Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Now I’m going to say that if you have given someone your consent to make you feel inferior, do not be afraid to withdraw your consent and do not be afraid to let that person know that you have withdrawn your consent.

People who bully you and personally attack you want to have power over you. Refuse to let them have power over you.

You can try to reason with the bullies. You can try to show them how wrong what they’re doing to you is. You can try to reason with the higher ups, try to convince them how wrong what the bullies are doing to you is, try to bring the bullies to justice.

Unfortunately that is often a lost cause though. It is often a complete waste of your time and energy. Often times the bullies will never admit that what they’re doing to you is wrong because they are incapable of doing so or are unwilling to do so. Sometimes they realize that what they’re doing is wrong but they just don’t care. Sometimes no matter how well reasoned the argument you make is or how convincing it seems, the bullies will just find a way to dismiss it, mock it and turn your words against you. Sometimes the higher ups will do the same thing and refuse to intervene on your behalf because for whatever reason they are invested in protecting the bullies, not in protecting you.

Once you realize the bullies are never going to change their behavior or the way they view you, you need to work on changing your own behavior and the way you view yourself.

Bullies will pick on you for your supposed flaws and defects.You do have flaws that other people may find bothersome but so do the people who are picking on you.They are picking on your flaws because they are insecure about their own flaws. They may be projecting their own flaws on to you. They may be jealous of you for some reason. For example they may accuse you of lying and being deceitful because they realize that you are honest and genuine in a way that they are not.

Do not work on changing your supposed flaws and defects in order to please the bullies.There is no pleasing bullies.If your flaws and defects are pointed out in a mean spirited or condescending way that makes you feel bad by people who never point out your strengths and never make you feel good about yourself, then those people are not trying to help you. They are trying to hurt you and humiliate you.

Do not think that if you work on changing what they’re supposedly bothered  by or give in to their demands they will stop picking on you. The bullies do not want to stop picking on you. If you work on fixing one of your supposed flaws and giving in to one of their demands they will find a new flaw to pick on you for and make new demands.

Work on changing your actual flaws and defects for the sake of yourself and the people who care about you. If the people who care about you, the people who often make you feel good and point out your strengths, point out flaws that you have the power to change and they do so in a constructive manner, then it’s worth taking what they say in to consideration. Doing so will help them and it will help you.

You probably will be hurt by the the mean things people say and do.If you’re human it’s pretty hard not to be hurt by insults, personal attacks and nasty rumor spreading. It’s pretty hard not to feel hurt by social rejection and alienation.However, for all the hurtful comments that are made about you and all the hurtful things that are done to you, keep saying to yourself “Those comments and those actions are a reflection on those people, not a reflection on me.”

When people try to make you feel inferior with their hurtful words and actions, let their words have the opposite effect. Realize that you are kinder, smarter and more self aware than those people will ever be.

The common wisdom given is to just ignore the bullies, not engage with them, don’t give them the attention they crave. That’s good advice but I know that it’s a lot easier said than done. Sometimes you cannot avoid the bullies because you have to be where they are. Sometimes you want to be where they are because you also have friends, loved ones or people you like there. Sometimes you’re able to ignore them for a while but they just keep poking and prodding at you until eventually you snap.

Even if you are able to completely ignore the bullies, even if you are able to cut them out of your life, even if you no longer interact with them at all, even if you no longer read or listen to their hurtful comments, the bullies may still try to exert power over you. Once they realize you no longer care what they think of you, they may try to manipulate the image other people have of you. They may try to convince the people who like you and think well of you that they are wrong about you, that they need to realize just how awful you are. They may directly or indirectly exert pressure on your friends to stop being friends with you. They may directly or indirectly exert pressure on your friends to betray you and reveal information that you shared with them in confidence.

If a friend ditches you or betrays you because of the bullies, this can hurt more than anything the bullies ever said or did to you themselves. Once again you have to realize that what those friends did to you is a reflection of who they are, not a reflection of who you are. As much as you’re going to miss those friends, if they’re the kind of people who would do something like that to you, you’re better off without them in your life.

The problem is that while bullying makes you desperately in need a network of people who will support you and encourage you, it also makes it very hard for you to create and maintain such a support network. Bullying takes a huge toll on your self esteem. It makes you feel helpless,hopeless, worthless, depressed, ashamed and fearful. As much as you try to tell yourself otherwise, you can’t help but suspect that the bullies might be right about you, that you deserved to be treated the way you were.

Being bullied by one person is hard enough, being bullied by a large group of people is overwhelming. Unfortunately bullies do tend to draw their strength in numbers. If that’s the way so many people feel about you and treat you, you can’t help but wonder if that’s the way everyone feels about you and that’s the way everyone’s going to treat you.

Reaching out to people after you’ve been bullied can be a terrifying prospect. It can feel pointless and it can feel dangerous. What if you’re judged for what happened to you? What if when you talk about what happened, the bullies decide to retaliate against you? Even if people do befriend you, what if they decide to ditch you and betray you, either because they’re influenced by the bullies or because they’ve discovered all the flaws in you that the bullies discovered?  What if you’re only setting yourself up for further hurt?

Reaching out to people after you’ve been bullied and reaching out to people in general is always a risk. There’s always a chance that the people you reach out to will reject you, betray, judge you, be unkind to you. They might even end up bullying you.It’s a risk worth taking though.

The way the bullies feel about you and the way they treated you is not the way everyone feels about you and it’s not the way everyone’s going to treat you. It’s probably not even the way most people or the world in general feels about you or is going to treat you.

If you look hard enough you will find people who accept you and appreciate you for who you are. You will find people who are true friends, the kind of friends who will support you and encourage you, the kind of friends who will stand by your side through the good times and the bad times, who will not allow themselves to be influenced by the nasty things other people say about you or the pressure other people exert on them.

Some people deal with the pain they feel and experience by causing other people pain. Do not become of one of those people. Do not be like the people who bullied you. Create something positive out of your negative experience by using it to become a better, more compassionate person.

Reach out to other people who have been bullied. Stand up for people you see being bullied. Recognize and reflect on the tactics that were used to bully you and make you feel alienated. Make sure you do not behave in a way that could contribute to someone else being bullied and alienated, even if it will win you favor with other people. Choose being kind over being popular.

Bullies pick on people in an attempt to feel better about themselves but that is not going to make them truly happy. As Robert Green Ingersoll said “The way to be happy is to make others so.”

On the surface bullies seem brave and bold but deep down bullies are really cowards. If you stand up to them and your friends stand up to them they might back down. If these bullies are people you have to interact with than a direct approach might be best but if you don’t have to interact with them they’re not even worth addressing directly. Take away the power they have over you by ignoring the nasty things they say about you and not letting them get to you. Their opinion of you really doesn’t matter. The people in your life who do matter know the truth about you.

Bullies will come up with all kinds of justifications as to why they’re bullying you. They may claim they’re treating you that way because you’re annoying, rude, crazy, ugly, stupid etc, but none of those reasons are the real reason they are treating you like that. The real reason they are treating you badly is because they perceive you as being vulnerable. Show those people that while you may be vulnerable, you are not defenseless.

 

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