Bullying is an awful action to inflict on another human being. It can cause many long-term effects on an individual, a lot of time, simply because that person is unique, or different in a way that seems to disrupt the sensibility of another. Regardless of the triviality of what causes bullying to occur, it can leave a lifetime of scars in its wake, including the increasing number of mental health issues like depression, which 45% of bullying victims in 2019 could attribute to their experiences (Stastica, 2019).
Bullying does not have to define you as a person, and it shouldn’t – because what causes a person to bully another relentlessly is never the victim’s fault. People can be bullied at school, work, home or online, for things such as the colour of their skin, the clothes they choose to wear or the size of their bodies. I know that those who bully are likely being bullied themselves, but when you are a victim of bullying, that adage is little to no comfort when you spend your nights wishing you could be someone else just so that it will stop. Whether the bullying is happening to you now, or in your past, you do not and cannot allow these experiences to define you, and here are a few tips cultivated to help you not to do that.
Surround yourself with loved ones
Surrounding yourself with people who have your best interest at heart should never be underestimated. Being bullied is a very isolating experience; it can cause tunnel vision and make you think that you have no one in your corner. Whether it’s a friend, relative, work colleague or organisation set up to offer support when you think you have none, use these people as allies, because it can be the difference between your worst day, and one that you can recover from.
Let logic take over
When you’re being bullied, hearing things like ‘those bullying you are simply bored with their own lives which is why they’re making yours miserable’ doesn’t help. These can seem like old, tired clichés, but there is some truth to it. People seek to destroy the lives of others because there is something in their own life that is tormenting them. That thing might be a physical attribute, an emotional quality, or it might be something existential, and you might never find out what that thing is, but it will be there. The logical thing to do would be to hold onto that fact, and remember that it’s not you. If someone you’ve never met in person is cyberbullying you, how could it possibly be because of anything you’ve done? Logic like that can be a real self-esteem saver, and although it doesn’t make it stop, it’s small comfort that you can hold on to.
Remember, you are not your experiences
When in the middle of any situation that is causing us pain, we can’t help but allow it to control us. We, as humans, allow our experiences to define us, and it’s not healthy nor helpful when your experiences are far from desirable. It takes action and awareness to separate yourself from your experiences, but more importantly, it takes time. There is no equation or magic wand you can wave to enable this to happen. However, small things that may seem unrelated at the time, will one day show you that you are more than that that has happened to you.
Take note of all the things you do for other people, the way you carry yourself and your positive and negative traits. These attributes will reveal a real picture of who you really are which will help you will realise that what you have been through may contribute to who you are, but it does not define you.
Don’t be afraid to talk it out
As a big believer in talking therapy, trauma can feel less heavy once you have shared them with another human being. This might be a counsellor, or a close relative or a friend that you can trust. Have you ever had a problem, and the moment you start explaining your dilemma to someone else or saying it out loud, it suddenly becomes clear? It’s a similar kind of thing. Once you speak to someone else or have an honest conversation with yourself after taking some time away from the situation, you achieve a level of clarity you can’t quite get to when you’re in the middle of it. The best way to put things to bed emotionally is by confronting them in a place where you feel safe. This too takes the sting out of being unexpectedly triggered, by something that reminds you of your experiences. It’s a way to regain some of the control being bullied takes from you.
Don’t allow bullying to change you
Being authentically yourself is the only thing we are actually all experts in. You must try your hardest not to let bullying take that away from you because there will come a time when that is what everyone appreciates you for, and, more importantly, what you appreciate yourself for. Changing yourself under duress never works out, and you lose that part of yourself that made you different. Hold onto your quirks, or lack of, hold onto your tastes and style and likes and dislikes, pet peeves, aversions, hang-ups, hold onto all of it, because no one will ever be that same combination of things that you are and that is your greatest weapon, you just don’t know it yet.