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The Mechanics of, and Dealing with, Bullying: Pt. I

Dealing with bullies

Sometimes I hear apologists for bullies, their allies, or, if they finally get in trouble, bullies themselves, claim that they are simply being good rule-followers for everyone, or are just hard-headed, task-oriented and not very good at ‘feelings’ and social nuance. If the person is truly a bully, those statements are sneakily effective because they are socially plausible to bystanders, or even partially true.

Regarding the other portion, however, do not be fooled–many bullies do love written or agreed (handshake) rules. However, they are not following them primarily to improve things. They know the nuances to entangle others in them. They then amplify or concoct any deviations by their chosen targets. That allows them to appear ‘right’ and use that as a platform to build dominance and influence.

Also, bullies are usually not unaware or blind to how they affect others. Research shows they do fine in understanding character emotions in stories, for example (Sutton, Smith, & Swettenham, 1999, in S. White, 2018). They instead ignore others’ feelings by maintaining an exaggerated ‘survival of the fittest’ mindset. That said, a thankfully small minority of bullies do simply enjoy bullying or are psychopathic.

Remember, survival of the fittest cuts both ways, which includes a bully’s conscious or unconscious thinking and feeling. That is, the bully is afraid of being dominated, replaced, a ‘loser’ (in their mind), and generally not getting the things they think would hold up their self-image. Some may not recognize much anxiety consciously, but the survival imperative is there (in deep) and is fueling their behavior.

Bullies are not impaired emotionally; they figure things out

Protect yourself in practical ways and through self-development, while pitying bullies’ unconscious terror of failure or being controlled. The pity will start to establish in your mind that a bully will lose long-term, one way or another, and already is losing in terms of their emotional well-being. Having dispassionate pity for them also establishes that you are not the only one in the equation with weaknesses, and are not ‘weak’ just because you became a target.

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