Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dethrone the Bully!

In your youth, this person was obvious and easy to identify. He or she was the one who physically threatened and terrorized other children.

In your adulthood, this individual appears as someone who forcefully intimidates others with less evident actions.

In both contexts, this person acts as a bully.

Imagine yourself in these scenarios as examples of "adult" forms of bullying:

In response to her panic, you have loaned your daughter money for her business. Despite her financial situation, she regularly leaves on luxurious vacations and buys expensive clothes. She flagrantly ignores you, and disregards your requests to keep her agreement and make payments on the loan. You feel like a failure as a parent.

Your older sister persistently demands more attention and communication from you. However, she is unresponsive when you meet her needs, and self-absorbed in her own contacts with you. In addition, she often seems emotionally volatile and unpredictable. You feel anxious and like "walking on egg shells" around her.

Your spouse is controlling and verbally abusive. He constantly criticizes you, and undermines your efforts to manage the household and support the children. Although you try to meet his needs, he aggressively expresses his dissatisfaction with you, and blames you for his problems. You feel incompetent and depressed.

You've had a misunderstanding with a coworker. You have made several efforts to clear up the communication to no avail. And, to your dismay, other colleagues appear to have "taken her side." She and others have no interest in hearing your perspective, and clearly don't see you the way you see yourself. You feel invisible and heartbroken.

You are visiting your mother as part of a family vacation. In the midst of your activities, she becomes very upset by something she heard "through the grapevine" and blames you for the "attack." In her characteristic fashion, she dramatically leaves and threatens to never see you or your children again. You feel confused and helpless.

In these various examples, the outcomes are remarkably similar. Even though the bully may be acting and speaking unconsciously or without malicious intent, the forceful result is profound domination. You feel badly about yourself and unable to do anything to change the situation.

As you might expect, there is another side to this story.

You cannot be bullied without your permission.

Your own habitual reaction to the bully helps to sustain the pattern.

To end the bullying, at least with you, you must respond in different ways. Consider these suggestions to help you deliberately create this new direction:
  • Admit and learn from the bully's presence in your life. Don't avoid, deny, or ignore your experience. Feel the impact.
  • Forgive yourself for your role in the bullying.
  • Reclaim your power from the bully. Let go of your fears.
  • Use the phrase, "That's one way to look at it," as a response.
  • Take responsibility for yourself, not for both of you. Don't make excuses for the bully. Don't apologize for yourself.
  • Speak your feelings and thoughts in a strong, loving, and truthful way. You don't need to retaliate, demand reparation, or become a bully to improve the situation.
  • Express your needs freely and completely to the bully.
  • Don't ever trade your power for another's love. "Love" here includes approval, acceptance, liking, recognition, and so on.
  • Experiment with saying "no" to the bully.
  • Respect yourself. Don't absorb the bully's labels, misperceptions, and judgments of you, no matter how insignificant they seem.
  • Integrate the playfulness of a child with the power of being an adult.
Practice with patience. Take the time and space you need to make these changes in your relationship with the bully. Nurture yourself!

With experience, you will probably discover another source of bullying, the inner bully. When you become aware of this part of yourself, pay careful attention, and simply witness. Notice the ways in which you intimidate, suppress, or dominate yourself. Then, use the methods you've practiced with others to deepen your awareness, respect, and love for yourself.

End the tyranny and celebrate your freedom!

Love and Peace,
Dave

PS Send me your favorite ways to stop the bully and free yourself!

PPS If you need more support, please contact me.

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