A while back, I watched a film on Netflix about a young girl who was bullied. As with any other film I had seen about bullying, I thought I knew the ending. The bully would admit to wrongdoing and become a better person in life. The twist in this film was shedding light on some of the internal issues that were occurring for the person who was doing the bullying. This got me thinking about why people bully. In my work with young adults, I hear many heartbreaking stories of bullying and I watch too many young people internalize what a bully says about them. The truth is that most times people bully because there is something they do not like about themselves or something they cannot control, but they don't know how to express that or to take control over their lives. Even though their problems could have nothing to do with you, it affects you if you are the target of their misdirected anger. Unfortunately, I have seen bullying impact how individuals move through life. However, to those who are bullied, know that you are beautiful and awesome just the way you are. So for the young person who is bullied, here are a few things I want you to keep in mind:
1. It's not about you. There's nothing about you that is the reason a person is bullying you. It is an internal battle with the person as to why they're bullying others. It may be issues at home, a life circumstance they cannot control, and I have also seen cases where a bully is just more concerned with making sure they aren't hurt anymore that they do the hurting. So, you could be as nice as possible to this person, but chances are there is some self work and reflection that they need to do in order to work through some issues they may have. Again, it's not you.
2. They don't like themselves. A person who has to bully another is not content with themselves. Those who are content with themselves know that there is no need to make others feels small just so they can feel better about themselves. In fact, people who know who they are and are happy with who they are, flaws and all, are not worried about what the next person is doing. Rather, a content person wants to work on themselves to be the best person for themselves. A bully in not yet in this space.
3. They have a hard time accepting those different from themselves. Those who bully typically bully someone based on characteristics that they think they should or should not exhibit. However, if we were all the same, the world would be such a boring place. So, a bully likely has a hard time accepting those different from themselves or they don't know how to accept those different from themselves.
4. They need to feel included or feel they have power. It may be hard to believe, but a person who bullies needs to feel included or feel they have power in some way. If they didn't, they wouldn't need to bully. Bullying gives them a sense of power over another person because they want to be able to control the emotions of the person they bully. That's why you'll see a lot of bullies who get mad when the person they attack doesn't respond or show emotion. Their need to feel included comes from others thinking they are cool or have power because of the way they treat others. However, if you take away those who enable them (those who sit by while they hurt others) and their sense of power, there's not a lot left for them.
5. No one is perfect. Don't let someone who does not even know who they are try to tell you that you need to be perfect or exhibit certain characteristics to be accepted. Those who are meant to be in your life will accept you just as you are, flaws and all. You are just fine how you are and every strength or area of improvement is what makes you who you are. The world need you in your most genuine form because that's how you were made.
6. Don't let a bully define your worth. Last, but certainly not least, please don't let a bully define who you are, your worth, or the fact that you will achieve great things in the future. If you need to talk to someone, it's ok and there are a number of resources at your local school (i.e. high school counselor or counseling services for college students), and nationally such as stopbullying.gov that can assist with resources to help you through. But whatever you do, don't give up because the world needs you and your unique talents.
If you know someone who is bullied, please assist them with notifying the proper administration and seeking the appropriate help. They deserve a happy and prosperous life just as much as the next person. Resources can be found at stopbullying.gov and by consulting with your school counselor.