“It’s an unfortunate truth, but a lesson to learn. While your intentions may be pure and true, not everyone has the same heart as you.”
When we were little kids, it was pretty easy to spot a bully.
Usually, it was the kid in class whose daily mission was a relentless pursuit in the misery of others. On any given day this could mean spitballs shooting at rapid fire—when the teacher wasn’t looking—or insults, threats and jabs being hurled—when the teacher was an earshot away.
It was the kid in the playground who ridiculed and plotted, purposely leaving out one classmate during a round of kick ball or tripping the tormented as he ran by. This bully never tired of ways to torture. It was exhausting and upsetting and there came a moment—whether you were the victim or a witness—when you realized that in life, not everyone would be your friend.
I’d like to say that as we get older all this childish, diminishing behavior dissipates, but as well all know, sometimes it simply carries on, infiltrating our lives in any area.
It’s just that as adults, bullies can be harder to identify. Instead of being obvious with the attacks, for the most part the bullies around us today blend into our daily canvas much more easily, subtly screwing with our heads.
Because of this we often excuse or ignore bad behavior, chalking it up to our imagination or making excuses for the offender. We convince ourselves that what was said or done wasn’t that bad or meant the way we heard it or didn’t hurt us that much—even if in our hearts it’s a total lie. It’s because we don’t want to believe we are in the presence of a grown-up bully, especially if it’s someone close to us.
Don’t get me wrong. As adults, we all can have a bad day. Sometimes we even have a string of bad days. We can be cranky, moody, snappy, and downright miserable.
But the thing is most of us recognize this and eventually reset to be our normal, everyday, mostly pleasant selves!
This is why when we see other adults behaving badly, we try to excuse it. We know that everyone has their moments and we want to see the best in people, not the worst.
We take an adult time-out, count to ten, and act like it never happened.
But what about the people who are consistently mean-spirited or passive aggressive with their bad behavior?
It might be the friend who never has a positive thing to say about what you’re doing in your life, even when you are ridiculously happy and proud of your path.
It could be a family member who criticizes everything from your weight to your choice of shoes to what you’re ordering off a menu even when you’ve asked them not to.
It could be that colleague or boss who undermines your opinions, your work and makes you feel unqualified, inexperienced or uneducated anytime you speak up even when you are exactly where you are meant to be (because you are).
When we were kids and saw this bad behavior, we instinctively tried to protect ourselves.
We would confront the bully, avoid the bully or find other means of protection. Sometimes it worked; other times it didn’t.
But as adults, we often push our instinct aside, especially when this person is a permanent fixture in our lives. (But are they? I’ll let you decide that one.) So we try to be forgiving and understanding—which is a good thing.
I think we have to be careful, though. Don’t be so forgiving that soon you are being taken advantage of, shot down at every turn or worse.
Don’t let your intuition get so drowned out that soon you question your truths, your beliefs, your knowledge, your skills, your morals, your values, your core essence, your humanity.
This happens the moment you stop believing what you to know to be true and start believing what the bullies are saying.
Mantra: “I trust my instinct and stay true to who I am.”
It doesn’t matter why these people are the way they are or what their motives or agenda is.
That’s not for you to figure out.
In fact, there’s only one thing you have to do.
You need to be aware and protect yourself.
Mantra: “I notice the energy around me. I am protected wherever I go.”
By recognizing that sometimes people don’t have your best interest at heart or are simply reflecting their own insecurities onto you, you will become more mindful.
It may be hard to admit it to yourself, but once you do, you will feel a sense of control in these interactions that was missing before.
Take a soulful timeout and trust what your instinct is telling you. (Tweet that!)
You will find you are better able to sort out constructive criticism (because not everyone is out to get you!) or someone’s bad day from plain and simple bullying behavior.
There is one more thing you can do.
Consciously choose your energy to be positive and reflect that back on them. It might not make a difference in how they act or treat you, but it will make you feel better to take a step back and bring some positivity to these interactions.
It will calm and center you. It will remind you of who you are and how you want to be in the world.
Because one thing I know for sure is this:
No matter how others are behaving, how you carry yourself in the world matters. (Tweet that!)
Because it’s true.