So here's the thing: people pick on other people. They call people mean names, hit, shove, intimidate, say and do horrible things.
I know we usually soothe the people who've suffered such things with declarations of no-fault: "that girl is insecure and lashing out" "that guy was bullied as a child and he's continuing the cycle" "it's not about you, it's about THEM."
I'm about to say something that may get people pissed off at me. I've come to believe that we look at this situation, of bullying and harassment, and folks often say, it's all the bully's fault. Or perhaps that it's society's fault, or that parents have failed, or schools didn't provide proper guidance.
Believe me, I understand that bullying, harassment, domineering and controlling, assholish behavior has a bewildering complexity of causes.
And people also will point out (because often times the media and some individuals need reminding) that "victim-blaming", as a thing, is unfair, wrong, or bad.
Unfair, I grant. Unhelpful, I concede, and bad? Victim blaming is a mark of both lazy thinking and dishonest, delusional assumptions about interpersonal dynamics.
Wrong it may be to say the victim was at blame for their victimhood, but is it entirely incorrect?
I was alternately bullied and ignored throughout school. I entered into relationships with sarcastic, belittling partners and stayed there for years. I know now that patterns of behavior I learned at home shaped my childhood social experiences, my choices of romantic partners, and my willingness to trust... Actually to trust anyone at all, was a huge struggle, for many years.
I gained confidence and life experience, learned to thrive in nourishing relationships, and learned to survive and end verbally abusive relationships in work and romantic life.
What I eventually learned was that my assumptions influenced how my reality manifested. If you feel insecure, it shows in how you move, stand, hold yourself. Confidence or insecurity show in tone of voice and in your word choices too.
Humans everywhere in the world read body language fluently. Bullies and predators, consciously (or unconsciously) select people for body language that shows insecurity or wishy-washiness.
Radical honesty and being an adult demands that we must look deeply and unflinchingly at ourselves so we can solve the problem with accurate information, not self delusion.
* Am I complicit in being picked on, in any way?
* Do my assumptions about how I will be treated, or how the world works, affect how I AM treated, or how the world responds to me?
* If either of these are true, what can I do to recognize and change my habits of behavior and thought?
Suppose you've done serious reflection on your life and your attitudes or expectations to recognize that you contribute(d) to your own victimhood in some ways. You may expect people in your life to be rude, dismissive, disparaging, or sarcastic. You may have internal voices telling you you aren't good enough, aren't worth the effort.
And then you realize that you would NEVER speak even to your worst enemy with the language and tone you hear in your head. (The moment I realized this is clear in my head, even eight years later.)
Please be welcome to feel feelings about this discovery, but try to just feel them, not to judge yourself or beat yourself up for it. That helps nobody figure it out, it just gets in the way of discovery and change to a better paradigm for your inner sanctum.
It's definitely possible to start learning to present a more confident façade.
Think about the truism "fake it till you make it." Look around at people you know, or people you see, who look confident and calm, people who move happy, if that makes sense. People who move fluently and with purpose. If you're like I was at this stage, you're probably envious of those people. Use that. You want what they've got, start emulating them.
One of the first things I consciously did to conquer my fears was change how I walked. I lived in a not-great neighborhood, and so I thought about how to look like a not-target. I started to walk big, wear shoes that let me walk stompy, fast, strong. I stopped walking while reading or while checking my phone. I looked at people around me, and kept my chin up. Made eye contact occasionally, when I felt like it. That started happening more often as I built confidence. Nodding or waving or smiling slightly at neighbors started feeling comfortable. I worked on having straighter posture, and open, relaxed body language.
Now I look at the process as giving myself acting lessons. Really, they're acting lessons for your life, rather like the advice I've heard of dressing up to the job you want to have.
As an adult who's working to solve a problem, you'll immediately start to recognize victim body language or posture as you observe others, and how different it looks from confident body language or posture. And if your goal is to change your own behavior, you can start selecting habits that work better for your life, and work to change how you present yourself to the world.
The best part of fake it till you make it? As your body learns, your brain comes to believe what the body tells it. As you practice confident stances and postures, a strong movement style, aware and alert reactions to the people in your environment, not only will people treat you differently, YOU will start to feel differently about yourself. And that's a really big part of the solution.
Start research on techniques to build up your own resilience, tough mindedness, and compassion for yourself. This kind of interior remodeling job is worth the effort. And, if you already possess these skills? Please think about reaching out and lending a hand to someone who needs them.
(And let me say THANK you to all the families and teachers out there who are consciously working to raise strong, self confident children. You give me hope for the future.)This has been my Week Four entry for therealljidol, and the prompt was a quotation from Dr.Martin Luther King Jr:
“Nobody can ride your back if your back's not bent”.
Beta-readings done by alycewilson !
Please go read and enjoy my colleagues' entries here. To vote for my entry, link is *here* scroll down to Tribe 5.
soon after Monday April 7th, once the poll's posted.
Thank you for reading!My Recommended reading list on this topic:
Oriah Mountain Dreamer's The Invitation
Trina Paulus' Hope For The Flowers
Dr. Patricia Evans' The Verbally Abusive Relationship
SARK's Bodacious Book of Succulence
(and all her other books)
Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen's Goddesses in Everywoman
and Gods in Everyman
Osho's COURAGE: The Joy of Living Dangerously