One time when I was just a kid, someone called me stupid and I told my dad about it. His response to me was, “Well, are you?” “No!” “Okay then, why are you upset? If they think you’re stupid and you aren’t, then they’re the one with a problem, not you.” This taught me a couple life lessons; that people only make themselves look bad when they speak badly about others, that people are showing their weakness when they try and bring others down to join them in their miserable state, and most importantly, that if I’m secure in who I am, it doesn’t matter what others think of me.

Who is a Bully?

Bullies are usually individuals in desperate need of attention, or just flat-out evil people with no regard for others, or people that are simply continuing a cycle of hurt and pain that someone else rolled over onto them. Many aren’t bad people, they’re victims that have been abused or neglected and have felt a sense of crippling powerlessness. Instead of maturing and using their pain as a springboard fueling their desire for success in life, they whither and allow the pain to hold them hostage. In order to feel in control, they try and enact power over people they think will allow them to steer the reigns. By poking at you, bullies try and get a reaction which shows they’ve successfully manipulated your emotions. Regardless of your reaction, whether negative or positive, they’ve affected you in some way and that’s all they wanted. Unless you’re a professional, it’s best to stay away from any and all negativity. A bully has no power when they’re completely ignored. There’s no need to get defensive if someone is talking nonsense. Bullies don’t need help making themselves look bad. There’s a saying that goes something like: “A fool and a gentleman were arguing, but I couldn’t tell which was which.” Stooping to their level to actually engage in a back and forth will only make you look as foolish and them. Even a response of encouragement, “words of wisdom”, or something like, “I’ll pray for you,” isn’t usually helpful and will only incite the bully to poke harder to try and get you to fall off your high horse. If you truly want to pray for someone, just pray for them! Don’t let a bully have that false sense of empowerment by responding to their negativity, you’ll only be feeding the beast.

True power comes from inside of you and has nothing to do with how people feel about you, or whether or not people respond to you. Don’t place your happiness in the laps of other people. It comes from feeling good about yourself which is a feeling you’ll have when you decide to treat others with love and respect. You get what you give, and if you give good things, you’ll get good things back. And when you put negativity out in the world, you end up destroying yourself.

Avoiding the Bully

Even if bullying gets to the point of violence, my advice is still the same – avoid it at all costs! When I was learning Kung Fu, my Sifu not only taught us self-defense, he also taught us if you can run, RUN! There’s just too much that can go wrong. The human body is very fragile and all it takes is a hit or kick in the wrong spot, a push that causes someone to fall and hit their head…You don’t want to be responsible for someone’s accidental death! That would haunt you for the rest of your life! Or what about people that just can’t lose? What if you hurt someone just trying to defend yourself and they come back the next day with a bunch of friends, or a knife, or a gun!? When you can run, RUN! Report violent people and avoid their path.

Stay away from people who want to tear you down in any way. Bullies and non-bullies alike all need to know - you are loved! There are people in this world who truly care about you, who want to help you, who want to see you happy. It’s up to you to accept help. Too many kids don’t realize how much their parents care for them, just reach out! And if your parents are the problem, seek help elsewhere, but know that there is help all around.

Hopefully every bully will grow up one day and realize they’ve been broken and need some rebuilding. Hopefully they will take the time to find healing. Until that day, it’s up to you to stay confident in yourself, the person you are, or are trying to be. Always remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Peace and many blessings to all!