When People Tell You, “You Can’t Do Anything Right!”

It’s true! When you’re a target of bullying and mobbing, you really can’t do anything right. But understand that bullying does that to targets. It causes them to be extremely nervous and always on edge.

You drop things, trip over stuff, the intense nervousness and fear make you awkward and uncoordinated. It makes you clumsy. The human stress response is, indeed, a tricky little devil!

You become even more afraid, which makes the clumsiness worse- fearful of screwing up, afraid to fail, afraid to be yourself because you know your bullies are watching you closely, and you’re mistakes and failures are precisely what they’re waiting for.

verbal abuse bullying

A bullied girl bakes a cake in Home Economics, only for it to collapse like a souffle. A bullied boy accidentally drops the ball on the basketball court in Physical Education. A company supervisor oversees a project, only for it to fall flat and be ridiculed.

And it seems the harder you try not to screw up, the more you do. You’re confused and don’t know which way to turn, nor which end is up. Making choices is hard and you aren’t sure which decisions are the right ones. No one can think clearly when they don’t feel safe.

bullying victim nervous, walking tight rope

Because when your mind and body are in panic mode- when your brain rewires itself for a hostile environment after people have, for so long, subjugated you to inhumane treatment, the part of your mind that deals with decision-making and emotional regulation automatically shuts down. And you’re at the mercy of your primal instincts!

Again, all this is what bullying does to victims! It’s why most victims of bullying have low grades and performance in school and why their work projects suffer in the workplace. And it’s why they’re looked at by teachers and supervisors as failures and nuisances.

bullying girl physical

But know that you’re not a failure, a loser, or a freak. You must realize that any time you’re bullied, there’s no way to relax and just be. It’s impossible. So, understand that your bullies, in their sadistic abuse, have turned you from a once calm and happy person into one hot mess! Then they’ve taken that and exploited it by calling you things like, “train wreck,” “crazy,” and other such cheap shots.

But there’s hope. When you finally get out of the dangerous environment you’re stuck in, and away from those poisonous people, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the nervousness, clumsiness, and awkwardness will go away!

You will be calm again, finally. You’ll be able just to relax, breathe, and be. And that’s a freedom I can’t describe when I remember how it happened for me.

The relief is such that it’s a feeling of being able to come up for air after having your head held underwater, or of coming home after a long time away. When you’re in a new place and around better people, you can put your best foot forward and start over.

It may be frightening at first because, after all, you just came out of an abusive situation, and you may need time to get used to the new people in your life. You may be afraid of being bullied again. But I promise you that you can make new friends and you can finally enjoy equal treatment.

Because you’ll be a fresh face, and in most cases, everyone loves the new kid because there’s an air of mystery that surrounds them. So, take advantage of that.

And once you’re able to relax and be yourself, you’ll be able to speak and do things more confidently and assuredly. Your actions and movements will be fluid and the clumsiness and confusion will fade away. It happened for me, and it will work for you too!

Bullying and Changes in the Brain

PTSD

As we know, bullying is highly traumatic to targets. However, bystanders also suffer a degree of trauma as well, just by witnessing it.

For now, let’s talk about what bullying does to targets, since they’re most affected by it.

Any form of psychological trauma, whether it comes from combat, rape, or bullying, brings about actual changes in the physiology of the brain. It reprograms the brain’s alarm system, causes a sharp increase in stress hormones and activation, and changes the way the brain distinguishes real information from fake information, and the relevant from irrelevant.

Because of these changes and disruptions, people become hypervigilant. And the hypervigilance in some survivors is so bad they aren’t able to function day to day. It’s also the reason why trauma can cause one to repeat the same negative and destructive behaviors over and over again- survivors of trauma have a difficult time learning from experience.

Survivors of bullying who often repeat the same behaviors due to changes in their brains are often accused of being “bad” people – they’re accused of laziness, stubbornness, bad character, and immorality.

Understand that when a person is bullied for long periods of time, it rewires the brain to prepare for a hostile environment and expect hostility from others. This is why targets and survivors of bullying have a difficult time trusting other people.

Targets and survivors of bullying are accused of being lazy when what they’re really dealing with is “learned helplessness” as a result of being bullied and verbally abused repeatedly.

They’re accused of being hotheaded or crazy when they’re actually experiencing the release of pinned up rage from being abused, then being silenced and punished for speaking out about it.

They’re often accused of being defiant and stubborn when they’re actually shutting down.

All this comes from being repeatedly bullied and abused and having no way of fighting back to defend themselves, no way of fleeing the bullies and abusers, and no way of escaping the toxic environment. Learned helplessness comes not only from being bullied and abused repeatedly, but more so, it comes from being trapped and powerless to do anything to better your situation.

For examples: If a group of bullies lock the door of the bathroom or surround the target, blocking any escape, then hold the target down as they attack him/her, this is likely to cause “learned helplessness.”

Or, if the target reports the bullying to the school principal or teacher and they blame him and refuse to give him protection- then the bullies retaliate against him the next day and beat him even more severely for snitching, this also causes “learned helplessness.”

If a battered wife is constantly threatened by her abusive husband that, if she leaves, he will take the children from her, or kill her, or worse, kill her entire family, than she’s trapped with no way out. She is likely to develop “learned helplessness.”

Therefore, it’s not so much the bullying and abuse that causes this condition called “Learned Helplessness.” There have been many abused and bullied people who have escaped their situations and later because highly dependable, healthy, and successful people.

What causes “Learned Helplessness” is the inability to oppose, stand against, or escape bullying and abuse. Being trapped, held down, having no one to turn to for help, or constantly having possible paths of escape blocked, with no other recourse than to take the abuse just to survive- that is what causes “learned helplessness.”

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Bullying and The Human Stress Response

Bullying can leave targets of it confused, emotionally numb, and put the fight-or-flight response into overdrive. These reactions will happen, as this response is always associated with traumatic stress. After bullies have bullied a target for so long, adverse changes in the victim’s brain began to occur, causing a decline in certain parts of the human mind.

Decision making and emotional control are most affected. Loss of cognitive abilities and a severely diminished ability to control emotions and think clearly and rationally blinds the target to any alternatives to their current situation.
This is why victims often snap and do irrational things when the pressure builds to the breaking point.

Because children’s brains are still developing, kids stand a higher chance of this happening. Relentless bullying can cause a child or teen to lose the ability to discern and make choices to get them to safety due to their brains’ negative changes.

If you’re a parent and you know your child is a target of bullying at school, you must help them leave that environment and get them into a new school so that their minds can begin healing and their abilities to make good decisions and reason can be restored!