As far as bullying goes, there are definitely different severities and frequencies of bullying. With the state of technology and communication, there are many forms of cyber bullying, and in certain cases, bullying should not try to be handled without an adult interceding. The information I present is geared toward the 6-12 year old bullying that generally isn’t as severe as what can happen as children get older. The information obviously will have some usefulness to all bullying situations but please remember to ask an adult for help if you are in a severe situation.
I hit the “big” numbers of 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds when I was… wait for it… in 10th grade. Yes, 10th Grade.
With my physical stature up to that point in my life being described by peers as…
TINY, SHRIMP, MIDGET, WEAK, SQUEAKS, SMALL among others, it’s not hard to imagine why I had confidence issues for a long time. When you grow up being that small you can easily be looked down upon…literally. Along with being small, I had a few other issues that didn’t help. I had a speech impediment along with what seemed like zero ability to socialize and make friends. It’s an interesting position when you grown up and seemingly the only attention you receive is when others ask you to copy your homework. I was good at school, in the academic sense, but not good at school, in the social sense.
So many times in my life when I was young, I can remember thinking and feeling how I can’t understand why one person would be mean to another. I just couldn’t “get” why you’d put others down with names, or worse, physical abuse. It just didn’t make sense in my young mind.
Throughout my career I’ve studied and learned from some of the greatest teachers in the personal growth industries, in person and through books and trainings. I’ve been on a never-ending journey to become the best version of myself to help others become their best. I’ve had the privilege to teach, train, listen, coach and be with 10’s of thousands of students on their journey through Tae Kwon Do and life. I’ve literally sat down and had personal conferences with 100’s of students, one at a time, about how they’ve been bullied and experienced tough situations. As much as I wish I could tell them that it won’t happen again, it most likely will. The truth is we need to learn to avoid, prevent and handle those bully situations but ever more importantly, we need to change our perspective. \
To a certain extent, learning to deal with bullies translates as we get older into learning to deal with rude drivers, negative employees, gossip, and even our own internal negative voice that creeps in on our mind to make us doubt ourselves.
Being bullied stinks, it makes you feel insignificant, especially when you are young. Your inner voice can start agreeing with the bully. You can start doubting yourself and not letting yourself experience what life has to offer, because you’re afraid to put yourself “out there” in fear of being made fun of. It’s important to learn and teach tactics and tools to deal with bullies, but I believe the greatest tool we can develop in ourselves or instill in our youth is a better perspective.
To a certain extent, what we perceive is our reality. We can’t control what a bully does, but we need to focus on what we can control. We must control our perspective. If we have the perspective that a bully, bullies others because they are bullied at home, our perspective becomes sympathetic and we put much less power behind the things they say. We also won’t take the bullies actions and words as personal if we have the perspective that a bully is a challenge that can actually enhance our skills and opportunities for future success.
I’ve outline below a few traits of a bully, the bullied and what it can mean for us in the future to help give us or others a better perspective from a difficult situation.
1. THE BULLY IS BIGGER, STRONGER, TALLER!
Many times a bully is bigger and stronger than others and they realize very young that with their size they can intimidate or force their way to get what they want. The bully doesn’t learn the art of compromise or negotiation. They don’t learn the satisfaction that comes from working with finesse and skill to achieve a goal or complete a task.
THE BULLIED: A child that is smaller or intimidated must learn the art of using the current strengths that he/she possesses - that might be intelligence or cleverness. They learn to work harder to achieve a goal because they have to compensate for their size. This scenario is exactly what happened for me. I was so small and had to try so hard for so long, that those traits stuck with me and are now the values I teach others through Tae Kwon Do. The best part of my story is that I did “grow” up. I had some serious growth spirts later on in high school. All of a sudden my hard working values combined with size served me well later on in life!
2. THE BULLY IS NEGATIVE TO OTHERS AND PUTS OTHERS DOWN
When a bully is making fun or or calling someone else names, they are doing that to build themselves up in the moment. They get a sense of “importance” because they make someone feel small. That feeling is generally fleeting and eventually can isolate them from others.
THE BULLIED: The feeling of being called names or belittled isn’t a good one. It’s horrible to hear what kids or even adults can say to each other with the purpose of hurting the other. But with the right perspective, by learning how we feel when we are made fun of, we learn the power of our words. We need to learn that what we say and what we do matter. That as powerful as words are when they try to hurt someone, they can be just as powerful to build someone up. The ones who get bullied can learn a greater sense of empathy for peers and eventually be the ones that can be the positive change to those around them.
3. THE BULLY HAS THE ADVANTAGES OR RESOURCES
I know this one was true for me in my life. It seemed like the “cool” crowd always had the coolest “things” - shoes, clothes, video games, bikes, opportunities, etc! They called the shots in school. If you didn’t hang out with them, it was because you weren’t good enough. One of the issues is that when you are “on top” and have the advantages, you don’t want to go to the bottom. You don’t want to admit you need help or ask for guidance. And many times even though they might have all the “resources,” they aren’t very resourceful. They have things, but don’t use them to the best of their abilities.
THE BULLIED: When you grow up without tons of resources, you become resourceful. You learn to make things, you learn to use your imagination, and you learn to appreciate the things you do have more. You also learn to ask for help, because you don’t have a choice. The skills of asking for help and being resourceful will play huge parts in your future success. No one is truly self-made and no one gets 100% lucky. I believe the one who is bullied, learns to ask for help and also learns to make his own luck!
I wouldn’t want someone to read any of this and go to school thinking “I can’t wait to be bullied!” because it isn’t a fun process. But so much of the skills that come from tough times we might face is the way we look at the experience. If we believe what the bully says , then the bully is telling the truth. If we believe being bullied creates a stronger version of ourself, then that is what becomes the truth. As Tony Robbins says “Life isn’t what happens TO us, it’s what happens FOR us!”
If we are able to turn the experiences from “the bully did this TO me” to “the bully did this FOR me” then we can realize the power of the experience is in our hands and not theirs.
I hope you were able to take some points of this blog to heart and help equip yourself or your child in a better way. Bullying is serious. It’s so sad to hear about some of the things that people do because they were bullied. If I can help just one person think differently and be more positive then this article is a success.
To reach more people, I’d love your help with promoting our Virtual Stand-Up To Bullying Seminar that I am teaching on October 23rd at 6:30 pm. It’s a free event for our students, our community and literally anyone else you know. The more the better. More of our youth need to hear that the power to control how we feel about ourselves lies within ourselves and not at the hands of the bully.
Register HERE and send someone the link to join us October 23rd!