I’ve heard a lot in the media lately about fighting bullying; combating bullying; and stamping out bullying. That’s a relief on one hand, because when and where I grew up, bullying seemed to be cool, and everyone just wanted to get on the side of the bully.
And now I see people taking the opposite point of view, which is a relief, because anyone who’s been bullied can tell you — it’s not pretty.
From from my vantage point now, I can see that this languaging around bullying is probably going to have short-term value but none in the long run. These bullies are not actually in a good place, you know.
If someone can only feel good by beating someone else down, then beating them down in return won’t be sustainable. You can’t beat somebody into a feeling of peace and acceptance of their fellow man.
I’m not suggesting that we condone or allow the behavior. In fact, I think we need to teach bullies that they are NOT their behavior. There is more to them than their behavior.
Let’s look at the analogy of fighting fire with fire. It works. It works really, really well in some circumstances. But eventually, you’re either going to have to use water or you’re going to have to dig a control line, which is a really, really wide strip of deforested land that prevents spread. Eventually, the fire burns out on its own.
For most of us, we automatically dig those control lines around people we don’t like. We just don’t call them, hang out with them, or do business with them. When we try to change them, we get bitten. When we try to argue with them, we find out that they are better fighters than we are — more practice.
On the other hand, if we try to soothe them or placate them, which is analogous to pouring water on the flames, bullies take it to mean that we approve of or enjoy their bullying. Yes, they are that crazy. So most people choose to dig a control line instead of pouring soothing water on the fire.
There are some people who are wonderful at helping bullies connect the dots. They are very talented at making bullies see that they have more to offer than destructive behavior, and also that they’ve harmed a lot of people and that in the long run, they’d be happier if they were just … well, happy. Happy people don’t bully.
But the discussion wouldn’t be complete unless we brought in the other side, which is that bullied people tend to become likely to meet up with more bullies. These are the people I like to work with, because that’s where I used to be.
And, if you’ve been bullied, it’s not your fault. You didn’t cause it. Only the bully lifted his or her arms to hit, or his or her voice to demean. That’s their side of the street.
The point is, do you want to keep attracting bullies into your life? If you still keep finding these people in your life, despite doing everything all the self-help books are telling you, then you just haven’t found the secret that it took me 59 years to find out about.
Keep seeking, because there is help for you.
Did you like this post? Please let me know – it keeps me going. And please feel free to let me know what you’ve already tried in the comments, and what’s working for you now.