Bullies come in all shapes and sizes...
They also have many different strategies for spreading their negativity. Many are relatives and call themselves your friends. Professionally I work daily with people who have been deeply hurt by the uncontested words of others. The best protection against people and their hurtful words are recognition of their behaviors and distancing oneself from their influence and impact.
Distancing yourself is a very necessary action because we can influence but not change the behaviors of other people. If asking this person to modify their actions does not motivate them to change their behavior then distance yourself. This is for your own protection. When one retaliates against a bully the negative impact of the situation increases instead of diminishes. Now 2 people are hurt and wounded without the strength to positively impact the situation
Here's how to recognize a bully and subtle and not so subtle verbal abuse. If you are experiencing similar situations in your relationships, please take action to distance yourself from this person and their negative words.
1) Someone in your life frequently criticizes what you wear, how you look, the music you like, your choice of foods, your friends, your work, and what you do for fun. Ex: "Who eats that?!" "Isn't that enough" (in a condescending tone of voice)
2) Someone in your life tells you their opinions and then asks you to agree with them. Ex: "Dwayne is so cool, don't you think that he's the coolest". This person is not asking your opinion only holding-up their own opinion for your recognition.
3) Someone in your life infers that the choices you make are "just plain wrong" and this person can always tell you a better way of living your life. Ex: "You know if you did it like this...."
4) Someone in your life does not offer an apology when you are feeling hurt, sad or distress about their actions.
5) Someone in your life tells you are hurting them and employs words to induce guilt when you do not agree with their opinion Ex: "You are such a traitor, I thought you were my friend!"
6) Someone in your life tells you to "get over it" or "suck it up", "don't cry", "it's no big deal" or "don't take it so seriously" when you are feeling hurt. This is a clear sign that you need to add more compassionate people to your life.
Distancing yourself means that you are taking a step away to heal your wounds and you are giving yourself the opportunity to add more positive people to your life. This is a wonderful blessing in disguise. Your life can blossom as you add more wonderfully loving, gifted, talented, friendly, and complimentary people into your life. True friends are a necessary ingredient for happiness. Value them and value yourself.
If you notice, that these phrases also roll quite easily off the tip of your tongue, too. Then CHANGE your words and your attitudes. You could be pushing people away and know for sure that people may want to distance themselves from you if you continue to speak in this way. You can attract more enjoyable relationships by learning to become friendlier and more observant and considerate of other people's feelings. None of us are too big, too old, or have too much status to change our behaviors and become more loving, kind and considerate people. The world needs you to be more kind and compassionate and considerate with your words. Your words are valuable.
Jessica K. Hairston, MD
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