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Hurt people, hurt people?! What the hell am I talking about? Ok. let me fill you in. Last week I was coaching a client through a episode of bullying in the workplace. It’s so weird because even after years of working with clients around the emotional turmoil of bullying, I still get a little taken aback when an adult contacts me for help in this area. You see when most of us hear the word bullying we think school going age, right! But unfortunately it is super common in all age groups across the board. Part of my approach whether I’m coaching a person that is doing the bullying behaviour or a victim of bullying, is to teach my client how to understand why they themselves and others do negative behaviours. Now just to be clear, in the case the victim I’m not justifying the behaviour of the bully, I’m simply helping my client to gain a greater understanding as to what may be driving the bully’s behaviour. This realisation gives them a different perspective on the situation, and helps them realise that the behaviour is not personal, it’s actually about the bully’s own need for relief from their own inner emotional pain. And that brings us back to hurt people, hurt people.

As humans we want to feel good, it is our default setting. We are driven by our subconscious mind to seek out these good feeling through our behaviours, both positive and negative. And what I’ve learned over the years is that we (including myself) have some seriously f**ked up ways of trying to achieve happiness. So, at this moment you may be thinking to yourself this is complete bullshit, how can a negative behaviour such as bullying make a person feel good? I’m glad you asked! Now this is where I get super excited, to say I LOVE working at an emotional and mental level with my clients is a freaking understatement, because this is where the life changing shit happens. Self-awareness is key, identifying your own negative behaviours and limiting beliefs and flipping them is beyond empowering! As is letting go of the emotional baggage that you may be carrying around as a result of a trauma such as bullying, breakups, betrayal, loss, financial depth etc

Ok let’s get back to bullying and look at both sides of the coin, the victim and the bully.

The Victim

By the time a victim of bullying gets in touch with me they are in emotional overload, they feel attacked, helpless, fearful, hopeless and angry to mention a few emotions. They’re like a pressure cooker that’s full to the top and about to blow, they are in complete emotional overwhelm. They can’t understand why this is happening to them, why were they the target and they desperately want to feel relief.

Quite often a bully will seek out a victim that is timid or quiet, they may be lacking confidence or be a people pleaser. Obviously they are a much safer bet than targeting someone that’s ballsy and likely to punch them in the snot. Part of my work with the victim will be to help them find their voice, or increase self-confidence so that they will be better able to stand up for themselves in the future.

The Bully

I would love for you to remain open minded while you read this part because it really is an eye opener. Ok, so the bully has sought out a victim and the bullying begins. Why on earth would one adult want to deliberately hurt another? They should know better, right? Not necessarily, remember what I said earlier, our subconscious mind wants us to feel good, and thats what drives our behaviours both positive and negative. So just say I don’t feel good about myself, maybe I was put down as a child and I now believe that I’m insignificant, and as a result I have low self-esteem. Now this belief could be buried deep within me and I may not even aware of it.

As an adult I’ve worked my up in my career and I’m in a good position, but at a subconscious level I still feel like that unimportant, insignificant child. That belief is always with me, I constantly feel “less than” everyone else, but I act cocky to hide my insecurities. It feels horrible, but I’m programmed to want to feel good. In order to feel good about myself I seek out someone and tear them down to size. Why? Because often the easiest way to feel good about myself (significant, confident or important), is to put someone else down so I can feel “better than them”. This behaviour will give me relief for a little while, but remember this is a deep subconscious belief that is running on a loop, so even though I feel good initially it won’t last long and I’ll keep doing the negative behaviour of bullying to feel good about myself.

My work with the bully will be helping them pinpointing what’s driving the bullying behaviour. Lets say it’s a limiting belief such as “I’m not good enough”, I then help my client flip that belief and recreate a new empowering one that increases significance, importance and confidence.

Obviously there are many, many drivers behind the behaviour of bullying and this is one aspect, it is usually more complex than this but you get the gist. I’ve found that by knowing this, I don’t take comments and behaviours that are meant to hurt or degrade me personally. I can now look at the behaviour and feel empathy and compassion for that person because I know that they must be dealing with some major inner turmoil. In saying that I wouldn’t allow someone to treat me disrespectfully and I would nip it in the bud straight away.

If you are feeling stuck, stressed or overwhelmed in any area of your life I’m here to help. My Life Sucks consultations are designed to do just that, I know how difficult it can be when you’re struggling emotionally because I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt! Often people will live in complete emotional turmoil for months or even years before they reach out for help. Struggling with emotional overload has a very negative effect on your health, it causes inflammation in the body, and inflammation has been linked to almost all illness. For overall good health it is super important to have balance in all levels of your body, physical, mental and emotional.

Finally in case any of you have a child that is being bullied and you don’t know where to turn for help, my gorgeous friend Margaret, aka The Teen Aider specialises in working with children and young adults and has extensive experience in the area of bullying.