From playground, after school, in the canteen to in the workplace, bullying is everywhere. It’s part of the contrast of life. It’s how it effects us that can be the problem and the solution resides in how we respond.
Earlier in the week I wrote about whether there were any benefits to bullying and who benefited, today we’re looking at the effects bullying has on us mentally and physically and how we can look after ourselves and our wellbeing.
Shock and Disbelief
What we experience when we realise and become aware we have been, (what feels like), singled out in the workplace. We can become reactive to the bullying, and apply our defences.
In this state we are still aware of everyone else in the team or office. They know what is happening, however everyone is keeping tight lipped; they have been there before or fear of being in the same position.
At this point you are in control.
Then anxiety sets in. Before arriving each day, being called into a meeting with the bully and then the repeat each day. The anxiety can be felt physically; sickness, sweating a little more than usual and your heart rate is increasing.
Now on edge, the anxiety levels increase and the situation appears bigger. Who to trust and seek help from now?
After several incidents with the bully and your anxiety levels are up more times than not, stress becomes the norm. Your physical body is now in fight and flight mode nearly daily. You feel tense and like you can’t shake it off. Adrenaline and other stress hormones are created to keep you alert and ready – unable to relax. This constant feeling of being on edge becomes exhausting. You feel tried and yet every night you have trouble getting to sleep. You begin to feel like this is only happening to you.
Being on edge and stressed means you are more likely to react and offer short sharp communications, where everything starts to annoy and irritate you.
After more time passing with stress levels not falling, the physical and mental balance within us is on alert and without sign of help or action, you go into depression: a state where life happens around you. Physically and mentally you are ill living in a space where you retreat mentally. This can also be as a long term effect of the build up of stress and hormone chemical imbalance over time.
Here there is no fight here. That only begins with your own fight to regain physical and mental health again. To come through the darkness and into the light with new ways to learn how to manage and respond to life.
Is there another way?
Bullying has no place in the workplace or anywhere, however we have to recognise the bully is also a victim to themselves. They often have no idea of the effects their behaviour is having. They are reacting to an issue they have, not an issue with you. There are also situations where the bully will find joy in your sadness and this is a reflection of their own sadness; they don’t want to be the only one.
Bullying is not personal. It’s simply an individual with an issue they are not able to or have chosen to not deal with; and as a result the have chosen to project their anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt on to you.
Ten ways to control the effects of bullying:
- Be aware of the bullying behaviour.
- Take control of how you are feeling.
- Remember retaliation will feed their behaviour.
- Understand this behaviour is not personal, it is about the bully.
- Use kindness and compassion around the bully, help them see goodness is OK.
- Find someone you can trust to talk about the behaviour and how it is effecting you.
- What do you want to do?
- Is this situation effecting your health?
- Are you able to see this situation changing while you are still there?
- Take action from belief in yourself, not from fear.
When you walk away from a bully, they are still left with how they feel and their issue and they will just transfer this to someone else until they find support or decide to change their behaviour. This is out of your control.
Focus on what you can control and be constructive in how you respond to a bully and remember this is not your behaviour.
be YOU. be life. be happy.
Emma Lannigan is a coach and author of belifehappy: give. play.love. learn