“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.” Harvey S. Firestone
Bully: a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people .
Bullies come in all sizes, shapes, races, and sexes. I have known a few in my day; in fact, I have one in my life right now. He's not so intimidating to me, although I have to give him credit, he sure tries hard! He has actually been pretty successful at it with other people. There are many, many people who have gone into hiding to keep out of his line of fire. He is a big man, so his mere size can be intimidating. He's got a big voice, which is intimidating. He is very intelligent, which he uses as a hammer. He holds a powerful position, so he is free, he believes, to exert his authority over whomever he feels necessary, whenever he feels necessary, and that is pretty much everybody and every day.
So why does this man believe he is allowed to be a tyrant (another word for bully)? Because, ultimately, he has very little control in his life. He feels he must control something, so he picks the weaker people around him to exert his 'authority.' I don't know what his past looked like except that I know he had a step-father, which means something happened at some point in his life with his father. What I know of this man's life today is that he is married to a woman who is extremely critical of everyone and everything. If you look up the words 'control freak' I'm pretty sure you'll find her picture. She is belittling and a bully in her own right. Some people call him 'hen-pecked.' Others use words not so child-friendly.
This man runs rough-shod over anyone who might attempt to think for themselves or to make a decision without his knowledge. In his words, "I am the boss! Everything goes through me!" And should you decide to make a decision for yourself, you can be assured that he will make it his goal in life to point out all the reasons you are wrong, whether you are or not. He does a very good job of chewing you out, but he will tell you while he's doing it that he is not. (If it's not chewing out, it's a darned good facsimile)!
Most people who have attempted to talk this problem over with him, have come away feeling even worse than when they started. They feel tromped on and belittled. They feel like something that got stuck to your shoe. And, like all victims, they just have given up. They feel absolutely powerless around him. These folks are powerful people in our community, but because of the way they've been treated in our organization by him, they have abdicated their authority and power.
So, why doesn't this man threaten me? Well, not for lack of effort, let me assure you! It's something I learned through some hard life lessons early in my adulthood. When I look at him, I see that little child who is scared to death, who feels like the only way he can have any power is control someone or something else. And he'll use whatever means is necessary to give him that control. I've seen it, unfortunately, a million times in my life (well, maybe not quite that many, but it sure feels like that many). It took me a long time to understand that this bully, any bully, only has the power I give him. If I refuse to give him my power, then it is impossible for him to bully me.
This is not always easy to do, especially when he is in the midst of a tirade. The important thing to remember is that it has nothing to do with you. That's right, it has nothing to do with you! It's all about him or her. If you can envision the bully as that little kid throwing a temper-tantrum, then you can keep from giving him your power. He has no control. He's a little kid.
So here's what you do the next time your bully is threatening you, verbally or otherwise: shut out the words. Don't listen to them. In your mind picture your bully as that pesky little child, throwing themselves on the floor. Imagine the biggest, bestest tantrum you ever saw. SEE IT! Now, look at your bully again. He has no power. He has no control. He or she is just a snotty-nosed little kid, kicking and screaming on the floor of your world. You've just walked away from the tantrum and taken back your life! He can carry on as long as he wants because you've just disengaged from the brow-beating. You're not allowing him into your head and when you keep him out of your head, you're keeping him out of your life.
This is going to take some practice and I won't lie and tell you that it is easy. But you'll find that the more you do it, the easier it will become. And when you're feeling powerful again, you'll find that your brain allows you to think more clearly so that when he or she finishes with their tantrum, you can then tell them exactly what you want. You've had a lot of time, in most cases, to come to an understanding of what you know puts them in their place and you in yours--in control of yourself.
Bullies are just little people trying to make themselves big. Take back your power. Take back your life. It's yours to take!
Ereline has served in the educational field for over 35 years. She has worked as a public school teacher, a christian education director, an early childhood professional, and a program director. She has also worked with collaborative teams promoting child abuse awareness and has helped to found child protective programs in association with the NCAC.
Working with people of all ages, Ereline has developed a communication strategy to relate with and to the participants making the lessons she teaches down-to-earth and easily understandable by all.
Ereline's blog, Simply Faith (erelinessimplyfaith.blogspot.com) provides daily lessons grounded in faith, hope, and love.