Author, Katherine Mayfield shares an excerpt from her book “Bullied: Why Do You Feel Bad Inside and What To Do About It”. This short, easy-to-read, and helpful resource for kids and adults who are being or have been bullied as well as parents, teachers, and friends who are trying to understand and help. (Links to radio interview and all excerpts at bottom of post).
Why Do People Bully Others?
When people bully someone else, they’re trying to make themselves feel good. They may feel weak or frightened inside, and think that by bullying someone else, they’ll feel stronger. Their put-downs are not a reflection of who you are, but rather an indication that bullies don’t feel good about themselves. Sometimes the put-downs are not even based in reality. How could someone else know enough about you to think that they know everything? They don’t know who you are inside, and they have no idea what you’re capable of.
Bullies sometimes attribute certain qualities to their victims that they feel inside of themselves, but don’t want to admit. Psychologists call this “projection,” which means that the bully is denying her own feelings of weakness or powerlessness and saying instead that someone else is that way. In order to get rid of those feelings, the bully puts someone else down so that person feels weak or powerless, and then the bully feels stronger. The bully is “projecting” her flaws or feelings of weakness on the person she bullies, so she doesn’t have to deal with her own feelings. If you’re being bullied, try to remember the next time it happens that the bully is only trying to cut you down so he feels bigger—or, to think of it another way, anyone who bullies is simply trying to make you feel as small as he does inside.
But you can choose not to take that on by not taking the bully’s words and actions personally—remember that their words and actions reflect who they are, not who you are. Some bullies just appear to be “mean people”—they bully everyone they can. But they’re often hurting inside. They might have difficult issues to deal with at home, and they might have experienced bullying or abuse from others in their family. Most people who bully have learned how to do it from others—usually people who have bullied them—or from other members of their families. Bullies may feel out of control inside, and try to compensate by trying to control others, or they may feel inadequate, and so they put others down to make themselves feel better. Some bullies are very angry about something in their lives, and don’t have a safe place to express their anger. So they look for someone else to get angry at—a “scapegoat”—and vent their feelings on that person.
This is why bullying often seems so unreasonable and unjustified—because the bully’s actions are motivated by some other relationship that has nothing to do with his or her victims. If a bully grew up in a very strict household, he or she probably believes that the best way to live is to try to control others. In that sense, they are probably mimicking their parents. Bullies sometimes exert control over others because they are feeling controlled by someone else, and the urge to control something—anything—in their lives is so strong that they begin bullying others. All of this information is not meant to make you feel sorry for bullies. Sometimes it just helps to understand that bullies often feel inadequate and powerless inside—which means that they are not as strong or powerful or perfect as you might think they are.
Katherine Mayfield is the author of the award-winning memoir, The Box of Daughter: Healing the Authentic Self, the story of her recovery from childhood emotional abuse, and Bullied: Why YouFeel Bad Inside and What to Do About It, a guide to recovery from bullying and abuse. She speaks to schools and organizations about recovering from trauma, and blogs on dysfunctional families on her website, www.TheBoxofDaughter.com.
Radio interview with Katherine Mayfield- The Matthew Brower Show!