Bullying - take a step beyond
If you have ever been bullied you will know that it can leave you feeling like you are the last person left on earth: alone, isolated, afraid, vigilant and on high alert. You walk around pensively, everyone is looking at you, everyone knows what’s going on, they talk about you, at least so you think…
Often bullying goes unnoticed or ignored because we fear that if we speak up it’ll make the situation worse, we think if we ignore it for long enough it will simply stop or go away. This is the difficulty with bullying; we find it tough to speak about because we start to believe what the bully says to be true. We have no right to feel better, speak up or hope that it can ever stop.
There’s a very real apprehension associated with opening up about something so personal and intimidating. People will say you need to be stronger, fight back, walk away, not let it bother you.
However, when I have heard clients tell their story it is never this easy or straightforward. The nature of bullying is that it gets inside us, destroying our self-esteem and our day-to-day ability to function. This, in turn, affects our social interaction, our confidence and ultimately leads to anxiety, fear, stress and depression.
Bullying is not a one off event but a complex and traumatic experience. It affects us emotionally, physically and mentally. It can have long-term and far-reaching consequences. Our bodies and minds adapt to a state of perpetual threat. We can be triggered in new situations, by words or actions and find ourselves living in a constant state of anxiety.
However, there is hope. There are ways of reclaiming control, of reclaiming power, building confidence and understanding how to move forwards. Sometimes it can take strength, effort and someone non-judgemental to help you do that.
Here are some of the ways in which you can start to reclaim control, build strength and start to rebuild your life:
Is there one person who you know you can trust enough to talk to? It could be a teacher, friend, relative, friend or parent. If none of those are an option think about how a counsellor might help.
Recognise how it’s impacting your life, don’t ignore it. What’s happening to you is tough and makes it hard to live the way you’d like to. It doesn’t always have to feel like this and with the right help, you will be able to get through it. Realise that that this doesn’t define you, it’s something that is simply happening.
Look after yourself in any way, however small, you can. We are emotionally stronger when we take good care of ourselves.
Recognise the small steps you achieve in coping on a day-to-day basis.
When we go through something difficult we can internalise it, believing it to be true. Try to imagine a film in which you are the main character. Watch the other characters. How they are behaving? What happens? What is said? It might help you to see that this says more about the person bullying than you.
Trying any of these or all can help you along the way to becoming stronger.
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