It’s time to yell, ‘Paradigm shift,’ when it comes to bullying.
Let’s be brutally honest, the old ways of dealing with bullying are not working. It doesn’t matter how many times we sign petitions, post ‘Say no to Bullying’ memes on social media or adopt a zero tolerance policy in our schools, bullying will never stop by fighting against it. That should be painfully obvious by now.
It does seem counterintuitive to stop fighting against something that we want to stop. After all, it’s the way we’ve always done in the past. We don’t like something so we fight against it. But the truth is that approach rarely works.
Jung, the father of modern psychology summed it up in the now famous line, ‘What you resist will not only persist, but grow in size.’ He was talking of course about our shadow personality traits but it applies equally to movements and campaigns. Consider the War on Terror. Is the world now a safer place than it was before? What about the War on Drugs? Or cancer? Remember the War on Poverty?
Focusing on what we don’t want doesn’t work. Maybe focusing on bullying to such an extent has caused the problem to grow because it definitely has grown in the last decade. Instead of trying to stop an issue that in reality will never be stopped until each individual on the planet has developed a healthy sense of self, and we are a long way from that, the obvious solution is to empower those who are being bullied to become immune to the effects of other people’s words and actions.
Unfortunately, we live in a world over run by the deeply offended. It has become a national past time to be offended by just about anything we don’t like. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that bullying can be a serious issue as I have been bullied myself and I’m not underestimating the power bullying can have over our emotions, but we can teach people how to not react with hurt and fear.
The real problem with bullying is not that it happens but how people feel because of it. Change that and everything changes. The problem is no longer the problem for those individuals. Everyone of us can learn to become immune to threats, insults and criticisms from others, at least enough to not feel sick, anxious or depressed about it.
While we are busy trying to get bullies to change their behaviour, the human fallout from bullying is taking its toll on children in our schools and workers in their place of employment. Isn’t it time we focused on helping these people move beyond the effects of bullying? Isn’t it time we looked out for their needs and their mental and emotional health instead of telling bullies to stop behaviours that are in effect giving them a massive emotional payoff?
The new paradigm, the antidote to bullying is teach the vulnerable how to stop taking anything personally, to stop letting others decide how they feel. It’s a choice to give our power away to others even though it might not feel like it. Taking things personally robs us of the only real power each of us has and that is to decide how we feel. And we can all learn how to do it.
The way forward is to assist those children and adults who have been the targets of bullying to stop being a target and to help them feel better through self empowerment and emotional resilience.
But I hear what you’re saying. Why should the victim change? And that’s a fair enough question. And I respond with this. You don’t have to. That’s also a choice. We can decide to feel bad because someone we neither like or respect (and in the case of cyber bullying most likely don’t even know) has been given the power to upset us. Or we can consciously become immune to the nastiness and pettiness of bullies.
Which would you prefer, to be right or happy?
I know many would choose to feel right instead of happy, which is a crazy way of living if you think about it. I was once one of those who chose right over happy until I realized it left me powerless.
These days I prefer to say ‘That’s an interesting point of view,’ in the face of criticism or conflict.
The new paradigm is to Become BullyProof and beat them at their own game.