How to Respond to Bullies

Have you ever been bullied? Were you able to respond to the bully in a way that valued YOU?

I grew up with a mother who was a bully. My response was to shut down into a kind of frozen numbness. When I was 12 I started smoking cigarettes and at 16 I started drinking Ė all to continue the numbing process and not feel the pain.

Now, Iíve un-numbed myself, let go of cigarettes and alcohol, and found my true self. Life is filled with love, joy, and inner peace. Along the way, I had to learn how to stand up for myself, be vulnerable, and speak my truth.

Here are my 8 Keys to addressing a bully and giving them an opportunity to apologize. They might apologize, or they might not Ė Iíve experienced both. Either way, the success is yours, because you have spoken your truth. Your self-confidence builds and eventually, if a bully starts up, you can dismiss them quickly, and easily, without getting upset.

Are you emotionally honest? Ask yourself: How do I feel when a person is abusive to me? Angry? Hurt? Paralyzed with fear? Numb? The important thing here is to be HONEST WITH YOURSELF about how you feel. This is the primary key to freeing yourself from the prison of victimization.

Keep the focus on yourself, not on the bully. Accept your present moment, whatever it contains. Beware the ego coming in and dismissing your feelings, saying things like: “Itís no big deal,” “Iím fine” etc. The Ego doesnít like us being put down so it might try and distract you by focusing on the bully or rationalize you out of your feelings. Stay with your present-moment reality, no matter how uncomfortable (uncomfortable is good because it means you are moving away from an old habit that doesnít serve you) Ėsimply allowing things to be as they are, without judging yourself.† And have compassion for yourself – youíre doing the best you can with the best conscious awareness you have in the moment.

If you donít know how you feel, your body will tell you. Are you contracted in fear or rage? Is your heart heavy with pain?† Or do you just feel numb all over? Whatever is happening, allow it to be so. Your body is your friend. It acts like a shock absorber in stressful situations to help you deal with things. Pay attention because the body gives us warning signals when we are not in harmony and at ease with a person/situation. The more in tune you are with your body, the easier it is to address things early on, before they escalate into something worse.

Find a friend or a family member you are close to, SOMEONE WHO LOVES YOU VERY MUCH. Tell them what happened. This will bring you some instant relief and the powerful loving support you need to speak up to the bully. Allow yourself to RECEIVE the love of your friend to fill yourself up and build your confidence.

Before you address the bully, spend some time in self-reflection and realize that you might have to walk away from this person, or from this situation. Friends can be helpful here to help you see things clearly. †You might not have to let go, but you might. A lot depends on the response of the bully. Do they apologize ? Do they “get it”? If not, they are highly likely to bully you again.

Speaking your truth means RESPECTING YOURSELF enough to let people know that YOU DESERVE RESPECT. Bullies will transform, or leave. Either way, you win!

Best case scenario is to speak to the bully in person, in a calm, respectful manner, simply stating how you feel about what happened. Bring a friend as a witness and for support. †If that is not possible, talk on the phone. (Your friend standing by). †Third best option Ė send an email or letter. Know this truth: bullies, underneath their aggressiveness, are cowards. In many instances, they are embarrassed youíve called them out and apologize, which allows the possibility of taking the relationship to a whole new level. If they donít apologize, see #5!

Courage means going into the unknown in spite of all the fears. Courage does not mean fearlessness. Fearlessness happens over time when you go on being more and more courageous. In the beginning, the only difference between a coward and a courageous person is that the coward listens to their fears and follows them; the courageous person puts them aside and goes ahead. The courageous person can say, for example: “What you said hurt me,” in spite of inner trembling and a constricted throat.

Be willing to be vulnerable, befriend your fears, and remember that this situation is happening for you, not to you. Itís helping you step out of victim into mastery of yourself. Itís helping you expand even more into who you are.

Expressive Meditation techniques can help you become more aware of your feelings and be honest with yourself. The Gibberish expressive meditation is great for releasing the charge of †anger, rage, frustration and resentment, and helps you come back to a calm, neutral place of clarity.

You can learn to express your emotions without being emotional.

Expressive Techniques for healing grief, sadness, and emotional pain, help with the emotional wounding that can keep you in a victim state (all these techniques are in my book Laughter, Tears, Silence). You will experience pain transforming into peace and love.

From personal experience these 8 keys work! By speaking your truth you attract people who treat you with courtesy and respectÖ.because you are treating YOURSELF with courtesy and respect!

I look forward to your comments below.

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Anne Girolami
Anne Girolami5 years ago

Let’s End This Madness

Anne Girolami
Anne Girolami5 years ago

As a society, we admire and reward the success of focused directness. The question is: What happens when acceptable “assertiveness” is shoved over… into unacceptable “aggressiveness” and bullying? Where is this line drawn, and who actually draws that line between the two?

Our children, our family, friends, and every person breathing on this earth are important, are worthy, are loved and cherished for who they are. We are important, worthy, and cherished for who we are—and not what we do, what we look like, how much money we have, etc.

If children grew up with this knowledge embedded in their hearts, I believe that there would be less potential victims of bullying; teen suicides and/or attempted suicides would be reduced; and so many other positive effects will follow them through adulthood.

If adults had this knowledge embedded in their hearts, I believe that there would be less abuse, fewer suicides, and less domestic violence and killings.

If all of us believed this in our own hearts, we wouldn’t sit back and allow others to be threatened, bullied, or abused. We would have the courage to step in and do something… and not stand by and let things happen, because we’re afraid of getting involved.

We need to do is share this simple message—over and over again—until this knowledge is so deeply embedded in everyone we come in contact with that no words, actions, or persons can take that away from them.

Vicki G.
Vicki G5 years ago

Great advice! Thank you! I have found that sometimes, unfortunately, people can mistake my kindness for weakness. In these instances, I have had to let a few people know, in no uncertain terms, that this is not the case, I am kind, but I'm no doormat.

Jess No Fwd Plz K.
Jessica K5 years ago

Probably one of the most pernicious kinds of bullies is a charismatic frenemy. (S)he will seem like a saint to many, but confuse people into believing they're overreacting to chaotic behavior. Their behavior is passive aggressive, and if you assert yourself about their behavior, they'll become the victim, and if they still have charmed the masses, they make you out to be the bully yourself. Crazy stuff, but I've seen it.

june t.
reft h5 years ago

Excellent comments from Simon S. and others...

Diana S.
Diana S5 years ago

continued -
... to get them to understand, and, YES, violence sometimes WORKS!!

Diana S.
Diana S5 years ago

I remember vividly one incident when I was a freshman in high school. I was leaving gym class, heading for lunch, when one of the few "tough" girls from the fringe areas of our hoyty-toyty district got in my face, calling me names (fat, stupid, lazy, etc) and trying to get me to fight her.

I looked around desperately trying to find a teacher or other supervisory person to come help me, but of course there's never any help around when you really need it. Since she wouldn't let me pass, and she was wasting time I could have been eating my lunch, I decided to end the situation on my own.

I dropped my armload of books smack on the floor, cocked back my arm, blasted her in the eye, and knocked her on her ass, right there in the lunchroom. Finally a teacher came running over, I explained briefly what had happened, we were both escorted to the principal's office, where we were both lectured and given a week's office detention. I was also lectured on the "right" things to do when a bully tried to start something, to which I reiterated that, had there been adult help within sight, I certainly would have behaved differently.

I spent my week in detention reading, the other girl spent her week there nursing a whopper of a black eye, after which she kept trying to make friends with me (!!).

Given the same situation, I would do exactly the same thing now, except I wouldn't stop at one punch! Sometimes you just have to take yourself down to their level to get them to understand

Marianne B.
Marianne B5 years ago

I liked and agree with Nicky's comments. Bullies are really cowards...

heather g.
heather g5 years ago

I was never bullied as a child .... the word was never even used when I grew up.

In my later years when I moved to Vancouver, BC, I came across many bullies. I looked at them sharply and realised that they were insecure, sick people. What a culture shock !!

Now, I believe the best thing to do is to face them assertively, and say: "Is it true that bullies lack courage?" Or "are insecure people?" That would work between adults, but I wouldn't know how a child would fare best.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)