Targets Can Become Social Chameleons

dreamstime_s_115961321.jpg

Fake it until you make it. When you’re a target of bullying, you learn very quickly to either blend in with the people around you or get eaten alive by bullies. Some targets learn self-monitoring and to rehearse everything they do and say.

The mind equips itself with scripts for every situation and conversation. You pay very close attention to social cues and will mimic others behavior. It proves to be a useful skill. In short, victims of bullying can become social chameleons.

As you get older, you get better and better at acting, at getting people to like you, at impressing people you meet and at ingratiating yourself into all kinds of groups. Social Chameleons get so good at it that they can adapt themselves to any situation and to the moods of others without effort.

Often, victims of bullying learn to swing back and forth changing with their environment. They can be the life of the party or quiet and reserved. They can be introverted, extroverted, funny, charismatic, relaxed, wild, emotional, or stoic. When you learn to detect the moods of others, you adapt yourself to match those moods.

Becoming a Social Chameleon is a Common Defense Against Bullies

Understand that targets and former targets of bullying do this out of survival instinct. We become masters of deception and of cooling the anger of others in social situations gone wrong.

Depending on the situation or people around us, we present different versions of ourselves and become experts at blending in and being accepted. We become highly self-aware and good at reading the emotions and nonverbal cues of others and adapt to them and polish our self-presentations.

It becomes so ingrained and natural to us that we don’t even know we’re doing it. Many targets of bullying are bullied in school but are later able to get along with anybody and are exceptionally well-liked as adults. I have done this myself.

This is how we ensure that no one ever bullies us again. This is how we get people to like us. We know too well what not to do or say. The key to being successful at this is to not realize you’re doing it! Any conscious effort, on the other hand, comes off as contrived.

dreamstime_xs_36050680

Practice Makes Perfect.

We’ve practiced this for so long that we’ve become intuitively attuned to other’s responses to us and are constantly adapting our behavior when we feel we aren’t making the right impression. We keep a few good saves in our back pocket just in case a social situation goes awry. And we do this so well we instinctively know what’s expected of us before we make a social move.

We become uber successful at making good impressions in social encounters with total strangers and in business. Our personalities become so fluid and unpredictable that we emit an air of mystery that intrigues others, which only adds to our attractiveness. However, this comes at a very high cost!

For me, being a social chameleon got exhausting and I chose to dial that down a few notches. I’ve found that it is much more relaxing to be myself and not to give a crap what others think.

Being a Social Chameleon Only Exhausts You.

Not only is being a social chameleon tiring, the knowing that you weren’t true to your heart and your core beliefs and convictions leaves you feeling as if you sold your soul to the devil! It leaves an emptiness inside you that you can’t fill unless you start being your authentic self.

It’s much better to be yourself and to stand up for what you believe in. You may make a few enemies but it’s much better than living with being a fraud. Moreover, I’d much rather have a few people who don’t like me than to give up my identity and my authenticity!

So be yourself and be comfortable in your own skin! Embrace all your imperfections, because we all have them. Give yourself permission to say no and to voice an opinion some may not like. Because to be yourself is freedom!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

7 Questions Targets Want Answers to

1. How do I stop people from bullying me?

2. What can I do to make friends and allies?

3. How do I get a date?

4. How can I learn to have a little influence?

5. What does it take to be charming?

6. What can I do to get that je nais se quois that naturally draws people?

7. Why do bullies bully?

The questions presented here are legitimate questions. After all, we humans are social animals.

We’re hardwired for social connections and togetherness.

Humans are made to enjoy friendships and positive connections, especially during the formative years. It’s a crucial to our development.

The more likeable we are, the better chances we have of making friends and maintaining relationships. Also, we’re more likely to get a date, get married, and reproduce ourselves.

Moreover, likeability increases our chances of getting better jobs, bonuses, higher tips, and promotions.

However, this is not to say that targets of bullying aren’t likeable because they are. Often, it’s the bullies who are unlikable. Why else would they become jealous and target likeable people.

Sadly, over time, the effects of long-term bullying can cause the target to become less and less likeable.

Any form of bullying and abuse that is long-term can shatter a person’s trust in humanity. As a result, the person can become guarded and suspicious of others.

Furthermore, people sense this and are repelled by it. After all, there can be no connection if there isn’t trust. Sadly, they don’t teach likeability in school. Therefore, it’s up to us to read the appropriate books and articles and practice what we learn.

Here are the answers to the questions above:

1. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to control the thoughts and behavior of another. Each person has their own mind and will do what they will do. In other words, nothing you say or do will stop them if it’s something they really want to do. That includes bullying. However, what you can control is your reaction to it.

Moreover, there’s no law that says you must stand there and take their crap. You can choose not to give them a response or you can put your hand up, turn, and walk away. You can tell the idiot to get bent, or you can give them the middle finger and keep going. There are many things you can do to put the creep back in their place.

2. Just be yourself. And care not what others think or say of you. Do these things and the right people will come into your life and want to be friends.

3. Again, be yourself. And remember. A smile is the best outfit you can ever put on.

4. Be confident. Confidence is a natural influencer. If you’re confident in yourself, others will more likely be confident in you.

5. Again, be confident, be yourself, and care not what others think. It’s also important to be interested in other people because people naturally like others who are interested in them.

6. See number 5.

7. Bullies bully because they’re insecure. They’re afraid of their own imperfections coming to light, so they use you as a distraction from their shortcomings.

Some people are born with natural charm and likeability, and some weren’t. However, always remember this. The personality traits you weren’t born with can always, always be learned. You must read books on how to be more likeable and lesson your chances of attracting bullies.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

8 Reasons Enduring Bullying Takes Guts

It amazes me when I hear of targets of bullying, especially kids, being told to “toughen up.” Because anyone who endures long, miserable years of being bullied by everyone for everything and still finds it in them to get up and get on with it? These individuals are already tough.

I remember swallowing hard every morning at the bus stop.

For any bullied kid, it takes a mountain of courage to step onto that school bus every day, knowing all too well what’s in store for them as soon as they get on and even worse once they grace the entrance to the school. For me, it was like walking into a minefield!

The daily ritual of being name-called, tripped in the hallways, having books knocked out of my hands, my long hair pulled, my head slammed into lockers, slapped, punched, kicked, shoved to the floor, and a barrage of death threats…it was never-ending! But through it all, I never gave up!

Targets of bullying are stronger than they know.

I look at these kids today- the ones who endure the same as I years ago (and worse today with the internet), and they have more heart and soul than all their classmates combined! They’re the strongest because they have no other choice but to be. When you’re bullied, you either sink or swim.

Here are 8 reasons enduring bullying takes guts:

1. You find a reason to get up and go to school every day.
2. You hold on to your dignity with everything you have in you.
3. You face your worst fears daily.
4. You endure countless beatings or insults and still refuse to give up or give in.
5. You choke back rivers of tears which beg to pour forth.
6. You suffer constant thievery of your pride and personhood, yet you refuse to cave into your bullies’ demands or live by their standards.
7. You suffer never-ending violations of your rights, to safety, and to learn in peace.

And lastly,

8. You have the courage to stand alone.

To face all this, day after day, and STILL, find a reason to keep going? That takes grit! It takes guts! Moreover, it takes balls of steel!

You might not think we notice you, but we do!

So, if you’ve never experienced what these kids endure, before you tell some poor, bullied soul to “toughen up,” ask yourself this question. Would you have the fortitude to hold up under that kind of pressure?

And if you’re a kid who does face that kind of pressure at school every day, know that I understand, I hear you, I see you, and I have your back. Also know that you’re so much stronger and have more courage than you know! You have the heart of a lion!

Know your own strength and know your own worth!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

What Are The Far-Reaching Consequences of School Bullying and Mobbing?

How many lives could’ve been saved if we’d spoken up sooner?

For years, everyone saw bullies picking on and ganging up on targets- they saw it on the playground, the hallways, the gym, the locker room, the bathrooms, the classrooms, and on the school bus and the target was driven to act out in violence.

No one cared about any of the bullying until targets started taking matters into their own hands- more appropriately, until they started bringing guns to school and blowing their bullies away, committing suicide, or both.

It’s a shame that people had to die before we finally began to take bullying seriously. Being treated like an object for too long, instead of a living, breathing, and feeling human being can make one enraged enough to want to kill or desperate enough to escape the torment by any means (suicide).

Thankfully, not all who suffer repeated and patterned bullying and mobbing commit homicide or suicide. Most targets suffer in silence. They live depressed, isolated, bewildered, and confused because they’ve had their self-confidence stripped away. In that, they’re prevented from realizing their full potential and capabilities.

Many children and teens are terrified of getting on the school bus and many more stay silent for fear of retribution. Young targets endure torment others cannot possibly comprehend and much of the wounds and bruises are unseen. Just because someone isn’t bludgeoned, bruised, and bloodied on the outside doesn’t mean they aren’t they aren’t so inside. Physical wounds can be seen but wounds to the soul can’t.

Bullying and mobbing leave permanent scars. Even after time has gone by, the memories are still fresh. In fact, they’re so deeply entrenched that even decades later, targets can still remember the names of those who instigated the mobbing, those who joined in and partook in it, those who encouraged it, and those who pretended to be their friends but didn’t have their back and refused to help them.

As a survivor of school bullying and mobbing myself, I can tell you that I remember the names of every single one of my classmates who fell in the above categories, one of whom I thought was a close friend. I only recently stopped talking to this woman and was a fool not to have kicked her sorry butt to the curb years ago.

Every survivor I’ve ever spoken too remembers these things specifically.

Understand that when a child or teen is bullied and mobbed by virtually everyone, minor occurrences of ridicule, name-calling, and shunning may occur. However, things such as these build up over time.

What ends up breaking and killing the target’s spirit and self-image is the accumulation of so many incidences of so many classmates brutally bullying her and the fact that the abuse comes from everyone and from every direction.

But I guarantee that if you were to tell each of the target’s classmates what they were doing and tell them of the damage they had done to that targeted child, they would either deny it or respond with, “But all I did was…!”

Again, these “little attacks” come from many, many directions and over a long period of time against the same person- this is one of the biggest hallmarks of mobbing.

I’ve asked other survivors of school bullying and mobbing why they think their classmates mobbed them and not one of them knows why. Each one of these people, even decades later, wonder what they did to encourage their schoolmates to gang up on them and torment them the way that they did.

I always tell them that they did nothing to deserve that kind of treatment and that they should never blame themselves for their classmates’ atrocious behavior.

During my years of research on bullying and mobbing, I’ve learned that mobbing is always caused by a trivial conflict that’s not even personal but somehow, becomes personal later. The origins of mobbing can be anything- a potential target is a new student at the school, or the potential target says something that isn’t necessarily bad but rubs the wrong kids the wrong way.

Maybe the potential target is different, or maybe the child is highly intelligent to the point of overshadowing members of the top clique. It could be that the potential target brags about something and ticks off the rest of the class, or wears clothes that are out of fashion and the bullies use it as an excuse to torment the kid.

And long after the initial cause of the bullying is over and forgotten, the bullying continues.

Understand that if you were to ask bullies why they mobbed and tormented a certain individual, they either wouldn’t know the reason, or they would give an answer that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Therefore, targets and survivors alike must realize that the mobbing and bullying they presently struggle with or endured in the past was never about anything they said or did. It was never about them. It was always about their bullies’ own mental health issues. It was about the bullies’ senses of self-entitlement, their insecurities, feelings of self-loathing, and intense jealousy.

And once they realize these things, their self-esteem won’t take such a big hit.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Why Many Targets Feel Better When They See Someone Else Being Bullied

This is a difficult thing to admit. However, sometimes when you’ve been singled out for bullying for so long, it can make you feel better if, by chance, you see another person also being bullied. I say this because, years ago, I felt the same way when I saw another kid being treated as badly as I was.

Many targets feel a sense of relief when they see bullies target someone other than them, and it’s not for the reasons most people would think.

It doesn’t mean that these targets enjoy someone else’s pain. It doesn’t mean that the target is sadistic. What it does mean is that the target sees it as confirmation that they aren’t the only one being mistreated.

Let’s be real here. No one wants to be the only one being picked on. No one wants to be alone or the odd man out.

But here’s something else. Anytime you are a regular target of bullying and bullies target someone else, it means that, for once, they’re not bothering you. Because when bullies target someone else, it takes the negative attention off you, and you get a nice little reprieve from all the BS!

Again, what the target feels isn’t pleasure. It’s relief!

I’ll go ahead and tell you the truth. When I was being bullied in school years ago, I felt that same sense of relief any time I saw another person catching heat because, again, not only did I need that confirmation that I wasn’t the only one being bullied, but I also got the break I needed from it.

I’m not say that it’s right amd I certainly wouldn’t feel the same today as an adult. What I am saying is that I was guilty of having those feelings of relief and that a few other targets and survivors have said that they were guilty of having the same feelings.

Although now, I would be angry and would stand up for anyone I see being targeted, I’m sad to say that this wasn’t the case years ago and it wasn’t a good way to be.

With that said, not only should we learn the inner workings of bullies but also those of targets too. When we learn the inner workings of bullies, we get to see what’s behind their desire to abuse others. We also see their motives and intentions for abusing their targets and so, we’re able to outflank the bullies and defend ourselves and others against them.

When we learn the inner workings of targets, we get to see the damage that bullying has caused them. We get to see the anger, the rage, the sadness, the despair, and the hopelessness they feel and, therefore, we’re better able to reach out and help them.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

The Target Who Snaps

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.

Depression Concept with Word Cloud and a Human being with broken Brain and Heavy Rain

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 the ones who suffer in silence while trying to process what’s happening to them and why.

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

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 it 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!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

How Bullying Can Instill a False Sense of Insecurity

Bullies will often bully a specific victim for so long that the victim eventually expects maltreatment from all people. Although I no longer get bullied and have long since regained my confidence and self-esteem, I do remember that feeling all too well.

After being bullied for so long, you become fearful. Around people, you clam up, keep your eyes to yourself and go about your business. However, it seldom works because bullies are like pit bulldogs; they can smell fear from a mile away, so being reserved and staying out of the way tends to bring about more bullying.

You can always tell when a person is a victim of bullying because they continuously apologize for everything. Overapologizing is the surefire sign of bullying and abuse, as is being reserved and afraid to look people in the eye.

Understand that the person who does that is scared to death. They’ve lost all sense of their worth and are afraid to make decisions because they might make the wrong one and be ridiculed, shamed, or harmed for it.

Many targets are also afraid to talk to people because they know that, no matter what they say and how much sense it makes, they will be accused of saying something stupid or offensive and, they will again get persecuted for it. They’re fearful of going out or being seen in public because they might run into the wrong people (bullies).

They’re scared to greet people because they fear that they’ll be seen as too friendly. But if they say nothing, they’re often mistaken for being stuck up or standoffish.

If you are a victim of bullying and you do any of the above, STOP!

Living your life in fear is no way to live! It sucks! It’s a downright miserable existence, and you should refuse to keep your head down and clam up to avoid the pettiness of other people!

I want you to realize that you don’t need permission to be yourself or to exist! The day you say, “Screw it! Who cares what those idiots think!” will be the day you get your life back. Things may indeed get worse before they get better. But it’ll be worth it in the long run. I guarantee it.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

The Resilience of The Target of Bullying

Understand that we, as humans, know what we need to nourish and flourish. And if we’re not getting what we need and want in our current environment, we’ll get it somewhere else.

Targets of bullying are like flowers that lean toward the sunlight to grow.

If you’re a target of bullying, you will find someplace where you’re accepted. You will find friends. You’ll find love, and you’ll find happiness.

My bullies weren’t able to keep me bullied and broken. After I moved to a new school, their power ended. I was no longer within their reach. As badly as they wanted to, they couldn’t keep me under their bootheel forever. I moved on to a place with people who accepted me as I was.

Understand that bullies can only keep you down for so long. They can’t do it forever. There’s always somewhere people will accept you- just for being your awesome self. Always remember that. There’s always a better tomorrow!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Mental health – Self doubt

I’ve been a victim of severe bullying from age 4-16. I’ve often heard I did things wrong, I wasn’t this enough or I didn’t do that well enough. It make me often doubt myself and my abilities to do things. Even to points where I’d just not do it because I thought I would mess […]

Mental health – Self doubt

This is the testimonial of a target of bullying with PTSD. I can tell you that when I read her post, I was heartbroken for her.  Here’s her story above- in her own words.

The Vicious Cycle of Bullying

Sometimes, and with many targets, the bullying they suffer is a vicious cycle. Now you might ask, “What do you mean? How can bullying become a cycle?”

It can become a cycle in many ways. However, there’s one cycle in particular I’d like to discuss.  I’ll describe it like this:

1.The target is bullied relentlessly, and she holds up for a year or two, trying to be strong and brave, trying to remain calm and cool, and seemingly doing quite well at it. However, the bullies are relentless, so, they escalate the attacks, and the abuse becomes more frequent and intense. It is as if they are trying to bring her down.

2. Finally, so many of her peers have bullied her so much for so long that they finally succeed in driving her to the breaking point. The target either attempts suicide or has a breakdown of some sort. Maybe she breaks down crying and her sobs are so deep and so uncontrollable that she can’t stop crying. It’s as if a dam has burst and the raging torrent of tears continues to pour forth. She’s crying so hard her entire body shakes, quakes, and writhes.

3. The target is admitted to a treatment center for severe depression. She stays in the hospital for a couple of months and while she’s there, she is making progress. She’s able to open up about the bullying she suffers, and people listen there. In the treatment center, she is safe.

She makes friends out of the other kids there and of the staff as well. They all support her, and she begins to feel good about herself again. It seems like she’s beginning to heal and get better.

A couple of months go by and for the first time in the two months she’s been in the hospital and away from the bullying environment at her school, she feels like herself again. She feels re-empowered.

4. She’s finally released from the hospital. But she has to go back to school and she has no choice but to go back to the very environment and to the people who made her sick in the first place.

Depression Concept with Word Cloud and a Humanbeing with broken Brain and Heavy Rain

5. As soon as the target goes back to school, although the others at school can’t prove where she’s been, they have it figured. Now there’s the mental health stigma hanging over her and the bullies instantly use it against her and only pick up where they left off. They begin mobbing her again and even a few teachers and the principal look down on her, just like before.

6. The principal warns her aloud, in the crowded hall, as she’s changing classes, “I’m going to be watching you closely.” He tells her. And he tells her this in front of the other students where they can overhear.

7. The target does well and is well-behaved. However, the principal, a few teachers, and the student body, view her with even more suspicion. Instead of acknowledging and encouraging her success, the principal and teachers continuing let her know that she’s on their radar.

8. Although the two months away in the treatment center was intended to help her get well and regain her confidence, self-esteem, and her life and returning to school was meant to be a chance to start over, the target is branded a troublemaker or a mental case by the school, some of the teachers and the principal, knowingly or unknowingly, are now in the process of undoing all the progress this girl has made.

What they should do is pull her aside and tell her in private that they are watching her, but that they admire her for getting help and trying to turn her life around.

However, their justification for their treatment of her is that it’s to protect the other students who fit in to what’s “normal” and who obey the rules. This justification is often used to defend the emotional abuse they inflict on the target and single her out for humiliation.

This is when the school is willingly participating in destroying a human being. The girl’s “loony bin trip” now follows her around like a stalking wildcat. School officials either don’t realize or don’t care about the impact their attitudes and prejudices have on young students.

Understand that this is the cycle. Bullies break the target down, the target goes somewhere and gets help, the target gets better and gets released, the target then must go back to the very place and to the same people that make them sick. They bully the target again… the cycle continues, again and again.

In cases like this, targets must be allowed to either transfer to a new school or home school, otherwise, the cycle only continues.