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Old 03-19-2017
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Any thoughts on bullying or situations when you don't feel adequately skilled in conversation to be able to stand up for yourself? How do you deal with bullying, whether it's the subtle taunting kind, or the extreme, physically abusive kind? Are there ways to deal with it without having to fight back or stoop to their level? I'll post my own thoughts below....
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Old 03-19-2017
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Whether it's the worst kind where you're being physically abused to brutal degree's, or the subtle kind with verbal taunts and jibes, the nature of bullying is the same; One person is inflicting harm upon a 2nd person that goes beyond the 2nd person's ability to adequately deal with and prevent this harm.

If the 2nd person feels comfortable in dealing with the 1st, then even though the 1st person's behaviour may still be considered bullying, there is no harm caused to the 2nd person. For example, online abuse. One person may post abusive comments, but the 2nd person may have developed a thick enough skin to be able to just ignore and dismiss the comments without a second thought.

It's also possible that one person can cause harm to a second person beyond their ability to deal with it, without being a bully. For example, one person may want to be friends with a 2nd person and constantly follow them around, asking them questions while the 2nd person wants to be left alone, but feels inadequately skilled to convey this to the 1st person. The 1st person's intentions are innocent, but the 2nd person may still feel bullied.

So the sting of bullying seems to lie in the 2nd person's feeling that they are inadequately skilled to deal with the person causing them harm and make it stop. This doesn't mean I blame the 2nd person. In most bullying situations, the aggressor is the one who has committed the moral violation. But if the 2nd person knew how to deal with the 1st person, the problem would be solved for the 2nd person.

So how should the 2nd person deal with the 1st? Firstly I think you need to figure out whether the 1st person is doing something wrong or not. If the 1st person is taunting and mocking you, insulting you, physically harming you, stealing from you, etc, then obviously they're in the wrong. But it's also possible to cause harm to another person without doing anything wrong. For example, a superior who disciplines you, an infant who cries incessantly, a depressed friend who keeps asking for help. A person could feel powerless and bullied in all these situations, without it being the perpetrator's fault. The tricky part is the grey area in the middle where perhaps a person is teasing you to a degree that's uncomfortable to you, but is not uncomfortable to most others, but I'll come back to that.

If you conclude that the 1st person is not doing anything wrong, then it may change the way you respond to them, from a less aggressive response to a more sympathetic one. But none the less, you're still left with the problem of how to deal with them and make the harm you're experiencing come to an end. So how do you deal with them? Well, seems to me that there's a scale of responses available, from ignoring them to outright violence, and we should work our way up the scale until the harm has gone.

Ignoring is my favourite method, because it doesn't require me to have to think of anything to say and I can still feel justified that I've responded in a mature and uncowardly fashion. I've seen video's of people being physically and verbally abused, but they don't fight back, they just stand their ground and take it, and I always find that there's something so heroic and noble about this response. Often the abuser is looking for a reaction and when you blow up and get angry and violent, they laugh all the harder and you end up feeling even more guilty that you stooped to their level, or you may even get yourself into trouble. Ignoring can often take huge amounts of self control and will power because you may be worried that people will think you're a coward for not responding, or your pride might be hurt because you've just been belittled and your reputation has been attacked or tarnished, and you may also be seething with anger. But I still believe that ignoring a bully is often the most effective response. The philosopher John Locke believed this too, and so did Martin Luther King Jr and Ghandi. It's the most peaceful response. If you can stay strong in your mind, focus on the truth, don't care what others are thinking and dismiss their insults like water off a ducks back, then you can often make it through an abusive encounter with your head held high.

I think it's possible to develop a thick skin to verbal attacks. If you imagine an extreme example, where your entire school or workplace or community are all insulting you and laughing at you. They're winding you up and saying horrible things to get a reaction. It's a game to them. They all hate you because they think very lowly of you. They think you're worthless. Then, if you imagine yourself, standing absolutely zen like in the middle of all this. They hurl abuse and it makes no contact on you. It means nothing to you, because not one of them has access or control of your mind. Only you are the gatekeeper and no-one else. They say you're ugly, but you've already answered that question for yourself. You know you're about average and you're fine with that. So they're wrong, dismiss it. They say you're a coward. Well, yes, sometimes you are, and other times you're brave, but you're doing your best and that's your own issue to deal with in your own time. You don't have to address it right now. So dismiss it. They say it's rude not to answer their questions, but you could stay silent for the rest of your life if you chose, and you wouldn't be hurting anybody else. The power to choose when to talk is a gift given wholly to you; as the police say, you have the right to remain silent. So dismiss it again. You could play this game all day. Just dismiss everything that's hurled at you and remain totally unchanged and unfazed in the centre of it all. You could even treat it as practice for thickening your skin further. So that's a nice thought exercise.

One of the problems with the ignoring method is that the 1st person may never even realise that they're causing you harm, unless you actively communicate your displeasure to them in some form, so this is where you may have to use other responses. The next response is subtle hints and usually, in my experience, a subtle hint is enough to show another person that you don't like a behaviour of theirs, and they'll usually stop. But what if the person doesn't get the hint and carries on?

Well, somewhere along the line you're gonna have to voice your displeasure, and this is the part I find hard cause it can get so awkward and make things worse if you're not careful. If you can voice your displeasure in light, subtle, joking ways, then that might be enough for the 1st person to get the hint. But if that doesn't work you might have to get serious and confront them and this can really damage a relationship. Sometimes if you reveal to a bully that they're causing you harm, it might make their day and spur them on even more. If you "voice" your displeasure in a serious but silent way by storming off or rudely blanking the person this might let the bully know they've gotten under your skin too. But just standing there and letting a bully abuse you as they please when you don't have to, seems dis-empowering so you should try to walk away as soon as you can. But I think you have to ignore them but keep it within the realms of social acceptability, and maybe only voice your displeasure in a serious way if you feel that the 1st person will respond well and it won't just spur them on. If you can find the social confidence to be forceful with them then great, but not all of us have that gift.

Now, further down the scale, are more aggressive responses like telling the person to go f*** themselves, or, if they're being violent to you, being violent back, and some people swear by these responses, and I'm not totally against it. I think there may be circumstances when an aggressive response is required, but personally, I think this is usually the wrong response, cause it just perpetuates the hate. Even though I would absolutely LOVE to use these methods, I sense that a more measured and controlled method would be wiser.

I feel like I have more thoughts to vent on the matter, but one final thing I'll say is that I think it's good to be bendable like a willow branch and realise that you can't know for sure what will happen in the future; you can't prepare for every eventuality, so I think it's good to relax, and let go a bit, and try to be bendable and go with the flow. A tree with rigid branches breaks under pressure, but a tree with bendable branches absorbs the pressure and bounces back.
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theslowesthand (03-20-2017)
Old 03-20-2017
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Sounds good in theory!
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Old 03-20-2017
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Originally Posted by theslowesthand View Post
Sounds good in theory!
Thanks, I'm impressed that you read all that! Yes, in "theory"! I've recently been given an opportunity to test some of this out and one thing I've noticed is that it's near impossible for me to not feel anxiety and fear and awkwardness as soon as the slightest taunting starts, even if, in my mind, I feel confident in my theories. It's like my body just generates anxiety beyond my power to control. But nevertheless I'm still finding my theories are a nice guide, and getting my thoughts in order can soften the experience a little.
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Old 03-21-2017
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This is a method i'm trying to teach myself. It's part made up & part copied. It's about trying to avoid bad reactions to people in general, and so :. this also includes bullying.

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Angry? 'Good for me!'
To "fight"? No, preferably to "flee"
That's to avoid a confused melee, you see
Choice A is to get mad
Choice B is to become sad
Choice C is to be glad
Glad is the best choice to be had
But how to be glad, when all you really want is to be mad, or sad?
You say 'Good for me!', and then ascend
That turns the threat from foe to friend
And that my friend, is where the anger will end
A useful lesson will be learned
And upon doing so, returning sanity is earned!
It seems to be working, but the real tests have yet to be met. Why it is, i think is due to the simplicity of having to remember basically one thing - 'good' (the rest is easily recalled from that one word). Even in extreme situations (altercations or anger) i have found that it readily comes to mind. The theory is, i think, that we create our own unwanted situations by reacting to others in a negative way, that is, by first labelling the event/whatever as negative. But when we either label it as positive or don't label it at all, then it doesn't internally escalate to mammoth proportions, & so it doesn't trigger further "negativity" from them (and so on).

Also, repeating 'good' (or 'positive') over and over, helps with reducing the body's fight-or-flight response & :. anxiety. This will help you to stay calm during a bullying attack, which is essential (as they can "sniff" fear a mile off).
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worrywort (03-21-2017)
Old 03-21-2017
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That poem is brilliant! I'm gonna write that down and keep it forever! Thanks

Yea I can totally understand that method, because I've noticed the shift happening in my mind sometimes. A person will say something maybe slightly provocative, but in my mind, because I fear humiliation so much, I'm highly alert to insults and threats and so I perceive what the person said as a big attack; as though their true intention is to just belittle me and make me look like an idiot for their own enjoyment. And so I start to respond really defensively; my spikes are up, and I'll say something out of anger, and then the conversation will just descend from there. But when I have time to reflect and realise the 1st person probably had good intentions, the anger and fear goes away in my mind too. I guess the tricky part is when the 1st person doesn't have good intention and actually is trying to belittle you. But I guess in theory you could still think of it from a "good" perspective; as though it's training for thickening your own skin or something, but it's much harder.

But I love the poem and the idea behind it, I'll definitely remember that one!
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Old 03-21-2017
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I consider ignoring the worse thing I did. If I had to chance to return to school, I would have chosen the communicative path or even the aggresive one.

I donīt believe that you grow thick skin as a result of getting bullied. It just fcked me up. I can think of very few benefits that that brought me, tbh.
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Old 03-21-2017
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I consider ignoring the worse thing I did. If I had to chance to return to school, I would have chosen the communicative path or even the aggresive one.

I donīt believe that you grow thick skin as a result of getting bullied. It just fcked me up. I can think of very few benefits that that brought me, tbh.
This actually rings true to me, even after everything I wrote about ignoring bullies. I can relate to this feeling a lot. I hate that feeling when something's bothering me but I'm too afraid to say anything, so I just bottle it up. Maybe there's a time to ignore and a time to confront, depending on the situation. I'm not sure. To be honest, I'm very confused over how to deal with bullies and humiliation! My post was really just my attempt to try and make sense of it all a little.

I was on my bike once and this teenage girl, infront of her friends, kicked a load of muddy puddle water in my face as I went past, and they all laughed. I ignored it and carried on, but I don't think I should have. I should've confronted her. It's not acceptable behaviour.

A guy at my work used to relish in mocking and belittling the football team I support. Several times a day he'd seek me out to share with me an abusive joke directed towards my team, or he'd remind me of their past failures and humiliations and challenge me with invasive, uncomfortable questions. I decided to ignore him and he gradually got bored of me and backed off. If I'd have confronted him I think it would've made things worse.

One more example, the caretaker at the school I clean, pressured me into giving up my day off to help him build a shed. When he first started suggesting he may need help I instantly felt uneasy and should've expressed my concern there and then, but I bottled it. As the days went on he continued to suggest and negotiate and I continued to bottle my unease and instead went along with him, just trying to please him, afraid to say no. But as the day approached I felt so angry at myself for sacrificing this day off that I'd been so looking forward to, and so angry at the caretaker for pressuring me into helping him do something that isn't even my job, that i eventually decided to confront him, and it was kinda awkward. I'm kinda proud I had the balls to confront him, but at the same time our relationship is now strained. So the moral of that story is that it's often much better to communicate things that are bothering you immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

I know these are hardly bullying stories compared to the hell that a lot of other's go through, but they're just examples that came to mind for me. I'm not sure how to tell when it's best to ignore or to confront though.
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Old 03-24-2017
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Iīm not quite sure what you mean by "confront." When an adult does something that makes me feel uncomfortable and I think is pushing it, I simply tell them the way I feel and maintain a calmly assertive attitude.
I believe with practice you get good at this skill.

I have bullied people myself on several occasions as well as having been bullied, so I have both perspectives.

If there is a big difference in power between the two parties, calm assertiveness may not always work. You may have to raise your voice and assert yourself like that. Or use force. Or ignoring may work if you have a certain personality.

Often, when I am bullying someone, I donīt find myself aware of this fact, so if they didnīt tell me that they felt hurt, I would continue with the behaviour. And sometimes they may need to tell me several times before it sinks in.

When they assert themselves, I sometimes get defensive and angry but upon reflection I usually think it benefits both parties if I find the claim justified.

Often by remaining silent you are making it worse for everyone.


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This actually rings true to me, even after everything I wrote about ignoring bullies. I can relate to this feeling a lot. I hate that feeling when something's bothering me but I'm too afraid to say anything, so I just bottle it up. Maybe there's a time to ignore and a time to confront, depending on the situation. I'm not sure. To be honest, I'm very confused over how to deal with bullies and humiliation! My post was really just my attempt to try and make sense of it all a little.

I was on my bike once and this teenage girl, infront of her friends, kicked a load of muddy puddle water in my face as I went past, and they all laughed. I ignored it and carried on, but I don't think I should have. I should've confronted her. It's not acceptable behaviour.

A guy at my work used to relish in mocking and belittling the football team I support. Several times a day he'd seek me out to share with me an abusive joke directed towards my team, or he'd remind me of their past failures and humiliations and challenge me with invasive, uncomfortable questions. I decided to ignore him and he gradually got bored of me and backed off. If I'd have confronted him I think it would've made things worse.

One more example, the caretaker at the school I clean, pressured me into giving up my day off to help him build a shed. When he first started suggesting he may need help I instantly felt uneasy and should've expressed my concern there and then, but I bottled it. As the days went on he continued to suggest and negotiate and I continued to bottle my unease and instead went along with him, just trying to please him, afraid to say no. But as the day approached I felt so angry at myself for sacrificing this day off that I'd been so looking forward to, and so angry at the caretaker for pressuring me into helping him do something that isn't even my job, that i eventually decided to confront him, and it was kinda awkward. I'm kinda proud I had the balls to confront him, but at the same time our relationship is now strained. So the moral of that story is that it's often much better to communicate things that are bothering you immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

I know these are hardly bullying stories compared to the hell that a lot of other's go through, but they're just examples that came to mind for me. I'm not sure how to tell when it's best to ignore or to confront though.
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worrywort (03-26-2017)
Old 03-26-2017
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Often, when I am bullying someone, I donīt find myself aware of this fact, so if they didnīt tell me that they felt hurt, I would continue with the behaviour. And sometimes they may need to tell me several times before it sinks in.
Yea this rings true to me too. Thanks for your thoughts. I think you're right. I think I'm a touch too attracted to the ignoring method simply because I'm scared of having to tell someone they're behaviour bothers me. It's tricky, I still think there are times when ignoring may be the best response, but I definitely know the feeling when something or someone is bothering you and you can just casually mention it there and then and the problem is often solved almost instantly. But when you let things fester and go unchallenged, then problems can occur. Hmm, yea food for thought. Thanks.
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Old 03-27-2017
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Yea this rings true to me too. Thanks for your thoughts. I think you're right. I think I'm a touch too attracted to the ignoring method simply because I'm scared of having to tell someone they're behaviour bothers me. It's tricky, I still think there are times when ignoring may be the best response, but I definitely know the feeling when something or someone is bothering you and you can just casually mention it there and then and the problem is often solved almost instantly. But when you let things fester and go unchallenged, then problems can occur. Hmm, yea food for thought. Thanks.
I never challenged the bullies (at school) as my self-esteem was too low, so i felt i deserved it. So the bullying carried on and on.
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