How to Heal From Bullying By Lexi
Bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance,” according to stopbullying.gov. “The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time." Students often describe bullying as when “someone makes you feel less about who you are as a person.” With about 21 percent of US students aged 12-18 being bullied, it’s no surprise that bullying, both in schools and online, has become incredibly problematic. Bullying is not a harmless part of growing up but rather causes a number of negative effects that can be gradual or immediate.
Bullying can manifest in different ways and at any age. It could come from a peer, friend, authority figure or co-worker. It can also be physical, verbal, or through the internet. Bullying can create high levels of social anxiety, a sense of loss of dignity, self doubt, and reluctance to participate in group activities. If not taken care of as quickly as possible, it can cause lasting strain on an individual.
Growing up with a supportive, loving family, and plenty of friends to socialize with, I didn’t have many worries. It wasn’t until high school that the bullying really started to affect me. It began with negative comments about my personality and appearance, followed by being ignored by people who I had previously considered my friends. This behavior began to develop into being criticized and shunned by a majority of my previous girlfriends.
Multiple times a week one of the few friends I had left would inform me of a new rumor that was being circulated about me. At first, I tried everything I could to attempt to get these girls to like me again and put all the rumors to rest, but sadly, nothing worked. I went to a large high school which was attended by roughly 1,500 students . This being said, it wasn’t only a few people who I had felt embarrassed and excluded by, it was the majority. At this point I had only a few friends left at school that I felt at ease around. I started driving home for lunch every day to eat alone and avoid having to go into the lunch room and face everyone who seemed to hate me. I stopped getting invited to social events and being a part of the fun memoires everyone was making together. I felt rejected. I didn’t know what to do next or how to make it stop.
I finally found my way back to happiness after becoming close friends with some of the girls on my club soccer team and taking the necessary steps to heal myself. My new friends and I all went to different high schools which made it easier to transition myself into their friend groups without judgement. Although I had new friends to attend fun activities and hangout with, I still had to brave attending school every day. I became stronger and started to not let the unkind words spoken by other girls affect me. I learned that words can hurt, but only if you let them, and that it is imperative to take the necessary steps to heal after being bullied.
Tips for Helping Yourself Heal
1. Acknowledge the bullying you experienced: Victims of bullying often try and minimize the effects by pretending it never happened or by blaming themselves. One way to begin the healing process is to accept that you were bullied and you were not responsible for it.
2. Create a safe space in your home: This place should be somewhere where you can be yourself without any judgment or criticism. Your home can be a place that combats your feelings of fear, isolation and worry that bullying can cause. When you are in this safe place try to practice mindfulness and focus on the positives in your life.
3. Get involved in activities that bring you joy: It is easy to sit and dwell on the hurt you may feel from being bullied. Joining a club or activity like biking, theatre, running, mindfulness, art or photography will help get your mind off of the hurt you feel and can bring you cheerfulness as well as some potential new friendships.
4. Find someone to talk to: Sharing your feelings and experiences with someone you feel comfortable with is critical. This could be a therapist, teacher, counselor at school, parent, friend, or any trusted adult. There are also a variety of online support groups as well. Seek out support and know that you are never alone.
5. Know your value and worth: Bullying can frequently lead to lower self-esteem. One reason you may struggle with a lower self-esteem is because you may feel as though your reputation has been tarnished. Don’t buy into the lies or rumors that were said about you, and replace them with positive affirmations of all your best qualities and attributes. A great way to do this is to write down positive characteristics about yourself. For instance, you may write down what others like about you, what you are good at, and what you like about yourself. Start with “I am…” and then list these positive qualities. You might say “resilient,” “hard working,” “kind,” etc. Shift your focus to the positive things you have going for you and reject the cruel things that were said about you.
If you are being bullied, remember that it is never your fault. Bully behaviour often stems from the insecurities, trauma, and projection of the bully - but that doesn’t make it any less hurtful. Also, bullying doesn’t only happen with kids - adults can be bullies, too. You may need to protect yourself from abusive, toxic, or controlling people by utilizing the steps above.
Think of the most beautiful flower - maybe an orchid or a tulip. People can say whatever they want about the flower, but that doesn’t change its inherent essence. Likewise, nobody can dull your light. Be kind to yourself, and remember that self-worth is an inside job.
Author bio: Lexi Klinkenberg is a writer at Redfin, a technology-enabled real estate brokerage. Redfin’s mission is to redefine real estate in the customer’s favor.