“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I was bullied a lot when I was younger. Mostly people I thought were my friends. I used to think that I would get even with my bullies one day or finally come up with a witty retort to their remarks. That’s definitely what shows like Game of Thrones lead us to believe (the part about everyone looking for revenge).
But fighting back isn’t the answer. You don’t have to get down to someone else’s level and do what they did to you. Just look at what Gandhi was able to accomplish without violence in India. Here’s what to do about bullies and mean people.
Just think about the quote above. If someone hurts you, it’s because they themselves are hurting. That’s all it means. It means absolutely nothing about you.
It’s possible they could say or do really mean things to you that you take to heart. But try not to take it personally. If someone were in a lot of physical pain you would probably give them more allowance for saying mean things.
If someone says something mean to me, this is what I think (and sometimes if it’s online, I’ll actually respond to them with this):
“I’m sorry you’re in pain. I’ll pray for you.”
You can even leave the second part off if you’re not spiritual. Just say, “I’m sorry you’re in pain.”
If you think someone would think you’re totally weird for saying this, then don’t say anything at all. Just get up and walk out. Delete their comments. Whatever the situation is. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life anyway.
But if it’s someone who might have a heart, somewhere deep down, then sometimes empathy can help break through to them. Maybe it’s a loved one who said something that really stung. Saying you’re sorry can be very disarming. Instead of fighting you or escalating their words, the person will probably stop what they’re saying completely. They might even apologize.
Because odds are, they are in some kind of pain, and you’re the only person who has ever sympathized with them. It’s not easy to be kind to your bullies, but it is the most mature and “good” thing you can do.
An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.
(And if they don’t respond positively? You don’t need them in your life anyway. :))