The last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about bullying and unkindness in others…I’ve shared a lot of my own experiences with it and today I want to share with you how I now handle people who are unkind to me…along with the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
In life it’s important to be conscious about your choices, the people you have closest to you, your words and your actions. I don’t always get it ‘right’, but I believe it’s important to make conscious choices, take responsibility for the choices you make and try your best to live with integrity and authenticity.
Is there another way to deal with unkindness and bullying?
When dealing with unkindness in others, our tendency can be to protect, defend or react…but what if there was another way of handling it?
It’s amazing the difference that a bit of kindness can make when someone’s not in the best place. Maybe if we treated others with a little compassion when they’re coming from a place of hurt or pain, which is normally the root cause of unkindness or anger, we might find that everyone is a little happier.
I saw an example of this when I was travelling on the New York subway. I was riding the train when a girl got on who was clearly having a bad day. She was simmering, ready to hit boiling point at the first opportunity. She sat next to a man and her large umbrella accidentally fell over and knocked into him slightly. She apologised, but he just ignored her, clearly in his own world and not wanting to interact with anyone.
The next moment she exploded. She started shouting and screaming at him that you shouldn’t ignore someone when they’re apologising to you…and next thing she was hitting him and chasing him through to the next carriage, shouting abuse and lashing out at him further.
I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I’d been the person sat next to her that day. I could feel her frustration the second she got on the train, and my heart went out to her. I wonder if when she reached out to someone, just to apologise for a rogue umbrella, if she’d received a kind word, a smile, and someone reassuring her it was OK, if maybe that would have made the difference to her day and her mood. One thing’s for sure, it wouldn’t have made it worse.
Do you see unkindness and bullying in the people around you?
The people around you and how you interact with them can have a huge impact on your life and perspective, whether they are strangers, colleagues, family or friends.
Be conscious about how you choose your peer group. I have a lot of friends, but there are only a precious few who are a part of my ‘inner circle’ for want of a better term. My past experience has taught me that I want to be influenced most by people who I respect, who I admire, who I love, whose opinions I value, who I trust implicitly and whose values are in line with my own. Be conscious about the people who you choose to be a part of your ‘inner circle’…do they reflect the sort of person you want to be?
Although generally speaking I’d prefer it if people weren’t saying unkind things about me, when you take a choice to stand out from the crowd, to have a strong voice, and to embrace your own way of being, sometimes people see you as an easy target….but you’re only a victim if you choose to be. Not everyone is going to like or agree with you…but how dull would life be if they did?!
If I stopped being true to myself because someone said something about my way of doing things I would be giving others power that I would be taking from myself.
Over the last few weeks three people who are very close to me have been in hospital, two of them for major surgery. These are the things that are important in my world, by comparison any person’s passing comments pale into insignificance.
…and if people want to be unkind about me for a short term gain in order to counteract a sense of lack or insecurity in themselves, my heart is big enough and secure enough to hold space for that….and I genuinely hope that they one day find the sense of inner peace that I feel, where that no longer becomes a necessary coping strategy.
What are the 12 things you need to know to deal with unkindness and bullying?
So here is a quick summary of the lessons I’ve learned when it comes to people being unkind or bullying others…12 things to remember when it comes to dealing with unkindness and bullying:
- Unkindness and bullying comes from a feeling of lack…if you’re genuinely fulfilled there’s no reason to pull someone else down.
- Being a bit different, you’re likely to be noticed…celebrate your uniqueness and that you’re special enough to have been noticed!
- If you have a strong voice, or a unique style, some might love it, some might hate it…the only opinion that really matters is your own.
- You always have a choice in how you respond to and feel about unkindness…a shift in perspective can be very powerful.
- What you permit and allow in others, you invite for yourself because you make it OK. If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
- Self esteem is a long term game…short term superficial wins can come at the expense of deep long term fulfillment
- When you speak of others replace the words ‘them’ & ‘their’ with ‘I’ and ‘my’ & see how you feel about it, because you’re noticing your reflection in others
- Have compassion for those who show you unkindness their true enemy lies within
- How you treat yourself is how you invite others to treat you.
- No-one can give you self-esteem, and no-one can take it away from you.
- Be kind to unkind people, they need it most.
- The only power someone has over you is the power you give them….which is a choice whether you make it consciously or not.
So if someone has been or is unkind to you, this week I invite you to look at it a different way…choose not to be a victim, choose to have compassion for the reasons they’re behaving the way they are, choose the person you want to be in every moment and choose to recognise the only power anyone else has over you is the power you give them….choose to claim that power for yourself and do wonderful things with it for yourself and others.