I admit it. I am not a fan of bullies. Then again, who is?
I’m not a fan of anyone or anything that looks to punish or humiliate people just to keep them down or to keep them meek.
I see these people. I see them all the time.
I see them and their insecurities. Let’s face it, we all know this is true. No one bullies people because they are comfortable with themselves or because they’re well-adjusted.
Safe to say that I have encountered bullies of all kinds. I’ve met the physical ones and the social ones. I’ve met the corporate bullies and the positional bullies at work who utilize the pecking order as means to haze and treat people like subordinates.
I have bled in more ways than one at the hand of different bullies; but more, the biggest crime of bullying comes with the aftermath. Here lies the true theft of services. This is where we churn out thoughts that center around a boundary violation or personal imposition.
I have met those who use passive/aggressive styles to which I refer to them as the gossip bullies. They are the machinists at the rumor factories who stir up lies and the nonsense just to sit in the background while other people fight it out.
I have seen this in stealth-like warfare and calculative moves, just to create a sense of havoc or build more fire to the toxic atmospheres at work.
But of all things I have seen and of the worst I have encountered; the biggest and most ferocious bully of all time is the bully of the mind. This is the bully in our head, namely us or namely me.
This is the thinking that goes on and personalizes everything.
This is the voice in our head and the drawn-out conversation that goes on within our mind which we entertain and interact with.
Then the frustration grows and gets bigger and bigger.
Until finally, we explode.
Next, we’re having arguments in our head.
Next, we’re practicing our responses for when the next conversation comes our way.
“No one is going to talk to me like that!”
This is the battle of shame and vulnerability which takes place in our mind. However, the question remains, which is the crime? Is the crime the imposition itself? Or, is the crime the way we butcher our internal windings by reliving moments and re-litigating a conversation after it’s gone away?
As I see it, this is the crime.
The crime turns inwards because the crime is ours if we continue to interact with it.
I have had these internal talks with myself. I have had the stressor-based scenarios go on in my head. To be clear, I have experienced this to the point where my thinking ruined good opportunities to enjoy my day.
And for what? Because someone said something that I didn’t like?
Somebody hurt my feelings?
Or. maybe this is my ego, which I am open to exploring. However, this is not so much about the great “I am” but instead, this is more about the internal windings of my thinking. In an effort to process my situations, I have to learn how to explore my thinking.
This is the hardwired avenues of thought which have been habitual and instilled after years of experience. In association with my connection to old bouts of shame or humiliation, my mind takes me on an unnecessary journey where, in all honesty, I drive myself crazy because of assumptions that may or may not be true (or important).
Do you know what this is called?
This is called honesty . . .
My good friend Mitch once told me, “Don’t play that movie out in your head. It never ends well.”
I have to agree with Mitch on this one.
I have to admit that the wiring and the diagram of my thinking can be off-putting; but more, we have a way of pushing ourselves to the limit for no reason at all.
So, now what?
What do I do if I don’t want to think this way?
First step is recognizing this.
Next step is deconstructing its truths.
The biggest bully is the mind.
But more, the biggest challenge we face as people is the catastrophizing ideas which we can literally see unfold in our imagination. Then what happens?
Well, I can tell you what happens to me when I do this.
I’m ready for war. I’m ready for the battles which I assume will come my way. Therefore, I am prepared to fight. I am wired to blow and to those who are around me, I suppose they’ll have to take cover because the worst damage in scenarios like this is the collateral damage. This comes to the innocent bystanders or the people who are close to us.
Much of this type of thinking is based on various social intimidations.
This can come from old messages or memories from the past that have imprinted themselves in our way of thinking. Either way, now that we know where this comes from, the question becomes, how do we make this stop?
I was sitting in a classroom somewhere up near 105th Street when the instructor advised us: Sometimes, you have to challenge your assumptions.
In fairness, I must have heard people say this a thousand times before. But somehow, a light went on.
I heard this differently.
We have to challenge our assumptions.
Okay . . .
So, let’s work this out.
Since this journal is entitled Answer the Question, I will start with a mild to basic example and follow through with the first question: What the hell was I thinking?
Let’s look at a workplace scenario. There doesn’t need to be too much detail. Let’s place this down nice and simple.
Let’s say that I was spoken to in a way that would be called unprofessional and somewhat bullying.
Did this happen?
Answer – yes.
So let’s take this for what it is.
First: is this true?
Is this really what happened?
Was I really bullied or did I interpret this with assumptions of my own?
Or is this a position of the mind and if so, if I’m being truthful about what transpired, is this more about my fears of loss or being pushed out or left-out and being unwanted?
Is this more about my insecurity?
Even if what my assumptions were are true, how much does this matter?
So, let’s see.
Is this more about my projection of someone else’s judgment upon myself than me internalizing this as fact?
Is this more of a resentment because I placed myself in a situation that, deep-down, I knew this wasn’t the right place for me to begin with?
These are great and truthful questions that can help me deconstruct what took place and accurately place my finger where it belongs, which is on me.
I go back to the lesson I was taught about the sunk-cost fallacy; whereas we invest in something and rather than accept that something will not work or be financially beneficial, out of emotion, we invest more because we don’t want to incur a loss.
So, what do we do?
We invest more under the fallacy that maybe we can change the dynamics of our investment. But in the end, we would have saved ourselves time, money and a hell of a lot of frustration if we accepted that the investment was not fit.
Notice how I didn’t say our investment was a loss.
No investment is a loss unless we fail to give it its proper perspective
Sometimes we want things to work so bad and we try so hard that we turn a blind eye to the warning signs.
Sometimes we want something so badly that we forget about the evidence which suggests that our time would be better invested someplace else.
This happens with love, life, business and friendships. Therefore, if I am taking an honest inventory of myself and going back with an honest, open mindset about a bullying experience, I can be honest about the facts of this interaction.
Yes. I can say that bullying goes on.
Yes, I can say that in my case, without going over all the gory details, I can see where there were dishonesties on the other side.
I can also see my association with this relationship which I knew was better left alone.
So, then who am I mad at?
Am I mad at this case of bullying in a workplace situation?
Or am I mad that I kept trying to please people that we not pleasable?
Am I mad that I wasn’t accepted the way I wanted to be accepted?
Am I angry because this didn’t go my way and that, in fairness to me as a 50 year-old man, I was really interacting like a brat or a kid who was pissed because I didn’t get my way.
If I am being honest, which is the only reason why I detail any of this, the answer is yes to all the above.
I knew that things in this work situation were not fair.
I know where I invested my time and I also know where I could have walked away without subjecting myself to any other frustrations.
Sometimes things do not work out.
This is true in business, in life, in love and, as well, this happens with friendship too.
Sometimes we try to fix the unfixable and sometimes we try to control the uncontrollable. Rather than accept the game of life as it is, we somehow equate our so-called failures to our personal value and our identity. Therefore, we don’t want to take the loss because we think that a loss means that we are a loser.
Most times, we’re really pissed at ourselves for allowing us to be in a situation that we never wanted.
In the case of the sunk-cost fallacy vs me, the sunk-cost is what cost me some sleep and some hours of internal thought and deliberation.
What the hell was I thinking?
I was thinking that I wanted my way to work out.
But my way simply didn’t fit.
I was thinking that I wanted to create a position for myself and build something that would help validate me as a worker and a creator which, in fairness to myself, I am a worker and a creator. I don’t need attention or a pat on the back. That’s my ego which needs this.
I took on the onslaught of rejective thinking. I allowed myself the time and the moment to lick my wounds and recover.
Now, what I’ll do is learn from this and invest more wisely.
I have been part of a 12-step recovery program for more than 31 years of my life. While for several differences (and reasons) I decided to seek a different level of personal recovery; I understand the value and the necessity of taking personal inventory.
I have learned that to improve my personal understanding, I have to raise my levels of awareness to heighten my best levels of personal consciousness.
What does this mean to anyone else?
What does this have to do with the bully inside of our heads?
Well, I can explain it like this – once we know the truth and we can recognize our part in this interaction, we can heal, learn and improve.
But first, we need to have an honest capacity to look at ourselves with all humility which means there can be no ego.
No ego at all.
There is a brilliant quote that comes from a man who was predicted to be dead by the doctors at his birth.
This man’s name is Sean Stephenson. While his height was not much more than 2’ tall and though his bones were brittle and although he lived with osteogenesis imperfecta, Stephenson was the biggest, most powerful and strongest man alive.
In spite of whatever pains he went through or challenges he faced, this man smiled at everyone.
Sean Stephenson was a motivational speaker, therapist; and more, this man was a true hero.
My favorite quote of all times comes from this man.
Never believe in a prediction that does not empower you.
Thank you Mr. Stephenson.
I think we all need to remember this.
I think we all forget sometimes but fortunately, we have people like you or people like the ones we love who come along and tell us, “You deserve better.”
So what am I thinking now?
I’m not thinking about my resentment anymore.
I took its power away by deconstructing its truth and reconstructing my own worth by investing my time in a beneficial way.
It’s time to invest elsewhere, but nott because of the loss.
It’s because I deserve more of a gain.