Guest post by Cherie White
Bullying, especially chronic and severe bullying, is traumatic for targets and can have long-lasting effects. Most people who’ve been traumatized by bullying have lives that don’t run smoothly. They experience many stops and starts in life- many interruptions and setbacks.
They suffer a long string of broken relationships and friendships due to their shattered trust in humanity. When you’ve been bullied severely as I have, you will come to believe the lie, that human beings are inherently evil and enjoy seeing others suffer, if you aren’t careful and you don’t get professional help. And naturally, this destructive belief will affect your personal relationships.
In order to succeed at anything- your job, academics, finances, projects, anything–you must know how to form and nurture successful relationships. The hard truth is that it really is who you are connected with that determines your success in life. How to form relationships and confidently maintain them is the most important life skill you can ever learn and master. It’s sad that traditional schools don’t teach this.
Many people who have been chronically and severely bullied have been stunted in their emotional development and their development of people-skills. Many targets and survivors of bullying are afraid of meeting new people and of relationships. They’re fearful of social engagements and situations because they see themselves through the eyes of their bullies- that they’re somehow defective and inferior to everyone. Therefore, they don’t trust themselves or other people anymore.
Targets and survivors of bullying may desire friends and relationships but don’t want to take the risks required to get what they want. They decide that it’s much safer to stay alone and avoid even the remotest chance of conflict, being ridiculed, and possibly being targeted again in the future.
What these traumatized people don’t realize is that this doesn’t decrease their chances of being targeted. It actually increases that chance because bullies actively search for people like them- easy marks who are fearful and easily intimidated. Also, it lessens their chances of success at all other aspects of their lives.
Many targets and survivors of bullying are ashamed of what they had to do to survive and keep from getting hurt and bullied worse than they already were. They have much shame about the many times they had to submit to the bullies’ demands to keep from getting their brains beat out or save themselves from being shot or stabbed.
They often look back and wish they’d spoken up or defended themselves and just took whatever consequences they’d have had to face afterward. Sadly, they haven’t thought about the fact that the brain’s and body’s natural reaction is to do whatever they must do to keep one from harm- it’s part of our survival instinct.
If you are or have been a target of bullying, how can you change your life for the better?
- You start by getting therapy and by reading self-help and personal development books that deal with the type of problems you’re having. You also relearn the social arts and do the inner work to reprogram yourself. Realize that this will take a lot of time to internalize.
- You replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- You count your blessings and make a list of your good qualities and talents.
- You think of the good people in your life, even if you only know a few, and realize that there are more of them in the world- realize that, out of almost eight billion people in the world, there must be more good people besides the few you already know.
- You spend time with the people who love you and who uplift you. These positive connections will balance out all the bad experiences you’ve had with bullies and your confidence will grow. Soon, you won’t be as fearful because you’ll feel better about yourself.
- You take risks by meeting new people and making new connections. This will be uncomfortable at first but continue to push yourself and it will eventually feel natural.
These thing above are what I did to regain my confidence and become outgoing. It wasn’t easy and it took time and a lot of practice for it to sink in and become like second nature. But I look back now and I’m so glad I put in the work because my life is so much better now. I’m at peace with myself and with others. Words cannot explain the freedom that comes with it. You would have to experience it to know. But I promise that if you do the same things, I did and put in the time and work, the payoff will be exponential, and you’ll get the return on your investment you’ve never thought you would!
Invest in yourself. Don’t you think you’re worth the time and effort? I do.
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