Understanding the Bully
Weakness drives a bully. It sets something off in her. If you ask her (or him) why she treats her target the way she does, her answer would be either exaggerated or senseless. It could be because she doesn’t really know the answer or she is ashamed of it. Whatever her reason, she can’t help herself. Her actions become as instinctive and reflexive as scratching an itch.
A war rages within her and she is losing. No matter what she does, she cannot overcome the feelings of powerlessness, inadequacy or fear. It could be something she is dealing with at home like abuse, neglect, abandonment, or divorce. Or it could be she is harboring a secret she fears will be exposed because she believes it may be socially unacceptable.
A bully doesn’t just choose anyone to persecute. A bully reacts to what she sees in the person she harasses. She is drawn to her because she sees something in that person she hates about herself. She can’t win the war within, so she takes it without. Every time she throws a blow (either physical or mental) and it lands and causes some kind of pain or distress, it makes her feel better. She feels powerful and less like a victim.
Yes, a bully is a victim. A bully bullies because she herself feels bullied.
Encountering a Bully
You, the target, wonder why this person despises you. Why are you the target of her disdain and scorn when you have done nothing to provoke her? You may try to reason with her or appease her, succumbing to her demands, cowering to her threats.
You hope she’ll leave you alone if you just give her what she wants and not antagonize her. But the more you cater to her, the worse she’ll get. Ignoring or avoiding her won’t work either. Her attacks will only get louder; she’ll make you pay attention to her.
Who is a Target?
Anybody can be a target. Loners are the most obvious prey. But smart, pretty, successful, athletic people can be targets too because everyone has weakness. Everyone has something she (or he) struggles with and a bully recognizes weakness because she is weak.
*Note: There is no age limit on bullying.
How to Beat a Bully
You would think all you have to do is step to your bully and command her to step off, maybe punch her in the eye, or go tit for tat with everything she does–none of which will be effective and fruitful as long as the weakness within you remains.
You may be dealing with some of the same struggles your bully is dealing with. The enemy within could be fear of rejection or humiliation, or feelings of inadequacy or powerlessness. Only you can truly identify your giant.
Consider: Your bully could merely be a physical manifestation of the giant you fear within.
So the only way to defeat your bully is to address the weakness within you. Whatever you’re battling won’t stop persecuting you until you face it. And you won’t face it until you make up your mind–despite the fear or feelings you may still possess–you’re not running anymore. No matter what happens, you won’t let anything or anyone make you cry or hang your head. You will no longer let your bully make you so angry you can’t think straight. (How that manifests depends on the individual.)
Then something amazing happens. Amid the constant harassment you begin to change. You grow stronger and bolder, and your giant shrinks.
Your bully, who was motivated by the weakness she saw in you, will recognize the change in you, and she will change toward you. You are no longer a victim, so you are no longer prey. No longer a target.
Your bully is just one of the many giants you will face in your lifetime. But know this: every time you take a stand and face them, your giants will fall, many times in unexpected ways.