March 24, 2015

Why does a bully Bully?


I recognize the beauty of being human.

The diversity, the uniqueness, the treasure, the freedom to choose.

Sometimes, not all choices we make are the best ones. And that’s okay. Sometimes though, it’s not okay. Like when the choices we make adversely affect those around us.

To bully is a choice.

How we react and respond to bullies is a choice. How we let bullying affect us is also a choice.

This is an “issue” rife in children’s playgrounds as well as in the world of so-called adults.

Actually, it is not an issue. It is a symptom. But more about that later.

First, let’s talk about how it feels to be bullied.

It’s not pleasant to be on the receiving end of a bullying attack. As we probably all know, there have been unfortunate incidents where people have taken their own lives because of the amount of bullying they have been the subjected to.

This makes me feel angry.

And there are other cases, of bullying, which happen on a daily basis, which are less extreme but still painful.

To be bullied makes us feel bad about ourselves, makes us doubt our self-worth, decreases our self-esteem, makes us feel scared and physically sick, to go to a place where we might by chance encounter our bully.

Why do bullies makes us feel this way?

Because we let them.

We make a choice to allow them.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

If an individual has a strong sense of self worth, is loving and accepting of others, loves oneself and understands that there is no person who is better than them or worse than them, only different—then that person has absolutely no reason to believe the bully and allow them to make them feel inferior.

If anything, that person being bullied, will feel sorrow and compassion for the bully.

The bully’s actions speak only of the bully not the person being bullied.

Let me spice this up with a couple of examples.

At the end of last year, we moved. The kids changed schools. For the very first time in his life, my six-year-old was bullied. After his dad finally got him to talk about what was happening, my six-year-old said, all of his own accord:

“It’s okay, I know they are doing it because I am the new kid.”

As a parent, my heart broke, but I know that it is something he had to go through and something he was clearly quite prepared to and able to comprehend.

At the beginning of this year, my daughter started high school.

Last week, she got bullied by a girl in a grade above hers. She cried, there was drama and we had a talk where we concluded that her “bully” mustn’t have a very happy home life and has a low self-esteem. (Madison was mainly doing the talking, she’s really smart).

How do we react when we are bullied?

Well, the way I see it, the bully is doing what they do, to cause a reaction and gain attention. If neither are achieved, they may persist for a while, but will soon move on to a different target (unfortunately).

When Madison was little, I always said to her:

“If someone is rude or nasty to you or anything like that, take a breath. Smile sweetly. Say “thank you.” Walk away.”

As this is not the response most bullies expect, they end up completely confused and pause, giving us enough time to move away from them, before they keep carrying on.

Unfortunately, sometimes the bullying involves physical violence and then it is not that “easy.”

This is what my son went through and what my daughter was threatened with. This is when the “cause” really needs to be addressed and the bully removed.

Why does a bully bully?

When a person is derogatory to others, what they are trying to achieve is to make others feel “small” and thus make themselves feel “big.”


Bullying is a symptom of a cause that is much larger.

This is why, no matter how hard we try to eliminate the symptom—the behaviour—it will not work unless we focus on the actual cause.

Bullies generally come from a place of low self-esteem, a place of hurt and pain.

Bullies do not love themselves, they do not hold themselves in high regard; how can they then be expected to show these things to others? They are searching for something to make them feel good about themselves, for that instant “high.”

Instead of turning to drugs or seeking help, they take their frustration out on people around them. They are energy vampires. They take our good energy, by making us feel bad about ourselves, so that they may feel good instead.

If only just for a second. It is all they know.

I feel ultimate sadness for people like this. Sometimes I doubt if they even realise how scarring it can be to the people who are on the receiving end of their behaviour. Probably not. But even if they did, would they stop?

Most of us, at some stage, have had a bad day and we might have been rude to people because we just could not be bothered and everything was going wrong no matter what we did?

And then maybe a perfect stranger was unexpectedly kind to us? And it made us stop and pause and take a breath and bask in the knowledge that someone could possibly actually care? And it wasn’t all that bad after all?

Imagine if we could do that.

Imagine if we all loved ourselves enough to be strong enough to make a choice to not allow others to make us feel inferior.

Imagine if we could react to bullies and their behavior with kindness and love.

It might make just an iota of a difference. It just might be the one drop in the ocean which creates a ripple.


*Relephant read:

If your child gets bullied or called a “nerd,” show them this.


Author: Ana Hall

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Image: wikimedia

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