It was 1990. In a little town of St - Isidore, in rural Quebec, a small skinny boy slung on his backpack and set off for school. His feet walking steadily along the same streets, lined with the same houses and past the same neighbours he’d known all his life...to the same morning routine he’d learned to endure.
They waited for him.
Before he even made it to the front door of the school, a group of 12 year-olds would jump him and strip him of his pants, lunch money, and his dignity in front of a crowd of laughing children.
He was nine years old.
At that age, like the rest of us, he never knew what would eventually rise up from the ashes of all that hurt. But 35 years later we can connect the dots and see how it not only played a huge role in who he became, but more importantly how it forged him.
That skinny little boy bloomed into the greatest welterweight mixed martial artist of all time.
Georges St-Pierre: Champion fighter, and an imposing voice against bullying.
Kids are mean. There. I said it.
It sounds terrible to say it, but bullying has become a rite of passage in life. Yes it’s an epidemic, yes it’s cruel, and yes at one point or another, it happens to everyone - even the cool people. Bullying as we know it, is at the most basic level a transference of pain. That means the bully as well as the bullied both experienced it at some point. And while not everyone will get shoved into their locker and/or be embarrassed publicly, none of us get through life scot-free without pain.
If you want to know just how cruel people can be, forget switching on the news, just go to your local school.
That’s the cold hard unkind reality. Your sweet little angel is an effing jerk. And bullying doesn’t necessarily have to mean being beat up physically. (The emotional wounds are sometimes more long lasting). And unfortunately, neither stops after school ends.
Bullying is essentially playing with your psychological equilibrium. After your schooling is over, it transforms into a more insidious and yet more socially acceptable form. Your friend at work who disguises their concern with words that sound caring but belittle your ability: “I’m really worried about you, you should just leave the dream and focus on what you have”, your neighbour who never misses the opportunity to point out how fabulous their life is when they know you’re broke, or your ever critical spouse or parent who lashes out with words or their hands. It’s everywhere, it’s become a scar we all share, and it’s something that affects everybody differently.
How does it affect our psychology?
Bullying is known to have a deep effect on our psyche. But I’m not going to tell you how the scars are hard to heal from, or that 2 people can walk out of the same situation and it will affect them both differently depending on how resilient they are. I’m going to swing into left field and tell you what good it does (while not harping on about how it makes you a stronger person either).
Bullying makes us aware for a painful moment the critical area where we need to grow. The critical area where we need to grow. This is significant. Not all the different areas where we could improve, but the critical area. If we successfully tackle this area of our lives, it could mean the difference between living the life that we are living now, or reaching a more meaningful level in our lives. This is something people spend their whole lives searching for. Finding meaning in their lives. Psychological triggers, such as bullying, are answers in disguise that allow us to redirect the internal compass and shift our focus to the critical areas that need attention in order for us to bring the most meaning to our lives.
Bullying redirects our internal compass to critical areas that can bring meaning to our lives. @IdeasWithRaisa
Why having a "perfect" life is the worst thing you could wish for
Think of that person you know. They don’t necessarily have a name but you’d know them if you bumped into them. They’re the ones whose lives are a seemingly fabulous merry-go-round of high powered jobs, vacations, and engaging social life. They're the ones whose Facebook feeds are full of pictures that bring out the envy in you. Their life looks fabulous and for one jealously guarded moment you almost want to trade places with them.
But take a step back.
If you asked me, I would say you’re the luckier of the 2, and for two reasons. One, why do you think they’re posting pictures online...to a group of "friends" who might not all be actual friends? Because they’re looking for external validation that their life is cool...that it’s not that mundane routine they know it is. And two, they do all this because they still haven't found that critical piece of their life that they need to tune up to move beyond the mundane into an existence that is meaningful.
Now think back to that bully.
The one who broke your finger, broke your spirit, broke your heart. And then thank them.
They gave you the golden key to achieve any of your dreams. You have something those Facebook posting, “friends” will never have: the intense internal desire to overcome that pain. Because, (and listen carefully as I say this): pain is the fuel you need to get what you want. Our brain (limbic brain to be specific) is designed to move from pain to pleasure. That insight and the drive that come from it are both invaluable. You already have the pain, and you already know deep inside in your subconscious what it is you want and you now understand where the healing will come from. Go get it. You’ve got the foundation to make any of your dreams of a awesome life come true.
Thank the bully for that.
"Sticks and stones : defeating the culture of bullying and rediscovering the power of character and empathy" by Emily Bazelon