How I Dealt with Bullying in the Past v/s How I Deal with It Today

Bullies have been around since the beginning of time and bullying is a dark part of human nature. However, that doesn’t mean that we should put up with it.

I’ve dealt with bullies at different times my whole life and it has led me to evaluate the way I dealt with bullying in the past. It has also led to a passion for learning more about bullying and what makes bullies tick.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Bullies are highly insecure, egotistical, know-it-all creeps with god complexes, and they feel they must always be the center of attention. Therefore, they feel entitled to waste your precious time by telling you how they think you should behave, what clothes, accessories, and hairstyles they think you should wear, trying to teach you things that you already know and most likely learned when you were five, and being passive-aggressive (or overtly aggressive). They do this to impress others by making you look inferior.

This is how bullies get the attention they crave.

And the best way to deal with a bully is to refuse them the attention they want. And when we deny bullies attention, we don’t value their opinions of us or anything that comes out of their mouths. We deny them that supply- that ego trip they seek, and in that, we cease to be victims. We might still be targets, but never victims.

In the past, I’ve had bullies force me to justify myself over the most harmless and trivial things, compel me to do things I never wanted to do, and attack me with stealthy put-downs disguised as “teachable moments” and “friendly advice.”

Back then, I over-apologized for just being me, or for things I had nothing to do with. I apologized for other people’s bad behavior, which were things I had absolutely no control over. I bought into their lies and gaslighting and apologized any time a bully let me know that my interpretation of what they would say to me wasn’t meant the way it came across and that they’d never say such terrible things to another person. Then I’d feel bad for taking them the wrong way. All the while, they’d continue and even escalate the abuse.

I’d let bullies push me into losing my temper and returning fire with the same verbal attacks they launched against me. I would then feel terrible when the bullies would whine, cry, and moan about how much I’d hurt their little feelings and how I had “overreacted.”

It’s funny how bullies can always dish it out but can never take it when the crap gets kicked back their way.

What I didn’t realize was that by my reactions, I was giving these bullies the attention they were looking for. I was giving them the green light to push my buttons, to question my mental stability and jerk me around. I was making myself their play-toy. I was allowing them to tear me down in order to build up their own fragile egos.

It was all a load of tripe, and I fell for it- hook, line, and sinker.

But no more. Since then, I’ve learned to spot a bully by observing the same types of behavior. I’ve also learned not to play their games. A person may bully me once. But trust me, they’ll only do it one time because I know bullying and abuse when I see it. And I also know what it looks like in the early stages.

I make it a point to treat others how I’d like to be treated and to listen to other people’s opinions and takes on things. However, bullies and abusers are the exceptions here. And when I see the signs and realize that someone is starting to bully me, they automatically lose a target. And when I’m done with a person, I’m done and there’s no looking back. I won’t continue to stroke a bully’s ego.

If the person is someone in a high position, I’ll withdraw my support. If the person is a coworker, I’ll find another job or I’ll expose them by simply giving them plenty of rope,  then sit back and bide my time until the person hangs themselves and gets fired. If the person is someone related, any future contact will be on my terms.

And when I go no-contact, I won’t bother to explain to the person why I’m done with them because I owe them no explanations. Neither will I smack them across the head and let them know when they are about to cross the line. If they don’t have the self-awareness to realize that their evil actions and behavior are the problems, that’s on them and they’re the one who must deal with the consequences.

And no. I won’t have as much as a shred of guilt over it because self-care is nothing to feel guilty over. I value my sanity and peace of mind more than I ever will others’ opinions of me.

You Aren’t the Only One

Bullies who are seasoned and the best in the bullying business didn’t get so good at bullying you and getting away with it overnight.

No, they learned through trial and error. They’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. And every time they screwed up and got caught, they never learned their lesson that it’s wrong to mistreat people. They only got sneakier and learned what not to do with their next victim.

Therefore, with each new target, they got a little sneakier, and a little better at covering their behinds until they finally became undetectable to anyone outside the bully/target dynamic. They finally became experts!

Understand that these bullies have left a long trail of ruined lives and either broken or angry people in their wake. Only they’d never tell you about that.

With that said, know that there were many before you and there will be many more after you. You aren’t alone and you’re not the only one they’ve bullied.

I’ve said it once and it bears repeating: If possible, you must find out who their past targets are, then befriend and align yourself with them. I guarantee that you will find out so many juicy tidbits about your bullies and what you discover about them can be used as a powerful weapon!

Always remember that!

Ways to Figure Out Who the Real Bully Is

blame victim

Reactive bullying happens when a victim has taken so much abuse for so long that the pressure builds to the boiling point, the targeted person blows up or ‘snaps,’ lashing out at their tormentors. In essence, the victim “bullies them back.”

Believe me. I get that people can only take so much. I understand that victims are sick of it, and I’m with them. However, targets don’t realize that an explosive reaction is precisely what the bullies want. They want the target to snap. Bullies want the victim to blow up on them so they can then claim victimhood and make their victims look like the bully.

If you are a parent, teacher, supervisor, or manager, understand that bullies are experts at baiting a target into a reaction, then using the justified response as proof that the targeted person is “mentally unstable,” “crazy,” “a dangerous person,” “too sensitive,” or a “drama queen”!

Bullies also use the victim’s normal reaction to guilt and convince him/her that it’s all their fault and make statements such as:

“Well? Maybe if you wouldn’t get so overly emotional, you’d have friends!”

“If you didn’t overreact to everything, people would want to be around you more!”

In short, bullies gaslight their targets with statements like these to make excuses for the behavior and deflect the blame back onto the victims. And sadly, it works like a charm, and bystanders and witnesses believe the target is unstable.

Note: A perfect example is a scene in the movie “Home Alone” when the main character, Kevin McAllister’s older brother Buzz makes a fake apology to his family, then sneakily calls Kevin a trout-sniffer during a family meeting after the fiasco in the kitchen over Kevin’s cheese pizza. Notice how Buzz baits his younger brother Kevin into a reaction!

If you are a target, I want you to understand that there is a name for this. It’s called gaslighting, and it’s a trick to throw you off balance. Realize that every single human one of us is capable of losing our cool when we’re under that kind of pressure. After we’re attacked and subjected to vile treatment for so long, we snap and act a fool.

This is why teachers, supervisors, and others in authority must learn to distinguish between provocation and a reaction so that they will be able to identify the real bully and victim. And targets must also learn to tell the difference between the two so that instead of erupting, they can call it out when it happens.
Luckily, here’s a surefire sign to look for:

A victim who has only reacted always feels terrible about the way they acted once they’ve calmed down.

The real victim is usually the first to apologize for it.

A real victim will also not be afraid to admit they’ve made a mistake.

the sad girl has problems with mockery and bullying at school.

A bully, on the other hand, always has to be right and will never admit they’ve done anything wrong.

A bully will still place blame on the victim and be overly critical of the victim and the reaction.

Bullies will also use the tiniest screw-up or imperfection and make it bigger than it is. They are also excessively dramatic.

Please note that if the bully is a smooth talker, he might even admit to a few minor mistakes or wrongdoings. However, they will always follow that with the claim that the victim is at fault.

So, always look for these signs, and you’ll be able to peel the mask off the bully, layer by layer! Moreover, you’ll be able to protect and care for the victim!

Bullies and Cliques: Most Peak in High School Then Become Losers in The Real World

Little Girl Playing in a Kiddie Pool

High school is child’s play – the kiddie pool of life, if you will. And most often, graduation means the end of the line for most “popular” bullies and cliques.

I say this because most of my former school bullies had their fame in school but have done very little with their lives since. Most achieve very little as adults, while those bullied by these types evolve into remarkable and highly successful adults.

I know this for a fact because I’ve watched as one of my older school bullies got a Nursing degree, then worked as the Director of Nursing in a nursing home. She seemed to be moving up in the world and got handed the most favorable positions- all because she was well-known in the town. (Most of my bullies from school either became nurses, law enforcement, teachers, or went to work in corrections.)

While working her prestigious DON position, she got hooked on prescription pills, and someone caught her stealing out of the medicine cart. The owners of the nursing facility fired her from her job. Next, the state of Tennessee revoked her nursing license. Then her husband divorced her, and she ended up penniless and working in a local cafe for minimum wage. I can only imagine how humbled and humiliated she felt.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t secretly wish for anything bad to happen to anyone, and I don’t boast of the misfortunes of others- not even those who tormented me in school. I’m merely making the point that Karma does repay eventually, and most of these coddled and babied daddy’s girls and puffed up mama’s boys get a colossal letdown once they’re out on their own.

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I came to find out that this has happened to many of my former bullies. They bully innocent others like myself during school, then get the comeuppance they never expected as adults.

Here are a few reasons why most of my ex-bullies aren’t very successful:

To be truly successful, a person must leave their comfort zones and face their worst fear- the possibility of failure. Most bullies will never leave the familiar. They’d rather stay in an environment where they continue to get opportunities, promotions, and rewards handed to them by their “town connections,” which are small to mediocre victories.

Most of my bullies never left that one-horse town. Why? Because they knew they wouldn’t get the special treatment and free passes in any other jurisdiction that were generously afforded them in *Oakley. Therefore, they stay where their friends are and know that they can get by on nepotism and the “Good Ole Boy System,” which rules not only *Oakley but most tiny Southern towns.

However, here’s the thing about small towns and rural areas. It doesn’t take long, nor does it take much effort to maximize potential in places such as these, even for well-connected bullies and cliques. A person can only go so far in a rural area, so let them have their small town safety net because they’re only playing in the kiddie pool! They would drown in the big pond.

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High school is the highlight of most people’s lives, so bullies today should enjoy it while they can. Because the real world doesn’t care who you were in high school.

Adult life has no concern with how popular you were, whether you were Homecoming Queen, the varsity football team’s star, or on the cheerleading squad. The workplace doesn’t care if you were in a fraternity or sorority or the class president!

All the real world wants to know is whether or not you can contribute something to it, and most bullies are as incompetent as they come and add nothing to life but negativity.

I’m very thankful that many of my differences, ridiculed by my classmates, are the same characteristics and skills that people today (other than my former classmates) value and admire about me. WHAM! Take that, bullies!

Common Responses Targets Get When They Speak Out

If you’re a target of bullying, people will naturally expect you not to open your mouth about the harassment. Not only your bullies themselves but often bystanders and authority will automatically side with the bullies.

But, it still doesn’t mean that you stay silent because standing up for yourself shows bravery and strength and you’re well within your rights to do so.

However, I want you to be prepared for the following hurtful responses you’re likely to get when you finally do begin speaking against the mistreatment.

Here they are:

1. “You’re being too sensitive.” Understand that when people respond this way, they’re only shifting the blame to you and trying to shame you into keeping quiet about it. People who tell you this might be friends or followers of the bullies or have a personal interest in keeping you quiet, such as the reputation of the school or company, the bullies may be kin to them somehow, or the bullies may be perceived as “good for the school’s or company’s reputation.” But don’t be ashamed to speak out. You must keep the pressure on even if the bullying gets worse. Understand that things usually get worse before they get better. But they will get better.

2. “Just Ignore Them.” This never works, as bullies only become angry at being ignored and escalate the bullying. Or, they may mistake ignoring for fear. And if a bully gets in your face, how do you ignore that? It’s impossible. You might think that the best way to handle it is to put your hand up and walk around the bully and it IS a good response. But how do you know the bully won’t come after you and attack you from behind once you’ve walked past them?

Understand that when people tell you to ignore the bully, what this means is that they either don’t want to hear about it, don’t want to deal with it, or don’t have any answers themselves.

3. “Toughen up.” Again. The people who could help you don’t want to get involved. So they put it all on you. By telling you to toughen up, they’re shifting the blame onto you and trying to shame you into staying silent. Also, when you tell a target to toughen up, you’re only asking for things between the target and bully to escalate because the target will take it as a green light to tell the bully to shove it up his you-know-where or haul off and knock the idiot’s block off. Not that it’s a bad thing because, in my opinion, bullies deserve a good whack in the nose.

But those in authority have no right to tell the target to toughen up, then turn around and punish him when he finally does.

Respond to this by saying, “No. It’s not about toughing up. It’s about asserting my right to be treated with decency and I don’t have to take that mess.” And when you say it, say it with conviction.

4. “Get over it.”

5. “Don’t be a crybaby.”

6. “Stop whining.”

7. “Don’t be a tattletale.”

All of the above nuggets of advice are only meant to shame and silence you. Bullying is no different from any other form of abuse. It thrives on secrecy. If you don’t speak out about it, the bullying and abuse will only continue, even escalate.

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I realize that getting these kinds of responses makes you feel even worse and there’s a temptation to clam up and burrow back into your hole. But don’t! You must refuse to keep quiet about it!

Keep speaking out about it. When people give you any of the above responses, that’s when you should only double down, dig your heels in and speak louder! Because only when a problem is addressed does it have the potential to be solved.

It may get worse before it gets better, but there’s always a chance that it will get better when you verbally protest the bullying. And no matter the outcome, you’ll feel so much better about yourself knowing you took a stand.

Bullies Despise It When You Outshine Them

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Especially those who are narcissists. These bullies have to be at the top of the game in everything. They must be the center of attention- all the time.

Anyone who outshines them in any way is fair game for attack. If you have any talents, anything at all you’re good at, or in which you’re super successful, these bullies will never stop coming after you.

They’ll often accuse you behind your back of the following:

1. “She’s just showing off.”
2. “Oh, she’s just trying to get attention.”
3. “He just loves to flaunt his (money, material possessions, masculinity, etc.)”
4. “She’s not so hot!”
5. “He’s a wuss, wimp, etc.”
6. “She’s arrogant, full of herself, pompous, stuck up, etc.”

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But notice! These bullies will often accuse the target of the same things they are guilty of themselves.

By displaying your talents, winning awards, and favor with others and charming those in authority, the target unwillingly offends the bullies’ own excessive vanity. The target instills an imbalance of the bullies’ sense of self and makes them doubt their superiority by poking holes in their importance.

These jealous brutes are often at the top of the pecking order- the popular kids at school or the high executives in the workplace.

Understand that people such as these can’t accept being outdone in anything by anyone. And if they’re outshone by anyone they deem as inferior- their targets, all the worse! They’ll then stop at nothing to “put you back in your place.”

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They don’t care about your talents, your natural gifts, your successes, or smarts. If anything, they despise them. They hate any threat to their superiority.

These bullies will have followers who will kiss up to them and many others who are afraid of them. You’ll know these people right away when you meet them.

They’ll be loud, obnoxious, and arrogant. These bullies will be in a clique and will have attitudes of self-entitlement. They’ll also expect perks and favors and more than likely get them. Anyone outside of their group, they will treat like dirt under their shoes.

Although talk is cheap and what they say behind your back is just a bunch of hot air, be careful your bullies don’t try to do something harmful to you.

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If you attract these bullies’ ire, here’s a short list of ways to keep them at bay:

1. Never reveal your plans and goals.
2. Never share anything you wouldn’t want anyone to know.
3. Display your talents, yes. But don’t brag about them.
4. Don’t dumb down for anyone, but don’t be too flashy with any intelligence, especially in the workplace.
5. Politely thank those who compliment you. Nothing more.
6. Humble yourself, yes. But you don’t have to undermine yourself to satisfy these brutes. Quiet confidence is key here.

Do these things, and you’re less likely to have a target on your back!

Never Compliment a Bully. Ever!

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Trust me, bullies, especially the arrogant and puffed up type, get their boots licked enough.

They get false compliments and fake sympathy from their sycophants daily. How do you think they got so sickeningly full of themselves? Compliments should only be handed out only to people who deserve them.

I learned this the hard way when I was sixteen and a sophomore in high school.

I remember seeing a girl in the cafeteria at lunch, and she was wearing a lovely dress. Naturally, I told her that it was a beautiful dress and that I liked it. And I meant it from the bottom of my heart when I said it.

However, it only fueled her arrogance. She only sneered at me and said,

“I know. So what? Nobody likes you, and you think kissing up changes things?”

You can imagine how heartbroken I was.

Silhouette of a selfish and narcissistic man, he wears a crown, standing on a word, I'm number one

Although few things uplift a person like a sincere compliment, which comes from the heart, a bully will only take it as confirmation that they are better than you. A bully will also see it as the fulfillment of their expectation that you’re willing to suck up to them.

A compliment to a bully is nothing more than an ego boost and an opportunity to rake your dignity over the coals because they’re used to having the other classmates or coworkers bow down before them.

Instead, be the one who gives these life-suckers and happiness thieves a healthy dose of the real world. Be indifferent toward them- like you just don’t give a crap about them.

They may get angry because they may think people owe them allegiance, but you won’t give them the wrong impression, and you’ll walk away with your self-respect intact.

 

 

Bullies with Social Capital- Why They’re The Most Destructive and What You Can Do to Minimize The Damage They Do

Social Capital

These are the bullies with the most social connections and friends in high places- the bullies well thought of (or well-feared) by a vast majority in a school, workplace, neighborhood, or community. They can be the “cool kids” at school or the “Good Ol’ Boy” clique at work or in town. These bullies can also be local politicians and businessmen or members of certain well-known families in a particular area.

Although money does help, these people don’t necessarily have to be rich to have these connections. I’ve known people who were quite poor who had these types of relationships as well. What gives them the power they have is their connections with the right people, which is why bullies in these select groups are especially dangerous and can do the most damage to a target.

These types of bullies proactively build a network of social relationships to re-enforce their power and get protections from any accountability for wrongdoing. In many cases, they already have close and well-established ties, which go back several years.

These relationships ensure that the bullies are well-protected and above reproach. Worst of all, they give them the liberty to ride roughshod over anyone freely and with impunity. These are the types who will watch you closely.

Narcissist

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These bullies know they have good name recognition and they take advantage of it. Any time a bully has a ton of social capital, others will not risk alienating them for fear of being the next target. And chances are that if they target you, their followers, who are secondary bullies, will only follow their lead.

In short, bullies can weaponize their connections and popularity!

This is why the most popular and well-connected bullies get away with deplorable behavior and can do anything they want to anyone. And they will take full advantage. If you become a target of one of these people, they will use their connections and influence to destroy every aspect of your life. Also, they’ll never stop coming after you.

Understand that these bullies are very influential, persuasive, and, most of all, convincing. Their names alone carry much weight behind them. They have trust, mutual understanding, and shared values and behaviors which promote unity and strengthen their group. When one of these people says something, others, even those outside their circle of connections, are more likely to listen attentively and take their word as fact!

Narcissist

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I call these people “sacred cows” because they have such power and influence in a school, corporation, or community that they’re perceived as not to be questioned nor spoken against, even if they’re in the wrong.

With sacred cows, people may not necessarily like them, they may even hate them, but you can be sure that they fear them. So, even haters are careful not to speak against them publicly or within earshot of the wrong people.

With that said, if you’re a target of bullies who have social capital, know that they can make your life hell. They can tarnish your name with smear campaigns, and others will believe it simply because of who the rumors and lies come from. They can also cause the loss of your job and blacklist you, robbing you of any opportunity to find other means of employment.

These people can destroy your ability to make new friends because others will be too afraid to associate with you. If you own a business, they can either discourage customers from giving you their business or have their worker bees to set fire to and burn down your business altogether. And don’t put it past these bullies to trump up false criminal charges against you, set you up to be arrested, or send henchmen to either visit you or meet you on the street somewhere.

Narcissist

Your self-esteem can also take a harder hit because of the popularity of these bullies, and you’re likely to be paralyzed with fear, especially if you’re a kid in school.

But here are a few things you can do to lessen the trauma these powerful bullies can cause and to build your own social capital.

1. Befriend and align yourself with other targets because you can be sure that you aren’t the only one these bullies torment.

2. If you can find people who were once a part of the bullies’ circle but whom the bullies ousted for whatever reason, that’s even better! These people would be the ones who have private and sensitive info about each of the bullies and their sycophants. They’ll more than likely be looking for a little payback and only too happy to give you the deets!

3. Establish tight connections with your fellow targets, and with the former members whom the bullies booted out of the “social club” or double-crossed. Band together with them because nothing unites people like the shared anger and hatred toward an enemy.

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4. Pal around with, eat lunch with or eat out with them. Be sure you’re seen with these targets and outcasts and with as many of them as possible. This will provide you with a little protection!

5. The more targets and outcasts you connect and bond with, the better!

6. Important!!! Always have their backs and make sure they have yours!

7. Make friends, take jobs, and seize opportunities that are outside the bullies’ element. If need be and all else fails, move to a new area.

8. Tell no one of your plans, where your new job is, your address, or where you’re moving to. Sometimes, it’s just best to vanish!

Do these things and you’ll be much safer!

Why People Bully Others

Someone came to me with a burning question that I used to ask all the time. I am certain that millions of people around the world have asked the same question, “Why do People Bully?”

There are many answers and they all depend on the individual bully.

1. Spoiled, Coddled, Narcissistic bullies.

gossip girls

These kinds of bullies bully because they are arrogant and overconfident. They truly believe that they are superior to and better than anyone else and will stop at nothing to let you know who’s boss. They are self-entitled, self-serving and have no empathy.

With people such as these, the ends always justify the means. They do everything possible to keep the spotlight on themselves and hog all the glory. They consider themselves highly privileged.

These people are also jealous of anyone who outshines or outdoes them in any way because they believe that any happiness, successes, accolades, and victories should be reserved for only them.

If you have a talent which brings you recognition, look out! Because these bullies will punish you for it and they will pull out all stops to crush your self-esteem and kill your confidence.

You will often find these people in the popular and preppy crowd at school or in the “Good Ole Boy” clique at work. These folks will often be jocks, cheerleaders and sorority/fraternity nuts or in management or one of their suck-ups.

2. Hurting and Victimized Bullies (Bully-Victims)

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These types of bullies bully because they are being bullied themselves either in the home, at school/workplace or both. These folks feel powerless. So, in order to reclaim some of the power which has been stripped away from them, they search for someone they perceive to be even weaker than they are and bully them.

These people have a strong need to feel like they have control over something in their lives.

Here’s an example:

A child is yelled at by his parents, then he gets mad and kicks the dog. This is why I call this “Kicking the Dog”.

Also, no one wants to be on the bottom of the pecking order. As the age-old saying goes, “Sh** rolls downhill and lands at the bottom”. So, in order to stay off the bottom, these types will often find someone else to bully so they don’t feel like they’re the ones stuck in the basement.

3. Bullies who Are Followers, Drones and Wannabes

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These bullies are to be pitied because they are quite pathetic when you really think of it. They will suck up to the in-crowd (the narcissistic bullies) and all too often, they do this by either bullying those lower on the social totem pole, or participating in the bullying somehow.

Many of these people will say, ‘How High?’ when a person from the in-crowd tells them to jump. They often do the dirty work of the narcissistic bullies, join in with them in bullying others, or agree with them.

But understand that these people are only kiss-butts, yes-men, and brown-noses; and are only bullying you or your child for a ticket into the popular crowd or because they’re afraid of becoming the next target.