I am dealing with my 12 year old son’s bullies right now. For many weeks, I have not seen him smile and he looked tired all the time. He was being bullied with physical, racist and homophobic (yes, even that age, bullies use all sorts of excuses) abuse in school. Initially I told him to ignore it and deal with it with humour. After he was set upon by the gang of boys last week, I was livid and complained to the school. I also found out that my son hadn’t told me about the attack because he was ashamed. Here is what I have learnt in the last ten days-
- Bullies, like other people, change when they want to. They won’t change because you want them to. Don’t stay with a bully thinking that they will change.
- Bullies cannot be appeased by good humour and manners. This brings out more of their ugliness. Do not associate with bullies- get away from them and leave them to deal with the emptiness of their lives.
- Bullies only listen to fear, so put fear into them by reporting it. Transmit it widely because the only thing the bullies care about is their image and their power. Bullies do not like reciprocal or equal relationships.
- Let children and all vulnerable people know that bullying is never okay and never to sit in silence. Bullies love it when people take it without complaining. Never be ashamed of reporting bullying.
- Build up the broken self esteem of the bullied person with love and support. Find other people who can support the bullied person. Build a fortress of love and teach that person to always respect themselves.
Our early and later relationships in life can be shaped by our childhood. People we are attracted to could be either opposite or similar to our parents or any significant person in our early lives. It is only when we begin to move away from these ‘types’ and start to look for what makes us happy, then only we find people and things that do. Marie Kondo, a Japanese organising expert, has started a trend to keep things that only ‘spark joy’ rather than concentrate on throwing things that we don’t like. It is always better to go to things we love rather than run away from what we don’t like. When we run away due to fear, we do not notice anything else- even things that might be good for us. Its like we are running in a dark forest without the ability to pick or choose our paths. This is a fight or flight reaction. Note that it is a reaction rather than a pro-action. It is a situation where we are not in control.
But finding that calmness where we can decipher what is good for us or not, can take many years and decades to find. It is only now, I find that I am much happier and able to find things and people who ‘spark joy’ in me. It is not that I am not my parent’s child any more but it is more that I refuse to live by the past. Of course, I wish that this had happened much earlier but then that is life. This is when it was meant to have happened and I am grateful that at least it has happened. Now days, I am quicker to find joy and move on quickly from people that don’t bring me joy. And strangely enough, I find that even people who I did not get along with in the past, are people I can now tolerate or even like. By finding joy within, I am finding joy outside.
I am sure you’ve come across ‘haters’ and trolls in your time using the Internet. While the temptation might be to write back, using expletives and anger, there are better ways that stop the haters which I have used successfully-
- First, try explaining or asking the hater what they mean? That usually stops them because they don’t want to!
- Use humour, without being sarcastic or bitter, to turn their comment into something funny!
- ‘Like’ their comment. This gets them really puzzled and they stop straightaway. I once had someone getting really angry and argumentative and then stooping to make fun of my name as well. So I ‘liked’ their comment and they stopped.
- Ignore them completely and they stop as well! There are some fights you can’t win. Trolls love to have a battle- don’t give in to that.
There is too much hatred in the world already and so the best way to stop that and spread some love is by having a laugh and using ‘likes’. I don’t think I will be using the Facebook ‘Dislike’ button because of this reason.