This is the beginning of a series of posts on bullying. As I have been researching and studying the psychological ramifications of bullying and what we can do to stand up for ourselves against those bullies (with the intention of writing a book), I’ve decided to begin sharing some of my thoughts and findings. I welcome any feedback and personal thoughts. This will target mostly adult bullying, although it can all be applied to bullying at all ages. Adult bullying takes on many forms that we are all quite familiar with: workplace harassment, discrimination, manipulation, abusive relationship dynamics, scapegoating, etc.
The act of bullying is not always conscious. Still, at the heart of it, there’s a drive to manipulate and dominate another for one’s own purpose. It can be a desire to be in control, an expression of one’s profound insecurity, a reliving of relationship patterns learned in childhood. In reality, bullying can sometimes be so subtle that we don’t even notice that it is happening. And yet, the pillars of bullying are the same in the subtle acts as in the openly aggressive ones.
“Bullying is harmful. In the workplace, it can lead to job loss. It can break up friendships and alienate family members. It can occur in person or online through Facebook, internet groups, or email. It can happen through texting.” (J. Harmon, 2012) All means of interaction are, in and of themselves, a neutral means of communication that can be used as a means of bullying. A conversation can turn into an anger venting session, an email can turn into a long range attack where the aggressor inflicts pain while delaying or ignoring the victim’s response to the attack, groups and gatherings can turn into means of excluding and discriminating against others for various reasons (beliefs, social status, popularity, race, gender, etc.).
I grew up being faced with a ton of bullying throughout primary school and high school, until I started to stand up for myself. As a young adult, I figured that my self-esteem struggles were the result of how mean the other kids were being towards me. In a way, that was true. It did deter my self-esteem development off the right course, but the damage wasn’t beyond healing. Thanks be to God, I was able to rebuild my self-esteem in my adult years. Today, I realize that the worst bullying I’ve had to face is in my adult life: manipulations from other adults to get what they wanted from me while disregarding the price I have to pay for their selfish gain, employers using my paycheque/job as leverage to get away with setting a toxic work environment to suit their personal goals or vent their insecurities, passive-aggressive attitudes that do nothing but dump negativity or vent anger, etc. As adults, bullies get creative in how they carry out their bullying. Those ways are often subtle and therefore difficult to pick up on.
Who have the bullies been in your own life? What have they done to you? What was the price to pay to stand up for yourself or to submit to the abuse? Before we can truly begin the healing process, we need to find answers to those questions.
Sneak peek for future posts:
All acts of bullying have common denominators: the damage they can cause and the means they use. The common denominators are also the key to understanding how to withstand the assault and break free from such relationships.
Reposted and altered at http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=4080