“Bullied: Why You Feel Bad Inside and What To Do About It” Book Excerpt #3 -Are You a Bully?

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Katharine MayfieldAuthor, Katherine Mayfield shares a 3rd excerpt from her book “Bullied: Why Do You Feel Bad Inside and What To Do About It”.  This is a 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.  And very reasonably priced at $10.95.  

(Links to radio interview all excerpts at bottom of post). 

Are You a Bully?

Sometimes we get so mad that we just want to lash out at someone. Our feelings can be so overwhelming that we don’t know what to do with them, and we think that if we hurt someone else or put them down, we’ll feel better. We might feel better for awhile when we see how we can make someone else react the way we want them to, but then later we go back to feeling the anger we felt before, and we want to lash out again.

Sometimes someone is hurting us, and we want to make other people hurt as much as we’re hurting. We may have never learned that there are other, better ways besides lashing out at other people to deal with hurts and anger. But there are.

There are lots of ways to express anger in a healthy way, which means expressing it without hurting someone else or yourself. You can whack a bed with a plastic bat, throw rocks in a river or pond, or go for a walk or work out at the gym—anything that gets your body moving will help you to let go of your anger and pain. And there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better if you’re sad or hurting inside, and lots of ways to get good attention when you need it.

Some people need more physical activity than others, and feel antsy if they don’t get enough activity. If this is true of you and you spend a good portion of the day sitting, you might want to find a way to incorporate more exercise into your day—it can help mitigate that “overwhelmed” feeling.

Sometimes you might want to hurt others because someone at home or somewhere else is hurting you. You want to retaliate, to hit back, but you can’t hit back at the person who’s hurting you or putting you down, so you find someone smaller or weaker to hit back at.

It’s a normal reaction to want to hit back when you’ve been hurt or humiliated, but it’s not ever appropriate to hit back at someone who’s not hurting you.

If someone close to you is hurting you emotionally, their behavior is wrong. You may love this person (you can love the person and still know that their behavior is wrong), but the way they’re behaving is inappropriate. Love is not supposed to hurt.

Sometimes bullying is a “learned behavior”—maybe you’re just copying what someone else does. If you see someone who seems very powerful bullying someone else, you might think that bullying is what makes them powerful. But it doesn’t work that way.

Many adults who bully others do it because they feel like little children inside, and they’re using the behavior of bullying to try to feel more important, bigger. They’re looking for attention, but they don’t know of any positive ways to get it, so they bully others. This is just as wrong as kids bullying other kids.

There are steps you can take to help yourself feel better, so you don’t want so badly to hurt someone else. The first step is to understand the feelings you have inside—they’re probably a result of your being hurt, maybe over and over, as you’ve been growing up.

The next step is to start expressing your feelings in healthy ways, which means by not hurting or bullying someone else.  You can express your feelings by talking to a trusted friend or counselor, or using some of the suggestions above when you’re alone.  If you have a lot of different feelings, pick the one that’s bothering you the most, and start there. It takes some time, but generally people feel better pretty quickly once they start expressing their feelings.

The next step for you is to find other ways besides bullying to feel stronger and more powerful. Bullied offers suggestions for what you can do to feel stronger and raise your self-esteem so you don’t have to bully others.



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!

All Excerpts:

“Bullied: Why Do You Feel Bad Inside and What To Do About It”  Book Excerpt I-Why Do People Bully Others?

“Bullied: Why Do You Feel Bad Inside and What To Do About It”  Book Excerpt #2 What Feelings Do People Have When They are Bullied?

“Bullied: Why Do You Feel Bad Inside and What To Do About It”  Book Excerpt #3 -Are You a Bully?


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4 Responses to “Bullied: Why You Feel Bad Inside and What To Do About It” Book Excerpt #3 -Are You a Bully?

  1. Stacey Urbanowicz says:

    As a new RN, I entered the MICU. Here is where your article would have been influential in understanding how the seasoned ICU RNs and management “eat their young” (bullied the new RN whom need just the opposite).
    There is such an acceptance to this behavior in nursing field, even with the management whom are suppose to create a “working environment”. I had one manager actually tap me on the knee when a doctor was bullying me and putting my patient’s health at risk say to me, “you know Stacey, us nurses aren’t suppose to make noise…. there really isn’t anything I can do about Dr. X”. REALLY.
    I have seen a submission and acceptance in the medical field of this culture of bullying as a “rite of passage”, I think this is unacceptable and wrong. This should be weeded out and taught at every level that sharing knowledge and showing compassion have better results for practitioner and the patient. This is true leadership and will ensure better outcomes, not bullying.

    Now that I have found an organization that does not have this culture, I finally feel at home of people who understand mutual respect, dignity, and helping others succeed in their careers and with their patients. I feel bad for all the nurses who believe that this is the status quo and get beaten by the bullies that you mention in your article. I wish the bullies’s inward journey of facing their bullying is reflective of change for themselves and the job culture they work in.

    • Hi Stacey,
      Thanks for your comments, astute insights, and compassion for bullies. I’m glad that you have found an organization that is supportive. I agree with you 100% and think you have the makings of a wonderful leader! Please consider writing a blog post sometime to highlight the positive experience and culture at your current organization. We don’t have to blast the first place but could certainly promote the 2nd. What was it like for you to make this transition home? “Mutual respect, dignity, and helping others succeed in their careers” is about the best ad I can imagine for recruiting and marketing! 🙂 Write to me at beth@bethboynton.com if interested. No pressure though! Beth

  2. Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your comment and your encouragement! I think you’re absolutely right that part of the healing process is recognizing the thoughts and beliefs that get in the way of more positive living, rooting them out, and replacing them with something more supportive. Thanks for adding your helpful insights!

    One of my favorite authors, Martha Beck, has likened the process to driving along a deeply rutted road and consistently steering to stay out of the ruts. It takes work, but the rewards are worth it.


  3. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing this excerpt. To me, those feelings inside need to be felt, given voice, and then let go. I agree that moving the body in a physical way can help, but take it a step further. Those experiences of anger come from a thought, a memory, or a belief we keep playing over and over in our minds. Each time we play it it is real and each time it is more real it grows in power. We’ve also got to get to the root of the cause of the anger, change the inherent thought or belief, and then let it go. I appreciate your work and your book sounds wonderful. Best wishes and thank you for sharing! Elizabeth

What are your thoughts?