“You Can’t Do Anything Right!”

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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 failure are precisely what they’re waiting for.

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.

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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 before you aren’t sure which decisions are the right ones. No one can think clearly when they don’t feel safe.

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.

workplace bullying

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.

Cyber bullying

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 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.

Lady boss

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

Abusive words hurt on the wall

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!

When the Bullied React

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After people have targeted a person, they react sooner or later. Some targets react negatively by turning the rage inward and lashing out at others. I did that once upon a time, and I hate to have to admit that.

There are, however, exceptions! Several react positively- they may become advocates against bullying and for people who are targets of such mistreatment, which is a great thing. Others focus more on their life goals. Because they had positive influences in their lives, or they chose to be their own positive influence, which buffered their self-esteem from the blows in so many ways from the psycho/emotional effects of bullying.

Still, so many others often retreat within themselves, and it happens when others force them to feel as if their feelings don’t matter. These people often realize that no one will believe them if they talk about it. These are ones who suffer in silence while trying to process what’s happening to them and why.

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They stuff it down because they don’t want to feel the pain and negative emotions that come with being a target of bullying.

They feel that if they cry about it, they’re losing control.

They also feel that if they’re quiet about it, the bullying will magically go away.

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But these three things couldn’t be further from the truth! When we feel the pain and cry, we’re releasing all those pinned up, toxic emotions, and we feel so much better afterward. And being quiet about anything won’t make it go away, but is only why toxic emotions build up in the first place.

And you can’t continue to carry all that baggage forever. Sooner or later, you’ll need to unpack all that crap and put it away!

For me, it took a lot of therapy, journaling, and working on myself to survive it, but I’m so glad I put in the work. It takes much grit and determination to withstand any form of abuse.

Still, anytime I see a kid who’s shy and withdrawn, the first question that pops into my mind is, “Is this person a target of bullying?” And I say a little prayer for them!

Bullying and Human Stress Response

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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 take place, 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 renders 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.

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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 the negative changes in their brains.

If you’re a parent and you know your child is a target of bullying at school, it’s imperative that you 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!