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Bullying: The Cycle of the Bullied and the Bully

Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT

Some people grow up to become bullies because after being bullied at home or by their peers. These individuals tend to feel insecure and feel the only way to overcome it is to feel superior to someone else, resulting in them bullying another.

Some bullies experience the same insecurity without having a traumatic past. It is fair to say that most people have been victims of a bully at least once in their life. It can be challenging to admit. Getting bullied isn’t always what gets depicted in movies, where the antagonizer bullies the victim, and at the climax, everything is worked out, and both parties become friends. It is important to be mindful of the situations you find yourself in. Are you comfortable when someone asks you to do something or provides constructive feedback on your completed task?

Bullying can be simple and complex simultaneously, yet we can help prevent it by knowing how to recognize the signs, most importantly, how to handle these situations.

What Can We Do to Stop Bullying?

1. Take away the power.

The best way to stop bullies is to stand up to them, which removes their control. Standing up to them does not mean physically fighting or bullying them back. It’s showing them that you will not let their wrongdoing affect them. As a child or teenager, standing up to a bully might also mean seeking help from a trusted adult. Adults experiencing bullying in the workplace should speak to their boss or a member of the HR department to try and sort out any problems. For adults being bullied outside of work, try removing them from your daily life by deleting them on social media and avoiding seeing them in public.

It’s important to understand that when we say bullies have power, it does not mean that they are stronger and you are weaker; a bully’s power is artificial. It is a false sense of control that they have made others around them believe to be true. If we take the time to understand them, it will reveal that this control was created as self-protection. The reality is that bullies are the weak ones. Once you realize that, their power over you will vanish, and you will see them as the vulnerable person they truly are.

2. Do not sink to their level.

You could suffer consequences if you torment the bully back. This could mean that your actions can get you in trouble with a teacher, boss, or even the law. You don’t need to be a bully to fight off a bully. If you have been bullied, you can empathize with that pain and should find the strength and courage to avoid repeating the pattern. Revenge sometimes feels like the right option, but in the end, you will feel just as terrible as the oppressor as you did as the victim. By being a bully yourself, you are perpetuating the cycle of bullying that has been going around and around.

3. Find a support system.

Establishing a support system that will stand with you when the bully is at their worst will show your tormentor that you have strength in numbers, taking their power away.

Having a support system always makes a difference in any situation. Surrounding yourself with people who care for you and noticing when something is bothering you will make you feel less alone. A bully will try to isolate you, trying to take your courage away. That’s where the support system comes in. They are the ones who can spot the changes in you, know the right questions to ask, and are well-equipped to come to your aid.

4. Do not let it go on for too long.

Do not allow the bully to get away with their behavior. The longer they get away with it, the more power they will think they have over you, which may worsen. More time passing also allows the bully to harass others that may not have the tools to overcome the trauma.

When you try to convince yourself that you can handle it and the bullying will stop soon, take a moment and collect your thoughts. It is easy to say but tougher to do because no one truly knows their threshold for suffering. These situations do not stop when you endure them, and suppressing them will dig a deeper hole that will make it harder for you to climb out later.

Getting bullied is never the victim’s fault, yet we have a responsibility to ourselves. Never forget that one of the basic human instincts is self-preservation. In this case, you can protect yourself by stopping the bully as early as possible. Protect yourself by speaking up and letting the bully know you will no longer tolerate their actions. As we combine all these points in this post, hopefully, the first step will be a bit easier to take.

5. Education is key.

Educating children is an excellent way to stop bullying in school. Education on why bullying is harmful, why it occurs, and how to stop it might encourage victims to seek help and prevent others from becoming victims. Educating adults is also important, as it can stop or even prevent bullying within the workplace.

Education begins in the home; a parent’s responsibility is to teach their child how to behave and treat others.

The meanest bully in the class, neighborhood, or office is rarely happy. All their traumas still haunt them since negativity continues to surround them. The best way to educate the next generation is by showing them that kindness is a healing gesture. Instilling kindness, especially at home, will significantly impact, rather than only hearing it in a classroom or seminar at work.

6. Learn the signs of bullying.

It is essential to learn the signs that someone is being bullied. If someone becomes withdrawn, anxious, or depressed, shows physical symptoms such as bruises, their grades start to drop, eating habits change, or any other signs, this person may be a victim of bullying.

Remember, your support system should notice these changes when you are suffering from bullying. It is not always easy to answer right away when someone asks if you are being bullied, yet your support system cares enough about you to notice something’s wrong, so trust that they will not judge whatever situation you are in.

7. Learn the signs that someone is being a bully.

Suppose you notice someone calling other people names, always needing to get their way, showing a lack of empathy for others, displaying defiant or aggressive behaviors, getting in trouble at work or school, or other similar behaviors. In that case, this person may be bullying others.

We have mainly focused on the victims of bullying until now. This time let us look at the bully. Do you know why it is important to spot signs of being a bully? The bully must be demonstrated that friendly people are out there and that being vulnerable is a sign of strength. It is not to protect others from them. It is so we may show this person that they do not have to be tough all the time.

It is essential to see these signs in someone as early as possible before they are branded as someone that others should be scared of or steer clear of.

7. Know when to seek help.

If someone has trouble gaining their self-confidence back after being bullied or needs help stopping their bullying behavior, contact a therapist for more assistance.

We usually assist those who are down. As we should, the victims of bullying need all the help they can get to overcome the trauma of being bullied; however, bullies need help too. Usually, their aggressive behavior stems from being a victim of bullying themselves.

Help is not a one-way street; everyone can use a helping hand, regardless of their actions in the past. Kindness does more healing than discrimination or judgment.

How Do You Break The Cycle of Bullying?

Be consistently kind to others. We may have forgotten that it is never too late as the world moves so fast and everyone is looking out for themselves. One step at a time, let us try and be kind to one another every single day.

Bullying can have long-lasting negative impacts on those who experience it. It is essential to seek help when getting back to being yourself after being victimized. If you or a loved one need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to contact us at the Neurofeedback & Counseling Center of PA to schedule an in-person or virtual therapy session at your convenience.


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