- Posted January 8, 2014 by
New York, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
The Cure for Bullying
We are failing by focusing sympathy on the victims.
What do I know about it, anyway? I was just like kids of today, sans the internet, social media, and access to weaponry. I grew up in a California beach town amongst people not at all like me. I was tall, heavy, pale, and had brown, curly hair, whereas my peers were tan, thin, and had blonde straight hair. I was bullied and teased mercilessly by both my peers and my brothers. My parents were narcissistic and, besides not wanting kids, really didn’t want kids that didn’t reflect well on them. I didn’t have but a couple of friends, and felt like an utter outcast.
As an adult, I used that pain to change myself into a strong, confident adult. There is one thing I learned along the way that changed everything, and, oh, how I wish I had known it at a younger age: Nothing is personal.
I first read the concept that “nothing is personal” in the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It blew my mind. This concept changed the way I viewed everyone’s actions, and changed my entire understanding of the world. The concept is that everything a person does, they do because of themselves. If a guy breaks up with a girl, he does it because the relationship isn’t what he wants, for whatever reason. If an employee lashes out at a boss, it is because they are threatened and feel powerless. Even if you were to stab somebody for something they did, it is still your reaction to their action, and you could have chosen to merely hate or even forgive.
What does this mean with respect to bullying? It means that bullying is about the bully, not the victim. People that bully do so because of themselves; they bully because they feel insecure, powerless, or inferior. Often bullies are bullied themselves. People bully because they need to feel superior to somebody else, or because they need to feel like they have control. The bullied person is merely the object for these insecurities. Bullying is the result of the bully having a problem, not the victim.
Google “girl has plastic surgery because of bullying” and you’ll get countless results. I recently watched a news story about a girl that left school to be homeschooled because she was bullied for her “big nose”. She ended up getting plastic surgery to stop the bullying, effectively making the bullied responsible for the bullying. If this were approached in another way, she could have evaded all of this pain and trauma. If she were equipped with the understanding that those kids bullied her because of themselves, and not because of her, then she could have written off their actions as “their own problem”. With that understanding, she could have disregarded them, and could instead have been far more confident. In fact, as such, she likely would have drawn their admiration rather than their taunts.
Insecurity is the real plague faced by humanity. The need to be superior has been the catalyst for racism, religious wars, and murder, amongst innumerable other atrocities. Bullying is no different. 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick killed herself because she was bullied relentlessly by another girl (and her many cohorts). That bully even bragged on social media afterward: “Yes I know I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself, but I don't give a f—k." (Li, 2013) It turns out that the bully was the new girlfriend of the Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend. Why did the girl bully her? It appears that she was threatened by Rebecca, and didn’t like that Rebecca had dated her boyfriend. It wasn’t enough that she was now the girlfriend; she bullied Rebecca because she wanted to feel like she was superior to Rebecca. In other words, the bullying was the reaction of a fearful and insecure girl. If Rebecca had understood that, there is no way she would have jumped to her death. Chances are she would have viewed her tormentor as pathetic.
The real answer to stopping bullying is to foster confidence in people (not just kids). This, of course, is a complex discussion. That said, the immediate tool with which to arm people is to ingrain the understanding that nothing is personal – that people do things because of themselves. This is important because it empowers victims and even helps bullies; this understanding helps to relieve the insecurities that makes someone engage in bullying. The understanding that bullying is about the bully, not their victim, may even, in itself, deter bullying.
Focusing sympathy on the victims and wrath on the bullies doesn’t solve the problem. Understanding the motivation does.