Strategies to Stop & Cope with Bullying
I just watched Mean Girls recently and while I laughed as I do every time I watch it, I couldn’t help but think about bullying, and in particular girl-on-girl bullying. There’s a myth that women cannot be supportive of one another and must always compete. But it’s not and should not be that way. Instead, together, we can form formidable friendships that not only empower us, but protect us from those that aim to put us down.
I know what you’re thinking: bullying is something you, as an adult, or young adult don’t experience anymore. You’re thinking it’s something you left behind in middle and high school, like paper notes and posters of your celebrity crush. But that isn’t really the case.
Bullying is something that is present everywhere. Most of us have experienced or are currently experiencing some sort of bullying in our daily lives. Just like you, bloggers experience bullying as well. Whether that is from other bloggers trying to bring them down or people who send unrequested messages with hate or judgment. Bullying is prevalent in social media, and the ability for bullies to hide behind a “wall” per se and do it almost anonymously with little fear of repercussion, has made it all too normal. Sometimes we might brush it off or minimize it. Instead, it’s important to stand up and know how to help. A great group of friends, like the girls here with me, is super important as are evidence-based strategies to cope and help, so let’s take a look:
So What Is Bullying?
Bullying can be anything from gossiping and spreading rumors (false or true), to excluding someone from a group, or manipulating friends into damaging a relationship. It can also be more in-your-face like teasing, saying inappropriate jokes and name-calling. It can also be taken to the next level with physical violence and sexual harassment (both personal and digital in nature).
With bullying come feelings and emotions that the person will likely begin to experience. It can start with anger and frustration, develop into depression anxiety and could lead to suicide. Remember: You don’t know what someone is going through, so one should never minimize someone’s feelings.
So we know what bullying is and how it could make people feel. But how do we combat it? How do we cope? Let’s take a look at some strategies to use whether you are the one being bullied or a friend of yours is. No matter what, remember: there’s always something you can do about it. So let’s dive in:
Strategies to stop and cope with bullying:
Tell someone to stop, respectfully.
I can't stress this enough but make sure to avoid showing emotions when confronting the bully. By letting them know it truly bothers you, that will give them the ammunition to continue because what they’re after most of the time are reactions. Ultimately, acting as if you didn't care may get the bully to stop. I know this is easier said than done but you can try keeping your cool by using the following coping strategies: taking deep breaths, thinking before speaking, and/or practicing a coping statement "you can do this."
Walk away. If bullying has become a problem, it is very likely that the bullying will continue despite telling them to stop. In that case, walk away.
If you're in school, ask an adult for help if the problem continues despite telling the bully to stop and walking away.
Strength in numbers. Have a friend or many friends come with you to places where you know a bully will be nearby for emotional support.
Learn how to cope. Be it through a journal, talking with a friend, exercise, relaxation skills.
Self-esteem exercises. Join a dance or sports team to help build your self-esteem, which in turn will help you have the confidence to cope and confront with the bully.
Always remember, nothing will change, unless you change. And remember your life is so important and worth it, never forget that!
If you witness someone being bullied:
If you're around others that are gossiping about someone you know, tell them to stop, in a respectful manner or simply change the topic.
Be a friend and be kind to others.
Don't cheer on the bully. By doing that, you're also being a bully.
For schools and at the work place, have a zero bullying environment, instead create a positive social environment.
Need more help coping with bullying?
It's okay to ask for help if you're having difficulty coping with bullying. A licensed psychologist that specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy will be able to help you learn coping strategies to manage your emotions, as well as strategies to help build your confidence and self-esteem, how to manage bullying, among others.
Disclaimer: Information being provided on this page is general in nature and is not intended to replace or serve as therapy. Should you be experiencing emotional distress or difficulties at school, work, or with relationships, it is encouraged that you contact your insurance health provider to locate a mental health professional in your area. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others at your nearest emergency room.
Have questions about bullying or want to share an experience? See you in the comments below!