If you are really dedicated to “unbullying” your life, you need to be aware of who your bullies are and what makes them tick.
Everyone has a weakness, personal problems, crazy relatives and something that they are deeply ashamed of. This is especially true of bullies. They are terrified of being exposed of what they really are. Case in point: I was constantly bullied by a small group of athletes throughout junior and senior high school. The head guy was an Olympic style weight-lifter, who ranked something like number six in the province. Now, why he had to pick on someone 5o pounds (2o kg) lighter than him was beyond me.
Even then, I started to pick out certain weaknesses. The weightlifter was sensitive about his small hands and used amphetamines during track and field. He often treated his girl friend roughly, which told me something about his girlfriend’s low self-esteem.
Then the hockey team captain often got drunk on Friday nights and had crying spell, etc. etc. I started to see patterns of how insecure many of the bullies really were.
I noticed even more how their collective courage seemed to waiver as their fitness levels dropped. They started driving cars and stopped playing sports. They lost status as high school athletes. While I still took some abuse, many of the usual bullies started backing off.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was going through the Canadian military boot camp (years before all of the Human Rights). There was this ex-convict, “Rusty,”who constantly insulted me and made threats. A couple of the bigger guys would sometimes put this guy in his place, but he would always find a way to make a threat or insult my way. This went on for 10 weeks.
Then an interesting thing happened. During the last week of training, I was crossing a three-rope bridge an obstacle course. This where you walk on the center rope, while holding the two flanking, chest-high ropes, acting as hand rails. It is simple if you take your time and walk carefully.
Suddenly, I heard this panicked whimpering behind me. Curious, I looked back to see who was having trouble and maybe I could help them out.
It was good ol’ Rusty. Mr. tough-guy, who, for over 10 weeks bragged about robbing banks, welding a shot gun, having sex with dozens of women, being in prison riots, etc. etc. It appeared that the same rough, tough ex-con who was constantly threatening and attempting to bully me was afraid of heights.
Well, well, well. As the saying goes”every dog has their day” and “what goes around comes around.” So, I grabbed the hand rail ropes and swung my body sideways as hard as I could. Behind me I heard Rusty making these threats only this time in a high-pitched, terrified voice.
It only took a few seconds of bridge shaking to make my point. I finished the obstacle course and did not mention the incident to anyone afterwards. For the next few days, Rusty kept away from me and was pretty quiet. I kind of felt sorry for him after that. But, the threats and snide remarks had stopped and that felt pretty good. I was just glad to be finishing basic training, “boot camp,” to be free of some bully.*
I know that it sounds a bit cruel scaring a bully to make them stop. But, often that is all that these two-legged animals understand. They have little or no empathy for other people. Otherwise, they would not bully others in the first place. Sometimes you to have to throw (or pretend to throw) rocks to keep the mean dogs away.
(*About 20 years later, I found out that Rusty had committed suicide a few months after boot camp. It makes you wonder what kind of internal torture he had been going through to act the way that he did.)