Column by Nicky Ferry.
We see bullies everywhere – in top government positions, throughout the business world and if we are unlucky, in personal relationships.
What makes a bully act as they do? I have been looking into this as my child has been bullied.
Why are we so squeamish about confronting the bully?
First off, a bully maybe a powerful individual; they are often charismatic and popular. But a bully is never a happy individual.
Bullying is about gaining and maintaining control.
Bullying takes us to the heart of our self worth – or lack of it.
The bullied individual is often the overtly sensitive child or adult who is seemingly more vulnerable than the bully.
They may be shy, awkward or different from those around them in some way.
The bully tries exert control and superior strength or power, because in some way they feel lacking.
Perhaps they are being bullied in another setting or are a witness to it.
They may feel threatened, insecure or powerless.
The bully is essentially attacking that the part in them selves that feels vulnerable in some way.
Bullies can of course get high on the power they wield.
It has been very painful to confront the situation that my child has been facing because I failed to sufficiently protect her. It took me to times in the past when I have been bullied and it set off feelings of shame and powerlessness.
It is horrible to feel. Fortunately I have tools and support to work it through and to support my daughter.
But not everyone has, and many are hiding from these feelings – perhaps this is why we can be reluctant to face it?
The antidote to bullying, as I see it is for the bully to face and be supported in their own vulnerability and the pain that they may be feeling deep down.
They need to see they are not separate from the one they are bullying.
When the bully feels the pain of what they are doing it can be devastating yet also enlightening.
And of course the bullied need our support – to know they are protected, they are not in the wrong, that the aggression is not personal.
Then both the bully and bullied can grow in a healthy strength and confidence.
- For more about Nicky’s work and one-to-one sessions see nickyferry.com