It isn’t as much as what’s said or done, it’s what is taken away. It’s the aftermath. It’s the ideas and the thoughts and feelings that linger after the abuse. This is the real theft. This is what bullying does. It’s not just being picked on, shoved or kicked around. This is more than the character assassinations or the cancellation of someone’s character. Bullying is the humiliation that lingers like an unseen scar, which in some cases will last a lifetime.
You have to have true “Hate” in your heart to leave a scar like this. You have to be twisted to want to hurt someone like this. You have to be really angry or at least really tormented to want to cancel or assassinate someone’s character. But to what avail?
And this is it. Isn’t it?
Isn’t this what happens?
There has to be a reason for this. There has to be a pathology or science to the reasons behind bullying because first and foremost, happy people do not bully. Satisfied people do not bully. People who are comfortable in their skin and secure with their position do not bully.
The answer is no.
Happy people do not feel the need to make someone feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Comfortable people do not look to shoot down someone’s dreams or destroy the goodness of someone’s heart.
Sure, there’s a science to this. And sure, there is a reason why people bully. But whatever the reason is and regardless to the science behind bullying, somewhere there is a little kid that just wishes they were more likable so that no one else would pick on them ever again. Somewhere is a little kid that doesn’t really care about the reasons or the science behind bullying. These kids don’t even know what the word “Pathology” means. All they know is they want the bullying to stop.
I admit it. I was picked on. I was bullied. I was tossed around a few times and learned to take my bumps. The truth is I always wanted to be popular. I always wanted to fit in. Then again, who doesn’t? What kid goes to school and asks to be the odd one? What kid asks to be unnoticed? What kid asks to be picked last or pointed at and ridiculed? No one ever wants this spot. No one asks to be awkward or uncomfortable and no one signs up to be chewed up by the rumor factories and the gossip mills.
There is something to the mob mentality that troubles me. There is something about the inability to be “You” as you “Are” and feel as though something is wrong because “You” are not like everyone or anyone else. There is something wrong with this. There is something wrong any time we fail to celebrate the amazing uniqueness of an individual.
But such is life. Such is the way things are with herd mentality. There are predators and there are prey and of course, the predators look for the weakest in the flock. They look for the obvious. They look for the outward and the apparent because this is the easy target.
I was a target a few times in my life. I certainly know how it feels to be churned by the gears in the rumor factory. I know what the process is like on both ends because in fairness, I’ve had my share of guilt too — and the reason for this is because this was a means of social survival. Although I regret my involvement with this; I admit to who I was to absolve myself from my wrongs. This is how I passed the torch because as long as someone else was the focus, this meant that I could hide and not be “The one.”
Why was I bullied?
I bullied because I was small and weak — and partly because I tried too hard, partly because I put myself out there at the wrong times because I was just trying to make friends, and partly because I was afraid to be alone, partly because it was obvious that I was uncomfortable and vulnerable, and partly because commercially, my body was never the right way; I was never the big strong guy — I was always small and skinny with a much younger look to me, like a baby-face, which meant I could only be cute at best, which is not the same as being desired or feeling desirable — and partly because I was petrified to be left out and worried that I was not worthy of being included — I submitted myself to the mental warfare of bullying because I never knew my own value.
I believed the bullies. I believed the ugly lies. I fed into the names and the emotional quicksand that comes with this. As a description, emotional quicksand is what happens when you drown in your own self because no matter how hard you try and break free; you only sink deeper. Put simply, this is when we drown in our own shame and regret. This is when the heavy mixtures of shame and humiliation weigh us down — and after a while, you just can’t breathe anymore.
By the way, this is just an honest detail. This may seem uncomfortable to some. However, I have grown stronger and become much more comfortable with me and my truth. And this is absolutely my truth.
I am a firm believer that there is no theft worse than the theft of a childhood. No kid should have their childhood stolen. And bullying is a theft. This steals hopes and dreams; it squashes desires and destroys aspirations. Oh, and if anyone honestly believes that bullying does not play a role in pre-teen and teenage suicides, please, see to it that you educate yourself.
Now, on one hand, I was bullied. And yet, on the other hand, I bullied as well. My reasons might be the same or different but either way, I admit to my crimes and for my amends, I have done what I can to help repair what I could. This is why I create groups and programs.
I openly discuss my reasons as well as my insecurities with hopes to give a better view into the mind of both bullies and the bullied.
Make no mistake. This is a theft. This is what bullying does. However, it would be dishonest to say that bullying ends once we leave the playgrounds. Bullying doesn’t stop once we leave the classroom or walk away with a high school diploma.
I have seen my share of bullies as a kid but I have met plenty more as an adult. I have seen them in boardrooms and sitting behind desks in offices. I have seen what people do to each other in the corporate world. I have watched bullies like this go out to crush someone’s earning abilities just to be the king of the hill.
Do you remember the game king of the hill? We used to play this as kids. Everyone tried to throw each other down from the hill and the last one standing is the king. This is what bullying is too.
I’ve seen the corporate knives in the backs of good people that only wished for a better chance to do their job. I’ve heard the rumors and the gossip at the water coolers and in the break-rooms. I’ve seen the spirit of people squashed, and why? I’ll tell you why. This is because someone that has their own problems and their own defects used them for firewood as soon as they felt a chill in the air.
Same as bullies in the classroom have a science behind their ways, so do the bullies in the adult world, in which case, age means nothing.
Real leaders do not lead this way. True leaders do not put down their team. Instead, true leaders look to encourage everyone down to their weakest links. A true leader will look to teach, strengthen and promote by showing their weaker links that yes, as a member of the team, they are truly a valuable asset.
Real leaders look to empower. True leaders encourage and enlist. A strong leader is not afraid for their position nor are they afraid to listen to suggestions from the lower rungs of management because they fear that someone’s idea might be better than theirs. The reason for this is because real leaders are comfortable in their own skin.
A true leader has the ability to listen to their team. There is no intimidation. There is no reason to rule with fear because mutual respect has strengthened the backbone of the team. And that’s what a leader is.
A leader is a member of the team.
Bullies aren’t team players. Bullies are still acting like we did when we were in grade school. They’re still playing king of the hill to prove their superiority.
Still, it’s not what a bully says or does. Regardless of age, a bully is a thief. This is a theft of services. This is the aftermath that lingers for much longer than a bruise. This is much worse than a physical beating. This is the slow submersion into the swamps of emotional quicksand, which drown us with depression and anxiety. And this is why bullying must be stopped and addressed at a young age. This way little bullies don’t grow up to become big ones. But oh, just for the record, the biggest bully I’ve ever encountered in the adult or “Corporate” world was a little woman in a high position. And put simply, because she lacked the confidence in her ability — she made sure that others would lack confidence in theirs as well.
Whereas a real leader would encourage their team; a bully would discourage them, just to be king of the hill.
As for me, if I am ever going to be a leader then let me be the kind of leader that encourages, empowers, improves and supports. That’s the kind of leader I want to be.
How about you?