Ten Things I Learned From Being Bullied
May 6, 2012 Other 1970 Views
1. Bullying is an act of weakness. Bullying is learned behaviour, an ugly, destructive, ultimately futile, means to an end. Bullying is employed in a bid for security, popularity or as an act of displacement, to relieve boredom or stress. Bullying gives its perpetrators an addictive buzz which can become compulsive. A bully will base their entire identity around bullying. They become adept at disguising, justifying and excusing their behaviour to the point of having no self awareness or empathy for others. This makes it difficult for them to change. A bully's confidence is a facade built on shaky foundations. A confident person does not need to belittle, intimidate or abuse others to boost themselves. A confident person is emotionally healthy and has high self esteem. Bullying is the behaviour of a person with very little.
2. Bullying starts small. Bullies are skilled at what they do. Bullies target potential victims and then 'test the water' with a seemingly innocuous comment or action. They observe your expression, your body language and your response. A passive reaction feeds their confidence and leads to escalating attacks. An aggressive reaction can sometimes deter a bully, but often an aggressive reaction is exactly what a bully wants. An assertive comment or action, backed by confident body language and eye contact, is the most effective response.
3. There is no shame in being bullied. The majority of people experience bullying in some form, at some point in their life. You are never alone and bullying can only damage when you internalise it. I wasted a great deal of time thinking; 'Why me? What have I ever done to you?' until my esteem plumetted to the point that I felt I did deserve it. The best thing to do is be positive. Consider your options. Then take one step, however small, towards confronting the situation.
4. Bullying is so frightening, a victim will do anything to conceal the truth. Sports gave me a convenient excuse for the constant bruises, ripped clothes and broken glasses. And only I could hear the threats, taunts and insults in my head when I got home. But a victim's fear is very real and manifests in constant anxiety. Telling my parents would have been the best thing to do, but I thought this would only make things worse.. I disciplined myself to deny my emotions and to ignore the problem. I hoped they would get bored. I hoped one day it would just stop. I sought refuge at home every lunchtime, but never found permanent escape. I isolated myself and school became a test of endurance. In my eyes, everyone posed a threat. When I look at my old school photo now, I can see the strain I was under, the anger in my face.
5. Bullying changes people. As a victim, my bedroom became my world. I would retreat there at every opportunity and feign illness to avoid going to school. My confidence ebbed to nothing and I became introverted and painfully shy. I lost many things that I loved. Football and rugby were the two things I lived for and I played for school and club teams at both. But everything I did - good or bad, was criticised widely. Nothing I did met with approval. Nothing I did was right. The final straw was being bullied right in front of the sports master, who did nothing to intervene. I hated him for his passive acceptance. Rather than spend any more time with my tormentors, I quit the team. My enthusiasm was dead. Giving up rugby was for a long time my biggest regret.
6. Bullying places you into a 'Victim State.' This Is comprised of three things: Fear - Fight or flight causes you to freeze when bullied which prevents you from defending yourself. Shame - I wanted desperately to stand up for myself and felt ashamed that I couldn't. Self-Bullying - the bullies words became my thoughts and re-defined my self image to a very negative design. My inner voice would chastise me to the point that I was bullying myself. Eventually I began to tune into this 'inner voice' and challenge every destructive thought, replacing each negative with a positive. This simple habit changed my life.
7. Anger is healthy. You should feel angry about being bullied. But anger must be released in a healthy way. Anger should never be repressed and bottled up. I held my anger in until I became very ill. When I finally acknowledged how angry I felt, I opened myself up to a powerful energy. I learned to channel my anger in ways that helped me. I was predicted very low grades at GCSE, but my anger pushed me to achieve brilliant results. All emotions are just energy seeking direction - anger can be an empowering and creative force.
8. Fear is the fastrack to confidence. As a victim I was afraid of speaking up and fighting back. I became paralysed with fear at the prospect of speaking to people. In every aspect of my life, I was restricted. I hated the limitations my fears imposed and became incredibly determined to change my life. Identifying my fears took a lot of self honesty. Facing them was uncomfortable and often more frightening than the bullying itself. But I wanted to live a braver life. I took small steps to face my fear - first working in call centre where I had to speak to people eight hours a day. Even this was daunting and I remember the stammer in my voice when I took my first call. Within a week my fear had gone. Public speaking, acting and performing in public to large audiences, eventually became my profession. I set up my own company in 2003 and now deliver Anti-Bullying drama presentations and workshops to schools and educational settings throughout the UK. I learned that a bullies 'power' is an illusion. Only a victim's fear makes it real.
9. Sometimes In life you meet problems you can't solve on your own. There is no shame in asking for help and it is both brave and intelligent to do so. Anti-Bullying now has a Government focus and there is a real drive to tackle it by local authorities and schools. Young people today are very fortunate - there is a great deal of help available. No problem is permanent. You can overcome bullying. With the right support and guidance it's surprising how quickly you can turn your situation around.
10. You have to let things go. My bullied past is dead. I no longer recognise the frightened, bullied teenager In that school photo. It feels as if it happened to someone else. I knew I was ready to move on when I walked past one of my bullies in the street. For a split second, I froze, but quickly snapped out of it. I had no urge to be violent. I didn't need to hear an apology or ask him 'why?' I was able to walk past him, look him in the eye and smile. Everything I learned helped make me a stronger, more confident person. My anger is dead too. Life is short and there is no profit in hating others for what they did to you in the past.