Antidote to Bullying

The Universe sends us messages in creative ways – if we are open and listening. This happened recently as I witnessed the ways in which people around our community coped with the recent winter storms and power outages and as I watched a commercial during the World Juniors Hockey Tournament television coverage. Different views, same subject!

What I witnessed at home was, for the most part, people helping people. Watching most folks rise to the challenge of no power, limited resources and heat and making “creative” meals was inspiring.  However, a couple of instances where tempers flared, blame was projected onto others who had no influence on the amount and variety of supplies in their stores, and irritation rose because of having to wait for things had me stunned.  Didn’t these demanding people realize that the circumstances were out of anyone’s control?  Could they not be grateful for what was saved and offered under these difficult circumstances?  Apparently not.  It was easier to spew anger and insults instead of offering help and support. Breaking others down, instead of helping them up.

Then, as I watched some of the World Juniors hockey coverage, a very powerful commercial came on the screen.  An NHL player named Jordan Eberle spoke of how bullying towards him as a young boy almost made him quit hockey forever.  The advert goes on to speak of how bullying used to be face to face, so the one doing the bullying could be identified and confronted.  Now, bullies can hide behind their screens and spew all sorts of insults and injury without being found out.  Now, there is no responsibility or accountability for their comments or damage to their victims.  Jordan’s last comment struck a cord within me.  He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Instead of pushing people down, we need to support others and build people up.”  Right on, Jordan!  And then, my reflections began.

Reflecting upon the concept of bullying, I tried to figure out what would be the opposite action and thinking to it. If the bully is using insults and injury to another person’s self-esteem and self-worth, what might counteract these? If the bully is using these tactics because they, themselves, feel less than or unworthy, then what might counteract these thoughts or feelings?  The first thought I had was, “Use Kindness” in all interactions.  The next thought was, “Be Respectful”. And finally, I decided that the third aspect was, “Ensure Healthy Personal Boundaries”.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but perhaps if everyone tried a little Kindness, the idea of inflicting insults and injury on others would reduce.  There are some people who think that Kindness is for sissies. However, there is an old saying, “Never mistake gentleness for weakness.”  It takes great strength to show tenderness.  Here is the shocker:  kindness must start with how you are with yourself. If you are not able to be kind to yourself, how can you expect others to show kindness towards you?  So what would kindness to yourself look like?  For some, it is being less critical and more patient. Others may look at balancing work and play so they are more healthful and productive.  And some may need to say “No” more often, to the demands of others in order to stay true to themselves. Kindness starts with Number One!

In a similar fashion, being Respectful needs to be shown towards self and others. When one is respectful of self, one will not allow mistreatment from others.  And when a person is being respectful of others, it is an acknowledgement of the other person’s worth; not monetarily, but as a human being.  The qualities of self-esteem and self-worth are heavily influenced by the amount of respect one has for one’s self.  When we examine the dynamics of addiction, abuse and victimization, there is always a component of low self-esteem and low self-worth to consider.  If there was more self-respect and kindness towards self, these difficult situations would have a hard time establishing in a person’s life.

Which brings us to the final point:  healthy personal boundaries.  Those of you who know me, have heard me speak of this ad nauseum!  These boundaries are designed to keep us safe and secure.  These boundaries are set in the physical, emotional, psychological and energetic fields. Because of healthy personal boundaries, we allow that which is positive,  encouraging and supportive to us to come closer in our world, while that which is negative, discouraging, and not for our highest good is kept away.  These boundaries must be started early in life;  those with no clear personal boundaries are susceptible to the whims, beliefs and bullying of others.  Without protection of self, it is hard to believe and behave as someone who has personal power, rights, abilities, feelings and opinions that matter.  Here is where Being Respectful ties into the picture. It is also where Kindness comes to rest. If our personal boundaries are healthy, then we have a greater chance of staying strong and healthy within ourselves and our world.

The antidote to bullying starts early in life.  When a child feels safe and secure, has a strong sense of self, can be kind and respectful to themselves and others, bullying has no place.  It is not an option.  As adults, we are charged with giving children a strong foundation upon which to launch their life paths.  Are we modeling the behaviours that will help them cope with the world?  Are we showing them how to be kind, respectful and develop healthy personal boundaries?  If we don’t have these ourselves, then we best get on with it!  The children are watching, listening and learning from us.  Let’s show them the best we can be – so they can do so for themselves.

Article written by Pat Antoniak Registered Nurse – Registered Aromatherapist and owner of the Natural Comfort Wellness Centre in Tsawwassen, BC.

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