Looking Out for Number One

One thing I learned the hard way: If you don’t start looking out for number one, you’ll only continue playing second fiddle to others. Or worse, you might end up playing last fiddle! I cannot stress this enough. It’s not selfish to make yourself numero uno! Especially around bullies and people who don’t value you.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If you’re a parent raising children, or you have an ailing mother who depends on you, it’s only natural that you would put your family ahead of yourself- that’s a given. We all have an obligation to our families.

It’s also a given (or should be) that you always put God ahead of everyone else, including yourself. Again, that’s completely understandable, and more than that, it’s expected.

But when you’re in a toxic environment, around people who want to use and take you for granted, understand that you are top priority and to hell with them if they don’t like it.

Understand that when you’re being bullied in school or the workplace, the only person you have is you! So, be good to yourself. How you do this is to set firm boundaries and say no- and do it early-on and often!

You have to look out for number one, because, if you don’t, no one else will. In fact, they just might use you as a rug.

I know many, many people who were conditioned to think that putting yourself first is selfish or greedy- that taking care of yourself only means that you’re self-centered. They were raised being told that self-centeredness is a huge turnoff to others and in some cases, that’s true.

However, I’ve also noticed that bullies and abusers also tell their targets and victims those things only to shame them into staying around, taking their abuse silently, and accepting their inferiority to them (the bully/abuser).

Know that there’s a difference in being self-centeredness and self-care.

Self-centeredness means that you think you’re better than everyone else and that you think that any rules don’t apply to you. It means that you’re entitled- that you think everyone else is inferior to you and they should bow down and let you treat them however you deem them worthy because they have no boundaries.

Self-centeredness is one of the roots of bullying and abuse!

Self-care, on the other hand, means that you know that you’re no better than anyone else, but you’re just as good as the next person. Self-care means that you know that you’re equal to the next person and that you don’t deserve to be bullied or abused. Therefore, you know your rights and you’re not afraid to stand up for those rights.

It means that you hold yourself in high regard, just as you hold your family, friends, and the people you love and that you treat yourself just as well as you would another human being deserving of dignity.

It’s funny how quick bullies are to call us selfish or self-centered if we dare to stand up to their abuse. In fact, it’s part of the bully’s (or abuser’s) playbook. Accuse the target of that which you are guilty of yourself. Right?

If you have bullies or abusers who abuse you, always know that if they accuse you of anything- anything at all, you can bet that they are doing it themselves.

So, continue to look out for number one, even if you must find a way to do it on the sly. Don’t you think you’re worth it? I do.

With knowledge comes power!

Though They May Turn Others Against You, Don’t Let Bullies Turn YOU against you!

No matter what other people may think of you, you are the only one who knows who you truly are. Bullies are known for spinning smear campaigns and witch hunts to turn others against a target because it’s the only way they can make their lies and accusations seem valid. However, no matter how convincing the bullies may be and how many people believe the lies and rumors spread about you, it doesn’t mean the talk is true.

Only you can judge who you really are, nobody else can. I know it’s difficult not to question yourself when it seems that others hate you. Anyone who finds themselves in this situation would ask themselves, “What did I do?” or “What did I say?” It’s only a natural human reaction to being ostracized. It’s difficult not to blame yourself.

But please, for your own self-esteem, do not blame yourself. Remember that the problem lies with the bullies, not with you. You are not responsible for what is happening to you. Believe it!

Although others may turn against you, just make sure that you do not turn against you! Remember that reputation doesn’t equal character!

Continue to love yourself. Continue to take care of yourself and be true to your own heart! Continue to do the things that give you pleasure and surround yourself with those who do love you and want the best for you. Because during this time, you must ‘baby’ your self-esteem and your confidence!

Bullies may turn everyone else against, you! Just don’t allow them to turn you against yourself because you have no reason to hate yourself. So, love yourself even when it seems that others hate you. I promise you that your self-esteem will thank you for it! You will thank yourself for it!

Your Mind Is Your Own. Keep It That Way.

Bullies don’t only want to hurt you or destroy your good name. More than anything, they want to get into your head and alter your mind.

The worst thing about bullying isn’t the physical assaults. Cuts and bruises heal easily. It isn’t even the name-calling, the smears, the rumors, or the marginalization. It’s what it can do to the mind if we aren’t careful.

The worst thing that can happen to a target of bullying is when he begins to believe what he’s being told. The worst thing that happens is when she begins to see herself through the eyes of the very people who hate her and who want nothing more from her than her complete destruction and ruination.

Anytime a target begins to believe he is nothing, he does himself a huge disservice because he discards his own definition of him and replaces it with that of his bullies. He values the bullies’ opinions over his own.

I cannot stress enough the importance of loving yourself even when it looks as if others don’t love you back. You must continue to believe in yourself even when it seems that no one else does. You must also continue to stand your ground even when people want to bury you in it.’

That’s how you keep your confidence and self-esteem from tanking. It’s how you keep even a little bit of your dignity and it’s how you protect your spirit from being broken.

Yes, your confidence may take many blows, but it doesn’t have to die. Your self-esteem may be pummeled, but you can keep it for hitting rock bottom. Bullies may break off pieces of your dignity, but you don’t have to give them the piece of it you still hold for yourself. Your spirit may take a hard beating, but only you decide whether to let them break it.

In short, you don’t have to surrender everything that matters to your bullies.’

You have more power than you know. Your thoughts are the freest commodity you have. No matter what they take from you, they can never take your mind if you don’t let them.

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

Think about that quote for a moment and realize that it’s what all bullies live by.

What Both My Very Wise Grandmothers Once Told Me About Knowing Your Worth- And I Never Forgot It!

“Love is like a fart. If you have to force it, it’s probably shit.”

~ Unknown ~

I just finished a romance novel about forbidden love. It took me back to a conversation with both my grandmothers when I was a teenager and before I even started dating. I was only fourteen, yet I was old enough to understand every word they told me.

Having both grown up during the Great Depression and been daughters of farmers, my grandmothers only had fifth-grade and seventh-grade educations, yet they were geniuses in common sense and street smarts!

As they sat together, sipping coffee and having just finished a card game, my maternal grandmother told me the story of how my grandfather cheated on her many times but only dropped the other woman in the end. She also told me how she ended up divorcing him. After she told me the story, these were her words:

“Never, ever have an affair with a married man because you only settle for second place when you do, sweetheart. You decrease your value as a woman when you go with another woman’s husband- you cheapen yourself. Wouldn’t you rather find your own husband and be his one and only?”

Naturally, my answer to that question was an emphatic “YES!”

She continued:

“When a woman dates a married man, she decreases her worth as a woman- and she does it immensely. She is reduced to the lowest common denominator. She lives on the fantasy and false promise that the man will leave his wife for her. In most cases, he doesn’t. She only waits, with bated breath, wasting her valuable time on someone who doesn’t deserve her love let alone his wife’s. Philanderers don’t change. And if he does leave his wife and marries the mistress, he’ll only eventually cheat on her too. When you have an affair with a married man, you sell yourself short. You set yourself up for a huge letdown later. You deserve to have someone who isn’t already committed and who you can call your own.”

“That’s right.” My paternal grandmother agreed. Then she began to speak.

“And never ever throw herself at a man, or worse- crawl up behind someone who doesn’t want you. I see a lot of young girls in your age group doing this and the only thing it does is make them look desperate. And the guys they chase only get an ego rush from it, them sit back with the buddies and laugh at the girl behind her back. Now, I know you haven’t begun dating yet, but I want to let you know now, so that you’ll avoid these pitfalls when you do begin to date.”

As my paternal grandmother, a widow, spoke her words, I listened attentively and my maternal grandmother nodded in agreement as she looked at me with those beautiful, wide, but serious eyes.

Now before I go on, I realize that times have changed since I was a young girl and that I may offend a few “woke”people out there who may accuse me of using stereotypical gender roles and such. However, this is the conversation we had. So, for those of you who are thinking about sending me a flamer about how “politically incorrect” this post sounds and that I should be more “gender neutral,” do not!

Don’t waste both your time and mine by trying to “school” me on the unwritten rules of identity politics because I’m not interested! This post isn’t about identity politics.

What it is about is a conversation between me and my grandmothers thirty-five years ago, and how it positively impacted me. It’s also about knowing your worth as a person and the importance of self-value, which, sadly, is in short supply in people these days.

Getting back to the subject, my grandmothers sure knew what they were talking about. They were two of the smartest and socially savviest women I knew. God rest their souls, I considered them life-geniuses! They were both masters at human nature and the hidden motivations and intentions of people!

Our little talk really made an impression on me that day.

I never forgot that conversation and continued to live by it.

The small town I lived in back then was a very Peyton place. I can’t count the stories I’ve heard of the many local people who dabbled in such relationships. No wonder the vast majority of the people in Oakley, TN were such miserable and bitter souls.

My point to the above story is that no matter what relationship you choose, heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise, you should always know your worth. You should value yourself enough not to even begin a relationship with someone who’s already taken. Know that there are always better options.

I say this not to judge anyone, but to convince them to see that they’re worth so much more than they think- more than being a side-partner to some creepy toad who doesn’t value women, (or some shameless strumpet who takes men for granted).

The same goes for men who have affairs with married women or settle for fem-toads who either don’t value them or who cheat on them. You must start treating yourselves better!

When you date someone who’s already in a marriage or committed relationship, you set yourself up to play second fiddle. To be okay with lapping up someone else’s sloppy seconds? Yuck! Why would you settle for that pathetic crap?

Here’s something else I’ll bet you haven’t thought of. If you have an affair with someone else’s romantic partner, you might as well be wearing their underwear! Egads!

If you don’t learn to value and be true to yourself, how do you expect a potential partner to value and be true to you?

You value yourself by getting absolutely clear on what you will not settle for and what you won’t tolerate. You value yourself by avoiding such partners who are known for cheating on their significant others. You also value yourself by avoiding any toxic person, commanding respect, and being selective of friends and even choosier of dating and romantic partners.

Know that you deserve so much more. You deserve to be one and only in someone’s life and that should be non-negotiable. Anything less than that is unacceptable!

Loving Yourself Means Loving EVERYTHING That is You

It means loving every single part of yourself that you can do nothing about. What it doesn’t mean is loving some things about yourself and either hating or being ashamed of other parts. It means loving yourself completely- your entire self and all that you are- loving your whole being.

Whether you’re rich, poor, or middle-class, embrace it. It’s a part of who you are. Whether you’re Black, White, Hispanic, Jewish, or any other race, never be ashamed of it! Embrace it and love it because it too is a part of you.

Whether you have brown eyes, blue eyes or green; dark, red, or blonde hair; dark or light skin- love those things. Those are also a part of you.

Love your nationality, your country, your state, community, and neighborhood because they too make up the person that is you. Whether you are American or Japanese, British, or Indian, love and take pride in those things about you. Whether you’re from Texas, New York, or Nova Scotia, love those things too. Take pride in and love yourself, no matter your heritage!

Also, accept your past and be okay with it. If you grew up poor and made it out, don’t be ashamed. Be proud of it because it’s a testament to how far you’ve come. If you grew up in an abusive household, own that too because it’s proof that you survived and overcame. The same goes if you were once a drug-addict or alcoholic but now sober. Be not ashamed of those things, for those are things you’ve triumphed over. Even if you have a past of crime and imprisonment and have turned your life around, see it as evidence of how far you’ve come and use it to teach others.

Love yourself no matter your weight, height, or whether you have freckles, glasses, or braces- they too are the building blocks of you. If you’d like to change them and can change them, by all means, change them.

Lose weight if you like, get contacts if you don’t like the glasses, and look forward to beautiful teeth once those braces come off. That’s perfectly okay. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to become what you feel would be a better version of yourself.

But love the things you can’t change about yourself. Embrace yourself. Even better, celebrate yourself. Know that each of us is perfectly made, flaws and all!

Know that how you look, your past, your weight, height; eye, hair, and skin color; race, nationality, creed, upbringing, orientation, religion, values- each are the building blocks that make up the whole you. The only thing you should judge yourself on is your character.

So, if you know in your heart that you are a good person and have love to offer others, love yourself too. And do it for all that you are.

Remember that when it all comes down, no person is better than another. See yourself as neither superior nor inferior, but just as good as the next person. You are you and you love it!

Accept yourself

Love yourself

Believe in yourself

Take care of yourself

Know your value and your worth

Know that you are worthy of the best life has to offer!

It’s Too Easy to Become a Bully When You’re a Target of Bullying

bullied singled out surrounded

It’s too easy! Because after others bully you for so long, you search for ways to take the edge off the pain, you search for a band-aid, any band-aid, as long as it takes away some of the pain, even temporarily!

Many targets become bullies themselves because they’re just plain tired of feeling powerless. They desire to have control over something- or someone! We all want to be in control of something because to have power over nothing is the very definition of hell!

And nothing renders you as powerless as being bullied by everyone. Once you become completely helpless, you’ll start looking for instant gratification and do anything to achieve some sense of power.

You’ll search for someone even weaker and dumber than you to bully and degrade because, in their cruel treatment of you, your bullies have taught you that bullying another person is what it takes and is, perhaps, the only way to achieve that feel-good sense of control and to climb the social ladder. Finding a victim of your own gives you the sense that you’re not on the bottom of the pecking order anymore. No one wants to be on the bottom.

And you think, “Why not? It’s working for them (the bullies), so it should work for you too.”

The problem with this is that bullies are weak, cowardly, and pathetic, and if you bully someone else, it shows that you’re no better than they are!

PTSD

In fact, it proves that you’re worse because you know firsthand how it feels and should know better. You must realize that no one else would feel any different than you do if it were happening to them. In fact, they may not be as resilient as you are and end up taking their own lives. Their blood would be on your hands!

I’m ashamed and sorry to have to tell you, but I did the same thing during school. Because I felt utterly powerless, I began to bully people I thought were weaker than me. I own that, and I have remorse for it now.

Take it from someone who’s tried it. If you become a bully and attack others, you may get a rush of power, but it will last only a short time. It wears off quickly. Then, you’ll be back to square one and looking for the next rush, and you’ll only seek your victim out again and again because you’ll always feel you must have more! It’s no different than being a drug addict!

And if bullying doesn’t come naturally to you, it will only eat away at your conscience!

I implore you! Instead of bullying people who look like prey, align with them. Become their friend and their protector. I guarantee you! You’ll feel much better about yourself. More importantly, you’ll make a positive difference in their lives, and there’s no better feeling than that!

Knowing that you’ve helped someone and make life better for them is more rewarding than you realize! Knowing that you were possibly the difference that kept that person from ending their own life is a feeling so wonderful, words can’t describe it! I promise you!

When I Stopped Caring What People Thought

When I stopped caring what others thought of me, I stopped apologizing for being me. Instead of judging myself, I began loving and accepting myself- all aspects, the good and the not-so-good. I started living up to my own standards and experiencing life on my terms.

When I stopped worrying needlessly about what people thought, I set myself free from the chains of fear and anxiety and was no longer a slave to others’ opinions and approval. I no longer felt the need to walk on eggshells and hide my natural humanness. I stopped feeling like I wasn’t good enough and comparing myself to others. I no longer allowed anyone else to dictate what I should say, do, think, or feel.

I began permitting myself to make mistakes because we all make them whether or not some of us admit it. Even better, I started learning from those mistakes and seeing them as life lessons, rather than defects or screw-ups. I finally accepted that I’m not and never will be perfect. Who is?

Silhouettes of hands are breaking the chain—freedom concept.

I learned that like, and dislike is subjective, never personal. I accepted that not everybody was going to like me and was not only okay with it but embraced it! Because if you don’t have people who don’t like you, you’re not doing something right- in one area or another, you’re not your true, authentic self.

I permitted myself to follow my heart, sing, dance, speak my piece, and yes! Even be a little weird. In all this, I took back control of my life and found freedom I’d never known.

The day I stopped caring what people think was the day I got my life back, and slowly but surely, my bullies began to disappear. I began to feel beautiful, smart, and, best of all, equal.

Positive things started coming my way magically and seemingly without effort. I began attracting the right people into my life- genuine people who were loving, caring, uplifting, and inspiring. Existing relationships drastically improved. An abundance of opportunities and blessings flowed into my life. I began seeing wins and successes that were very rewarding and fulfilling, which only encouraged me to stretch my imagination, take more risks, and try new things.

Today, I look back and ask myself why. Why did I even give a crap what my bullies and others- people who meant absolutely jack to me and could do nothing for me, thought of me?

They weren’t my family or friends.
They didn’t pay my bills.
They didn’t sign my paycheck every week.
They didn’t hold my life in their hands.
And they most certainly weren’t people I cared anything about.

I wasted a lot of time and energy, which I can never get back, worrying needlessly about what people thought of me. The truth of it is that most of those people nor their opinions were never even worth my consideration.

The only opinions that matter are those of my God, my family, my husband, and my closest and most trusted friends. And the only things that matter are my faith in God, my dreams, my morals, taking care of the people I love, my ability to be the best me I can be, and my desire to extend kindness and reach out and help those who need me. Anyone or anything outside of that is irrelevant.