Monday, December 27, 2010

Healing The Heart Of A Bully

When someone hurts us, the natural reaction is to want the offending person to hurt as much as we do, to take vengeance, to make their life impossible. If we do that though, we are then becoming bullies ourselves, are we not? In most places, there is a system that is used to exact retribution. Even still, if we even THINK of doing that nasty thing back to the bully who committed whatever type of wrong it was, we've already done harm because the heart of bullying even as an act of revenge towards a bully means that we have already harmed that person in our thoughts which is just as bad because it breeds anger.

Bullies do what they do because they are hurting and have not learned the proper coping methods and techniques to talk about what it is that hurts so much. Once a bully enters the system, and the system starts to act on the incident, we must ensure that retribution is just a portion of the actions taken because there also has to be therapy and healing for the offending person.

We live in the age of victim's rights which is all good as far as the intent goes, but in reality, it gets applied quite unevenly and leaves our society in a vicious cycle of making life so tough for someone who has bullied that we are the ones creating a great risk of re-offense when we do not have anything to give the offending person as an incentive to live the right way from here on out.

Community resources, social work, education about harmful behavior and it's impact on others are just a small list of things that can help someone who has bullied to have a chance at healing and processing their own wayward behavior. To reach out to the heart of a bully is to break the cycle of intensifying negative behaviors as a national trend. Tough love can be an answer only when it is mixed with a chance to allow the offending person to have equal access to a system of organized and sensible rehabilitation that allows for the offending person to both see through the victim's eyes and look into themselves as someone who has potential for becoming new again, for re-inventing themselves in such a way that they no longer see bullying as an option but they would rather find appropriate ways to communicate.

Bullying has different causes at each developmental cycle and age. In the younger kids, it's mostly a mechanism for attempting to "fit in" where in the older kids, the causes become more numerous and complicated. When a bully reaches adulthood, the bullying behaviors either become more serious, the behavior more at a juvenile level, or they "burn out" and stuff their anger because they have no one to communicate to due to the numerous consequences they have likely suffered already.

Stuffing of anger isn't a good thing for anyone, especially someone with a propensity to bully. Standing up to a bully can be done appropriately in such a way as the potential victim can decide to see the threat as simply someone seeking attention and choosing to see through the tough guy / tough girl act and reach out by taking the first step..."I don't feel threatened by you although you want me to, I don't." and then follow up by asking "Why do you feel so intense that you think killing someone's spirit is the answer?"

This author has learned to practice this well in his personal life and professional career. If the offending person won't talk, then, leave the door open for building trust in the relationship honestly by simply saying "You don't have to talk now, but if ever you do, my door is open for you if you can act in a way that is civil."

It takes more than this with more disturbed individuals, but with someone who is displaying obvious behavior that uses mere words as opposed to actions, it works fine most times. No one should take on a bully alone and try to act as mediator in each instance if the behavior seems escalating towards more extremes. People displaying the extremes of bullying in regards to escalation of behavior can best be dealt with by a clinical professional who can use their years of training to help reach into the heart of the bully and turn them around.

The old saying "Kill em' with kindness" has a universal truth to it and can be practiced each day in our lives in some way if only we look for those ways and really tune in to ourselves watchfully and as time passes, we can get better at it. Many times, this author has used "kill em' with kindness" methods and techniques with complete success each time, although the fruits weren't always seen immediately. One person in particular wrote to this author after more than a year or two and apologized because I acted with kindness and understanding towards the offending person who felt guilty all that time to such high levels that they felt compelled to write in order to clear their soul.

One real situation other than this had to do with an enraged airline passenger that arrived at the airport too late for their flight and took it out on everyone! Passenger went to the ticket counter only to be told that they could not hold the flight, passenger swore at the ticket agent with extreme vehemency, went through security and threw their belongings at airport security workers, then continued down the concourse using one threatening and foul diatribe after another before meeting this author.

The passenger escalated horribly at that moment and said things I cannot repeat here. I was already well informed as to the passenger's plight and allowed the passenger to get it all out before attempting to speak. Passenger now done with foul temper display, I said "I'm sorry to see you've had such a rough experience, and I see why you're upset. I can help you to your gate if you wish, and then I can help you try to find a flight this evening." We arrive at the gate, at which time I viewed the passenger's itinerary, and spoke with a near - by gate agent.

Passenger was on the next flight out an hour after that. As I saw this passenger to their flight, my last words were "I'm glad to have served you well and am happy to see how things turned out for you." The passenger asked "why did you treat me so well when I acted so horribly?" to which I replied, "Because I understand and I know how frustrating flying can be when nothing goes right."

Passenger boarded the aircraft with a smile. Problem solved! This passenger's act was one of bullying because the passenger actually said and did some really hurtful things that made one employee want to quit right then and there. All it took was one person to reach into that passenger's heart to effect change and change the overall affect at both ends of the spectrum of the problem.

Margaret Becker wrote a song back in the 80s called "Never For Nothing" which can be used here as an example in a small quoted snippet from this song "It's never for nothing when you love with no return, it's never for nothing. You light your candle in the darkness because it's never for nothing."

No person is ever so tall as when they reach into the heart of another to help out when the time comes around, even if the reaction is at first a bit bitter. 

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