The other day I saw a video on how to stop a bully from Brooks Gibbs. By his definition bullying is someone hurting my feelings. As a person who has been bullied as well as a bully, that video rang true from both perspectives. When I was bullied, my bullies really got under my skin and hurt my feelings. And when I was bullying, I wanted to hurt the feelings of that other person.
Brooks advice against bullying is very simple. “Don’t get upset no matter what they say.” Easier said than done. Especially when the person bullying you is someone you are fond of. Throughout my school years I fell in love with boys, but they rarely felt the same way about me. Usually I got the whole gang on my neck, laughing at me and at my feelings. Today those memories aren’t as painful as they have been, but I can feel those old scars. Finding and being with my True Love has helped a lot with getting over past traumas.
Being bullied made me a bully. Feeling like shit most of the days made me want to cause others to feel like shit as well. As a bully I was trying to get to a dominant position over the person I was bullying, and with that power make myself feel better. I don’t know if I managed to choose the person with the thickest skin, or if she just wasn’t paying any attention to what I said, but she tolerated my presence for several years. When I finally was mature enough to apologize my behavior during the earlier years, she commented that she hadn’t noticed anything. Again I’m not sure if she was telling the truth or if that was a defense mechanism from her side. Maybe my apology got her thinking, because we aren’t friends anymore.
When I was hospitalized and got bored being trapped inside, I started to bully my nurses. I was making mean and sarcastic comments, or giving one word answers as a form of passive-aggressiveness. Until one of the nurses came back to my room and confronted me. She asked directly what was wrong with me, why was I being so mean to them. And instantaneously I was ashamed of my behavior. When I shared my boredom and my wish to be at home, she talked with the doctor and by the end of the day I was allowed to go home. Less humiliating would have been to just ask directly. But I didn’t know that then.
Brooks demonstrates beautifully how kindness is an effective antidote to bullying. He points out that being nice to a bully causes an inner conflict in that person. And that’s what I experienced first hand with my nurse. My bullying had very little to do with my nurses and everything to do with myself. I think that this insight has helped me to understand my own bullies. They didn’t know how to handle my feelings, or their own. Trying to see the world from the other’s perspective releases a lot of pain and hurt.