“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”Tim Fields
Bullies. They are more common than we’d like them to be. These people invade our space, sap our emotional energy and just generally ruin our days.
When You Meet a Bully
The thing is…bullies come in every shape, form, size, color and belief-system. Bullies aren’t always obvious at first. They might even be nice and amiable at first. But, they always end up showing their true colors.
The events of the last many years in the United States and indeed, the world, have appeared to bring out the worst in everyone. But the truth is, it isn’t everyone who has shown their worst. It, also, isn’t just in the last many years.
Reacting to Bullies
Many of us have been reacting to the inflammatory behavior of abrasive, abusive bullies all our lives. So many of us were raised right. We have remembered our upbringing. We have been shocked into responding to bad conduct. Many of us have been trying to assert ourselves against aggressors and against the blatantly cruel, to this day.
We are, after all, merely insisting that we be treated in a humane way and with dignity. This is the case, whether we are dealing with face-to-face encounters or virtual situations, a.k.a cyber-bullies.
What Bullying Is
Some forms of bullying are blatantly obvious. Most of us can recognize physical or verbal bullying. We find these forms of bullying extremely offensive and we should call out the bullies.
However, here, I am highlighting more subtle forms of bullying. The reason I do this, is because these descriptions have been highly instructive and eye-opening to me. Many of us hesitate to do anything when there is an absence of knowledge.
Definitions and Examples
When we don’t recognize certain acts or omissions against us as bullying, in the first place, we don’t act. According to the National Center Against Bullying in Australia, https://www.ncab.org.au/bullying-advice/, social bullying can include:
- lying and spreading rumors
- negative facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks
- playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate
- mimicking unkindly
- encouraging others to socially exclude someone
- damaging someone’s social reputation or preventing social acceptance (NB:edited for clarity).
The site also states, that cyber bullying can include:
- abusive or hurtful texts, emails or posts, images or videos
- deliberately excluding others online
- nasty gossip or rumors
- imitating others online or using their log-in.
The List of Rights
An article in Psychology Today entitled “8 Keys to Handling Adult Bullies”, dated November 6, 2016, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/bullying, states that you should know your ‘fundamental human rights’.
The article lists these ‘human rights’ as follows:
- The right to be treated with respect.
- The right to express your feelings, opinions and wants.
- The right to set your own priorities.
- The right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
- The right to get what you pay for.
- The right to have opinions different from others.
- The right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
- The right to create your own happy and healthy life.
In turn, the author states that these rights represent our boundaries. We have the power and moral authority to declare that it is us, and not bullies, who are in charge of our lives. I find this list above, particularly appealing because of my early legal training. The article lends clarity and certainty to a subject which is often minimized and downplayed. Therefore, these ‘rights’ serve as a powerful guide to what we will not compromise on.
“As long as you do not harm others, you have the right to stand-up for yourself and defend your rights. On the other hand, if you bring harm to others, you may forfeit these rights.”, says author, Preston Ni, in the article. I emphasize this because it is often the one who provokes with hostility, who then claims with equal aggressiveness, that his/her rights were stolen. So it is wise to examine ourselves first before pointing fingers.
Beat Back Bullies
In everything, remember that you have a voice. If you did nothing wrong and are sincere, respectful and polite, they should not attack you. Their actions should reflect their adherence to fairness. If you don’t insist on this, you enable more wrong-doing and bullying and abuse.
Remember, you deserve respect and kindness. If you don’t get these things from people, especially those who are in your life daily, distance yourself. Move on.
We need to acknowledge this truth. We can’t live happy, fulfilled lives if bullies invade us. So, what do we do? We call them out. We don’t let them think that what they do to us is okay. It is not.
Your life is precious. You deserve to spend your life growing, knowing and being. You are worth it.
NB: Revised and updated. First published in August 2020.
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