Over the years I’ve worked with many people whose lives have been devastated by bullying.
I remember a highly distressed client who was being bullied at the school gates by a group of mothers who didn’t want her in their ‘gang’! Her confidence had crumbled and she crashed between feeling depressed and anxious. “Why do they always target me?” she cried in her first session.
Later in therapy, she remembered many memories of being snubbed and ignored by other children. She was always the new girl and had to change schools a lot throughout her childhood, because of her father’s job.
Luckily she was able to spot the link between the events and was motivated to heal.
Bullying can present itself in many ways and one thing is evident, that there is a correlation between people being bullied as adults and similar incidents of bullying in childhood.
Years ago, I did a lot of telephone counselling. One corporate customer kept us busy with staff who had been held up at knife or gunpoint during their work. I was shocked at how often this happened to them.
I was fascinated to discover that pretty much everyone I worked with had been bullied in childhood. As they talked about the recent trauma, their earlier wounds were revealed in what can only be described as an attempt to heal from the original traumas.
This idea is backed up by Louise Hay in her self-help book You Can Heal Your Life. She advocates addressing trauma from early life, to stop the cycle of pain and suffering. Citing her own phenomenal journey through trauma to recovery from cancer, her book is still a best seller 30 years on.
Perhaps I should mention a self-help book I wrote with a colleague I Just Want To Be Happy . It’s packed with tools for empowerment and change. We also explore the link between childhood issues and how they impact us adult life.
These cycles are sometimes referred to as Repetition Compulsion, there’s more about that in this link
Thankfully there have been huge leaps in psychology, psychobiology and neuroscience. We therapists have an abundance of tools and techniques to help clients recover.
Nonetheless, if you don’t understand how it is possible to heal trauma, you could be forgiven for wanting to avoid looking at a painful past. Why would you want to revisit that!
But by facing our underlying traumas we can free ourselves from the past, diminish fear and anxiety and arrive in the present feeling safer, stronger and more resilient.
Once the work in the past is done it’s easier to learn tools and techniques to protect and empower ourselves.
Improved communication is a natural by-product of healing. In the absence of trauma the pre-frontal cortex (our front brain) functions more efficiently. As a result, the link between our feelings and thoughts is sharpened, as such we can defend ourselves faster.
Learning skills like assertiveness techniques help us to stand our ground with the bullies.
Consequently when we’re no longer in survival mode (fight, flight and collapse) we can improve our health. By learning how to relax, improving our breathing, strengthening our core and getting fitter we feel more robust.
These soft skills all add to a more confident, congruent way of presenting in the world and enable us to stand up to the bullies or at the very least spot them coming and move out of their way.