Bullies come in all shapes and sizes and have all kinds of mannerisms that different people give different names for.
In my opinion, anytime someone wants you to feel bad or forces you to do something against your will, it is bullying.
I recently realized that I was a bully in my marriage. This led to some interesting insights I share in this episode. That, along with learning about how the typical bully ticks (and some things you can do to avoid being a victim of bullying) is what I talk about today.
(modified transcript of this episode follows)
I recently received an email from someone who said that he basically went through hell and back after dealing with people in message boards and chat rooms. They deceived him, bullied him, and did other things that just made him feel angry and betrayed.
There’s a whole story behind what happened, and I sent him a reply that hopefully helped him. However, it sparked in me an interest to discuss bullying, particularly online but the information today will apply to bullying in general, and basically how vulnerable we are to it.
We are vulnerable to online bullying, called cyberbullying, in ways that you may not be aware of.
What I mean by that is that you have nothing but yourself to reflect upon when you are conversing with others through chat and social sites and groups like Facebook.
What does that mean? It means that when you are face to face with someone, you get feedback from them. You pick up the expression on their face. You hear the inflection in their voice. You see their body language and you can pretty much tell how they’re feeling when they express something to you.
That doesn’t mean you’re always right about how they feel, but it does mean you have a lot more data from which to draw a conclusion as opposed to reading text on a screen.
When you read from a chat program or social media site, or even just news stories, you are not really “talking” to anyone! You’re there alone, thinking and reading to yourself.
And that’s what I mean when I say you have nothing but yourself to reflect upon when you chat or read things online. And because of that, guess what you are really reacting to?
Your own thoughts about yourself!
Does that make sense? If it doesn’t, that’s what today’s show about. I want to talk about how you digest what you read and see, especially online, but this can apply to any form of communication where you are-not-face to face. Even the telephone can convey a lot of information through voice so there’s less room for interpretation there.
However, other non face-to-face platforms take both the voice and face out of the picture and only leave words on a screen behind, along with your own brain. And that’s when things can really spiral out of control. Sure, the words are written by someone else, but what happens to them next is really where I want to take this episode.
You are vulnerable online because of how you feel about yourself. And if you don’t know what that means, you’ll know by the end of today’s show.
The email I mentioned earlier had mostly to do with an online relationship with people the email writer thought were friends. There was a lot of hurt there because he developed trust with them, and he felt safe chatting with them online. But they eventually deceived him, humiliated him, and just made him feel bad all around.
It was a complex time in his life, and he’s grown and healed a lot since then, but it reminded me just how vulnerable any of us can be while online.
Cyberbullying is when someone attacks you with their words or actions using technology. They can send you threatening emails or post an embarrassing picture of you online, or convince others to dislike you through social media and such. The list goes on and on. It’s the equivalent of being bullied in the real world with one glaring exception: There’s a giant protective wall between you and the bully. That wall allows them say or do anything they want without fear of repercussion.
When someone knows that they are absolutely invincible, and they also have a lot of insecurity, they’ll throw stones at you without thinking twice.
Bullies believe they cannot be harmed, and they also act from a lot of fear, so they feel powerful when they hurt others. This power replaces their fear and insecurity and creates a false sense of courage inside of them.
Technology like smartphones and the internet create a filter-free zone, so unless you really know people, you don’t know them at all… at least you don’t know who they pretend to be online. A bully can be a 12-year-old kid pretending to be someone else. The movie Surrogates with Bruce Willis is a great example of this.
In Surrogates, very realistic human-like robots are controlled by people in their homes. Those people can go to work using their “surrogate”, all the while staying home controlling the robotic body. But, the robots can look like anyone, and not necessarily representative of the owner. That means that they can be anyone they want without fear.
The same thing goes for people online. They can be anyone they want, and say anything they want without fear. Though most people are not spiteful or bullies, there are those few we all run into now and again.
Bullies want power because they feel powerless. Bullies want self-esteem because they have little. And bullies cause people to fear them because they are fearful themselves.
I’m generalizing here, but I’m willing to bet that every bully must feel bad about themselves in some way in order to make others feel bad about themselves. The reason I say that is because people who do that actually have to bypass their own hardwiring to do so.
Since we are hardwired to love and care for each other out of survival, it’s actually harder to be a bully than not. It’s harder because a bully has to live with themselves. When someone is just mean and hurtful to someone else, there’s already pain and hurt in them. That’s how they learned to do it in the first place.
It’s like the abused child growing up to be the abuser. It’s a vicious cycle that continues throughout the generations.
Hurt people can hurt others.
I’m not making excuses for them, but let that be your first thought when dealing with anyone who is hurtful or mean. They are hurting and feeling lack in themselves in some way. And hurting someone else gives them an artificial reprieve of sorts so they don’t feel so bad about themselves.
This leads to our first talking point today:
People who bully are already hurting and insecure, otherwise they wouldn’t need to hurt others
Have you ever hurt someone in your life? I know I have. I made my wife of 4 years kind of miserable because I was hurting inside. I wasn’t actively bullying her when we were married, but I was doing so passively.
Of course, I can see this in hindsight now, but back then I thought I was right and she was wrong. Turns out because I hurt and felt emotionally triggered by her behaviors, I found ways to make her feel bad.
This is bullying. It’s passive bullying because I didn’t have the guts back then to speak my mind, but when I would feel disapproving of her behavior, I would find ways to make her feel bad without directly addressing my own insecurities.
I never thought of myself as a bully until just now, as I think back and realize that by manipulating the situation to create the outcome I wanted, I was in a sense bullying the people in that situation to make it happen.
The way I bullied was through passive-aggressive behavior and sometimes expressing my hurt and anger towards her, but never took full responsibility for what I was doing.
That’s where bullies get their artificial, and often short-lived, reprieve: They refuse to take responsibility for how they feel about themselves, so they take it out on others.
The example of my marriage is perfect. When I was married, I absolutely believed that my wife had the problems, and I was perfectly fine. And if she would just change, we’d have a great relationship.
What I didn’t realize was actually happening at the time however was that I had a big issue with people who had an addictive behavior. Because I grew up in the house of an alcohol addict, I didn’t want to be with anyone who had addictions.
When I found out my wife had a sugar addiction, I started blaming her for it instead of myself.
I know, “Huh? What do you mean?” I mean that when I was younger, I set a clear boundary in my head that I would not live with or have a relationship with an addict. Yet, here I was getting into a relationship with an addict, and blaming her because she was someone I didn’t want to have a relationship with.
Does that sound crazy? We do things like this all the time though. We set ourselves up in situations we don’t want, then blame others for our disappointment with the situation.
When I was married, I laid all the problems with the relationship on her. And I felt righteous. It was easier to blame her than to address my own insecurities or lack of honoring my personal boundaries.
And that easy path, the one of least resistance, is the path of the bully.
A bully would rather make you feel bad then deal with his or her own fears and insecurities. They make you feel bad which makes them feel secure in themselves. And when they get online and type a reply to you that “puts you in your place”, they are doing what I did for years to my wife.
I made my wife feel like she was at fault and that there was something wrong with her. Bullies do that too. Yet, it took the deterioration of my marriage to reveal that the fault lied with me and that there was something wrong with me!
Now, there’s nothing really wrong with anyone, it’s just behavior.
You are not your behavior.
You may behave in ways that other people don’t like, but that doesn’t make you wrong or insignificant. It just means you have something to work on in yourself.
I realized what I needed to work on was to get clear on my boundaries and what is acceptable to me. I can either accept her with all her shortcomings, or I could leave. I chose to not accept her and stay.
That sounds like the actual definition of insanity: “I choose to love you and be with you, while also being as unsupportive and disappointed in you as possible.”
That’s not really the loving kindness a husband is supposed to show towards his wife. I exhibited bully behavior. And as I said a few minutes ago, those who bully are hurting and insecure inside, otherwise, they wouldn’t need to hurt others.
I was hurting inside, and I took it out on her. I wasn’t direct, but it was just as impactful to her. What I should have done is take a look inside and focus on myself. And if I chose in the end that I couldn’t handle or accept her for all she is, then I should have walked away.
There were many conflicts inside me, and I wanted my marriage to last, but I took the wrong steps in the wrong direction. The wrong steps were thinking I needed to make her feel bad for being an addict. The wrong direction was that my focus was on her changing, not me.
A bully wants you to conform to him or her, or even just go away, but will never take it upon themselves to change. They believe they are right and you are useless. And that comes from a deep place of pain and insecurity.
Let’s go on to the next talking point which is this:
Bullies will always hit the nerve you expose the most
What this means is that as soon as a bully finds what triggers you, they will utilize it over and over again. If that means you cower when someone yells at you, and they discover this, they will find it very useful to manipulate you into submission or escape, where you just want to run.
Have you ever seen a movie where someone gets shot in the shoulder, and in the next scene they get into a fistfight and the bad guy keeps punching that person in the shoulder over and over again? That’s pretty much the same thing.
Being aware of this gives you an advantage, however. If you don’t show the bully where you are most vulnerable, they are less likely to attack you in that way.
I’ll use my marriage as an example again. I knew that if distanced myself from her when she ate junk food, she would feel unsupported and know that I was upset with her.
This is a very dysfunctional way of life, and I don’t recommend it. But, I went through it so I share it with you just in case you’re doing anything like this to your loved ones.
When I distanced myself from her, she’d feel bad. And I hoped that by her sensing I felt bad, she wouldn’t eat junk food anymore. I did that for years, and nothing ever changed, which is why I call it dysfunctional, let alone the fact that I was being highly passive-aggressive.
I would intentionally manipulate the situation by being distant and unloving toward her because I knew this bothered her.
I knew that her exposed nerve was that she became unhappy when I distanced myself. I knew that affected her so I did it repeatedly throughout the years.
I’m not proud of my behavior, but I was also not consciously aware that what I was doing was bad. Again, I thought I was right!
Bullies will find what makes you feel bad and make it worse. They will play on your vulnerabilities and do their worst on those vulnerabilities. They are very good at it too, because they’ve been perfecting this skill for years.
While you were learning to type or ride a bike, the bully was perfecting their bullying by bullying. I’m exaggerating a little, but you have no idea how good someone can get at being manipulative and mean. They can be manipulation and bullying experts.
This is why it’s important to be aware of what triggers you most and why not to allow a bully to see what triggers you, because they will utilize it. And many bullies won’t even know they’re doing it because it has become second nature to be the way they are.
They may know they’re bullying, but they may not know why they are so good at it. The hard part about not showing your vulnerabilities to a bully is that sometimes you simply don’t know how. I mean, some people can trigger you in just the right way that you suddenly react showing them that they just pushed your buttons.
If you know of anyone around you that always gets on your nerves, or has the capability to do so, be aware of what your nerves are and how much you reveal them to the world.
That doesn’t mean living in a shell, it just means that not everyone will treat you equally. Some people have it in their nature to be spiteful and mean, so you might be better off not revealing to them what causes you the most stress in life. In other words, don’t show them what triggers you, because they will use those triggers against you.
That is if you even know who the bullies are in your life. Sometimes we don’t know who the bullies in life are, and we are blindsided by them. This happens especially online in social media and chat rooms.
Let’s talk about that next.
Cyberbullying is a recent word added to our technological culture to indicate how some people hide behind a computer screen to bully us from around the world.
A cyberbully is just like a regular bully, except they have a huge wall of safety between themselves and us. The internet has allowed freedom of speech to be taken to an entirely new level.
Have you ever been bullied online by a faceless post on a website? I have, but nothing too extreme. But I’ve read posts by people who attempted to do lots of damage with their words. And in most cases, the people reading those words were offended in some way and felt that they needed to respond.
However, there’s one important aspect of cyberbullying and it’s this:
Cyberbullying is always you bullying yourself because the bully doesn’t really exist
What does that mean? It means that even when someone isn’t in the room, and you read words on a screen that make you feel angry and bullied, you are creating your own virtual bully and feeling bad about sounds and images in your own head.
Wait, what? Yes, when you read words on a page, you create the sound of those words in your head. Sometimes you create an image of the person who wrote them and picture them saying those words to you.
You even give those words inflection and assume which emotion is being conveyed as you read them.
When you feel bullied by reading words on a page, you are essentially bullying yourself. You recreated the person who wrote them in your mind and used your own interpretation and visualizations to make it real inside your head.
Let me give you an example of this.
I want you to pretend I’m someone you really hate or at least dislike a lot. Pretend I am that person when I say the following words. Are you ready?
“You are such an idiot. You think you’re so smart but I’m going to tell everyone how awful you are. You’re going down!”
Were you able to visualize, or even hear another person saying those words to you? It’s a tad harder to do this in print because I am filling in where a voice would normally be recreated in your mind. However, you know what I’m trying to convey.
What might have happened to you was that you likely created a scene of someone giving you an angry expression and maybe even pointing their finger at you.
Remember, this is your brain. You can create any scene you want. Yet our minds typically will recreate what we believe is happening. And it’s possible our visualization is completely accurate… but why would we want to create a negative image in our minds? Why would we do that to ourselves?
If you knew that slamming your hand in a car door would hurt like crazy, would you visualize it and go through the process of making it real inside your head?
If you would, why? I can understand if you want to know the pain and thought processes that might happen for scientific reasons, but for the sake of health and happiness, there’s really no reason to recreate that scenario in your mind’s eye.
Why would you create a real-life scene in your brain when you’re reading a sentence or two on a page? Why would you want to envision someone bullying you?
We grew up doing this. We grew up creating what it might look and sound like in our heads as we read. Fiction did this to us. We pretended we were a part of the story and were able to develop amazing imaginations.
But do our thoughts always serve us? You might already know the answer. When you read something from someone that comes from a place of wanting to hurt you, don’t hurt yourself by reading it as if that person were right there saying or doing something to you.
Remember that whatever you create in your head is how you will process it. There is a technique I’ve talked about before that helps you change the scene you create in your head which I’ll go over momentarily, but I just want you to remember that when you read words on a page, they will only manifest into the creation you provide in your mind.
And because of that, if you read something intended to be bullying towards you, you are actually bullying yourself! You do this by imagining it really happening as you’re reading.
The first step you took was to read it – so that’s certainly your choice. The second step may have been to imagine the person saying it to you, in the way they’d say something like that.
Again, this is your own imagination doing this. You are developing your own virtual bully inside your head. And you are giving this bully life by adding the words he or she wrote.
When you read the words of others, it causes you to respond to your own internal manifestation of someone you may or may not know. And because you manifested the sounds and images in your head, you created the bullying scenario.
Still with me? If you’re saying, “Yeah, but they wrote it! They did say those words, but they just used letters to convey the message instead of their own voice!”
That could all be true, but no message can be conveyed without your help. And the more conscious effort you give into creating the scene of being bullied, the more real and awful it will feel.
Now, there’s a way to lighten the blow. You see, our brains are powerful and highly assumptive (you caught my episode on assumptions right?), and because our brain assumes what’s true, we tend to put a lot of faith in what it comes up with when we’re reading words on a page.
What you need to do is start retraining your brain a little to avoid making up sounds and images that hurt you. I mean, why would you want to make up sounds and images that hurt you anyway?
If you don’t want to be bullied, don’t create the bully in your head!
Sounds easy, right? I know, it actually doesn’t sound easy. But here’s what I want you to try anyway.
Let’s take that last example I read to you, where you pretended what I was saying was coming from someone else.
Think about that person now. And what I want you to do is change his or her head in your mind’s eye into a donkey’s head. You know, with the big teeth and maybe chewing on some hay or something.
If a donkey doesn’t work for you, think of another animal that might make you laugh.
Did you get that picture in your mind now? If it helps, you can give the donkey the same hairstyle as the person or maybe wearing glasses or the same shirt or hat the other person wears.
When you have that picture, the next step will be to listen to how this donkey-person will sound when you read the words on the page. You remember the words I read you, right?
I’m going to read them the way I hear this donkey-person saying them to me: (sounding like a donkey) “You are such an idiot. You think you’re so smart but I’m going to tell everyone how awful you are. You’re going down! U-huh!”
And after the donkey-person tells me this, I imagine it walking away trying to bat the flies off his butt with his tail.
Now to me, this puts a whole new perspective on how to read someone’s attack on me. You have the power to create any sounds and images you want. And by changing this image into something funny (I always use a donkey because seeing a goofy donkey head makes me laugh), it changes how the message is conveyed.
Now, I’m not saying the problems get solved. But what this does is put you in a less reactive state, and prepare you for an answer that comes from a different place. Either one of laughter, or compassion (after all, being a donkey-person must be incredibly difficult). Or, maybe you’ll just be a lot less angry. Just as long as you are coming from a more empowering place than defeat.
You can allow yourself to feel defeat if you believe what the donkey-bully says about you. But the idea is to not ever let it get to that point.
Use the donkey-bully scenario if you don’t want to get into a reactive state. It may take some practice because it’s almost like we want to be angry at what someone said. But it’s better to have the choice of being angry instead of having no control over our reactions.
Next, the last two talking points about bullying, then we’ll end the show.
This next talking point clarifies what you absolutely shouldn’t do when you’re bullied, and that’s bully back.
Now I won’t stop you from defending yourself or your family, that’s not what I’m talking about. And if you really want or need to make something right, then that is a different scenario altogether.
I’m talking about when someone bullies you, and this is even more prevalent online, if you bully back, you will either exacerbate the situation making it worse and out of control, or you will call the bully on their bluff.
But why take the chance either way? What’s the point, to give them a taste of their own medicine?
Believe me, if you haven’t practiced bullying for the length of time those people have been practicing, you will probably lose the battle.
I remember when I was a teenager, I went to a roller skating rink. I was at an air hockey table and this girl was standing there waiting to play. I forget what I said, but she snapped at me. I thought, ‘Oh, you want to play this game?’ (meaning, the insult game) and I snapped back.
Then she said some sharp words that were well crafted to put me down, and I came back with something just as sharp, or maybe a little less sharp.
Then she really tore me a new one by coming up with something awful, and I was suddenly at a loss for words. I probably just said, “You’re a jerk!” and skated away or something.
The worse thing you can do is bully back, especially if you’re not very good at it. Remember, these people have felt defensive and fearful for years, so they’ve learned to be bullies by testing all the ways they could frighten and manipulate people.
She was good, and I knew I lost the war. I felt stupid, and I made sure not to go near her for the rest of the night. She had her whole life to create this persona about her. I know adults like this too. They are quick to make snap comebacks, and they know exactly what to say.
The way to handle such situations is, first and foremost, don’t bully back. One thing I like to do is use the “you’re probably right” approach.
When someone says, “You’re so stupid, you don’t even know how to use a simple remote control” or something similar, I might say, “Hey, you’re probably right! haha.” Bullies, or anyone really, don’t expect that type of response. In fact, some of them might even feel bad for talking like that to you at all!
I like to use, “you’re probably right” at certain times, especially when I just want someone to stop being mean.
If you are thinking to yourself, “Yeah, but they’re not right and I don’t want them to violate my personal boundaries!”, just remember that if you don’t believe what they’re saying, they cannot violate any of your boundaries or offend you, because what they are saying isn’t true anyway.
If you are offended, then a part of you believes what they are saying. And if that’s the case, it’s time to explore that about yourself. Once you work on these small insecurities and fears in yourself, then people’s words can bounce off of you all day long and you won’t feel harmed in any way.
But if you do feel hurt by their words, don’t bully or fight back. Even if you win, you can lose because a situation like that can just pick up later on starting all over again.
This is what happened to me several years ago where I worked when I got upset by a coworker who kept purposefully letting me answer all the phone calls even though he was supposed to be answering the phone too.
He would always find ways to manipulate me or the situation so that I got all the work, and he made all the commission. I was getting extremely irritated and was trying to figure out a way to thwart this. Mind you, he was very good at this so it was hard for me to even figure out how he was doing it.
And whenever I’d approach him with some facts, he always found good reasons for what he did. He was a passive bully and was selfishly manipulating the environment to feed his needs and no one else’s.
Anyway, as I was leaving for lunch one day, I raised my voice in anger at him saying something about him not answering the phones. And I walked out the door. When I returned, he had great reasons why he didn’t answer the phones, and I found myself apologizing to him.
I apologized to him! I now realize that he learned to become a master at manipulation and he knew how to bully so well that no one could tell he was bullying.
My finally bullying back was all part of his strategy really. He knew exactly how to handle every situation that came up so that he could stay right and stay on course to meet his needs while not caring what anyone thought.
By bullying back, I was just feeding into a system he already knew how to control. I was in his world.
The trick was to get out of his reality and look at reality from a bigger picture. I eventually decided that it didn’t matter the reason, it only mattered that calls were not currently being distributed evenly.
I was able to work with the boss and get the phone system programmed so that every other call would go to him. I’d get one call and he’d be forced to take the next one because it only rang on his phone.
There were other things he failed to do as well, and I soon found systems where he had no choice but to do them.
Eventually, I got promoted to manager and I was able to take care of the situation from a higher level. In a way, I got promoted to the “high road”.
The high road is the path you take when you’re dealing with a bully. You either walk away, or agree even if you don’t mean it, or simply let it roll off of you. Again, you can use the “you’re probably right” answer or anything that doesn’t put it back in the face of the bully.
Meaning, you don’t bully back unless you are a master bullyer yourself. I know it sounds strange when I say it that way, but master bullyers will know how to put you down time and time again.
You probably wouldn’t fight a black belt if you’ve only ever thrown a punch at a pillow, so why would you fight a bully if you’ve not honed your bullying experience for years.
Bullying back exacerbates an already heated situation, so it’s best to not amplify it so that you have less road to travel to completely disintegrate the situation. The shorter the path to resolution, the better. The more you exacerbate and bully back, the longer the path to resolution.
I found out that bullying my coworker back only got me deeper into being bullied. He was a master, and I thought I could just get back at him with logic. But nope, he found ways to bypass that too and make me feel bad.
I probably should have told him, “You know, you’re probably right. I guess that makes sense!” And while I got him believing that I actually think he’s right, I could have changed the systems around like the phone calls and such, and all of it would have happened without me having to get angry.
Of course, I always recommend full expression and honesty, but some people know how to twist even that into their own personal gain of some sort. Sometimes you have to be a bit cunning and clever. But, you didn’t hear that from me.
The last talking point I want to discuss is this:
Consider the source
A bully isn’t the cosmic center of all knowledge. A bully doesn’t know who you are at your core and is only saying things he or she knows will trigger you.
If anything, all they know is what triggers you and not much else. But knowing that is enough.
A bully wants to make you afraid, yet they are afraid! Otherwise, they wouldn’t bully.
Think about a time you were ever bullied. Were you ever bullied? In a relationship, or at school or work? Was there any fear or insecurity in the person bullying you, at least, that you knew about?
I told you the story of when I got bullied in 7th grade, right? I got bullied for days and days until I finally told my father who said, “Bullies are all talk. The next time he asks you to fight, just say “okay”, and watch what happens.”
I was like, “What? No way! I don’t want to get into a fight!” He said again that bullies just talk but they rarely follow through.
That word, “rarely” is what worried me most. But, I decided that my father knew best and I tempted fate the next day at school. Sure enough, the bully was coming up to me and threatening me again and wanted to fight.
Remembering what my dad said, I said, “Okay. Let’s do it.”
After days of bullying me and seeing me fearful each time, I could visibly see the surprise in his face. He then smiled and said, “You’re cool, you’re cool. I was just kidding.”
I told my dad, “I can’t believe that worked!” and of course, he was like, “See, I told you!”
Now, that won’t always work, but it gave me a glimpse of how bullies operate. They are like a scared, barking chihuahua. Any intruder that came in could easily take care of a chihuahua, but that dog, out of fear, would absolutely bark even at its most fearful.
The bully barks because he is afraid. And once you acknowledge this, if you can figure out what he’s afraid of, you might be able to stop him or her and come to an agreement.
That’s stretching it, I realize. But think about a situation where a boss is always bullying the employees. Why do you think a boss would bully his or her employees? Can you think of any reason?
I’m sure many come to mind, but in my experience, it’s out of fear that if they don’t produce results, their butt is on the line. Meaning, they might lose their job or their company. Out of fear, the boss might bully people around. It’s the act of surviving.
It’s a crappy way to go about surviving and keeping the company alive for sure, but it’s obvious the bully boss hasn’t developed the skills he or she needs to behave from a place of camaraderie and teamwork so bully tactics are used instead.
The bully boss in this scenario has a need… what is it? I’ve been in this scenario, and I found out what my boss was always worried about and did my best to fulfill the need for him. A former boss of mine was always worried about getting angry calls from customers, because it meant, at least to him, that the employees weren’t doing their jobs right.
Whether that’s true or not didn’t matter. What did matter to me was how I could fulfill his need. He didn’t want angry customer calls, so I decided to take those calls myself and make executive decisions without telling him.
Soon, he was friendly and outgoing again. Eventually, he realized what was happening and really loved that I took initiative.
I’m not saying that every boss will be happy if you undermine them in some way, but think about the people in your life and the needs that they have. Maybe by figuring out a way to fulfill those needs, they won’t be so bossy and demanding.
Of course, some people are just so toxic to be around, you don’t want to help them at all. I’m all for that, just get out of the situation! But if you can’t get out, then find a way to meet their needs, and maybe it will make the situation a bit more tolerable and a bit less stressful.
Yes, bullies have a need and it’s not up to us to fulfill it. And it takes a lot of wherewithal to not react and really pay attention to what they’re trying to accomplish by bullying.
But if someone is hard to be around, and by helping them fulfill a need you make being around them more tolerable, it only makes your life better.
I remember moving in with a girl once. I actually did my best to listen and learn what bothered her most about her last boyfriend. This really helped me learn about what she needed in a relationship.
When I learned what she didn’t like, I made sure not to do those things. After a few months, I looked like a shining star compared to her entire past of relationships.
I wasn’t being manipulative, because I truly wanted her to be happy so I didn’t mind helping her meet her needs by going out of the way to make life a little easier for her.
I grew to enjoy everything that I did because I could see she was so happy. That in turn made our relationship grow and mature.
She was a bit harsh when we met because her defenses were up. After all, “all guys are the same”. But I loved learning what bothered her about guys so that it would help me grow and evolve as a person. Her gripes made me realize that some of the things us guys do are simply selfish.
Hopefully, I’m not so selfish anymore.
Let’s conclude this episode with the last segment coming up right now.
Bullies cannot be all that evolved if they feel the need to bully in the first place. Let’s just call it as we see it. People who don’t have access to any other coping skills and believe they need to make others feel bad and unempowered have not done a lot a personal growth work themselves. In fact, they probably have a hard time in life and feel the need to lash out a lot.
In a sense, the more love you can show a bully, the better it might be for them. I know what you’re thinking, of course, “No way will I show love to that person!” And I’m not saying you have to. But if you are a truly evolved person, you can find some compassion in your heart for those who’ve found no other way to convey a message without putting someone else down.
I won’t lie to you, I have a lot of compassion for a lot of people. But sometimes I don’t. I’m not always ready to be compassionate towards mean people. And sometimes, I feel completely apathetic towards them and their struggles.
If you are making others feel bad to make yourself feel good, then you probably won’t get too much compassion from me. Of course, you’ll get my help if you want it. But compassion? I’d have to think about it. I mean, if you were in a burning building, I would likely attempt to save you. But if you’re at a restaurant screaming at a waitress, I’m probably going to secretly hope your car gets broken into in the parking lot, and you come home to find that your water heater exploded.
That’s a little extreme, and I usually don’t have thoughts like that. But thinking about how I might think if I were in a situation like that is kind of fun sometimes. Though, I usually keep that stuff to myself!
We all have thoughts like that, don’t we? When we see someone being mistreated, we tend to have these thoughts appear in our heads that want those who are mistreating to get what I call their “comeuppance”.
“Oh, that man is berating that waitress in front of everyone”. “Oh, he’ll get his comeuppance, don’t you worry!” Haha.
Those comeuppances are what happens when you keep spreading negativity into the world. When you spew toxicity into enough lives, eventually you’ll be put in your place – and it won’t be pretty.
Fortunately, if you’re listening to this or any other personal growth show, you won’t have to worry about that. Once you start on the path of personal growth and development, you get more blessed and less stressed. Sure, stress will exist, and you’ll lose your temper on occasion, but the difference is that you’ll be aware you’ve done so.
Awareness is being conscious of what’s happening inside of you most of the time. When you stay unconscious, you let your mind and body do whatever they want, even if it’s being mean to others. When you stay aware, you consciously choose your words and actions and make things happen in the way you want them to happen.
It doesn’t mean you’ll always be right and it doesn’t mean the path will always be easy, but awareness is the key to personal growth. It’s when you stop being guided by the programming of all the years you’ve been alive, and start paying attention to how you behave at all times where your true evolution takes place.
The more aware you are, the less likely you’ll overreact and get triggered by people. And even when you do get triggered by something someone said or did, you are aware enough to know it’s a trigger and will do what you can to figure out why it’s still a trigger in your life.
This show can help you understand and release your triggers for sure, so look for the episodes you resonate with most. Or, if you’ve been on your personal growth path a while and are still experiencing blocks, reach out to a coach like me or other professionals that can help you get back on a healthy path.
In the end, I want to give you access to any and every resource I can in order for you to learn, heal, and grow. This episode wasn’t just about bullying, it was also about learning more about yourself and your behaviors.
Bullying can only exist when there is a healing or acceptance that needs to take place in the potential victim. What that means is that a bully needs someone who already feels some sort of lack in themselves.
If you already feel a little flakey sometimes, and someone points that out to you in front of a lot of people, you are going to feel bullied. Do you deal with the bully, or do you work on your acceptance of yourself and your limitations and potential?
I know someone who would call me out on some of the stupid things I do. She was really harsh sometimes, but I used to laugh at her. She would ask me, “Why are you laughing? Aren’t you offended?” And I would say, “You’re so funny. Some of the things you say are so hilarious.”
And she knew that what she said was kind of mean! She would follow up and say, “You’re not offended by what I just said?” And I would reply, “Of course not! I would only be offended if I believed you. But since I know you’re not right about the things you’re saying about me, they’re just funny.”
Let me tell you what happens when you come across this way to a bully:
You catch them off guard.
Now, they’re likely to strike again from a different angle until they find your vulnerability (and they will try for sure!), but if you truly adopt the attitude and, more importantly, know in your heart that they are just wrong, then it will be easier to deal with them.
Sure, you still may get that little surge of anger and want them to get their comeuppances sooner than later, and you may even want to be the one who administers those comeuppances, but just laughing at the things people believe about you really just puts you on the high road.
And everyone will notice that about you.
And even someone who might have believed a bully’s stories about you at first might just figure out on their own that you are the most reasonable, and therefore, the most believable person in the conversation.
Take the high road, and you’ll exponentially decrease your chances of getting bullied again. If you let the bully see where you’re most vulnerable, you’ll get dragged through the mud.
Remember you can’t be bullied unless you allow yourself to believe what they’re saying about you is true. If that’s how you really feel about yourself, then you’ll feel bullied. But if you turn it around in your head and think, “Wow, that person obviously doesn’t know me at all! I feel sorry for them because they believe in fairy tales”, then you’ll respond to them in a much more productive way.
When I started creating the outline of this episode, I wanted it to be all about cyberbullying. However, the more I thought about it and the more I wrote, the more I realized that all bullying is really a manifestation of our own thoughts and fears.
I’m not saying there aren’t bullies, but I am saying that it takes someone who doesn’t feel as empowered as they can be to be bullied. It takes someone who doesn’t feel confident or secure in themselves to be bullied.
You can’t be bullied if you know yourself and you feel secure in who you are.
However, who can do that? Who can be that fearless? I still get tiny little fears inside me when I meet very intimidating people. It takes real, conscious effort to be able to come into empowerment when I’m around these types of people.
It’s a mind game though. Most people aren’t out to physically hurt us, but sometimes we bring it to that level and feel bullied. Since we don’t know who really is going to hurt us or not, we can never seem to get to the level of confidence in ourselves that we want.
This is how all fear is based: You never know if this is the time you will be hurt.
But there’s really nothing wrong with a little fear to drive you. Having fear can create an amazing life. If you fear being hurt, maybe you’ll work out more and build your muscles. If you fear being broke, maybe you’ll do whatever it takes to make money.
Dare I say that the only thing to fear is not fear itself, but having no fear at all. This is when you are careless and step out into the street without looking both ways.
Fear can be powerful as long as you don’t let it control you. That’s what there is to fear. That’s what bullies do, they let their fear control them. And being controlled by fear is bullying… so you could say that bullies are actually bullied by their own fear.