I was 8 years old the first time I was bullied. Our school director was the primary teacher of our class and because of my silent introverted nature and my immigrant parents, he chose me in the class to call Sleeping Pill or solely by my last name, making jokes and comments daily for three years. I can remember being bullied for shyness, oversized clothing, my mothers czech name, dandruff, not being aware of labels or simply being too eager or caring for classmates.
Bullying is one of the most discussed subjects in educational institutions and on the workplace of the 21st century. Public figures such as Oprah, Lady Gaga, Deepak Chopra and many more have been on the forefront of the fight against bullying - a phenomenon often called epidemic in today’s western culture. Cities in New Jersey, California and Minnesota even issue Anti-bullying laws.
But what is Bullying really? And when do conflicts become Bully attacks? Is it really such a new concept in human Nature?
Through research, studies and experiences I have come to the conclusion that bullying is neither a new phenomenon nor a result of our western Society. There are two separate bullying concepts, each one based on a different instinct. One of the concepts refers to the bully who acts like a predator, searching out a weaker individual and attacking it. The second concept refers to bullies who want to be part of the peer group, therefore putting down anyone who could take that option away from them. The first concept being active, the second one more so passive in satisfying the instinct.
1st Concept: The Predator Bully
The Predator Bully refers to the person who searches out a weaker Individual to actively attack. Sometimes several Predator Bullies come together to collectively attack the weaker One. This instinct can be observed in the Nature on wild Dogs, attacking the weaker Dog until he either steps up and acquires the necessary strength or dies. Almost an evolutionary Way to let the strongest survive and force the weaker animals to increase their strength. The Predator Bully follows similar instincts in attacking the weaker Bullee until he either acquires the necessary strength and confidence or leaves the group.
2nd Concept: Peer Group Bully
The Peer Group Bullies follow the Instinct of avoiding their greatest Fear - being left out of their Peer Group. One of the greatest human Fears is that of being left out of society, unwanted and alone. This is why we are given emotions such as Shame, in order to remain coherent with our group, doing what is necessary to be in the Peer Group. The Peer Group Bully sees unpopular individuals as a threat to his or her status. In order to differentiate themselves from the unpopular people, they either take actions such as putting them down or limit the contact. Peer Group Bullies can act unconsciously, not being aware of the damage they cause.
So what do with bullying?
The advice I keep giving to individuals who struggle remains unpopular with most. I keep insisting that the outcome relies in my opinion with the Bullee. The possibilities in changing Bullys are limited, since Group Dynamics and Instincts are often much stronger than the awareness of Ethics and Empathy. The reason many Bullees face bullying similar challenges over and over again connects often back to the Bullee Self-Concept. Individuals who are bullied change their Self-Concept, either to the Self-Concept of being the one overcoming the Challenge, or being the Victim controlled by the Circumstances. This is the main explanation why overcoming Bullying often relies on the Bullee. It is crucial to overcome the initial emotions of Self-Pity, Fear and Powerlessness to move to a place where actions can be taken and Confidence acquired. Just like many others I experienced much hurt and shame through Bullying, but nothing ever changed about my situation until I changed the way I saw myself. I have seen the same happen to Adults and Children over and over again, turning their self-concept around, becoming in control of their environment and group interaction. It remains a work on learning how to establish boundaries, letting go of old stories to develop the necessary confidence and the healthy self-concept of feeling some sort of achievement in life - even if this achievement is unconnected to the School or Work place.