I understand bullying. I have an intimate and deeply personal knowledge of bullying. Going way back to the day I was born. I am nearly 70 now and I can tell you, I wish I had known decades ago what I know now. My life would have been totally different.
I was the younger brother of a fierce bully with whom I had to share a room for 15 years. I still shiver at the recollection of those terrifying days and nights.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst of it was that I carried that feeling of being a “victim” around with me throughout decades of my precious life and I practically gave every bully who came along permission to bully me. I may as well have carried a sign on my backside that said “kick me”. I did that by assuming the “victim” position whenever I encountered a bully and they readily obliged me.
Is it any wonder that I chose to become a Behavioural Psychologist?
If you know anything about bullying, you know that a bully is constantly looking for someone weaker than they are to show the world how strong and powerful and superior they are. You probably also know that most bullies are themselves lacking severely in self-confidence and they use bullying as a way of building themselves up to quiet that feeling of “they’re going to find that I’m not good enough”.
Bullies have been around forever and they will continue to be around forever. No use wishing otherwise. Joining a support group of other “victims” who are there to let you know that you are not alone in your grieving doesn’t make the problem go away either.
The surest and most effective way that I have found of avoiding being bullied for the rest of your life is to convey a clear and unquestionable message to every prospective bully that you are not a victim and that they can go and pick on someone else.
Why does that work? Because the typical insecure bully does not want to be shown up by anyone. They look for the easy prey and latch on. Since there are plenty of easy prey to go around, they would rather move on than risk having their precious self-esteem bruised by someone who stands up to them. There are countless examples of this in the literature and in the film industry.
How then do you stand up to a bully? You do by shedding the “victim” mentality. You learn to observe your reaction to a bullying encounter, to recognize the symptoms that are almost always outside of your conscious awareness because they have been running on automatic for so long.
It took me a long time to “see” myself retreating, to see the fear in my eyes, to feel the adrenaline rush, to notice the reddening of my skin, the urge to run away, the hunching of my shoulders, the clenching of my teeth, the sweaty palms, the chill traveling up my spine, the knot in the pit of my stomach, and worst of all the assumption that I was helpless.
It took me even longer to find the right people to teach me how to reprogram my brain to instantly switch from a position of “victim” to a position of “STRENGTH” whenever confronted by a bully in every area of my life. Because the bully’s sphere of pseudo-domination is not restricted to the school grounds. Bullies are everywhere and they touch every area of our lives.
We are ever so fortunate to live in the age of neuroscience. At no time before have we had access to such an abundance of readily available knowledge, skills, expertise, tools and techniques to tweak our amazing brains and change the way we think, act and feel so we get more enjoyment out of life, feel happier, less scared, anxious, depressed and frustrated, more self-confident and able to successfully overcome challenges in our day-to-day lives.
Yes, I still do feel the automatic “fight or flight” reaction but I now use it as an anchor for my brain to immediately switch into my position of “No, I am not and will not be your victim today or ever. Move on please.”
And I teach the stuff now. It’s my way of getting back at every bully who ever dared cross my path.
Change your brain ~ Change your life