article by By Robert Higgs
I was being bullied I was given some parental advice:
hit them back." One line. So simple. My dad didn't
even look up from the TV.
all of us who have been bullied I was in a 'victim state'
advice was useless to me. In the grip of my own fear,
ashamed at my own perceived weakness and with a habit
of bullying myself, hitting my tormentors was the very
last thing I felt capable of.
some years on I look back at my bullied existence and
find it hard to believe it was me. I currently provide
anti-bullying training to schools all over the UK and
am the author of 'What Have I Ever Done To You?'
(Pegasus Books)-the self help guide to overcoming
found answers and gained empirical insight into the
problems that once overwhelmed me and I wanted to share
some of them with you!
always ask me "What's the worst thing about being
bullied?" Their eyes probe for teary eyed confessions
of bruises, threats and the smack of punches landing
on your face. But what is the worst thing? Is it the
bottled up anger that leads to social paralysis, leaving
you shy and withdrawn from the world? Is it the paranoia
that makes you see a threat in everyone you meet and
makes you hear insults in every word spoken? No. The
worst thing is that lonely feeling just after it's happened.
That realisation deep inside that even the fear and
the shame can't smother. You know you should do something
about it but you don't know what.
the lack of an answer that plagues you as bullying takes
over your every waking moment and invades your dreams
at night. A single instruction to fight back doesn't
hold water in a bully/victim relationship that is thriving
on your own fear. Then there's the questions you always
ask yourself-'why me?' you scream inside everytime they
shoot words at you like bullets. 'Where's my smile gone?'
you say as you look in the mirror and see a person you
no longer recognise staring holes in you.
with every day that slips by in apathy you sink a little
lower like a tent peg being bashed into the ground.
The insults become your thoughts and lead to a 'victim
state' that endures through life until you swap passivity
for hard earned confidence with strong roots.
in truth the bullies aren't important, they're just
predators trying to add a little strength to their insecurity
by feeding off you. But the seemingly all powerful bully
soon disappears when you develop yourself internally
and start changing thoughts that belittle into thoughts
that build you up. Bullies and victims attract each
other. When you kill the victim inside, you kill the
I thought the worst thing about bullying was seeing
it as a permanent problem. Now I know different- all
things pass in time. All the quicker if you yourself
make it so.
how do you do this?
are ten steps to follow:
1: Admit the problem to yourself. If you don't acknowledge
bullying and live in denial you cannot move beyond it.
2: Tell someone else. Bullying thrives on silence.
Tell everyone you know you are being bullied. Break
the code of secrecy that binds you invisibly to the
bully. When friends and family know about the problem
are in a position to help and support you.
3: Find your breaking point. We all have one with
regards bullying. Don't repress your anger, push it
through to the point where you decide 'enough is enough.'
4: As a 'victim' you've been playing a role. It's
learned behaviour. The positive thing about that is
you can unlearn it. Be honest with yourself. Write down
the fears that are keeping you a victim. Bullies are
just mirror images of the fears we all have inside.
Whether it's a fear of verbal or physical confrontation,
a fear of looking weak or of making the problem worse
write it down.
5: Committ yourself to confronting the fear. Do
this in small steps. My own fears were of physical and
verbal confrontation. I pushed myself to take a job
that required me to speak to the public constantly in
a 40 hour week and took up boxing training, eventually
taking the step of sparring in the ring. The confidence
I grew changed my life beyond measure and the bullies
disappeared. They no longer had a target.
6: Confront your shame. It's a natural feeling if
you're being bullied but don't continue to succumb to
it. You are not alone but rather one of millions who
are bullied in schools, workplaces and homes. Bullies
are the people who should be ashamed. Don't make their
job easier for them by feeling this way.
7: Overcome the self-bullying habit. We all have
an inner voice in our heads that reads our thoughts
to us. Pay constant attention to it. As a 'victim' the
voice tends to repeat the bullies insults and threats
and attaches to thoughts that destroy your self image.
Try this self talk technique: When you hear the voice
talking negatively shout STOP in your head. You will
cut the voice off mid sentence. Then replace the words
with a positive statement about yourself.
8: Develop a defence against any possible bullying
attack. If the bullying is physical you could enrol
in a self protection class. If the bullying is verbal
try this verbal technique. When attacked with words
practise saying a short, assertive statement back. For
example, 'You could be right' or smile and say 'thanks
very much.' Bullying is about intention. The bully wants
one thing from you: A distressed reaction. Ending the
bullying is all about training yourself not to give
the bully the reaction they want.
9: Use 'I' statements when talking to yourself and
others. For example: 'I' am doing really well. 'I' like
my new clothes. 'I' am a great person. These are all
effective because they project confidence and they do
not lead you into a slanging match with a bully. Never
ask a bully for approval. Witholding validation is one
way bullies maintain power. A bully will never give
you approval because they would lose their power. That's
why with a bully you feel you can never do anything
right. It's the bullies way of keeping their victim.
10: Develop a new attitude. Life is full of opportunity
and is too short to live a bullied existence. Make the
development of confidence your ongoing goal and put
a stop to the bullying in your life. Good luck!
for further information.