A lot has been made of the destructive nature of bullying and the horrendous impact this behaviour has had on so many people of all ages.

It saddens me and disturbs me that for all of the amazing things that our world offers, people are undone by others' vindictive, abusive, compassionless behaviour - however it comes about.

What is it that has us so disempowered that we will believe or take on what these sadly dysfunctional people push upon us with their vitriol? What is it that the bully wants and - if we were able to look at this behaviour from a different perspective - how would it be described?

To my mind and experience in many, many conversations, a way to answer the first question is simply that we are generally critical of ourselves.

Self-talk is often based on diminishing self-worth and finding fault with what we have done, are doing or will do.

As Susan Scott quoted "I am always having a conversation with myself, sometimes it includes other people”. If we aren't managing the conversation and directing it constructively it falls quickly into the negative.

What does that mean for the bully? It makes it easy for them if we are already struggling with our own internal view of ourself and means we'll be more open to the criticism and hurtful comments made.

The second question - What is it that the bully wants and how would it be described? - is also fairly straightforward.

The bully wants to feel powerful and they use what I would describe as overtly aggressive-defensive behaviour to do that. Having had some experience in being bullied in my late thirties - being belittled, my work being criticised, my position undermined - it took time to realise that this was in effect defensive behaviour.

Defensive behaviour is basically behaviour that makes the person feel safe.

Thinking through that, it is about a need for security, so necessarily it is based in insecurity.

The bully is insecure and they have developed a strategy of approach that ensures that no one sees that by pushing back out at the world and the target of their insecurity.

When I came to understand that, my perspective shifted completely and the emotional wake that I was caught in was changed dramatically.

I recognised that the bully was in fact a sad, scared, disempowered, frustrated and insecure person in their own life and had only one strategy for making themselves feel better. Belittling others they envied.

If we can help others and help them change the conversation they are having with themselves about their self-worth then the bully has little ammunition to work with. Then the conversation we have with the bully is one from a position of strength and compassion where their behaviour has no impact.

Remember no one can bully you unless you have given permission so if you are caught in this perhaps the first thing is always to stop bullying yourself with doubt.

Topics:  abuse advice behaviour bullying power self-worth

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

More patients cause strain on Toowoomba Hospital ED

Toowoomba Hospital.

But top health body says the ED performs well compared to others

How to stop Facebook from grabbing your data

How Facebook can grab your data, and what to do to stop it

'Conspiracy theory' comment cited as coal tussle reignited

Tanya Plant and Aileen Harrison celebrate a decision last month denying New Acland an environmental authority. But NAC has gone back to court, asking a judge to review last year's Land Court ruling on the same expansion plan.

Judge's 'robust' language a bone of contention 

Local Partners