Defending yourself from the verbal bullets of a bully

By Caitriona McMahon

This week Selena Gomez made news headlines after cancelling her world tour due to Lupus. Seeing her name reminded me of one great song she has called “Kill Em With Kindness”. A few lines from it are:

Your lies are bullets, Your mouths a gun, And no war and anger, Has never won

As Selena says, words have the ability to cut deeper than any knife or bullet. Unlike physical wounds that will heal relatively quickly, emotional wounds have the potential to get worse as time passes by.

They cause lasting damage, yet due to various reasons – often anger, jealously or hurt – they simply flow off some peoples tongue at ease. So what does that mean for the person at the receiving end?

All around the world people are travelling to college, school or work in fear of being on the receiving end. In fear of what, you might ask?

In fear of bullies threatening them with verbal bullets and guns.

Many of you may remember Mrs Thrunchbull who plays the bully head mistress character in Matilda as a tall, broad and terrifying to look at lady with the ability to fling a shot put from one side of Europe to the other.

She bangs things, roars, locks children up in horrifying cellars. In the past, bullies were often portrayed this way which is inaccurate as the abuse can be physical, mental, verbal or emotional.

Let’s imagine for a moment as you go about your working day in a local factory, a colleague leaves the staff room covered in blood, with what appears to be swollen, bruised eyes and limping.

I think it’s fair to say we would put two and two together and assume there was an altercation? We would certainly follow our workmate to ensure they are okay.

But what happens if the slaps thrown are invisible, the bruises and breaks internal and imagine this time, you’re the person leaving the staff room. Would anyone notice your agony as you scream on the inside or come to your aid? Would something be put in place so your never subjected to this sort of anguish again be it in college, school or work?

This type of abuse often goes unnoticed, unmonitored and the majority of the time, there are no policies or procedures in place to deal with such a situation.

Now let’s take a closer look at the bully.

Bullying would not exist without what we call the ego. The ego is the part of the brain that loves itself. It takes pride in stunning new runners, thrives off status and thoroughly enjoys compliments.

It’s what makes Christian Bale in American Psycho think he’s the man handing out sleek business cards. It also needs to identify itself with items or things in order to feed itself similar to a leach feeding off blood.  

The ego can never be wrong and feels threatened by anything or anyone that may take away any of its food, such as the job or the car they identify with.

When a bully is in full swing, they are reacting directly from ego, which they believe to be them. Those unidentified with it for the most part will know that taking a moment or two to think is always a wise decision and will rarely react, instead they will respond.

If you have ever had someone tell you, “You’re not good enough”, that’s because they feel threatened which  proves, in fact, that you are  more than good enough.

If you’ve ever been shouted at it’s because you have triggered an emotional memory so deep that even they themselves are shocked by their response and cannot explain it.

Why does a dog bite? The answer is because they feel threatened or hurt.

I attended a talk years ago and the guest speaker spoke about a fisherman who had a bucket of lobsters in the boat with him.

As the fishing trip went on, a friend of the fisherman asked, “Are you not afraid all the lobsters will crawl out of the open bucket?”

The fisherman replied, “Not at all, they’re Irish sure. The second one of them sees another one doing better then them they will drag them back down.”

The audience burst out laughing because most of us have experienced it at one time or another. As horrible as it is to admit, there are quite a few begrudgers.

In these begrudgers the ego latches on, insisting on drowning others in order to keep their own heads above water. These begrudgers often become bullies.

Only yesterday I heard a very relevant comment that went, “If you can’t add something to a situation then don’t take from it”

In summary I believe far more education is needed around bullying and its various forms. Policies need to be created to protect  our people against bullying  just as they would be for health and safety.  

As a witness it is our responsibility to bring it to someone else’s attention if we are aware of someone being bullied.

As a victim you should never  have had to experience such hurt but know that it is not due to your weakness, rather it is due to theirs.

If you have been affected by any of the above please speak to someone.


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