizing them. What you’re doing is basically, separating them from the mob when you loudly call out their name.

How I wish I’d known this earlier in life.

Truth Is The Bully’s Worst Nightmare

To bullies, everything is all about appearances. They work hard every day to put on the best and most convincing fronts. It’s what they’re best at.

Bullies are some of the dumbest, most incompetent people on the face of the earth, yet they’re talented at making themselves look intelligent. They make themselves look bigger, better, and more important than they truly are. They always have an image to keep up. But that image is false.

Truth shatters that image and lays bare their imperfections. Confront them with the truth about themselves, and that façade immediately melts away, and those true colors bleed through.

The truth hurts, and it’s maddening. Anytime bullies are confronted with the reality of who they are, they become enraged, going from zero to one hundred in a split second. Instant bitch mode is activated, and all hell breaks loose.

But this is a typical reaction from bullies. Their overinflated egos can’t handle being wrong and someone calling it out. It’s as if you hold a mirror up to them and show them their naked reflections and all the stretch marks, cellulite, and bumps of fat they’ve for so long kept hidden from the rest of the world.

When another person addresses a bully’s bad behavior, especially in front of an audience, they immediately bristle. They will deny it; they will fight it, but they can’t escape it.

Bullies Have Secrets: Things My Bullies Never Thought I Knew

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Bullies keep so many secrets. They have to, to maintain the facade they hide behind. Bullies must continue to wear a veil of perfection, toughness, and coolness, and they take extreme pains to keep that veil from falling off. But if you watch and listen, your bullies secrets will eventually seep through by either dumb mistakes they make, or through the gossip of others.

1. One or both of their parents were drug dealers. A few classmates came from homes that people bought drugs out of. Because of this, these bullies were either ashamed of what they were living in or felt ignored.

2. They were on welfare. Many of my bullies came from families that had a tradition of living on welfare and in many cases, it went back a few generations. These bullies were deliberately having babies because they wanted to draw a welfare check. Others were ashamed of it and took extreme measures to hide it from the rest of the student body.

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Don’t get me wrong, I never look down on anyone who draws assistance. Life happens. We lose our jobs or issues with our health arise and sometimes you need help keeping the bills paid. I get that. But when you try to be someone you’re not and act like your better than the rest, that, I have an issue with.

3. Their parents fought all the time. Other classmates dealt with such drama at home. Therefore, they would start altercations at school too. You are what you live.

4. They were being abused/neglected by parents. Several classmates were getting their butts kicked at home. So, they’d come to school to bully and physically attack me and a few others to overcompensate and feel some sense of power. If they had no control over their own lives, they would come to school and assert control over someone else’s.

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5. Their mothers had a different partner over every night. So many of the female bullies would come to school and call other girls whores, sluts, and skanks. But these were names they really wanted to call their own mothers because the lovers in their mothers’ lives usually came before the needs of their daughters.

6. They had a parent who was an alcoholic/drug addict. Many of my classmates were angry and bitter because they had parents who stayed drunk and loaded. The drugs and booze would usually come before the child and would force the family into poverty. Some of the parents were “mean drunks” and lashed out at their children.

7. They had a parent who was supposedly a criminal. One of my female bullies had a parent who was rumored to be a murderer. Although the suspected parent was a big wheel in the town and was never convicted, there was plenty of talk about it around town and everyone knew about it.

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8. They were dirt poor. Many of my bullies lived in trailer parks, shacks, and the projects. Some didn’t have indoor plumbing and used outhouses for a bathroom- even in the winter. Because they were ashamed, they’d come to school and shame others to feel better about themselves.

9. A parent had abandoned them. Again, may of my bullies were full of anger and bitterness. When they got to school, they’d take it out on their vulnerable targets. It gave them a sense of power. Many of these bullies were also jealous of targets who had more than they did and would bully them as punishment for being from families who were financially better off.

10. They were victims of sexual abuse by a family member or their mothers’ boyfriends. These girls felt utterly powerless. So, to not feel so helpless, they’d jockey for power at school by asserting dominance over their targets.

11. They’d had multiple abortions. Many of my female classmates, especially those who were popular, slept around and many become pregnant- two or three times during school. Their parents were public figures with images to protect. Therefore, these parents would finance their daughter’s abortions to hide the shame they feared would befall their perfect little families. One girl had an abortion in the sixth grade.

This is not to voice any political beliefs here. The point is that these bullies were far from perfect (aren’t we all), yet they’d move Heaven and Earth to hide it and wear a veil of sheer perfection while condemning others for doing the same things they themselves were doing. Bullies are notorious hypocrites.

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12. They’d go slumming. Many of the bullies in the preppy crowd would go to the projects and slept with some of the women who lived there. When the parents of two of them found out about it, they sent them to a group home for the rest of the school year (ninth or tenth grade).

13. One of the teachers who bullied me was sleeping around – even having sordid affairs with some of the boys on the varsity football team. And it was common knowledge around town. But because this teacher had connections in town and her father was a businessman, she kept her job and everything was hush-hush around certain people who were allies of hers.

However, when people were at a safe distance and out of earshot of anyone who might have gone back and informed her of who the talkers were, they would trumpet the juicy info loud and proud.

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People can live their lives the way they want. No one is perfect and we all have hang-ups. As long as it doesn’t affect my life any, more power to them. But when they look down on others they deem unworthy of dignity and accuse them of committing the same sins as they do, it’s a clear indicator of gross hypocrisy.

The point is, most bullies have dirty little secrets that they don’t want to get out. Always! Why do you think they target others with their vitriol? It’s all designed to keep the negative spotlight off them and place it onto the target.

It’s a way to keep their own skeletons from seeing the light of day. Because if everyone is too busy looking at and judging the victim, they pay less attention to the bullies’ sins, snafus, and faux pas.

Delving Deeper Into the Bully’s Psyche: The ‘I’ in Bullying

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Anytime you are the object of a bully’s hostility, it really isn’t about you. It’s about them. Here are things bullies tell their targets and the real meaning behind it.

“You’re fat! You’re ugly! You’re weird, stupid,” etc.

What is the meaning behind it? It depends on the circumstances. If the target is overweight, the bully is only pointing it out to make themselves feel better. What the bully is really saying is,

“I have flaws that I’m afraid are worse and more noticeable than yours. So, I’m going to point out your flaws to distract everyone’s attention from my own.”

“You Snitched on me! Now You’re Going to Pay!”

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Here’s what the bully is actually saying.

“You exposed me and got me into trouble! You made me look like the bully that I really am! You outted my true personality and humiliated me! So, I’m going to get back at you for it!”

“You think you’re so smart, cute, cool, pretty,” etc.

Here’s the meaning behind it.

“Your good qualities overshadow mine! I’m living in your shadow! Your talents and natural gifts are better than mine, and you’re getting more attention than I am! You make me feel inferior to you! So I’m going to put you in your place by crushing your self-worth! I’m going to convince you that you’re not that important and make you too afraid to show your good qualities! Then I can shine!”

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“You make me want to…”

Anytime a bully mistreats you and says that you make them do it, they’re only telling you,

“ I’m afraid of being unmasked and being held responsible for my horrid behavior, so I’ve got to blame you so I can be let off the hook and leave you holding the bag! If I can make you look like the bully, I can keep on screwing with you anytime I want in the future because no one will believe you if you snitch on me again!”

“Nobody Likes You!”

What the bully is really saying:

“Nobody likes me either. They only pretend to. So I’m going to make you think Nobody wants you to crush your confidence! Then hopefully, you’ll withdraw from people and self-sabotage your own relationships!”

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“I don’t like you!” or “I hate you!”

Here’s what the bully is really saying:

“You make me feel inferior! You intimidate me! You outshine me in some way! You have what I want and can never have! So, I’m going to hoodwink you into believing you did something to cause me to dislike or hate you and, hopefully, ruin your self-esteem!”

Bullies have big egos. It always goes back to them. Bullies are all about “Me,” “Myself,” and “I.”

Understand that anytime a bully says these things to you without being provoked? The most likely reason is jealousy, and that they see you as a threat to their popularity.

Always remember that if this happens and leaves you bewildered, wondering what you did to deserve it!

Bewilderment is always your first clue!

Narcissistic Bullies: Bullying Based on Jealousy

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Bullies see any recognition the target gets for a good deed, high marks, an accomplishment, or success as the target’s having diminished them somehow. If you’re a target, these types of bullies will only see any success you enjoy as a reflection on them.

You force them to think about and take stock of their own successes and failures. Understand that it’s the bullies’ self-focus that sets the stage for their anger and hostility toward you. They will personalize your success as if you’re an opponent who’s competing with them for the same prize.

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The bullies are forced to compare themselves with you out of fear that other people will consider them less worthy or important than you. They feel invisible and left out because they’re not getting the praise that you’re getting. So, they get a sense of disregard from others.

But rather than have normal feelings of disappointment and regret, they have anger and hatred toward you.

Although you never did any harm to them, the bullies feel a sense of injustice because they feel that you don’t deserve the recognition but they do. They feel wronged and very much entitled to their anger and hostility.

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Bullies will then accuse you of thinking you’re better than they are- as if they know what you’re thinking. And they really do think they can read your mind correctly, which then only further arouses their anger and hate.

Again, according to the bullies’ logic, you’ve wronged them somehow so, you are the enemy. And this perceived wrong that you’ve done compels the bullies to act hostile toward you because the bullies’ egos have been bruised by your successes and accomplishments.

Just as money is the root of evil, ego is the root of jealousy. And bullies have enormous egos!