Tears streamed down Casey’s face. She felt defenseless and terrified. Unsure of what to do, Kelly—one of our classmates with us—went to find an adult. Minutes later, when the teacher confronted me, I stood there with tears in my eyes. Even as I concocted a sham of a story to get out of trouble, my heart knew that I only bullied Casey because I envied her. She was popular, better dressed and I was also jealous of her white-girl hair. One minute her friend, the next an enemy; my treatment of her reflected my inner-conflict.
Last week, I shared my experience of being bullied. But the truth is I am a former bully. Some bullies are just mean, some are just ignorant and others are just broken. While the solution to standing up to them is the same. The remedy to stop being one is different.
We all know bullies. Maybe they aren’t physically aggressive or don’t bully us personally. But they roll in like bulldozers, insisting on having their way and giving little thought to how their behavior impacts others.
If you—or someone you know—are a bully, here are four tips to help you end your bullying ways from the inside out:
1. Apologize: I apologize to those I victimized in my brokenness. There is never an acceptable excuse for abusing someone else. Pride gives bullying its strength. You won’t change your behavior until you own your wrongdoing.
2. Understand It: It’s important to be aware of what we do, but the real power is in understanding why we do it! I bullied to feel better about myself. Even though I stopped physically bullying others in elementary school, I still carried the attitude into my “grown up” friendships.
As an adult, I limited my vulnerability and trust, while encouraging friends to be transparent and open with me. Outwardly, I seemed capable of great personal sacrifice. In truth, I was simply selfish and wanted to hold all the emotional cards. When others needed me, more than I did them… I could get whatever I wanted. You can’t stop bullying until you realize what makes you start.
3. Value Boundaries: We’ve developed sophisticated terms to describe behavior that is nothing more than bullying. “She’s a go getter who doesn’t take no for an answer!” It sounds strong and positive. But the truth is—when it comes to interacting with others—knowing how to respect someone else’s “no” is a sign of emotional health.
Disrespecting someone else’s boundaries indicates that we lack emotional maturity. If we must have our way in a relationship, it shows that we don’t fully respect, or value, the other party. Our self-worth shouldn’t be rooted in always getting our way.
4. Be Accountable: Good people are capable of horrible things. I stopped bullying when others held me to a higher standard of behavior. As a reformed bully, I have learned that dealing with my self-hate was key to my transformation. Change started when others told me that my behavior would not be tolerated, but didn’t ostracize me. My circle of friends gave me the chance to make new decisions in the safety of a loving community, while having to face the fact that I had destroyed some things beyond repair.
Ask your closest friends/family, “Am I bully?” Discover the ways you bully others and work towards change.
Affirm out loud, “I respect the brilliance and power of others. I give everyone the space to be themselves!
Named the “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” by eWomenNetwork, Felicia T. Scott is a Certified Empowerment Coach™ who empowers her clients to turn their Worth into Wealth as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO the WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. Get more insight, download the FREE “8 Choices Winners Must Make” seminar MP3 on her website.