Bullying in the adult world
What thoughts and images come to mind when you think about bullying and bullies?
We probably think of a playground and children, as most people tend to have their first experiences of being bullied at school. However, it is fair to say that bullying can happen much earlier than that, especially if a person such as a parent, caregiver or sibling is abusive within the home setting.
What does being a bully actually mean?
If we look at the dictionary definition of a bully it states: ‘a person who hurts, persecutes or intimidates a weaker person’.
As adults, there is an underlying message that ‘we should know better’. Bullying is something that we leave behind in the playground as we mature and move forward with our lives. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and it goes on well into the adult world in various settings. Managers bully employees. Parents bully their children well into adulthood. Neighbours can bully a person in their road. A stranger may even try to bully you in any adult situation.
Although some people may recognise and own their bullying behaviour when they know they are doing it, we still tend to avoid the word bully as adults. We may refer to it as being very assertive, or just impatient. Perhaps they/we are demanding, stressed, irritable or domineering. We will look for many ways of explaining what is happening but rarely do we feel at ease, as adults, with the whole subject of bullying.
Bullying can provide a defence (a mask) against the world and others. It can produce the illusion that the person has some control over their life by controlling other people. It can help to hide any inadequacies, along with providing a false sense of power in situations and in relationships.
You feel as if you are not a victim.
Being bullied can have such a huge impact on how you view yourself, your self-worth, confidence and how you feel about life generally. You may feel fearful, out of control and you may even feel ashamed that this is occurring in adulthood.
You feel as if you are a victim.
Ironically, both are victims and both suffer in different ways. No-one is born a bully and no-one is born a ‘weaker person’ as referred to in the dictionary.
We thankfully encourage children to speak out about bullying, recognising the long term affects that can occur. However, it seems once we reach adulthood, the word gets lost somewhere and is masked by something more acceptable.
Whether you are an adult bully or an adult victim of bullying, there is a reason why this is happening and it is important that you are encouraged, just like children are, to talk to someone about what is happening.
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About Jayne Phillips
Jayne is a fully qualified, experienced and BACP registered therapeutic counsellor, with a private practice offering both short and long term sessions. From September 2018, Jayne will be offering walk and talk therapy to those who feel being outdoors would be a helpful alternative for them.