February 5, 2014

Why We Bully. ~ Michael Zoupa

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been bullied and I’ve been a bully.

My mother said I was picked on because I was cute. But I think she was biased. I learned martial arts because I wanted to feel a sense of power. And when I got good at it, I became addicted to that power. I justified getting into fistfights with people and I enjoyed hurting them for the sense of power that it brought.

Eventually I saw myself for what I was.

We are all at different levels and in our own special way, lost and confused in our personal power, our self-esteem and our aspirations. Our belief in ourselves to achieve our goals, is based on our the foundation of our thoughts.

The problem is most of our hard-wiring is laid out in the first 7 years of our lives, when we are in no state to make generalized judgments about reality. We make very specific judgments about microcosmic situations, which then becomes the foundation of our mental filing system.

Our childhood judgments become the way that we measure new experiences and these confirmations become our convictions. This wiring then governs the kinds of people that we feel an affinity toward, people with similar values and insecurities, or people that fill a hole with qualities we don’t maintain ourselves. Similarly we avoid people that don’t agree with our blueprint of reality.

The other aspect that tends to be set and held constant from childhood, is where we fit in. By the age of 7 we’ve pretty much chosen and accepted our social standing. An adult may climb to the top tier, always feeling like an outcast. A popular adult may not aspire to social recognition, as it was not a concern as a young child.

Children will fall on a scale of popular to unpopular and may be pro-social or antisocial in their behavior. The issue is in an individual’s happiness in their disposition. Unpopular kids can be resigned to their place, and cultivate a small group of friends and maintain close relationships with positive emotions. Popular kids may be unhappy and feel pressure to assert their dominance through manipulative exclusion, or direct aggressive acts of bullying.  Sensitivity can be the cause of bullying or victim-hood.

Unhappy kids may become bullies to express their social unhappiness or they may be the target of bullies because it is easy to provoke an emotional response.

Aggressive children have difficulty viewing their behavior as antagonistic and taking responsibility for their social failures. They often attribute conflict to their peers, and have trouble acknowledging consequences of their behavior, specifically pertaining to their own feelings.

Unhappy children need to be coached in positive social skills. Successful treatment has resulted in children attributing their popularity to internal, changeable aspects of their behavior. Social-problem-solving, positive reinforcement, seeing the results of constructive resolution and impulse control, leads to reviewing their self concept and seeing themselves worthy of positive relationships.

Social concerns may stem from parenting issues and often, treatment requires family involvement as well as teacher support in changing peer opinions by administering praise for achievement.

The main way that bullying can be abolished is by creating atmospheres that condemn bullying; encouraging bystanders to report, intervene, and to rally against the behavior, thus diminishing the status attained by calculated bullying and dominant/manipulative behavior.

In the age of cyber bullying, adults need to be viewing what occurs online and reporting instances so that they can be dealt with. The two-pronged approach toward internal work for rejected children, along with adult supervision has shown success across the board.

Acts of insecurity are recognizable. A man grasping for power surely feels its absence. The overbearing boss insists on micromanaging, because they feel as if they have no control over the workforce. The insecure boyfriend picks a fight when he feels his quality is lacking, and she is liable to leave him.

There is a saying: The people that are hardest to love are the ones that need it the most.

Those “dicks” of your workplace or family tree; they are upset that no-one likes them and because they’re upset, they act out when they feel like it, never realizing this reduces their chances of a healthy relationship. The abused and the abuser are quick to make emotional decisions that ruin relationships.

As the victim continues with their relative power they encourage the aggressor. It may be easier said than done, but having enough awareness to discontinue playing the role of a victim when it has become an instinct, can be your way out.

In an adult work environment, intervention from a higher authority may not be feasible. Here, it may be necessary to take legal action for correction. It behooves a victim to work on themselves internally to instill self-worth, and then through civilized confrontation, communicate to the bully that their behavior will no longer be tolerated.

If you have a child that is at risk or is being bullied, I would recommend martial arts. They’ll go from being afraid of confrontation to “Yaaaay! Confrontation!!” as they learn that it can be a game. Even if people decide to learn the art of martial arts for the wrong reasons, the culture of martial arts makes it seem stupid to fight drunk idiots when the real challenge is fighting your comrades that have years of experience.

Everyone’s body language changes.

People break up with their partners. Their issues of power versus tenderness naturally fade, when they realized their ability to choose. To a whole, strong, assertive and clear person, with inner vision and desires, a typical insecure bully may appear like a rodent having a tantrum in the corner.

An enhanced being will never be singled out as a victim. They are just too powerful. Being whole / enhanced has also been linked to attracting romantic attention.

So whether it’s martial arts that make you strong and safe, or being complete in your own self-worth, it does not take violence to deal with the bullies.

In instances of relative power, you can win without fighting, by simply being powerful. Do whatever it takes to make yourself great.


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Assistant Editor: Cami Krueger / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elephant journal archives

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