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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to fight back against verbal abuse (for the timid)

Have we all been affected by bullies?  I think so.  I think that everyone in their life (even if they don't want to admit it) has come across someone that has bullied them, hated on them, and been overall rude overbearing and mean.  Bullies aren't always how they portrey them in the movies and sometimes I'm horrified to see that kids shows are teaching that it's okay to bully the bullies.  Often they are in positions of power, or at least, have a small amount of power that they constantly use to push others around.
I remember when I was a teenager, my 2nd job was to be a cashier at Little Caesars.  The owner constantly yelled at us, berating us for anything we did wrong, or whatever took his fancy.  I put up with it and worked there for the summer.  My friend got a job there and quit after a week because of his treatment.  I really admired her for not putting up with him, and yet, I couldn't do the same thing for myself.

There have definitely been bullies in my life that have had a permanent effect on my life.  In fact, I've even named the jerk in my book after one of them even though it's been years since I've even seen him.  It's my way of getting back at him because so many other people will hate him as much as I do.
(insert evil laugh)

I LOVE being in my 30ies.  Why? you may ask.  It's because in this age I've (finally) truly learned to accept myself and not give a damn about what "bullies" think of me.  I could care less if they don't like how I dress, talk, know, whatever.
I'm not saying that I don't care what others think of me, just what the bullies think of me.

How to deal with bullies?  That's the question of the century.  The word has become the hot word--"We don't believe in bullies!"-- and is on every school plaque these days.  So, I want to talk about this.

What is a bully?
How do we deal with them if we're too shy to stand up for ourselves?

First of all, anyone can be a bully.  

If you intimidate anyone, in any way, you can be a bully.  Even if you don't mean it, even if you don't realize you're doing it, and even if it's just a misunderstanding, someone might consider you a bully.  For instance, at church my daughter is in a class with an autistic boy.  Now, if you listen to the way he says things sometimes, he thinks that my daughter is mean to him sometimes.  Her side of the story is that she is defending her friends from him.  (She's a very loyal friend)  But the way he sees it, from his perspective, she's the bully.
How are we bullies to those around us?  Are we intimidating someone, even if we don't mean to bully them?

Okay, and then the question, how do we deal with bullies if you're too timid to stand up for yourself? 

 Sometimes people know that they are intimidating you and they plain just don't care.
The easiest answer to that, is #1, to stop hanging around them.
Now, I am absolutely aware that this isn't always possible.  We may work with them, or work for them.  They may be our mothers or our fathers or our sibling.  Lots of scenarios here.
But, if you can, if you realize that you're hanging out with someone who intimidates you, hurts you intentionally, belittles you, berates you, then try to distance yourself from them.  Stop hanging out with them as often and find other friends who treat you with respect.  Start out by saying no just once, and you'll find it liberating.

So, what if we can't ignore these people?  If this were a movie, I would tell you to stand up to them and then they'll earn your respect.  But this is not a movie.  If you are an adult (I teach my kids to punch any kid who physically and relentlessly bullies them.  I don't care if they're expelled.) and can't punch your boss then what can you do?

Well, first you can write a book and name your most hated character their name.

And second, you can take away their power.  How do you do that?  By not caring what they think.   And realizing that their bark is worse than their bite. (unless it's not.  and if you know this then you need to get help.  if someone is an adult and physically hurting you, get help.) This may be very very hard to do.  Or maybe you think that this is too simple.  But I promise you, it works.

So, first, how to not care what they think?  Every single time they do or say something to you, in your head, you say the opposite.   But a million times.  Every. single. time.  The power of a positive thought is a gazillion times stronger than a negative thought.  They say, "You're so stupid."  In your head, you'll think "I'm very smart.  In fact, the other day I did something very smart which was... See?  I'm incredible.  And incredibly smart."  I don't care if you believe yourself or not.  If you feel like you're lying to yourself, that's okay.  In fact, it's perfectly reasonable.  You are hanging around someone who says that you're stupid, so of course you are going to think that you're stupid.  But keeping saying that you're not.  Do it consistently.  And if you forget, that's fine.  Just keep trying your best to contradict their meanie words.  And one day... you will believe yourself.

And if you believe yourself then guess what, what they say can't be true.  And you'll stop believing what they say.  So the next time they say, "Man, you are dumb." You couldn't care less because you know that they're wrong.

And when that happens, the power that this person has over you will dissipate.  And when you see that their words no longer have power over you, you'll see that their bark is worse than their bite and then they will have even less power over you and then... You will feel In Control.

And then, the next time they say something like that, you will laugh at them and say, "Oh, shut up." or whatever. (even if it's just in your head)

And then if you want to quit or leave or stand up to them or whatever like they do in the movies, then that's your life and you do whatever you want to do.

If you're being cyber bullied, here's a link to Kristen Lamb's excellent blog post about that. 

 It mostly applies to authors, but anyone can apply the awesome advice to themselves.
Me telling my bully gallbladder to
Get Lost!
My name is Fleur.  And this is my blog.

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