Being bullied? I have good news and bad news. Let us start with the bad news: You are responsible.
Yes, I know, that sounds bad and, to be fair, it is the bad news. But let me explain:
Most people tend to think that when someone is bullied, the person doing the bullying is responsible and should be encouraged to stop. The school is rung, the situation discussed, the bully reprimanded, the person being bullied (I find the term ‘victim’ so misleading, as they are just as responsible as the person doing the bullying) is given counselling, parents are notified and then everyone prays that it will stop.
I do admit that the bully has their part of responsibility in the affair and I could write a whole article about why they are bullies; about the lack of self worth which pushes bullies to make others feel less good, thereby artificially increasing their own status; about the power that bullies crave which leads them to bully (and helping bullies who want to stop is a part of what I do – it just doesn’t often happen) and why they crave that power (but then again, why do governments crave power? Or big corporates? Or anyone for that matter?). However in this article I would like to focus on the person being bullied and their part of the responsibility.
If you have ever been surrounded by a group of children or teenagers, you will not have missed how they speak to each other. “You’re fat!” “You’re stupid!” They are constantly pointing out (usually negative) things about other people. Things which adults have learned not to comment on – at least not in the presence of the person being criticised. “La vérité sort de la bouche des enfants” (truth comes out of children’s mouths) is a maxim I heard a lot growing up and with 4 children, I can verify its dependability – independently of whether or not that truth could hurt the other or not.
So why do some start being called names more often? Is it really because they ARE fat, stupid, slow, handicapped etc? To start looking for an answer, let us ask the question the other way around: Are there any children who are fat, stupid, slow, disabled etc. who are NOT picked on and/or bullied? I’m not sure about your group of youngsters, but I have seen my fair share. So what is it? Why are some bullied and not others?
That’s where the good news comes in: You are responsible.
If you are responsible, you have the power to do something about it. You can influence whether or not you are bullied, or stop it if it is happening. A lot of people think you can stop being bullied by learning to fight. Though this is often true, the actual reason is not that you now know how to defend yourself. The key to understanding why you are being bullied is to look at your reaction.
When someone says to you, “you’re so fat!” your reaction will dictate whether or not they have any power over you and your reactions. Can they influence how you feel and how you (re)act just using words and body language? If so, they will continue doing it, because they crave that power. They crave the ability to make you feel bad, so they feel good. It gives them a sense of self worth. But you can take that power away by changing your reaction. It is possible to learn to control one’s reactions and one’s actions. When you do, the bully loses their control over you and therefore leaves you alone.
This is actually what happens when someone learns to fight: They become more sure of themselves and therefore react differently. However they do not need to spend 1-2 years learning to fight before the bullying can stop. They can change their reactions in a few weeks, if not less. They may need to get some specialised, independent help in understanding what their reactions currently are and how they can change them (this is a part of what I do), but it is possible. I have seen it happen many a time.
So if you are being bullied and would like it to stop (believe it or not, some people are not ready to stop being bullied), there are several steps you can take:
- Check out the website knowthesigns.co.nz which has a lot of very useful information about how to deal with bullying (also for parents)
- Take responsibility for your situation, examine and alter your reactions to ensure you are not giving the bully power
- If you cannot do this alone (it is usually very difficult alone), contact (or have your parents contact) an outside agent who can work with you to help you understand how you are currently reacting, why that is leading to the bullying and how you can react differently.
If you would like more information about me and the work I do with young people, including helping them take the power back from bullies, check out my website: KanukaSimpson.com, or connect with me through facebook, Linkedin, or by email.