Healthy people treat each other with love, honesty, kindness and respect. We need to develop and maintain these qualities. Unfortunately many people experience a lot of pain and suffering which is often turned outward. When someone treats us disrespectfully, we need to understand why and act accordingly with intelligence and compassion. We also need to teach our children about overcoming bullying with self-love.
First and foremost we need to remember that we are valuable and that all people without exception have a special mission and place on the earth. Let’s hug our children and remind them that the world would be bereft without them. Everyone is important in their unique way. When children feel loved, wanted,and valued, they thrive and develop healthy self-images. These self-images are tested when they go to school and the current state of technology and social media has only elevated that challenge. Abused kids tend to harm others because they are suffering. Children who develop self-love tend to care about themselves, take responsibility for their actions and are more fully able to interact well with others. Children who are self-confident are less likely to be bullied.
Young dogs take turns baring their teeth and playing top dog and bottom dog, one acting as dominant aggressor while the other performs the role of victim. This show of force serves to prepare them for the aggression they face when meeting strange dogs. It is part of learning to survive and thrive in the world. Children frolic in similar ways and a certain amount of rough play builds character.
However, children of all ages also encounter bullies. A bully is someone who threatens or uses force to abuse, intimidate or dominate another. The victim is usually targeted due to a difference in gender, social status, race, religious beliefs, appearance or simply because they appear to be different or vulnerable. There are many types of bullying. The most common are emotional or relational, as well as verbal abuse. The most frightening sort involves physical violence. Recently cyber bullying has become a problem, with people using technology to undermine others. Photos, remarks and threats can be posted online and shared with the entire world within minutes. This type of intimidation can seem insurmountable, yet with guidance and intelligence all issues can be resolved.
Children must be taught never to engage in any activity that harms another, and to immediately get help if they fall victim to any type of abuse. The alarming statistics that link bullying with suicide (the third leading cause of death in young people) need to change – 160,000 children stay home from school every day because they fear harassment.
To overcome bullying remember these simple steps:
- You have a right to defend yourself and set healthy boundaries. Often the best form of defense is simply having the wisdom to walk a different direction if you can.
- Remember you are a valuable human being that can never be replaced. Anyone that does not see you as valuable does not need to be included in your circle of friends. Always strive to be neutral, balanced and kind.
- Never engage in harm, including self-harm or negative self-talk.
- Remember that anything you might have said or done can be forgiven. All we need to do is our best.
- Life is about learning and some of the greatest leaders made terrible mistakes and grew from the experience. We can clean up our messes, go on and do better.
- Ask an adult for help if the bullying continues.
- Remember that we can always creatively solve any issue, even the ones that seem impossible.
- Treat others the way you would like to be treated and apologize if you need to, even if it is to yourself.
- Forgiveness is the key that frees us from pain. Say, “I forgive you, please forgive me, let’s forgive each other. Thank you!”
- Rain or shine, love yourself and love all people.
I wrote a series of books several years ago for my daughter who was being bullied at school. The second book, Sparkle & The Light, was written to help her deal with that painful situation, make better choices, and ultimately avoid having to go through that type of experience ever again.
At the time she was hiding under her bed and refusing to come out. A boy at school had been telling my beautiful and intelligent daughter that she was fat and ugly. It caused her a lot of upset, made her doubt herself, and she no longer wanted to go into her classroom. I told her that it was unfortunate that the boy was unable to truly see her and that his remarks were very sad because he must be feeling ugly inside. Usually people that have the need to harm others have a challenging family dynamic. I reminded her that she was serving as a mirror for his inner world and that she must not take his remarks seriously. I had to teach her how to protect herself in a non-violent and intelligent way.
I helped her understand that most people are so involved in their own suffering that they cannot see clearly, as they project (or see through their own tinted glasses) what they are feeling onto us. When someone is emotionally reactive they are involved in a negative projection (self-imagining), and we need to go neutral so we do not feed their story. I reminded her to carry a mirror so she could go into the bathroom when she needed to and look into it to remember her true nature. I told her to always remember that she was more valuable than precious pearls and diamonds. If someone called her an ugly name, then their sight had become clouded and it was best to avoid them and also to be compassionate, for clearly they had lost touch with their own goodness.
An exercise was given to me by a wise mystic that often works sparkling wonders:
If any one speaks harmful words to you, stomp your feet three times, to knock the dust of the negativity off, and turn away to the right. That way you shake off the words and do not carry them with you.
Once my daughter knew what to do and understood that she was valuable, she had compassion for the boy. In a way she was able to give him a gift, because she practiced neutrality and whatever he said had no impact on her from that point on. After a while he grew bored with the game and left her alone. Years later he even asked her out on a date.
She asked me to publish the Sparkle series because so many of her teenage and college friends were lost and needed guidance, and now children of all ages have pages that they can turn to when they need solace and comfort.