I was bullied a lot when I was younger. 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).
“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
What to Do About Bullies and Mean People
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. :))
What It Really Means When Someone is Mean to You
When it comes to other people, what they say to you has little to actually do with you and everything to do with them. (You may have heard this before or “Don’t take it personally” and it’s totally true :)).
If someone attacks you or someone else, it’s almost always because they themselves are hurting. That doesn’t mean you should keep them in your life where they can continue to hurt you, but it does help you have some understanding and compassion for your “enemies.”
If someone tries to crush your dreams or tells you that you’re not good enough, it’s probably because somewhere along the way, somebody crushed their dreams or told them that they weren’t good enough. But it doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. They’re just projecting their feelings onto you.
If someone tells you that you’re fat or ugly, it’s usually because they are deeply insecure about their own appearance. They’re not personally trying to hurt you, it’s just that they themselves are so full of pain that sometimes it spills out onto other people. It’s a reflection on them, not you.
Instead of getting mad or upset, realize that their words or actions have little to do with you and everything to do with their own pain. Try to understand that they, too, have a story and a past that made them who they are today.
You don’t have to keep these people in your life, but you can also see the pain they’re in and have been in in the past and have compassion for a person who is hurting so much that the only way they can handle it is to hurt other people.
Instead of attacking them back or holding a grudge for the rest of your life, try to understand who they are and what brought them to this point, and then gently let them go from your life.
People are just doing the best they can.
You’re not alone.
It’s something we often say, but do we ever stop to consider what we really mean by these words? It means you’re not alone in your suffering. It means that someone else feels your pain. It means that, despite what the people around you say or do, someone out there actually does understand what you’re going through.
So we struggle together, in a beautiful, tragic sort of way. And knowing that you are not alone in the struggle somehow makes the pain seem a little less heavy. Crying seems more bearable when the tears fall on someone else’s t-shirt.
Without these struggles in your life, you never would be able to truly understand the people gazing up from the bottom of a trench whose pain you have suffered too, and crawled your way to the top. If you’re here reading this, it means you’ve won your own battles in some way because you’re still here.
Do something meaningful with your life.
Forget what society tells you about success and money and keeping up with the Joneses and all the comparative, soul-sucking nonsense. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” You don’t need to be the leader of a country or have money or power or fame to change the world. You just have to care about people.
You have the power to show your care and concern for anyone. You can make a difference, whether you’re depressed yourself or perfectly happy with life.
This is for each and every person who has fought the battle against depression, self-hatred, bullying, and the feeling that you’re worthless, unwanted, and unlovable. I feel for you, I really do. I’ve been where you are. But it got better. Way better.
This is for the weak and the trampled on, the silenced blurs of color fading into the background and the worn-out weary soldiers who can’t march on another step.
There is no brighter and more beautifully broken beacon of hope than the person who has fought against themselves and made it through to the other side, and continues to fight the good fight each day.
You are not weak. You are brave, and loving, and strong.
You Are Worthy of Love
I saw this post on my Twitter feed and it got me thinking:
“How can someone else love me when I don’t even love myself?”
And I just wanted to reach out and hug this person. Because I want them to know that they’re beautiful, and they’re wonderful, and they deserve love more than anything. And you don’t always have to love yourself, but you do have to believe that you’re worthy of love.
I thought of this other quote, and my soul ached because I knew that I couldn’t show this person this quote because they were anonymous even though it might be exactly what they need right now.
“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely and in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” – Hafiz
I wish I could pick up every depressed or lonely or scared person in the world and scoop them up into a giant group hug and let them know that it’s going to be ok. Because I used to be depressed, but now my life is so much better because I fought for it to be better and now I want to tell everyone that it does get better if you make it better.
And no matter where you are in your life right now, you are worthy of love.
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