What is a bully?
1. a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
1. use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.
I'm sure everyone has come across a bully at least once in their lives. I really do not deal with bullies well. You could actually say I have a zero tolerance policy. Something about someone trying to intimidate, oppress or dictate how I live my life really bothers me, right down to the very core of who I am (perhaps a trickled down side effect of colonization? But that's a different blog post).
The very first bully I ever encountered was in kindergarten… To protect the (not so) innocent, let's call her Rachel. Everyday I would go to school and Rachel would pull my hair and force me to do things I didn't want to do (like go into the bathroom alone with her, or play games I didn't want to play). I told my mom that Rachel kept making me do stuff and would always pull my hair or hurt me if I didn't do exactly what she said. My mom, being the great person that she is, decided the first step would be for me to try to avoid her.
So I did. But it was kindergarten and kind of difficult to avoid someone in such a small classroom. So the next step that my mother took was to alert the teacher to the situation. The teacher told the class that bullying was wrong and that we should keep our hands to ourselves without addressing Rachel and myself directly. That would have been great if it had worked, and the bullying had stopped there, but it didn't.
Rachel continued to harm me by pulling my hair and forcing me to do things I didn't want to do. I told my mom that Rachel still wouldn't stop, and finally she told me this:
"The only way you can get Rachel to stop bullying you and pulling your hair for good, is by pulling hers back even harder than she's ever pulled yours before."
What!!! I was shocked. Did my mom really give me permission to pull another girl's hair at school?
Yes. She did. And it was the greatest piece of advice I think she's ever given me.
So I went back to school. The next day our class was in the gym and Rachel was wearing a long, beautiful braid down her back. Rachel told me to do something and I said no.
"What did you say?" She asked.
"No." I replied.
"Do it!" She said.
"NO." I said firmly.
So Rachel pulled my hair and told me to do it again... There it was... My chance. I looked around the room making sure the teacher wasn't watching… wound up… and pulled on Rachel's braid as hard as I possibly could (for a 6 year old girl). In fact, I pulled her hair so hard that Rachel actually fell to the ground.
She cried, and I can't remember if I got in trouble or not, but I'm sure it was worth it because Rachel never bothered me again from that day on. In fact we became pretty close friends until she moved away. I have no idea where or what she's up to now.
But I learned an important lesson that day. Bullies are actually cowards. They don't like themselves or who they are, or maybe they are bullied at home by parents, so they try to control other people's lives. But if you stand up to a bully and show them they shouldn't mess with you, typically you will gain their respect and the bullying will cease.
So here's my advice to you, should you ever encounter a bully in the near future.
Step 1. Avoid the bully if possible. Never resort to bullying back right away, or else you become one yourself.
Step 2. If avoidance is out of the question, or if they just don't leave you alone, tell someone. If you're younger tell your parents, or if you're an adult like me, talk to the bully directly and tell them you don't like the way they're treating you.
Step 3. If Step 1 and Step 2 haven't helped in any way, you may finally have to give the bully a taste of their own medicine.
And if that doesn't work… you're screwed! (lol)
I'm really curious to know how you deal with bullies. If you haven any advice please leave it. I'd also love to hear your bully story.
Thanks for reading, and go show those bullies who's boss!