KEEPING QUIET…….The most powerful form of communication.
Have you ever been the victim of bullying? Many of us can say that at some time in our lives we have experienced or witnessed this form of behaviour and suffered the consequences of it.
Bullying can be a scary prospect for anyone, ranging from youngsters in the playground, teenagers at school and adults at work. It can be seen that bullies have power and victims don’t, but let’s look at this a little closer. Is this really a true statement?
Why do people bully?
There are a whole host of reasons why people become bullies but often as not bullying stems from a person’s need to deflect their own insecurities onto others so it won’t be noticed in them. Some bullies do this without conscious awareness, and it tends to be learnt behaviour, either from witnessing such behaviour whilst growing up or/and developed as a defence mechanism to help keep that person safe. ‘If I bully others no one will touch me’. Also bullying can be a way of getting needs met not present in childhood ‘If I act tough I will gain respect and be noticed’.
What bullies want?
What do bullies seek? Most bullies desire a submissive reaction in a bid to feel powerful knowing they have controlled or frightened their victim. If you have been a victim how did you react and did your reaction help? How did you feel? Many victims feel hopelessly disempowered and find their lives are further affected and impacted upon in other ways.
What can we do?
There are many ways we can react, if we stand up and fight back, we may gain credibility, shifting the power onto us however we risk further aggression, as the bully may not accept this or we may not feel brave enough. We may risk getting ourselves into trouble too. Maybe we can accept and give in but this further strengthens the bully’s power, or we could simply choose to ignore the bully’s behaviour.
How many times have you heard the advice ‘just ignore them, they’re not worth it’. Well in a sense that is rather sound advice. Bullies are often seeking attention and if they don’t get it they will have to eventually give up. Any reaction a bully gets reinforces their powerful position, ‘I’m here and you have noticed me’ ‘I’m in control and powerful’. Even negative reactions are better than none. To be ignored is a very uncomfortable process and puts people in a disempowered position.
Cyber bullying seems to be on the increase and much of the vile content and posts beggars belief, however when you think of it, would a cyber bully say the same things to the face of their victims? Hiding behind a computer seems to give a bully more rein to type such obscenities, whilst luring their victims into a response. How silly would the cyber bully look and feel if their barrage of abuse went unanswered? In reality those hurtful words are coming from a sickened individual and your reaction can make a big difference. If we can shift our focus onto what has made the cyber bully behave in an unacceptable way, rather than absorbing all the hurt and allowing it to reinforce all the times we have endured negative experiences like this, then we can move towards a more legitimate kind of power that can be truly justified.
So next time you feel disempowered by someone’s behaviour remember that you can choose the most powerful position indeed.
It is important to note that this is a general guide and not intended for those whose lives may be in danger of harm and physical aggression.