School bullies have been all over the media lately. It’s a sad truth for today’s youth. Equally unfortunate is the truth that most adults are privy to… bullies exist in healthy numbers well beyond the high school years. Below are some thoughts on dealing with bullies from an energetic standpoint.
The Adult Bully
Have you ever had to face an adult bully head on? The tactics of the bully (before they are seen clearly) can be so subtle, manipulative and confusing… that before you know it…your self esteem has plummeted and it begins affecting your connection with yourself. Other times they are neither subtle nor confusing…you know exactly what is happening as it happens and it’s horrible. Bullies are often master controllers who look for weakness and prey on an individual’s sore spots and buttons. They find what will really weaken a person and boom…they slowly or quickly begin to dismantle the person. They are also feeding on the Victim’s victim energy.
How We Maintain Ourselves as Victims
For years after a bullying or abusive event, we may continue to hold a strong image of the bully as a horrible person, a perpetrator and a monster. These views can be terribly hard to shake. After all, we have a lot invested in making them wrong, making them the attacker and keeping ourselves the victim.
Benefits of Staying Victim
So, why would anyone want to maintain themselves as a victim? Lots of reasons, actually. The victim gets to stay in very low energy, in blame energy, in depression perhaps. They can give the responsibility of their woe to others. Thus never taking full responsibility for their own life and experience. They may want someone to rescue them or save them but are not willing to do what it takes to save themselves. And for many it has just become a very bad habit and they don’t have the first clue as to how they can shift, change or stop it. Sometimes they are so beaten down; they have completely stopped believing their life could be any better.
Some argue for the “true victim”… about how people who are victimized ARE victimized and they did NOT ask for it, attract it or have anything to do with it. And this is completely possible for those who have the rare experience. However, many who talk about victimization often have many other stories like it. People who are victims (over and over) have plenty of evidence for their belief, plenty. It’s not just a one-time thing. So how does that happen? Did they sign up for a life of victimization before they got here? Are they such a bad person that this is their lot in life? Do they just have bad luck? Remember we’re talking about chronic victimization, the person who has repeated victim experiences over and over and over.
Until We Heal Our Victim Mentality, It Will Continue To Show Up
While working on some interpersonal relationship stuff a couple of years ago, I realized that I had found myself in another situation where I was seeing myself victim. I sat up and thought; “well, hello to that again…I know this…this bad feeling”. “Someone is doing something to ME again, dang it.” “THEY must stop.” And then it dawned on me that just like with the bully a while back…it takes two to tango.
The victim is equally responsible as the bully. Though not the perpetrator, the victim continues to allow themselves to be victim. If you are not the bully’s victim then it doesn’t happen, right? One solution is always just to leave, find a way out, and remove yourself. But sometimes this is not what you want. There may be competing factors. Leaving is ALWAYS an option but may not be the most appealing. So what can you do to NOT dance with the bully when they are still in your life.
All Healing Contains Self Love
One of the first places to focus is self love. And here is something that may be hard to swallow… if we let ourselves be abused, we must think (on some level) that’s it’s okay for us to be abused and clearly we do not fully love ourselves. We’re actually bullying and abusing ourselves by continuing the relationship within its bully dynamic. So, doing work around self love is a good place to start. Do we love ourselves enough to let go of the rope? There’s always a rope, like a tug of war. Without two tugging…what happens? Nothing. Could you do it? Could you leave the rope on the ground?
Have you ever noticed that some people just don’t have those experiences? It’s as if no one would dare bully them or that type of experience just isn’t in their life. And if someone tries, it just doesn’t stick. What is was going on with these folks? How do they feel about themselves?
Do I hear you asking: “What? I just stand there and take it?” Who says you have to stand there?
A Brave Workplace Solution
Back a couple of years ago, my solution to the bully crisis was to write a short speech. I took it to our meetings. The plan was this: when she began her bullying, I would take out the card and read it to her and then promptly leave the room. It was something like: “The way you are speaking to me now is unprofessional and abusive. At this point, I am going to remove myself from this conversation. If you would like to continue on this topic at another time, I am open to considering it. When we meet, it is required that you speak to me with respect and professionalism.” Something like that. Actually it was much better, but you get the drift.
I got to use this speech or a variation of it…just once. And boy, she did not like it and it started a whole other storm that eventual led me to removing myself from the situation permanently. I will say however, that this action turned the tide for me. I am proud I said it. Proud that I did it and proud that I loved myself enough to save myself. Was it the right solution? Who knows, but it was for me at the time. In the end, leaving was my best defense.
The Bully’s Game – If You Don’t Play….
What is clear is this… the bully or anyone else who feels the need to throw barbs, manipulate or control others is operating from some pretty unhealthy patterns and programs of their mind. It’s as though they live in their own bullring and when people step in….they test you to see if you’ll play their game with them: they being the matador and you being the bull. If you’re open to it, they’re gonna get ya! But here’s the brilliance: the bullring isn’t a location; it’s an agreement, a game, the fitting of two puzzle pieces. In other words it doesn’t happen… IF YOU DON’T PLAY.
We All Play Parts
This means looking at how you have been engaging the bully. A. taking in what they say, b. throwing barbs or abuse back, c. blaming them, d. hating them, e. vilifying them, f. arguing with them, g. telling them how they hurt you, h. asking them to stop, etc. are all ways in which you are engaging with THEM in THEIR GAME and on THEIR TERMS. All of the above actions are really just reinforcing you as victim. We may think that standing up for ourselves is the thing to do…as I did a while back…but for many bullies…it feeds their fire…ah…”I’m really getting to them now!” “Let’s see how we can make them squirm even more!” etc.
Let’s go back to the analogy of the bullring, the matador and the bull. So for whatever reason you’re still near the bully. You’re still required to interact. Perhaps you’ve taken steps to decrease your interactions with the bully. Perhaps that is not an available option now. How do you interact and not become their victim?
Suggestions for NOT ENGAGING
Anytime they throw a barb or start their process, you can 1. Either let that projectile sail right past you… (recognizing it’s just their horrible game and the words are their game weapons) or 2. Imagine yourself floating above and the weapons they sling are down in the bullring and as long as you float above (in a peaceful, self loving place) they can throw weapons but they won’t pierce you, because in a sense, you’re not there.
Recognizing the Bully’s Game and What They Want
*You’ve realized that the words they say to you…are carefully selected and especially for you! Like a nastigram invitation to play with them. They use your most hurtful “sadnesses” and wounds TO GET YOU TO ENGAGE, just to get you to play and to exchange energy with them. That’s it! They learned somewhere…that this is the “best” way for them to engage with people. As icky as it is…it’s a fact of human life these days. Some people in the world hurt in order to get attention or control or to maintain their belief that they are a bad person.
Whatever game they have going…it’s not your job to fix it or help them. It’s your job to stop playing victim. If you’re not engaging, YOU DON’T pick up the rope, you don’t get involved with the energy exchange. You don’t get hit, you don’t catch it and you don’t throw it back. Period.
The Bully’s Addictions
This means staying calm, ignoring their attack or removing yourself from the situation. If you don’t pick up the rope…it can’t go on very long. Depending on the bully, they may stop, get confused, escalate the attack or take a different tack. They still want that energy they used to get from you, from your interaction. They are addicted to those chemicals that their brain released when they affected you or when they wield control over your emotions. Again, it’s not yours to figure out. Your job is to love yourself enough to know the truth about you and to live in it…no matter what the world says or tries to get you to believe.
Continue to Play or Stop?
In the end, we’re each just playing out our own little plays and most of us will repeat our plays with whoever shows up and is willing to play. As you are showing up to be their victim, they are showing up to be your bully…so that both of you can repeat your drama once again. This will continue until the day you stop playing. If you don’t stop playing now, you’ll most likely pick up the rope with someone else.
Deciding your highest truth about yourself and how you’d like to show up in the world is your job. Futzing around with someone playing mind games…is only your job if you make it your job, if you say yes. You always have a choice. Always. There is no justification juicy enough that relieves you of your responsibility for yourself. You can run from it for years and blame everyone else but in the end you will find…you are the captain of your own ship. You are the master of your life and always have been, even when you gave your power away.
*If you are in physical danger, please contact the police. This article is not suggesting anyone stay in an abusive situation.
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