‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’ says Maya Angelou
Surprisingly, for such a common experience, there is currently no legal definition of bullying. Maybe this is because it is such a difficult thing to describe.
Symbol or metaphor can help here. In my Dramatherapy practice a teenage client, shoulder’s hunched, head down described a girl in her ‘friendship group’ who made her feel like ‘smog’. The thick, polluted invisible nature of this particular type of fog really helped her explore the unkindness she was experiencing. Talking to friends, family, or with a therapist can lessen the isolation of these situations.
Bullying can be described as repeated behaviour that is intended to hurt someone either emotionally or physically, and is often aimed at certain people because of their age, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation or any other aspect such as appearance or disability.
Bullying affects lots of people and can happen to anyone at any place including school, work, within families, or in a community. Nowadays, we often hear the devastating impact of cyberbullying on celebrities who are at the receiving end of cruel, anonymous comments.
It can take many forms including:
…..and we can probably all add more examples to this list.
What can we do when this happens to us or someone we care about?
It can be hard to try and understand someone who is a bully and often the last thing we want to try and do. Why should we? It’s them who are doing the damage but like most things in life, knowledge IS power, so trying to gain an insight into WHY this person is behaving in this destructive way can go a long way to helping us manage the situation. Bullies often have low self-esteem and will bully others to try and feel higher status. This does not excuse their behaviour but goes a long way to explain why they act in this way.
Untangling what belongs to them and what belongs to you can really help. Giving back and not accepting what they are giving you can be a powerful tool.
Where possible, try to look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective which can help us see how the person is motivated by their own reasons and actually it has very little to do with us. Gaining some distance can really help.
Building our own resilience
Try these simple creative techniques to support you through difficult times:
Finally, for every person who finds themselves being bullied, there is someone who is doing the bullying. Gaining support to work out why this is happening is important: confiding in friends and family or seeking professional support can be a first step to moving forward and living a happier and kinder life.