Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.
Names, comments and insults will hurt you and can seriously damage you psychologically and emotionally for the rest of your life.
It is not the actual names or words but the way you interpret words and meanings as they will lead to the development of beliefs through associations. It is these beliefs and meanings that you develop and retain for the rest of your life.
Let’s get real.
Most people have experienced a little bit of bullying in their life and so many know what it feels like to give it and receive it. Most people have bullied at least once in their life, just something as simple as shoving a sibling around in the home when young or a peer at primary or senior school or just jostling for higher ground, tribal rivalry, rank and status or just a playground punch up or scrap for supremacy and one upmanship.
Most people have bullied someone if they are honest, mocking or intimidating someone or sending someone to Coventry and so on.
Although unacceptable, it is part of growing up and learning where our boundaries are and then experiencing the consequences of our actions and the pain and retribution that is involved for picking on others. Some of us knew no better at the time, we were foolish and ignorant of others feelings and the damage bullying causes.
This content is referring to full blown bullying on an ongoing basis and makes reference to the person being bullied and the effects on them.
The person being bullied is being referred to as the victim. The person doing the actual bullying is being referred to as the bully.
There are many descriptions of bullying. Let’s look at things deeper and see what is really going on.
The psychology. The Mind of the Bully
All paths have a first step.
Bullying starts with this first step. There is a point of origin, a very precise starting point when the actual bullying started and that is the point being looked at now.
Take for example any person who is sitting, standing or walking in any place, at any time and going about their everyday business, not harming or bothering anybody and then along comes the dreaded bully into your life.
At that very moment when the bully came into your life there was a precise moment of contact or meeting and it is at that precise moment the bully seen or experienced something he or she did not like or disapproved of about you, which doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with you but more a case of you unknowingly triggered off a response within the bully.
This can be anything such as your facial features, hair colour, your smile, your positivity and happiness, your popularity, your tone of voice or even attractiveness or simply a good-looking face. The point here is, the person who is being bullied (the victim) may have nothing wrong with them at all, or done anything at all to the bully.
For both negative and positive reasons, the bully just doesn’t like something about you and that is the starting point in the evoking of some negative emotional feelings towards you and so the bullying behaviour begins. This is called projection or a defence mechanism at work within the mind of the bully.
Many people who have been bullied (the victim) often incorrectly believe that there is something radically wrong with them but in many cases the opposite is so true. Anyone can be bullied if the balance of power and strength is in the favour of the bully.
Whatever it was that triggered off a response within the bully, the bully is now locked onto you (the victim) and it is from this point onwards that the intimate relationship between the bully and the victim begins.
To keep things really simple, the bully has just taken a strong dislike to the person being bullied.
The bully is now thinking, feeling and experiencing things and is driven to just cause some form of physical or emotional and psychological harm and distress in you (the victim).
When there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to be bullied, then it is then that it is all about the bully and their own hidden (within) issues and problems. It is absolutely all about the bully and not the victim; however it does not always appear to be that way.
When there is no justified reason for the bullying, then there is one thing that is taking place within the bullies mind and that is a defence mechanism at work called projection. Projection is an unconscious process which projects outwardly unwanted and unacceptable feelings and emotions or traits onto another person. Usually these unacceptable feelings and emotions relate specifically to the bully ONLY and the feelings and emotions that the bully carries around are the result of their own personal life experiences and has reacted to or is now externalising and or projecting onto you (the victim).
Their internal thoughts and feelings are unpleasant and uncomfortable and they are then projected outwardly onto somebody else to produce the sense that, this person (the bully) just doesn’t like somebody (you) and wants and NEEDS to cause harm and distress, either physical or mental through various means and actions (behaviours) which include:
Projection is unconscious and works in a way as to protect a person (the bully) from their own pain of one kind or another (emotional or mental) and it is a process that works independently from a person’s awareness or everyday understanding. It is designed to reduce anxiousness or distress of any kind by assisting the person to externalise their pain onto another. It is a drive.
It could be true to say that most bullies are actually trying to produce the very fears and feelings that they have within themselves in you (the victim), those things that they are actually carrying within themselves. In other words the bully is indicating and revealing their own fears and insecurities and weaknesses by bullying you, simply by producing those very things within you.
Precise? Maybe not, but on those lines? Absolutely yes.
The bully creates fear and anxiety in the victim which then stimulates their NEED to experience more of it which in turn leads to repetitive and ongoing bullying.
The bully now NEEDS your reactions.
The action of creating the pain, anxiety and fear within you (the victim) stimulates their NEED for more and more of it and this NEED drives their actions.
To see you suffer and feel their pain is:
- Satisfying them
- Fulfilling them
- Feeding them
- Exciting them
- Arousing them
- Empowering them
The bully is in effect chasing after their fix to experience the stimulation or rush and or excitement of causing and/or creating these intimidating and frightened responses within you (the victim).
And so the vicious cycle grows and expands at the expense of further psychological and emotional harm and damage to you (the victim).
This damage will affect some people for the rest of their life and for some it will lead to serious mental health problems such as:
- Low esteem
All that matters to the bully is that they must keep creating that specific unique response in you, that which stimulates them and that they must further continue to experience and absorb this response from you (the victim).
Therefore as the saying goes, never react is so true. If you don’t react you can’t feed the bully’s need to keep feeding off you and your reactions.
The bully is feeding off your reactions, off your pain, off your suffering and off your anxiousness and fear of them. What power you are giving them!
The bully is highly perceptive and is in tune with your reactions, they know what they are doing to you and how they’re making you feel because they are familiar with it in themselves. They identify with it so well.
Without knowing it you are feeding them, you are fulfilling them, you are satisfying them and you are stimulating them with your reactions in response to their behaviour.
At this stage the bully is just following their own needs and powerful drives to keep producing weakness in you. This is in effect a kind of biofeedback circuit that is at work.
This cycle must be broken; it must be closed down immediately. This is easier said than done and if you ask any bullied victim they will all tell you at that time it was near impossible to escape the situation because the feelings and emotions including fear of any possible consequences or further happenings were too risky to challenge or confront.
It is easy to advise another but other well meaning people don’t have the powerful emotional feelings, fears and insecurities running in the background at the same time as the victim does.
Understanding the mind of the bully is most important. Knowledge is real power! Recognising what is taking place within them will help you (the victim) to turn the situation around.
Projection at work in the bully is a way of applying or assigning negative internal thoughts and feelings which include hidden anxiousness and fears to a more suitable, external, vulnerable target or victim such as you (the victim). This is called shifting the blame and finding a more convenient alternative.
Additionally, it is important to point out that there are certain traits in you (the victim) that may be perceived as a threat to the bully, as opposed to there actually being anything wrong with you. In reality it is everything that is wrong with them (the bully) and only certain attributes or traits within you that are affecting them, which everyone has.
The mannerisms or behaviour which may be normal about you, are affecting the bully and causing them to unconsciously object and defend or overcompensate by returning those internal states onto you.
An example of this would be an attractive good-looking female who went through their entire school being bullied but later became a top model. There are many stories of models and successful people experiencing a lot of bullying in their school days and never knew why. Even the gifted without having anything wrong with them are bullied also.
You now get the point!
Negative projection often appears when we see, feel and experience our own undesirable traits and attributes or mannerisms in other people. The false consensus effect which works both ways when we don’t like people or when we think people like us or are like us.
Projecting thoughts, feelings and emotions including anxieties, inadequacies and fears onto another such as within the bullying scenario allows the bully to justify how dysfunctional or unacceptable those feelings and pain are to the bully and this is at work on many levels all operating at some time.
It is better to believe and feel all these feelings and experiences are not the bullies but actually the victims.
Bullying is a way of disowning your own negative feelings which are manifold.
Once you understand this as a victim of the bully, (you are theirs). There is an element of ‘laughability’ within their behaviour and why they are doing those things to you. They are actually distancing themselves from their own dysfunctional and unacceptable hurt and pain from within. A choice of words to describe many things.
Some people such as the bully place the blame or the hurt or pain away from their ego in a more manageable and convenient way by projecting internal stuff to a more acceptable external location which happens to be inside you the bullied victim.
They kicked your door open and dumped their s*** onto you without either party realising what is taking place.
The bully: I just hate you.
The victim: I am worthless; there is something seriously wrong with me.
Although it is a complex and profound process, it is purely simple at the same time and one could describe it as a very contagious and transmittable activity in some ways similar to a virus jumping from one host to another.
Knowledge is power and understanding the mind of the bully will certainly help to reduce the blame, low self esteem, worthlessness or guilt or the sense that it is all about you and that there must be something wrong with you, when in fact there may be nothing wrong with you at all except the delay that you are experiencing in fighting back and waking up from their pain that they have put into you.
Are you a host for their virus?
Remember, when a bully is attacking or criticising you, when they are abusing and insulting and finding words to attack you with, to hit you with, they are actually attacking and criticising a projection of themselves.
The bully is placing a piece of themselves inside you.
Are you going to let that continue?
As an absolute statement of fact, the bully who stands before you with their intimidation and power is actually holding up a mirror to your face and is showing you inside themselves, specifically inside the location of their feelings and internal processes of them feelings.
Be very aware that any attempt at standing up to the bully or even trying to explain what it is they are doing will result in an immediate form of resistance and further bullying or worse.
Whichever way you look at it or whatever words are used to describe bullying, the bottom line is they are regularly poking and prodding you so that you respond with an ouch or a yelp.
When you let out an ouch or a yelp you are confirming thir power over you, you are showing them they have now found someone that empowers them.
Remember this. Even though you may feel and see their power as real, their power is a converted form of scared feelings, fears and mixed feelings.
The definition of bullying is the use of superiority, dominance, strength and influence to overpower, intimidate another person or people to force them or make them do something against their wishes.
What is bullying?
Bullying is a repetitive behaviour carried out by a person or a group of people against another person or a group of people who are less able to resist their force or power which includes physical assault or verbal comments of an aggressive, controlling or threatening behaviour specifically intended to cause fear, intimidation, distress and submission to the bully. This behaviour can be carried out from anyone towards anyone, young, middle-aged or elderly.
Bullying can take place in the school playground in primary schools, senior schools or outside on the streets, in parks or in buildings including places of work, amongst peers, work colleagues or employers, in relationships including marriages, groups and organisations right up to nursing homes amongst residents or staff members.
Bullying can take place anywhere such as within the police force, the medical profession, armed forces or even within religious organisations including churches. Often the bully does not see that they are bullying someone, they’re just trying to get their own way.
Kinds of bullying behaviour
The most commonest type of bullying is verbal abuse which can include insults, name-calling, jibes or threats either face-to-face or in e-mails or letters and telephone calls, not to mention text messages and social media posts.
Physical attack and assault or intimidation, threats to carry out violence or harm against oneself or ones family members.
Cyber bullying, online activities of any kind.
Racial discrimination or attacks on people’s race or culture including religious backgrounds.
Homophobia or gender attacks.
Sexual advances otherwise known as sexual harassment, including workplace harassment which can be carried out by a work colleague or an employer including females harassing males using humiliation and intimidation.
What bullying is not?
When two people are mutually arguing, screaming and shouting or threatening each other or physically equally assaulting each other.
Disagreements or conflicts.
One off events resulting in unpleasantness or aggression including rejection and the dismissing of others opinions or attitudes.
Criticism of others works as long as it’s constructive criticism.
Voicing opinions or dislike of others, again as long as it’s constructive and fits into the situation.
Telephone UK Helplines
The National Bullying Helpline UK Anti Bullying Helpline: 0845 22 55787
Cyber Smile helpline: 0800 783 1113
Email us if you want your comments, story or bullying experience posted here!
Strictly Copyright © Open College UK Ltd
Must not be reproduced in any form whatsoever
All Rights Reserved