“Bullying made me feel insecure, alone, ugly, powerless, and hopeless at times.” ~ Kate Gosselin
We’ve all been subjected to it at some point and time in our lives. Over the last few years, there has even been widespread coverage surrounding It. From the President of The United States to even our own friends and family, it plays a bigger part of our life than we may realize. What is it you may ask? Bullying. Specifically, Adult Bullying. I, like you, thought bullying was something that we simply aged out of. Like puberty or trucker hats, I believed that I only had to endure it for a certain amount of time. I thought that eventually, this, like most awkward phases in my life that I’d like to forget, would disappear. I thought wrong. If you are thinking right now “Ok, but I’d think I’d know if I had ever been or are currently being bulled as an adult!”. I’m sure you’re now following that up by saying, “I’m also too old to still deal with bullying in general”. Again, you, like me, would be wrong. Just like there is never a day where you stop growing up, there is never a day that bullying stopped playing some role in your (and my) adult life.
At 31 years of age, I realize that as an adult, I still get bullied. Whether through friendships, relationships with my parents, work, and yes, even in romantic relationships; there have been instances in each where I, as an adult have been subjected to varying forms of bullying to some degree or manner. And while I can not speak on what the person and/or person(s) perpetuating the act of bullying motives were or why they felt the need to react in a way that I would consider and deem “bullying” ( was it subconscious or conscious, purposeful or unpurposeful), I can speak on how each instance made me feel in varying degree. Before I can explain what bullying does to one’s mental growth and wellbeing, we have to learn what bullying is and why it is so harmful. Afterward, I’ll give one instance of adult bullying in my life, the traits, behaviors, and tactics I feel they employed, and how it directly and/or indirectly impacted my mental health or mindset at the end of this article.
“I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.”
~ Shay Mitchell
The American Psychological Association defines bullying as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “‘cause’ the bullying.”
“Bullying happens at all ages and levels.”
~ Ralph Macchio
A bully, as described by Psychology Today, “can be an aggressive juvenile, an intimidating boss or colleague, a controlling romantic partner, an unruly neighbor, a high-pressure sales/business representative, a condescending family member, a shaming social acquaintance, or those in a variety of other types of abusive relationships”. Their actions can be as blatant as verbal name-calling, condescendence, and belittlement (see any Donald Trump tweet or related tweet or press conference), but also as subtle as repetitive and unwanted name/phrase calling in the disguise of “just joking around”. Both extremely toxic and just as psychologically damming, bullying is harmful chiefly due to the fact that it again as described by Psychology Today, carries the implicit message that aggression and violence are acceptable solutions to problems when they are not. Cooperation and the peaceful resolution of differences support an increasingly interconnected world. Bullying not only harms its victims, but it also harms the perpetrators themselves. Most bullies have a downwardly spiraling course through life, as their aggressive behavior interferes with learning, holding a job, and establishing and maintaining intimate relationships.
From “narcissistic” to an “ageist” bully, adult bullies come in all shapes and sizes. It is important to know how to distinguish the types of bullies and how they normalize their toxic behavior. Bullying Statistics state:
(These next few, I am adding to Bullying Statistics definition of types of adult bullies from my own personal experience):
In addition to these traits, bullies also employ common tactics as described by Psychology Today including (there may be some traits and tactics that overlap):
“For too long, we’ve allowed ourselves to equate targeted bullying with innocent teasing, or dismissed it as pranks and ignored the torment and long-term impact that an incident like this has on young people.”
While we may have now successfully classified and determined what a bully is, we have yet to see an example in action or understand and classify ways in which to combat it.
In my adult life, I have been bullied in every way you may think of. From narcissistic to ageist bullying, I’ve experienced bullying in some way, shape, or form. From people that I consider close to me as well as acquaintances I’ve never personally met. One particular incident springs to mind. On numerous occasions, I have been the victim of Impulsive, Environmental, Insular, Passive-aggressive, and Verbal bullying. Often, varying traits overlapping and occurring within the same person or throughout a group of people. Examples of this that I can personally attest to is constantly being asked passive-aggressive questions despite continual requests to stop. Or Insular bullying from a person who despite hearing other perspectives, is not willing to respect any viewpoint other than their own or lastly self-perceived bullying of my self, allowing other peoples said the perception of me dilute the progress that I have made in a journey to better understand myself and my surroundings. In allowing people closest to me to bully me and not set respectful boundaries, my own self-view has currently become dim, keeping me from taking pleasure in things that once did. Because the voice in my head now bullies me, telling me that I am worthless of expressing my feelings, that if I do, I will only be shut down in justification of someone else’s narrative of myself. I now have bullied myself into believing and second-guessing not only who I am as a person and the strides to better myself, but what I am doing in the response of providing for family and as a providing my own professional growth. Even now, I am forced to choke back tears from swelling, consciously berating myself of having these feelings, to begin with. I write this to you not to dim your hope, but to caution you to the effects of bullying as well as realistically stating that you may never fully be able to fully understand and counteract bullying in all of its forms. There will be times that even though you’ve done all that you can do, you can never truly counteract or effectively stop someone with the intentions of bullying. Nonetheless, here are some basic principles that are taken from Psychology Today, U.S. News, that you can use to possibly end or lessen the burden:
Sometimes we can lose sight of who we are because of bullying. In times like that, it’s always important to remember that no one can steal your light but you. When you give in to people’s perception of you, it gives way to bullying in its purest form. Never forget that you, despite your flaws are worthy of mutual respect, openness, and understanding. Until next time.
inspirational quotes provided by: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/bullying-quotes_1
BITD is a blog designed to educate on mental illness and maintain mental wellness through personal experiences.