“You can tell a man’s vises by his friends, his virtues by his enemies.” – Ben Domenech.
Often times, bullies attack your virtues. They make fun of your good qualities and make them seem as something bad- a defect that you should be ashamed of.
For example, if a person is kind and gentle, they may be bullied because they’re seen as weak or mistaken for being a suck-up. If a kid has a talent and is proud of his talent, it’s likely that he’s accused of showboating, then bullied and his talent devalued.
If anything should remind you of your value, even in the midst of bullying and persecution, it’s the story of Rudolph. His red nose made him different from the other reindeer and they bullied and persecuted him for it. Even the adult reindeer were mean to Rudolph.
But the very characteristic the other reindeer scorned and made fun of was the thing that would be of the most value later.
In the beginning, no one realized the beauty of Rudolph’s nose. But, in the end, that nose only promoted Rudolph to the lead reindeer to guide Santa’s sleigh through terrible weather conditions and saved Christmas from being cancelled.
Again, the thing that bullies tolerate, or more appropriately, denigrate, may later be the very thing people celebrate. You may be bullied and friendless now, but don’t be so quick to condemn yourself to “the island of misfit toys.”
Why? Because Rudolph, the misfit elf who wanted to be a dentist, and the misfit toys eventually found acceptance and love.
And the thing about you that people ridicule and deem different now could later be the very thing that launches you to unimaginable heights!
The show is a children’s Christmas classic but it sends a very grown-up message.
Don’t give up. Stand strong. Value yourself even if others don’t. You don’t know what God has in store for you down the road.
Ridicule is indeed one of the most powerful weapons against a target. No one wants to be ridiculed. Many people, in fact, consider death to be a better option. However, we must continue to remind ourselves that there are reasons bullies use it and the number one reason is to contain threats to their status and power.
In other words, anytime your bullies dial up the ridicule, it’s likely because they see you as threat. Maybe they’re on high alert because you somehow give them the impression that you see through their bullshit and that you just might expose them to the rest of the world and cause them to lose respect and topple them from their proverbial thrones.
And now, they must do some damage control. You made trouble for them and now they must jump through hoops to re-enforce their power and control of you. Because, if they can’t have power over you or anyone else, they deem inferior, then who can they have power over? Who else is there to dominate?
Understand that this is how bullies’ minds operate. So, without further ado, here are the 3 purposes of ridicule:
1.To silence you. As I’ve stressed many times before, anytime you report bullying or speak out against it, bullies will turn up the ridicule. They’ll laugh and call you “crazy,” “crybaby,” “whiner,” “wuss,” or other such names. Trust me. It’s all designed to shut you up and give the appearance that you’re weak and they’re still in control and unafraid.
But they’re very afraid. So, they use something they know is likely to work- and stick.
2. To ruin you in the eyes of others. Ridicule has a powerful contagion effect and bystanders love to join in. And once you get ridiculed a few times, you become an outcast and at the bottom of the pecking order. Once you’ve lost respect, you’ve lost credibility as well.
3. To induce fear of social rejection. As mentioned earlier, many people fear death less than they do social rejection and alienation. Ridicule is the best way to mar a person in the eyes of others. Once a person is ridiculed, people shun them because they fear that if they associate with the target, they may be ridiculed and rejected too.
4. To keep you under their thumb. When people ridicule a target, they’re asserting power and dominance over that person. Ridicule is one of the best ways to strip someone of their personal power and lord dominance over them.
5. To punish you for stepping out of your place. Whether you speak out against abuse, you succeed at something, or outshine who perceive themselves to be the “ruling clique,” in the minds of bullies, you’re stepping out of your place, and you must be dealt with, not only as punishment, but to be made an example to others that this could happen to them to if they get out of line.
6. To keep you subdued. Fear keeps most people subdued and and the ruling clique in power. When you’re afraid, you’re more than likely to keep your head down and go along to get along.
7. To shame and humiliate you. Shame and humiliation are also powerful weapons, and they break your self-esteem very easily. Bullies use these to weaken you and take the fight out of you. And once your self-esteem is broken, you’re least likely to defend yourself.
In a nutshell, ridicule is designed to strip you of power. However, if you see the ridicule for what it is and know the reasons behind it, your self-esteem is less likely to take a big hit and you will better be able to stand against it and let the bullies know that you won’t be jerked around. Remember that this knowledge can be a power all its own.
Many targets are abused for so long that they simply lose trust in people and withdraw from everyone. And in social situations, many targets mistakenly assume that those they’re with are laughing at them when they’re really laughing with them. And this can cause a rift between the target and a person who’s a mean-meaning friend.
So, how can you tell the difference?
1. Laughing with you: Eye contact. The person is looking at you and interacting with you while laughing.
Laughing at you: Lack of eye contact. The person is looking around at everyone else but you while laughing.
2. Laughing with you: The person doesn’t hold the laughter in. Instead, the laughter happens automatically and spontaneously.
Laughing at you: The laugher usually pauses first. And they don’t laugh out loud but only snicker.
3. Laughing with you: How does the person treat you once the laughter is over? They’re generally good to you and they enjoy being around you.
Laughing at you: The person treats you with contempt and they won’t hang around. They may even make a snide remark to you on their way out to go laugh at you behind your back.
And it depends on context.
4. Laughing with you: The laughter is deep and the person’s natural laugh.
Laughing at you: There’s “mocking laughter”, where the person imitates your laugh. The person isn’t laughing because you’ve done anything wrong or stupid, or because there’s anything wrong with you. They’re laughing at you to bring you down and boost their own social status or to feel better about themselves.
5. Laughing with you: The person generally has good feelings toward you and is having fun or being playful.
Laughing at you: The person has a hostile and hurtful attitude toward you. They’re enjoying your pain, humiliation or weakness.
The sooner you recognize the differences, the sooner you’ll avoid the wrong people and the better relationships you’ll have with the people who truly love and care about you. And ultimately, the better you’ll feel!
People manipulate because they feel powerless inside and can’t get what they want any other way. Therefore, they must resort to indirect means and trickery to get their needs and wants met.
There are many ways, people, especially bullies, manipulate:
Guilt Trips – manipulators will make you feel guilty when you don’t let them have their way and continue to violate your boundaries. If you “dare” to stand up to them, they’ll become offended and angry, trying to make you believe you are the bad guy.
Many times, when I was young, I had others tell me that if I didn’t do what they wanted, then I wasn’t a good friend, or I was selfish, stingy, or greedy. The other person would always play the loyalty card.
Manipulators may also attempt to make you feel obligated somehow. They may refer to when they did something for you and imply that you now owe them somehow. For example, if a partner asks a girl for sex and she tells them she’s not ready to take that step yet, the partner will then say something to the tune of, “I just took you out to a five-course dinner and treated you to a great movie…” Blah-b-blah.
Let’s be clear, you don’t owe them anything, especially if it’s a date trying to get in your britches, or someone trying to talk you into joining them in doing something illegal. If something doesn’t feel right and you get the feeling you’re better off not going along, trust your instincts. And say no, then tell them to either beat it or take you home right then!
Pretending not to understand – “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” We have all heard that line many times. people will claim they don’t understand when, in fact, they know darn well what you’re saying but don’t want to know. Do not fall for this! Either walk away, or tell the person, “don’t give me that crap. You know exactly what I’m talking about.” Then, walk away.
Being friendly only when they (the manipulator) expect something in return – Every single one of us has dealt with those types- you know the ones. You never hear from these people and they may even treat you cold when they see you out and about. Then, suddenly, magically, out of the blue, they call you up or start being friendly. Next, they ask you for a favor, some help with a problem they are dealing with, or maybe they need a little cash. And so, you help the person and once they’ve gotten what they wanted, it’s back to true blue.
Ditch this person because you don’t need them in your life.
The silent treatment – This is one of the most common tactics manipulators use and it’s done to exploit the natural and very strong human need for social acceptance and community. And let’s face it. We are all hardwired for social connection. Furthermore, it’s natural to go silent on someone when they’ve done us wrong. However, the silent treatment can also be abused by manipulators when they don’t get their way and can be damaging to the target when used against them.
If a bully or anyone else tries to get you to do something you don’t want to do, no law says that you have to do it. And how you protect yourself and your self-esteem against this childish behavior is to mirror it. In other words, when someone gives you the silent treatment, you give it back to them. Always remember that two can play that game!
Acting as if an agreement has been made when there’s been no agreement at all – This can be the most infuriating to a target. These people will often go ahead with their plans before you’ve made an agreement or they’ll tell you something like, “Remember? We agreed to so-and-so last week,” knowing darn well you never agreed to anything. Manipulators will try to put words in your mouth to strong arm you into giving them their way.
Don’t go along with this. Give this person their walking papers. Pronto!
Suggesting negative outcomes to the target’s plans – Anytime you have plans, there will be people who will try to break your confidence by giving you words of discouragement. For example, if you plan to record a CD, they might say things like, “I’m not trying to disappoint you, but chances are your CD will never chart.” Or “I hate to say this, but it’s no guarantee a producer will ever sign you to a record level.”
If you’re planning to publish a book, someone might ask you, “How do you know your book will even sell?” Or they might ask, “Do you really think you’re that good of a writer? You need to be honest with yourself.”
They may also ridicule and belittle your goals and dreams to make you feel like your dreams are stupid, or something to be ashamed of.
Trust me, I had people do the same to me but it never discouraged me, it only ticked me off and made me double down on my plans to publish my books. And the best part is, I finally did it!
I advise you to do the same if a shady character tries to discourage you from pursuing your plans, goals, and dreams. Realize that the reason people discourage you is because they’re so afraid that you just might succeed. In fact, the very possibility of you succeeding scares them to death! Why? Because your success would force these jerks to take a long look at themselves and their own pathetic lives.
Distracting the target from goals – If a jealous manipulator knows that you’re striving toward a goal, they will deliberately try to distract you. Again, the reason people do this is because, deep down, they’re afraid that you might succeed and force them to compare your life to theirs.
Point blank, these people want so badly for you to fail. And they want you to stay on the same level as them so they won’t be left in the gutter alone and feel so bad about themselves. For example, people might be real sneaky about it and begin inviting you to parties or trying to get you drunk.
When they do this, they can claim that they only want you to have a good time instead of sitting at the house studying all the time. Or they may be more overt and interrupt you while you’re working or play loud music while you’re trying to concentrate. Again, these people are scared to death of your success and they will very slyly put out all the stops to distract your attention. So, beware.
How you combat this is to politely decline any invites or go to a place where you can work quietly and not be interrupted or distracted.