Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. The stereotypical bully is a pre-pubescent boy, a bit chubby, pimples and has holes in his shirt. He’s rough around the edges and usually has a posse of some kind by his side. He’s the one everyone fears…even his posse!
I don’t really watch the news, for many reasons, but I am hearing and reading more and more about attacks that are now validated because the permission has been granted to lash out at anyone, anytime. Mass shootings are targeting all kinds of communities and I feel that the more it happens, the more hopeless we can feel. The permission and license to verbally and digitally abuse and hurt others is becoming more common than ever before. I follow many creative, innovative and industrious women on Instagram. They are inspiring all of us and sharing what they know – all of their wisdom, they are giving it away freely. Many of those very women have been speaking out lately on the abuse that they are experiencing. Sometimes it’s a stranger, but most times it’s someone they know.
Yet, as our sphere expands and we are exposed to more people in a world, the stereotype of the bully is changing. This problem is bigger than the schoolyard or the bossy boss thinking they have all the power. This could very well be your next-door neighbor, your kid’s teacher, even the person working at the local super market. The current, modern day bully looks no different than you and me.
I know this first hand, because I have been bullied. Using the computer or their phone to lash out, threaten, demand, yell, and harass is void of any sort of boundaries. Their ability to punch the keys on their smart phone, anytime of day and anywhere gives them a false sense of power. This is not unlike the 5 year old having a temper tantrum. The need for attention becomes so loud that the only way to get away from it is to silence it.
After talking to many professionals about the abuse, threats and harassment, I have come to understand many things. Gratitude in recognizing that this behavior has nothing to do with US! We are simply the targets for something so much bigger. Yes, we are hurt in those moments and it is not fun, but we are not damaged. Understanding the genesis of the attack and possibly our part in that abuse is where the growth comes in.
The lesson learned is that I will no longer invite nor accept narcissist, filter-less, and toxic behavior into my life. It’s important that we all look for the signs, tap into our gut and intuition, because the reality is – we all kind of know what’s up as it is happening. We have to be willing to stop it before it gets started. This is the challenge. Because we think we need this in our life for whatever reason; professional advancement, friendship or simply companionship. Now that I am aware and understand it, this is now one of my biggest deal breakers in my relationships – both professional and personal.