According to Wikipedia, bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate others…but you and I both know that there’s a lot more to bullying and being bullied than that.
It’s all about the horrible feeling deep in the pit of your belly when you wake up in the morning. It’s knowing that someone is going to make your life a misery today….and the next day….and the day after that. You know this to be true, because they did it yesterday and the day before and the day before that and it makes you feel sick….and mad…and powerless. You want to fight back, but you can’t.
This is a subject very close to my heart. In my book, I cover a great deal about bullying at school. I know a lot about it from an up close and personal point of view, because I was once a victim of bullying and it went on for years.
My introduction to bullying began in year 4 and continued until the end of school. I attended an all boys’ school and was treated to the harsh effects of it, both directly and indirectly. I was spat at, had my hair pulled and I was put in head locks. I was shoved, punched and endured fist fights and endless name calling. Being ganged up on left me an emotional wreck at the age of 12.
Going through this systematic abuse for so many years was bad enough but the after effects of feeling continually frustrated and confused, with feelings of rage and anger which soon turned me into a simmering stew of spite. That was even worse.
I felt an overpowering sense of shame which was magnified every time the bully picked on me in front of his friends. It affected my self-confidence and those negative and extremely damaging feelings filtered through into every other aspect of my life including causing me to lack self-esteem. It became difficult for me to trust anyone, including the people closest to me, like my parents.
If bullying is not stopped, the child who is victimised can suffer a lifetime of negative repercussions. The snowball effect that it creates can infect everything. Of course, it will affect your grades in school, but think about what that means. Lower marks could make people think you’re lazy, indifferent or not very clever. If teachers make those sorts of decisions about you, then it alters how they would otherwise treat you and this of course can have long-term effects throughout your career.
Bullying can also cause you to retreat from friends and family, negatively affecting your social skills and creating a dangerous situation of bad habits that can run away with you. In extreme circumstances, you can develop self destructive habits, taking drugs, smoking, drinking in the misguided belief that these substances dull the pain you’re always feeling. Or you could be led down a path of social isolation which can lead to self-harm and possibly even suicide.
Other side effects can be financially destructive. Your parents or guardians are paying the cost of your education in the expectation that you will fulfil your potential and be able to eventually stand on your own two feet. The terrible effects of being bullied can stop that from happening and you and your parents will be left to pick up the pieces of destroyed ambition and wrecked self-esteem caused by the person or people who bullied you.
If you’re a parent who is sending your child to a school where they are being affected by bullying, even if your child is not the direct victim, their performance can drop, their health can be affected detrimentally. In extreme cases, if they snap, there could be harm to your child, to bystanders and to the bully and his followers resulting in messy and expensive court cases and medical bills which can potentially lead to tens of thousands of dollars.
The effects of bullying eventually turned me into a self-righteous vengeful student. I was hell-bent on getting back at anyone who messed with me, until one day I teetered on the edge of a dreadful decision.
It nearly cost me my life and it most certainly would have ended the bully’s.
I didn’t go ahead with it, but I cannot tell you how much, in that moment, I really wanted to. It scared me how badly I wanted to make that bully stop breathing, because I thought, then and only then he would have to stop hurting me.
I was just able to catch myself before I did the deed
I walked away trying to soothe myself by saying “Ok, he was at my mercy. I had him and I could have easily maimed or killed him.”
This systematic bullying throughout my school years was extremely hard to deal with. Even after I left school, it took years of living with low self-esteem and frustration for what I went through. It should never have happened to me and it should never again happen to anyone else.
Those of us who are, or have been bullied, usually have an insatiable thirst for justice and retribution. This can consume us, tainting everything we do and every relationship we have. Our energy gets sucked into a deep dark hole of anger, bitterness and frustration about the past. Even though the bullying is long since over, we spend too much of our precious time reliving dreadful events and feeling small and powerless whenever we think about what we endured. Because of that, we’re wasting our grown-up lives too. We spend a lot of time focused on the hope that our antagonist gets theirs in the end.
Bullies can be very clever.
Even though there are rules in schools and laws in society that are supposed to protect us, they find a way around them.
These days, many bullies hide behind their computers and troll you if they think you are a worthy target to spend their time on. You don’t even see them coming. You’re seldom equipped to deal with them because they’ve been bullies for a very long time and know the playbook by heart.
To a child or teenager, this just doesn’t seem fair!
However, as utterly distasteful or even devastating as these acts of bullying are, they can be used as preparation for your life in the workforce or in your career.
You see, bullying never really stops.
Here, though, is where coaching comes into play.
Learning to bully-proof yourself is just as important as locking your house every day when you go out.
Bully-proofing is like setting the alarm. You learn what to look for. You learn how to get help. You learn how to cope with the danger signals and you learn to protect yourself.
There are defences you can develop and employ.
One final thing about bullying that I would like to make absolutely sure you understand…
If you choose to deal with a bully by being outwardly aggressive and/or if you seek revenge out of spite, it might, at first, be a great discouragement to your antagonist. They may even give up, but it leads you down a dark path that eventually takes your power away from you.
There are better ways.
If you are finding yourself confronted with this issue and are worried about the consequences of bullying for yourself and your loved ones, but are not sure how to effectively help, reach out to me here...
Contact: David Gillman - The Mindset Mechanic