How to Be Free of Bullies
Being treated badly by another person, especially if they claim to care about you, can be very upsetting. This experience can reel in our minds for days and navigate our dreams as we think what to say, process what we feel and decide how to respond.
Perhaps, it is more complicated than it seems at first. This blog sets out to delineate the boundaries between bad treatment and a negative response, which might provide clues to a deeper issue. In my 30s, I learned to embrace my humanity including my flaws and mistakes. We’re not all good all the time, just as despicable people are not all bad.
Friends and family might have something we want to hear, or they could be bringing their baggage to a conversation and off-loading. How do we tell these apart?
How do we see things from a wider perspective? I believe that everyone’s point of view is equally valid, as I think our world view is made up of our experiences, circumstances and genes. These are all facts so we cannot argue that someone didn’t have that experience or those circumstances or descend from those people as these can be proven. This is where I believe character comes from.
From the backdrop of our world view, spring our opinions and attitudes. I find discussions with people who see things differently to are fascinating, when these conversations are possible. It seems that social media is making these discussions rarer, as people believe that they are right and things look only as they see them. This is an issue, where some people are so over-confident in their opinions that they cannot conceive the world can occur very differently to someone else.
We cannot be expected, nor ought we to want, to communicate perfectly off the bat. Starting a conversation is a skill to be desired and requires a message that others can understand and hopefully relate to. I find written conversations by text or email far too slow and time consuming as these lack the clues of tone of voice to reveal emotion. I once received a letter reply from Energywatch about an issue with my electricity bill, which responded to every point I had raised. This made me feel heard and understood, which is not an experience I got from talking to the provider’s customer services.
I’m someone who, like most people, aims to be good and decent all the time. Of course, there are incidents when I am frankly in the wrong, but this may be hidden from my view until I hear the other person’s viewpoint or if I imagine it. For example muttering rudely under-my-breath when someone seems to be in the way, such as a dawdler hogging the pavement when I’m in a rush. They do not know I am in a rush and I’m sure my disapproval will be offensive to them. I will feel bad afterwards.
I find that, with close friends and family, expectations of how I am spoken to are higher than with a stranger, but I think there is a clear distinction between a response and a reaction. I don’t think there is ever a need to be rude, criticise, judge, accuse, assume or name call. I feel that if we have clear parameters in which to discuss, debate and argue, it gives us unliminted freedom to put our points across. It also helps if the discussion starts with participants all being in possession to the same facts, therefore differences of opinion and perspective can be discussed.
Personally I try and avoid conflict because of how most people behave if they are annoyed or questioned. I think the expression “mind your own business” means it is my job to spot my mistakes or things I do badly, not for others to point out. If I take a while to spot or acknowledge a mistake, that is my business and I need to make good once I have seen it.
What I start to realise is that I react to someone who, ten minutes ago is saying how much they like me and switches to suddenly treating me like i am a bad or horrible person. Are any of us honest enough to say to our friends, as it would be useful to know, what part of me do you not like or think is bad or horrible?
This probably goes back to childhood and conditioning from parents. On an understanding level, if I do something well or good, I am liked more than when I do or say something bad. Many parents unwittingly treat their children as if they are loveable when they are good and abhorrent when they are bad.
This can make us, as it does me, less tolerant of conditional treatment. It feels manipulative, when someone treats you well when you are good and rejects you when you make mistakes. It is possible to respond to someone and say “I don’t like what you did or said” and that is a valid view. It does not mean it is right.
It feels to me as if certain friends start talking to me and treating me as if I am all bad, instead of responding and saying “I don’t like you doing or saying this”. That is my experience. However, if the people I like having around me all do this, are they telling me something I haven’t seen yet? Are they telling me that I do not respond honestly and let things go, until I am upset and then I tell people how bad I think they are?
The best way to see ourselves is to find what opinions we have of other people.
It seems as if there is a negative wash and someone who seemed to really like you a short while ago is now rejecting you. is that what everyone feels when we are getting on one minute and arguing the next?
The lack of self-acceptance, which can make us defensive when this happens, can stem from childhood. Even though our parents’ treatment of us does have an impact, we cannot completely blame them. Sadly, it is natural for parents to unwittingly manipulate their children’s behaviour and it falls to grandparents to mediate and, often, stand up for their grandchildren by reminding our parents the child is OK.
Acceptance goes a long way to allow change and development as, conversely, rejection and resistance push things underground they get dark and intense instead of being dealth with. It is more difficult for those who were brought up without grandparents around to learn how to accept ourselves and then create boundaries with other people when they start treating us badly.
Therefore, when someone makes a comment such as “why did you do this? You should have know I don’t like it” you can respond and say “Are you trying to tell me think I am bad right now?” and the person might say “yes, you shouldn’t do that,” which leaves you to choose to say “OK, I’ll remember if it happens again” or whether you want to say “I don’t like you talking to me as if I suddenly become a horrible person. I accept I did something wrong and that is all you need to say”.
The only way any of us find out how others take what we say or what we do is when they respond directly. The issue becomes heated, when they bring something from their past into the equation. Were you there when they last experienced something they did not like? Are you really expected to remember with all your own stuff going on. It is possible you might do the thing they don’t like again and can say “Oh, now I remember why you don’t like that”.
Sometimes this takes a little practice. If we can respond to people when they treat us badly, it starts to let them know where your line is. By saying “I don’t want to talk to you if you are just going to list all my mistakes or talk to me like I am horrible” but they may say “I feel the same way” and then it is possible to untangle the sore feelings between you.
For example, I am not good at responding to people. I may have a disagreement with someone who is saying something, which I find subjective and stupid. Do I tell them their comment is subjective or stupid? No I do not. Instead I reply to give my views on the subject, which pretty much tells them how subjective and stupid I think they are. By not telling them what I honestly think about what they said by responding directly and telling them, underground feelings start to well up.
I can keep forgiving people and moving the conversation forward, but I am being just as conditional as I think they are. In fact, I need to tell them that I have formed an opinion that they treat me badly when I do things they do not like. They may say they feel the same about me. Then it is possible to agree to say a ‘safe word’ and point out when the person is crossing a line.
I might just discover something about myself during the process.
By responding directly to each other to say how we feel shares useful information to prevent future arguments. Too many people are treading on eggshells today, online and in person. This means we feel more pressure to say things well or not make mistakes. We all learn from failure so being open, free and caring in conversation makes a big difference and spreads the love.