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.

I Don’t Wish I’d Been More Popular, I Wish I Had Loved and Respected Myself More

I wish I had put myself first.

I wish I’d said “NO” a lot more than I did.

I wish I had been true to my own heart.

And I wish I had known my worth and realized my full potential.

In a nutshell, I wish I had been better at being me. But we all wish we’d done these things when we get older, don’t we? That we’d done something a little different- a bit better?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown a very thick skin and learned to handle any confrontation with composure and aplomb. As we get older, we shed that shell we curled up and hid in when we were younger. We grow to love and accept ourselves as we are and become comfortable in our own skins and let me tell you! It’s immense freedom that you can’t describe!

I’ve learned that the reason people bully is not because of something the victim has said or done and that it is not the fault of the victim.

The reason bullies bully is because they have issues, whether it be a bad case of narcissism, low self-esteem, problems at home, jealousy of something the victims have that they don’t, or they have something to prove. I’ve learned that bullies, at their very core, are great big cowards and attention-seekers. That knowledge alone is freeing!

Just knowing why unsavory people do harm only serves as a huge buffer to any psycho/emotional blows.

Today, I no longer get bullied by anyone, but if anyone tries, I am easily able to swiftly put the person in their place, or laugh and blow the idiot off. Instead of getting hurt or angry, I get amused by them and am usually able to have fun with it.

Unfortunately, that takes time, learning, and most of all experience. I feel a sense of regret when I think of all the years I spent feeling insecure and sorry for myself. What a total waste of my time and energy!

You mustn’t take anything your bullies say as the truth. You must know that their actions or words have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them! Hey! I know it’s hard not to, and I know it hurts. I know it’s hard not to blame yourself when it seems that everyone, from every direction, is bombarding you with negativity.

However, I want you to love yourself and see the bullies for who they truly are- pathetic souls who are so desperately trying to look tough, smart, or cool. I want you to understand that bullies are trying their hardest to get attention. You must know your value. You also need to realize that some people are just wrong for you and do not belong in your life!

Most of all, rest assured that you will eventually find people who are right for you. And when you do, they will love you for being your loveable, beautiful, intelligent, and awesome self! There will come a day when you will be loved, appreciated, and celebrated for all that you are!

It happened to me, and if you don’t give up, it will happen to you too! You are worth fighting for! You are worth living for!

Why You Should Tackle Bullying in the Earliest Stages

dreamstime_xs_63883133

My grandmother once told me this: “Never. And I mean never let anyone get comfortable with abusing and mistreating you.”

She was right. By the time she gave me that little gold nugget of wisdom, it was already too late. I was in high school and had been a victim of bullying since moving to *Oakley School District in the sixth grade. But right then, I understood what my very wise grandmother meant and why she gave me that advice.

Here’s what Uma (what I called my maternal grandmother) had already known by being a people-watcher and very good at people-reading:

concept of a mob attacking a person that they think is different

Once the mistreatment of a person has gone on for so long, the people around them get comfortable with mistreating that person. They grow so accustomed to being cruel to the person that they don’t even think about, nor do they care about how they hurt that person. Even worst, they come to expect the target the take the abuse without question, without talking back or talking about it, and without defending themselves.

Put another way, if a target firmly stands up to bad treatment in the early stages of being targeted, it’s more likely that others will respect his right to be treated well and either leave him alone or began treating him better.

Whereas, if the target lets the bullying go on for a long time, then begins to stand up for himself after getting fed up with being everyone’s doormat, others will more than likely be only angry and resentful of the person for daring to open his mouth about it. They will then double down in their abuse or either eliminate him somehow.

Once a person gets comfortable in mistreating you, it’s much more difficult to fight. Therefore, always speak out right when the bullying begins. Never let it go on for any length of time. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to assert your rights and avoid retaliation.

Affirmations That Help Boost Confidence and Self-Esteem

I love being me – positive affirmation – handwriting on napkin with a cup of coffee

Affirmations That Help Boost Confidence and Self-Esteem

NOTE: Parts of this blog post references the following:

(“Stopping Wife Abuse,” Jennifer Baker Flaming, 1979, p.64)

(“The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” Patricia Evans, 2010, p.149)

1.I am not to blame for being bullied.

2. I am not the cause of someone else’s abhorrent behavior.

3. I deserve to be free from bullying and abuse.

4. It is okay for me to say “no” to what I don’t like nor want.

5. I do not have to take it.

6. I am important.

7. I am worthwhile.

8. I deserve to be treated with respect.

9. I have the power to create a good life for myself.

10. It’s okay for me to take care of myself.

11. Only I can decide what’s best for me.

12. I’m not alone. I have people who love me.

13. I am worth fighting for.

14. I deserve to be safe.

15. I deserve to be happy.

16. I am beautiful.

17. I am smart.

18. I am a good person.

19. I can live my life the way I want and on my terms.

20. I am loved.

21. It’s okay to love myself.

22. It’s okay to celebrate myself.

23. It’s okay for me to make mistakes.

24. It’s okay to put myself first.

25. It’s okay to protect and defend myself.

26. It’s okay to ask for help.

27. My life matters.

28. I matter.

Distance Can be a Good Thing

When a person deals with people who criticize them daily, it can quickly wear her down and break her spirit. Sadly, many people disrespect the same target repetitively over several years. They will eventually train that person to tolerate it if he isn’t careful and doesn’t safeguard his mind by doing things to maintain a strong sense of self.

If you’re a target and you stay silent and continue to put up with it, you are, in essence, permitting your bullies to keep abusing you. ‘You see? Here’s how abusers and most bystanders see it, and I’ve heard many perpetrators and witnesses say it out of their mouths.

“If he puts up with it, then he deserves it!”

No! You don’t deserve it. Ever! You have every right to stand up to abuse because it’s a form of violence. The person is violating your boundaries, and it’s up to you to protect those boundaries.

Understand that this is your life, and no law says you have to take crap from anyone.

My grandmother, God rest her soul, tolerated a truckload of abuse as a young woman in her twenties and thirties. The time she was living in was the fifties and sixties. During that era, society expected women to stay silent and submit to abuse.

She had a narcissistic husband who violated her boundaries at every turn. He even lorded over the children too. This beautiful woman dealt with mistreatment from others as well. My grandmother was the very definition of class and grace. She was tall, thin, and gorgeous- the poster lady of feminine beauty, especially during that era. More importantly, she was kind, humble, generous, and smart! Nothing got past my grandmother!

Yet my grandfather never acknowledged her virtues and good qualities and instead, devalued her. He was jealous of her beauty and her smarts. She used her smarts to battle the abuse, and it would enrage him every time she’d trick him. But eventually, she got tired and fed up.

She finally got angry with herself for putting up with his abuse all those years. That’s when she waited until he went to work, then drove into town and filed for a legal separation. Next, she had all the locks changed, and when he got home, she handed him the papers, had his bags packed and ready for him, and told him to get out.

My grandfather was stunned. He never expected her to leave, and for a long time, she hadn’t. Her love for him was that strong. But in the end, she had to love herself enough to walk away from the marriage.

And she needed to love herself more than she did him, which took a lot of strength and courage. She was surprised at how much better her life got once she got over the grief from the divorce.

He stalked her for a while, driving by the house and trying to keep tabs on her. But she continued to hold firm, and she never took him back.

But that was my grandmother. She was a rock, and it’s how I remember her.

The point of my story is that putting distance between yourself and abusers, whether they be an abusive partner, an authoritarian boss, or abusers at work or school, is essential to finding peace of mind. All of the above are bullies and don’t deserve a seat at your table.

It’s why I left Oakley and I choose not to go to any future class reunions. And it’s the reason my telephone number was always unlisted when I lived in Oakley for a little while as an adult during the late ’90s and early 2000s. I didn’t want to risk the possibility of any former bullies looking me up in the directory and finding not only my number but my street address.

And even today, none of them know where I am. All those people know is that I no longer live in Oakley, and I intend to keep it that way.

Hit the road concept, road – 3D rendering

Distance is a blessing, and it’s the best weapon against bullies. It pays to stay away and ensure that they also keep away.

If it’s possible, targets should put as much distance between themselves and their bullies as they can. As long as you’re out of their reach and they stay away from you, they can’t bother you.

Countering Your Bullies’ Attacks

That means maintaining a healthy and positive sense of self.

It means refusing to take in and accept your bullies’ assaults on your pride and dignity, no matter how powerful or influential they may seem. After all, they’re only people just like you.

Countering the attacks from a bully means being able to withstand the barrage of attacks or your humanity, personhood, and character.

It means not letting your bullies persuade you into thinking that they know you better than you know yourself.

It means being super-self-aware- so much so that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt who you are and that you’re a great person who doesn’t deserve shabby treatment.

It means having a clear vision of your value as a human being.

It means keeping company only with strong people who are positive influences in your life- people who consistently validate and affirm your positive qualities and the good you bring to the lives of others and this world.

Then, when a bully tells you that you’re ugly, stupid, evil, or crazy, you can stand with confidence and say, “No, I’m not. You are,” and walk away with more pride in yourself because you stood up to bullies.

Many targets fall for the garbage bullies feed them because there’s more to countering the attacks than words or fists. It takes mind and spirit power just as well. Most targets, sad to say, are either insecure in themselves, to begin with, or, over time, bullies succeed in making them that way.

They may do like I did in the earliest stages of bullying- “ignore the attacks without responding or fighting back. And we know how that usually ends.

Maintaining mind power and a healthy sense of self is the very foundation of self-defense and protection. Always remember that.

Your mind and your thoughts are free! Keep them that way!

Why Most Targets Are Afraid to Set Boundaries

It takes supreme self-confidence to set boundaries, which, sadly, is something a few bullying targets have.

Also, as we know, bullies don’t respect boundaries because they don’t acknowledge them. In their minds, you’re a target and, to them, a target has no rights and deserves no human dignity. Bullies don’t see targets as human beings deserving of the same human rights as everyone else. That’s a fact.

Targets feel powerless to stop the abuse. And setting boundaries is anything but easy- it’s one of the hardest things to do after people bully you for so long and brainwash you into thinking you’re to blame for their horrid behavior. And many targets are too terrified.

If you’re a target of bullying, you may badly want to tell your abusers to knock it off. You may want to tell them to get the hell away from you and stay away. You may even want to fight back, but you don’t know how they may react.

Another thing you don’t know is whether they’ll accept your boundaries, nor if they’ll want to accept them. You know that there’s a chance the bullies may act violently toward you for having the chutzpah to speak against their abuse.

Bullies despise even a hint of opposition because they see it as your challenging their power and perceived authority. And they’ll do whatever they can to tighten their grip if they suspect you’re defying them. And sometimes, things get dangerous, and you must do it scared.

When you set boundaries, you enact your autonomy and speak from a place of self-care and self-love. You decide what you will and won’t tolerate. You take your power back.

However!

Before you’re able to do that, you must be clear of what you will not accept. It takes uber self-confidence to stand up to a bully. It would be best if you also gave up your old ways of trying to stand up for yourself- those you tried in the past that failed, which are ways your bullies and a few other abusers in your life probably conditioned you to respond.

  1. You must stop over-apologizing.
  2. You must stop trying to explain yourself to anyone.
  3. You must stop trying to figure out what made the bullies so hostile.
  4. You must stop wondering what you did wrong.
  5. You must stop wondering if something’s wrong with you.
  6. You must stop asking, “why me.”

Before you can stand up to abuse, you must squash the mentality that compels you to do any of the above mentioned. You must understand that all the why me, why this, why that, gets you nowhere. And all the wracking your brains wondering and trying to figure out what’s wrong also serves no purpose. It’s a complete waste of time and only makes you feel worse.

Instead, be real with yourself and conclude that your bullies are just a bunch of ignorant, moronic jackasses who lack character and live fake existences. You must also learn to trust yourself, which includes trusting your body and how it feels. Trust everything you see, hear, feel, sense, and the vibes you pick up from the people around you. And finally, trust your decisions.

It also takes dogged determination:

  1. Even if your bullies rationalize and justify their behavior, you won’t take their crap.
  2. Even if they blame you for their despicable behavior, you won’t take it.
  3. Even if they tell you that you’re crazy or mentally imbalanced, you won’t take it.
  4. Even if they call you a bitch, an asshole, or any other degrading name, you won’t take it.
  5. Even if you made a mistake and your bullies call it out in an abusive manner, you won’t take it.
  6. And, for the love of Pete! If the bullies commit physical violence, you definitely won’t take that! Get the police involved, file charges, and sue for any damages! Or, put up those dukes and throw down if you need to!

When you begin setting boundaries, it’ll take calling your bullies out every single time they cross the line. You can say:

“Stop it!”

“Cut it out!”

“Knock it off!”

“Get away from me!”

“Get out!”

You get power just by loudly giving either one of these commands. And who knows? I’m not making any guarantees here, but you might shock your bullies back to reality and make them leave you alone. There were times when I was pleasantly surprised, and it worked for me.

positive bullied victim says NO

You do not have to walk on eggshells around anyone! Know that you do have a choice and a voice. You can choose not to accept the bullies’ behavior. You have more power than you know.

Why It Pays to Know Thyself

When you know yourself inside and out, you are better able to define yourself instead of letting others, particularly bullies and abusers, do it for you. And when you learn to accept only your definition of who you are, you can more easily avoid bullying because you’re better able to recognize it. And when you’re able to identify abuse, you’re least likely to put up with it.

In other words, when you know who you are, you also know what you want and what you will and will not tolerate, which is why knowing who you are is of the utmost importance.

Knowing yourself means knowing your feelings, senses, and instincts and trusting them to guide you through this crazy thing called life. Tuning in to your feelings and instincts means tuning into your gut. As we all know, your gut can guide you out of dangerous situations and environments if you allow it to.

Knowing yourself also means refusing to allow bullies to shame or ridicule you into staying in situations and circumstances that don’t feel good to you or around toxic people. To know yourself means to trust yourself to make the right decisions.

For example, during the years my classmates bullied me, there were times when they would accost me, and I’d put my hand up to them and walk away. I didn’t have time for their drama and foolishness. Next, one of them would shout, “Hey! Where are you going, you big chicken!” or “Oh, that’s right! Walk away like you always do!” or “You’d better run!”

Understand that when you turn your back and walk away from a bully and he calls out these things to you, it’s only their attempts to control you by defining you- to shame you into sticking around and taking their crap. Or, it could be that they’re trying to bait you into a fight because they know the chances are that you’ll get blamed for it.

No one wants others to think them to be a coward. But people will try to define you as one to corner you and trick you into doing what they want. They know that you’ll feel compelled to hang around and you’ll do it for no other reason than to prove to the rest of the world that you aren’t afraid.

Again, this is why you must know yourself. When you know deep down that you’re not what people call you, you won’t feel any need to do any posturing nor virtue signaling because you won’t have to prove anything. Although the name-calling may sting a little, it won’t bother you as much.

Another good thing about knowing yourself is that you won’t feel the need to hold back emotions. You’ll be able to recognize them better and allow yourself to feel them. You won’t let others tell you how you should feel or bullies to shame you into suppressing them.

You don’t have to put on a big front and try to act like someone you’re not.

To know yourself means freedom!

Understand that people who don’t know themselves will follow the crowd and try to fit in. People who don’t know themselves will accept other’s definitions of them without realizing it. They’ll build a fake identity based on how others view them and others’ expectations and ideas of who a real person should be.

Sadly, if a target is told by abusers that he’s stupid, no good, lazy and that he’ll never amount to anything, in many cases, they’ll live up to it. It will show up in their grades, performance, and how they interact with people.

During school, I lost knowledge of who I was only for a little while, and that was before the suicide attempt. Later, I become angry at myself for allowing them to define me.

It was later when I decided that I was going to be true to my own heart. It may not have looked that way to the outside observer. Still, inside, I got in touch with my inner sensations and instincts and began to realize that I wasn’t to blame for what was happening to me. I realized that their abuse was no reflection on me but spoke volumes about their lack of morals, decency, and character.

Getting to know myself brought confirmation that what they were doing was wrong. Now this inner realization didn’t stop me from being bullied and may have made it worse. But instead of hating and blaming myself, I listened to what my gut told me. I paid close attention to the vibes I was getting and maintained a strong sense of self while enduring the pain of not being accepted.

I decided from then on that I was going to maintain my inner strength. I would listen to my instincts when they told me that I had reason to fear certain people. Even better, I was no longer going to be ashamed of it. I began paying attention to how my body tensed up when I was around certain people and realized that it was only a cue for me to get away from those people.

And today, I trust myself enough to reject others’ definitions of who I am. In that, bullies are no longer able to have power over me, and I’m a much happier person for it.

And I want you to know that you too can get to that beautiful and peaceful place.