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Home » Confidence Building, Decision Making, Featured, Happiness, Headline, Managing Emotions

Bullying: Take Responsibility

Submitted by on November 11, 2013 – 11:12 pmNo Comment

BullyingindexArticle #588

Author: Robert Higgs

The bullying will stop the moment you decide it stops.

The moment you make a decision.

The moment you reach your ‘turning point.’

I was often told to ‘stand up for myself’ and its advice that people often quote now. This is often said as if ‘standing up for yourself’ is easy. If people found it ‘easy’ to stand up for themselves they would not allow themselves to be bullied. Bullying just would not happen. To find the reason ‘why’ standing up for yourself is not easy, you need to return to the definition of what bullying is.

Bullying is persistent and repetitive, but it’s the second part of the definition that is very important here.

Bullying involves a person, a target or victim, finding themselves in a situation where it is difficult for them to assert themselves. Bullying is about power- namely an imbalance of power.

It is hard to ‘stand up for yourself’ when you are being bullied, because the effects of the bullying often leave you feeling disempowered.

You feel that the bully or bullies have all the power.

So if your goal is to ‘stand up for yourself’ or ‘assert’ yourself you first have to feel empowered.

You have to regain that feeling of power. Where is that feeling at present? From my experience, I know that the feeling of power that you need to assert yourself is already within you.

I want to show how to develop that feeling of power to the point where you feel able to assert yourself and alter your situation.

If you develop this idea a little and think about it, if you already have this power within you, why do you not feel it, why are you not able to use it right now?

The answer is this:

Bullying and its effects have changed your attitude, altered your self-image and lowered your sense of esteem and self-confidence to the point where your belief is that you have no power.

So you have to regain that feeling of power and the first step towards doing this is to:


You do not have to be bullied.

You have a choice.

It’s up to you. It’s your responsibility to make the decision and its a decision that no one else can make. Other people can support you, encourage you, listen to you and advise you, but only you can make the decision that the bullying is going to stop.

What stops people from making the decision?

Fear of consequence.

Making a decision to rid your life of bullying, to stop people from victimizing you and making you feel bad about yourself invites consequence.

The fear of consequence is very often much greater than the actual consequence. In other words, most of the things we fear happening, the ‘worst case’ scenarios, never occur.

Do you fear ‘making things worse’ in the short term? This is a very common and natural fear. Most, if not all of the people I’ve spoken to have or had this fear. I had it myself. But what happened when I did make my decision and I did take action? I improved my situation immediately and facing my fear gave me power.

You might fear telling someone at school in case the situation is not dealt with effectively, in case the bully or bullies find out and they are labelled a ‘snitch’ or something negative for having told. They fear telling someone for fear of the negative feelings they fear they will get for not feeling able to sort the problem out themselves. They fear that telling or taking any action at all will invite the bullying to escalate – that they will physically or emotionally hurt, attack, verbally or physically or they will be excluded, shunned or left out by everyone else.

You might fear taking action against bullying at work because of the fear of losing your job or making your job more difficult.

When you allow your fear to control you. When you do what your fear tells you, rather than what you know deep down you must do, you are doing something that makes your situation increasingly difficult, stressful and painful:

You are being the person the bully wants you to be.

You must not be the person the bully wants you to be.

You cannot afford to continue to be that person.

You must not allow it.

I know how real it is. And there will be consequences. Every decision you make brings a consequence.

But you must make the decision. And before you make the decision you accept the possible consequence.

So right now, think about this and write your answers down on a piece of paper.

What consequence do you fear?

As a result of taking action against the bullying situation in your life, what is the worst consequence you can imagine?

Think about this and write down your answer.

Is it a fear of confrontation? A fear of embarrassment? A fear of being hurt even more than you have been already? Is it a fear that you will not be listened to or taken seriously? Do you fear that the situation will not be properly addressed? Do you fear that your school or your college or university or workplace will not take any action against the bullies or that they simply will not be able to sort the situation out?

Is your fear that it does not matter what you say or do, nothing will resolve the situation or stop the bullies bullying you? Do you fear that there is nothing you can say or do that will sort the situation out?

Think about this.

Try using these statements to write your answer out:

If I tell someone that I am being bullied they might………….

If I speak up against the bullies they might……………

If I defend myself I might…………………..

If I tell someone I am being bullied, the worst thing that I could imagine happening would be that………..

Read each statement and complete the sentence.

Now think about your situation from this perspective:

What is the best thing that could happen in this situation?

If I tell someone I am being bullied, the best thing they could do to help me is……………………

If I speak up against the bullies, the best thing that could happen is…………………………….

If I defend myself, the best thing I can imagine doing is…………………………

If I tell someone I am being bullied, the best thing I could imagine happening would be that………………………………………

You do not have to be bullied.

You have a choice.

You get to choose.

You can stay where you are. You can keep going to school or college or university or work and you can keep allowing people to bully you. Or you can take action to stop it.

Your choice. Your responsibility. Your life. It’s up to you to make the decision.

Let me use the following example from my life:

Secondary school was the toughest time for me. I had lots of friends. There are good memories about those people. But it was also the toughest time of my life because outside of the good moments with my friends, I was being bullied.

I allowed it happen. I wanted to speak up, I wanted to fight back and sometimes did so and it worked, but I didn’t speak up or fight back as much as I needed to and consequently the bullying effected me in a dramatic and profound way.

I had opportunities to tell. There were people who offered advice, but none of it helped me because my attitude became very negative and I simply did not believe there was anything I could say or do differently that would improve the situation.

Bullying became normal. The longer it went on the more it effected my attitude until the attitude I held onto was this:

Survive! Endure! Just survive school!

I withdrew from my friends, I withdrew into myself. I changed profoundly. I tried to avoid the bullies, ignore the bullies, escape the bullies. I tried to endure the bullies. I kept my head down and resolved just to get through it. I resolved to get through the day each day.

This was the attitude I adopted. This was my choice. This was the decision I made, whether consciously or not.

If I could go back to that time now I would make a different decision. I would make a different choice. Knowing what I know now, I would speak out, I would fight back, I would tell people, I would ask everyone I could find for advice. I would change my attitude. I would not accept bullying. I would know that no one has a right to bully me. I would know that I have a right to feel safe in school. I would know that I have a right to enjoy and achieve in school. I would not allow ‘bullies’ to affect my life in anyway.

I would find my turning point.

You decide when the bullying stops.

It is not up to the bully. Do not wait for them to ‘get bored’ or simply ‘stop.’

You have to give them a reason to stop by challenging their behavior, by asking for other people to help you challenge their behavior, by breaking their rules, by becoming the person the bully does not want you to be.

That is when the bullying in your life stops. And you decide the moment that will be.

You can choose to stay where you are. When I was being bullied I chose to stay where I was. It was normal where I was – I was used to being putdown and being made to feel bad about myself. Feeling bad about myself began to feel comforting because it felt safe, it felt normal.

You can choose to stay where you are. You can choose to stay a ‘victim.’

But are you prepared to pay the price?

I’m not saying this to frighten you or scare you or focus on the negative, but I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that current statistics suggest that around 17 young people a year take their own lives as a result of being bullied. These are extreme and tragic cases, but an example of the following fact:

Bullying can affect people profoundly. Allowing yourself to continue being bullied can cost you your life.

I’m not being overly dramatic and I’m not saying this for effect: allowing yourself to continue being bullied can cost you your life. I’m not focusing on extreme cases and the issue of suicide here necessarily either. Bullying can cost you your life in many other ways. Bullying can and will limit the potential you have to achieve happiness in life.

Bullying will effect every area of your life. It could effect your future achievement, your economic well being, your relationships, your happiness. It effects all of these because bullying effects your physical and emotional health, it effects how you feel about yourself, it effects the way you think about yourself, and your thoughts are so powerful they create everything you have in your life.

So if you feel worthless or powerless as a result of being bullied, you are much less likely to achieve your potential in every area of your life, if you are overwhelmed by feelings of anger or shame or fear, you are much less likely to have healthy relationships with others.

Bullying can and will effect everything if you choose to allow it to continue.

And it is YOUR choice.

So make the decision. Find your turning point.

Have a look at your responses to the questions you answered earlier in the chapter.

In terms of your answer to ‘What Consequence Do You Fear?’ change your attitude and realize that 99% of the things you fear will happen as a ‘consequence’ will not happen. In terms of your answers to the question ‘What Is The Best Thing I can Imagine Happening?’ focus on your answers, focus on what you want to happen and aim for that.

You must have a positive attitude about your situation. You must not continue to be the sort of person the bully or bullies want you to be.

You must look at the long term benefits of taking action. Tell yourself: If the worst possible consequence I can imagine DOES happen, I will handle it. Tell yourself you don’t care. Have the attitude that you will not tolerate being bullied a moment longer and that you do not care what anyone says or thinks as a result of you taking action to speak out and challenge the situation.

Think long term. Taking action will be a life changing moment in a way that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Surely that is worth it, whatever the short term discomfort or pain.

It is easier to deny a problem involving bullying than it is to confront and resolve it, but avoidance strategies like denial place you in the weak position of it being someone else’s decision if or when to stop bullying you. Taking responsibility for resolving the situation is empowering. This approach is not about self-blame – you are not to blame for the bullying and should not allow yourself to feel deserving of it. Taking responsibility for seek­ing support and guidance from others to ensure the bullying stops will often bring a speedy resolution.

Be brave. Exercise your right to choose. Take responsibility. Make your decision and take action NOW.

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About the Author

Robert Higgs is an inspirational speaker on bullying in schools. He provides Anti-Bullying workshops and drama presentations to schools and began his work after experiencing bullying himself at school. He is now the author of two books on bullying – What Have I Ever Done To You? and Matty Doyle’s Monster and has spoken about his experiences in various media, including Radio 1 and 2, Sky News, BBC Breakfast, BBC 7 and Martial Arts Illustrated.

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