Bullying: The Real Reason It Exists


WARNING: Some people may find this article very confronting!

When it comes to bullying, it’s very easy to point the finger of blame at other people and see the problem in them. But whenever you point your finger at other people, it’s also important to recognise that there are also 3 fingers pointing right back at you. And with bullying, the harder (but even more valuable thing to do) is to investigate how you as an individual might also be contributing to this issue.

Now this can be a very bitter pill for many people to swallow. You see, many people aren't aware that they interact with others in ways that perpetuate bullying and learning to recognise how you might unknowingly be contributing to the bullying situation is essential if things are going to improve on the bullying front.

At this point, it might be worth pausing and looking at ‘what is bullying’ so that we are all on the same page and speaking the same language.

Dictionaries define bullying as ‘the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate others with the behaviour often repeated and habitual’. 

I like to simplify things and in my opinion, bullying occurs when there’s a power differential and when this power is used to disrespect others.

So if you don’t like to associate yourself with the word ‘bully’, and if this word is getting in the way of you seeing how you could also be doing this to others, I often find it helpful to substitute the word ‘bullying’ with ‘disrespect’.

In an ideal world, regardless of age, race, wealth, intelligence or any other factor, every person (and every living creature including the Earth) would be treated with respect.

So when the word ‘bulling’ is replaced with ‘disrespect’, it can be easier to see how you may have engaged in this. You see disrespect can be subtle and come in many forms. Examples include:

  • Judging, criticising, bitching or complaining about others
  • Being two faced – being nice to someone’s face and then speaking differently behind their back or smiling and then rolling your eyes when they leave the room
  • Shaming, belittling, taunting or putting someone down
  • Mimicking someone
  • Teasing - name-calling, insults, and personal, sexist or racist remarks
  • Not honoring your word - saying you’ll do something and not doing it
  • Controlling others – forcing people to do things they don’t want to do - this includes parenting where fear and anger are used to control children as opposed to love and respect
  • Blaming someone for something you’ve done and not accepting responsibility for your actions
  • Intimidating, controlling, dominating and manipulating others
  • Physically hurting another – pushing, tripping, hitting, punching
  • Cheating, stealing and lying
  • Spreading rumors about another
  • Taking your anger out on others (eg road rage, wars, retaliating, acting out of revenge or spite,  yelling, being abusive)
  • Having two sets of rules – one for yourself and one for others (inequality)
  • Not accepting others for who they are – saying they ‘should be different’
  • Withholding from others
  • Excluding others
  • Taking advantage of others (greed)
  • Deceiving or misleading others
  • Not treating other peoples’ property with care (this includes public property)
  • Not listening to others - continuing to do something when someone asks you to stop
  • Not trusting those close to you
  • Doing hurtful things to animals just for the fun of it
  • Littering or any disrespect towards the environment
  • Being late on a regular basis
  • Queue jumping - pushing in
  • Using people
  • Looking down upon others and thinking you are better than them
  • Black and white thinking - lack of empathy – not being able to see another side of the story

Looking at this list, it is very easy to see how everyone has engaged in disrespectful behaviour at some stage in their life (whether it be knowingly or unknowingly).

When it comes to disrespect, the first step in ‘cleaning up your own back yard’ is being able to look at what’s going on inside of you that is enabling this to happen. Because if your inner world was a happy place for all of your parts to live, you’d truly understand how hurtful being disrespectful is and you’d quickly put a stop to whatever is going on.

The only reason that people are able to turn a blind eye to disrespect is because they are holding onto their own past hurt, which needs to be resolved if the root cause of bullying is to truly be addressed.

You see, ‘hurt feelings matter’ and pain is perpetuated and gets transferred from one person to another when it remains unresolved.

In order for children to grow up into healthy and emotionally balanced adults, they need to be seen, heard, respected, understood and loved by the people they are surrounded by. This includes parents, guardians, teachers, clergy, friends and other family members. In a nutshell, they need to feel safe and they need to have their feelings honored and validated.

Sadly, many children grow up in environments where their feelings are dishonored and invalidated and childhood hurts are particularly traumatic. When a young child experiences pain and has nobody there to help them resolve that pain, the emotion becomes stuck. And the problem is compounded even further when the people who are meant to provide the essential love and support to the child are the ones inflicting the pain!

When a child’s tears go unheard, the only way forward for the child is to disconnect from and suppress the part that is hurt. This is how children learn to wear their mask and split off from their authentic self. In my opinion, this ‘splitting off’ and not remaining whole is at the root of mental health problems that include addiction, anxiety, depression and exhaustion.

Sadly, in turning away from our wounded self, we close down the parts within us that are able to empathise with others and it enables us to do things that are cruel, mean, hurtful and ultimately disrespectful to others. Unfortunately, this is how the bullying cycle is perpetuated! It's where people look externally to solve problems that can only be solved internally. In essence, they take their unhealed 'stuff' out on others.

Now, the good news is that you can end this cycle. There’s truth in the saying ‘what you feel you can heal but what you resist will persist’. You see, whatever is repressed in you will express itself in some way in your life. And if you want to put a stop to bullying and disrespect, it’s important to take personal responsibility for the health of your inner world so you don’t continue to inflict your unresolved pain and problems onto others.

The healing involves getting access to and liberating your shutdown parts by helping them to feel the pain that they had suppressed back then so they can make peace with the past. It’s a kind of grieving process that takes time and requires your love and support. But the minute you dishonor this process and shame these hurt parts for feeling this way, is the minute you turn into the bully and they shut down once more.

Becoming whole is the key. Integrating lost parts back into your psyche is paramount. Learning to love all of you is the way home. It’s a personal solution to a global problem. But as Michael Jackson says in his song ‘Man in the Mirror’, ‘if you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make the change’!

Learn how to do this in The Emotional Fitness Gym

Learn more about Heidi Di Santo

This article was published in OH! Magazine

Learn how to do this

Do Heidi's Foundation Training for FREE!

Start Now

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.