A bully is someone who uses fear and violence to create some form of harm or intimidation in order to satisfy a goal. Bullies are aggressive, unprovoked, and don’t let up. A bully can use a position of greater strength or size to prey upon the small and weak. A bully’s tactics can be used to threaten someone in a menacing way or to exclude someone from a group or circle of friends. Why do they do it? Maybe it is just because they can. Ultimately, a bully creates an imbalance of power so great that it’s just miserable being anywhere near them.
Today, bully prevention is a popular topic in schools across the nation. I have watched as the concept exploded across the country, have close friends involved in the movement and I have nothing but support for the awareness of this sad epidemic.
Why am I so passionate about it? I got bullied as a kid.
Maybe you remember the scenario: getting embarrassed in front of groups for essentially just being yourself; hiding out and ducking around corners to avoid the bully; and, perhaps most tragic of all, trying your absolute hardest to be anyone but yourself and slowly suffering the consequences for it.
Does this describe any bullies you know or used to know? Well maybe you left one bully in your life out. Did you ever think that your worst bully of all could actually be you?
If a majority of a bully’s strength comes from producing paralyzing fear of what might happen, maybe you might be doing a little bullying on yourself? From “convincing” yourself that “you’re not good enough” or beating yourself up over something to did in the past to skipping a night out because you’re worried about looking silly or not measuring up to expectations, it’s all just a bully-block in your head.
Awareness programs are certainly valuable, but one flaw I see lies in that they don’t teach us to bully-proof ourselves! Sure, it is noble to teach us to recognize and address bullying when we see it happening to others, but what about in our heads where only we can see? Time to shut this bully down, but before you can, you must recognize when this bullying is happening and that it comes from within. Only then can you can do something about it.
Here are a few classic signs you have a bully in your head:
- You tell yourself you are not talented.
- You tell yourself you aren’t good enough (whether it be looks, money, job, relationships).
- You beat yourself up over something that happened in the past.
- You tell yourself you won’t be able to make something happen in the future.
- You physically do the wrong things to yourself in order to remain part of the crowd (eat bad food, not enough sleep, skipping training).
How To Beat The Bully
Any of these sound familiar? Then it is time to give this Bully a little “tough love.” I was taught that the best way to defeat a bully is to stand up to them, and I think this advice holds true for the bully in your mind. Time to change those negative internal messages into positive reminders you can do and be anything you put your mind to. Instead of beating yourself up, creating and repeating positive affirmations are a great way to reprogram the “little voice” in your head.
If you are not so aggressive, you can also turn your back on the bully. When you ignore the negative messages your internal bully is saying, you remove his or her power. Once you get good at this, then the best thing is to move forward in the face of what the bully is warning you against. You do this by acting on the precise thing the bully said not to do. Join that gym. Ask for that date or that raise. Book that trip. The more action you take against the bully’s wishes, the less fear you’ll feel until you realize there was nothing to be scared of all along. With all the courageous action you’ll be taking, the bully will have no choice but to eventually go away.
The good news about childhood bullies is that people grow up. You probably realize now many of the things you were bullied about are not relevant in your adult world. The bully in our head, however, doesn’t age the same way, so we still may beat ourselves up about things that aren’t that big in the grand scheme of things.
My advice? Time To Grow Up. Time to take control of your life. Time to say with conviction, “Bye Bye Bully.”
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