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What's the secret of going through life without getting bullied?

(59 Posts)
EverythingChangesButChocolate Thu 07-Jan-16 13:44:49

I am 39 and feel like I've been bullied all of my life in various, but not every, scenarios.

I was not bullied at primary school but we moved to a new area for secondary school, a town where they don't welcome newcomers, and I was bullied from day one there. It didn't help that I started at the beginning of the 2nd year so everyone else had bonded during the previous year. The bullying did not seem to be limited to one bully or group of bullies, it was loads of kids, male and female. I did eventually make a few friends, whom I am still friends with now, but the bullying was always going on in the background and putting a dampener on things.

I left at 16, went to college, and there was a queen bee type of girl on my course who instantly disliked me and made my year there hell.

Left after a year, got a job. Worked there until I had my eldest child, and it was fine but then when I was pregnant I was totally bullied by my managers. They took my desk and role away from me and were really nasty. I left after having DD.

Since then I have had various bullying situations. I was bullied in another job by the top salesman who didn't like me at all and used to call me a whore and the manager would just laugh, then have a go at me if I complained about how the salesman spoke to me.

I went to a toddler group a few years ago, met a group of women and was friends with them all then suddenly they excluded me and all stopped talking to me, but bitched about me to others.

And now, years later, two mums from my youngest child's year at school have taken an instant dislike to me and have made it clear that they do not like me. I get glares, and they recently organised a mums night out for mums from that year group and I was not invited.

What the hell am I doing wrong? I do have friends but I just meet people that seem to loathe me from day 1! I'm not super quiet or hard work, neither am I loud and opinionated, I'd say I'm just pretty normal really.

I should probably add too that I was brought up by a violent bully dad, who bullied me physically until I left home at 20, and an enabler mum. Both have always told me I'm useless and horrible. Oh and a teacher at secondary school used to join in with my bullying too, and said I was the most unpopular, isolated child she'd ever known!

cailindana Thu 07-Jan-16 13:54:08

The secret is to ignore it. I know that's a cliche but it's worked for me.

My older sister (who has serious mental health problems) bullied me from about the age of 6 to the age of 14, until I snapped one day and told her clearly that I wasn't listening to a word she said from that day onwards. I stuck to my word and while she still tried to bully me frequently it just didn't work - you simply can't bully someone who just doesn't respond.

The person you have to live with and die with is yourself. You have to be on good terms with yourself and be sure in your own mind that you are happy with who you are. If you are happy with yourself then bullying just becomes background noise, in fact, it's often possible to feel sorry for bullies as you see them for who they are - deeply insecure people who are desperate for attention and who will do anything, including being incredibly nasty, to get it.

Other people don't get to tell you who you are. If they try, just tell them no, you don't listen to that shit.

EverythingChangesButChocolate Thu 07-Jan-16 13:57:32

Thank you Cailin, that's a very helpful post. Sorry to hear you have been bullied too.

I totally agree I need to learn to just ignore it. I think my main problem is I feel like no one else will like me if someone doesn't, if that makes sense? Then it knocks my confidence. For example those school mums may bitch about me to others and so the others won't be interested in getting to know me.

cailindana Thu 07-Jan-16 14:01:03

If someone isn't interested in getting to know you because someone else has said something about you, then they're not worth knowing, frankly.

They might not want to know you, but the question you really need to ask is : do you want to know them?

Some people won't like you. That's life.

EverythingChangesButChocolate Thu 07-Jan-16 14:03:06

Very true! And actually I think the answer is no, I don't want to know someone who thinks badly of me on someone else's say so.

The area I live is a small town and people here are quite small minded and judgemental unfortunately.

cailindana Thu 07-Jan-16 14:04:32

It's hard being in that situation and it's hard not to get sucked into it. But you can rise above it and just ignore the pettiness - that usually pulls a few decent people out of it. You can then leave the rest to their sniping as that's what they enjoy and they're not worth having as friends.

knobblyknee Thu 07-Jan-16 14:11:37

I dont think its you that has the problem. Not from reading what you've written. You sound completely 'average', 'normal', whatever. smile

I went back to college to do an adult education course a few years ago, and there was the school bully. She didnt recognise me. The only difference in her was that she wasnt going around the class demanding money from everyone...

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Thu 07-Jan-16 14:33:24

I am sorry to hear you've had such a terrible time with bullying ;0(

If you appear to have lost your confidence, you will be very easy prey to these nasty bitches.

Don't give them oxygen - i.e. they must be invisible to you (they are not worthy of your time/head-space anyway). Carry on as normal - if/when you have to walk passed them; breath and do not look down, look through them into the distance. This will show that you are not affected/intimidated by them.

Try it - you might have to fake it until you make it. They will have no other option but to stop being nasty because you are effectively dismissing them and not the other way round iyswim.

It really is all in the mind and I am afraid you need to toughen up/be brave (in a nice way ;0)

In terms of the other mums, don't worry, give it a bit of time and I guarantee some (hopefully most) will see right through them.

Good luck - you can do it x

SlaggyIsland Thu 07-Jan-16 14:39:54

I disagree that you can't bully someone who doesn't respond. If you are in a scenario where you can't just escape or ignore it, such as school or work, what do you do then?
It puts the blame back on the victim. Like if you were somehow stronger-minded or more confident, they wouldn't target you.

cailindana Thu 07-Jan-16 14:42:02

It can always be ignored Slaggy, unless the person physically attacks you, in which case you need to get authorities involved.

In a work situation it's advisable to conduct all communication with a bully by email and to report it if possible. At school it's necessary to report to the staff but IME that rarely works.

FredaMayor Thu 07-Jan-16 15:17:33

Nobody tries to bully me now but that was not always the case. I was a thoughtful daydreamer when younger and it seemed to me that I must have some sort of sign above my head saying 'victim'.

Looking back it took me far too long in life to become assertive, and one thing I began to realise was that I was not reflecting their level of high expressed emotion (as psychologists would say) and that had given bossy characters and bullies free rein in their own minds to do whatever they wanted.

I trained myself to become assertive where necessary without descending to their behaviour, but perhaps you could short cut that and get some assertiveness training? IME standing up to bullies is the only language they understand. In the role play classes you could polish up your one-liners to a T. It couldn't hurt at any rate?

SlaggyIsland Thu 07-Jan-16 15:25:11

Will have to agree to disagree that bullying can always be ignored. If it's an inescapable situation, that would be a very hard thing to do indeed and I'd hate for the victim to feel like they were somehow to blame because they weren't able to zone it out or shrug it off.
People actually kill themselves over this stuff.

cailindana Thu 07-Jan-16 15:30:22

I know that Slaggy. Like I said, it does need to be reported. But in terms of what the victim themselves can do, ignoring is the only thing. That's not to say they're to blame if they find it impossible to do that. It is the only thing that's effective IME.

FredaMayor Thu 07-Jan-16 15:36:56

This article refers to children but the points on standing up to bullying (not the same as returning aggression) holds good across the board. Its from a reputable journal:

to0thypeg Thu 07-Jan-16 15:41:19

Interesting thread. I have been bullied in virtually every school class and job of my life. I've long realised that I must be doing something to attract it, and would love to know how to prevent it.

cailindana Thu 07-Jan-16 15:55:39

I don't think you're necessarily attracting it toothy - I think everyone is a target for bullies at some point. The difference is that some people respond and others don't. The ones that respond get bullied more while the ones that don't respond or respond aggressively or with violence don't.

Floowho Thu 07-Jan-16 16:15:57

I feel a bit like you, attracting bullies throughout my school life and a bit at work. Sadly the school playground can feel like you haven't moved on in the last twenty plus years. I wish I had a solution, but just hugs. One thing I have found is that the bullies from school grow up and can become human beings. Just think to yourself, you have integrity and you are not a bully.

WhatALoadOfOldBollocks Thu 07-Jan-16 17:22:58

Interesting article Freda, thanks, and seems to explain why when I was targeted by a bully at school she lost interest in me very quickly. I have 2 examples; she picked on me for what I wore and who I was friends with, so went something like this:

Bully: Why do you always wear the same clothes?!
Me: [very matter of factly, looking her straight in the eye] because since mum and dad got divorced we're skint.

Bully: Why are you friends with Darren?! (the geeky, awkward, shy boy in my class)
Me: [again, very matter of factly, looking her straight in the eye] because I like him.
Bully: But he's so [insert numerous insults]!
Me: Doesn't bother me that he's like that, I just like him.

I think both times it just left her with nowhere really to go with it. I didn't look embarrassed or intimidated, and stayed calm even though underneath I was thinking "shit, she's clocked me!"

"I don't think you're necessarily attracting it toothy - I think everyone is a target for bullies at some point."
I think so too. They just latch onto those who they quickly realise they can have the most "fun" with and discard those who aren't worth their efforts. It does sound horribly victim blaming though sad

pocketsaviour Thu 07-Jan-16 18:57:09

I should probably add too that I was brought up by a violent bully dad, who bullied me physically until I left home at 20, and an enabler mum. Both have always told me I'm useless and horrible.

This is where the problem stems from - from your very earliest childhood, you have been taught that you have to accept bullying, that standing up for yourself has terrible consequences.

I would very strongly recommend working with a therapist to heal from the damage your childhood inflicted and gain the confidence to stand up for yourself.

1. Developing Bitchy Resting Face may help, it certainly seems to help me
2. Shut bullies down immediately. My usual phrase is "I wouldn't take talk like that off my teenager, I'm certainly not taking it off you. Wind your [fucking] neck in." (If you're at work, delete the swear word grin )
2a. "I'm not interested in your opinion" can also be a very effective phrase, especially when accompanied by the dead-eyed BRF stare from point 1.

I agree that bullies look for easy targets - when they meet someone who stands up to them they walk away. You have been conditioned by your parents to accept bullying, and unfortunately bullies will see that and will continue their horrible ways. That is why I strongly suggest you work on unpacking those childhood issues. You deserve better than this flowers

RibinaPet Thu 07-Jan-16 20:16:44

I agree with pocket, I think in your situation therapy might help you.

I was with a bullying husband for 10 years, towards the end of that relationship I changed job several times and I got into worse and worse bullying situations. I think my friends and family got sick of hearing about it, and I'm sure they were starting to put two and two together and think that I must be the problem in all those situations.

I did all sorts of strategies to deal with it all, from reporting, challenging and ignoring, but it was a problem that kept following me round.

Finally I managed to leave my husband (after a serious amount of effort) and things started picking up.

The bad colleagues and bosses no longer work in my department, but a new girl joined a few months ago, and has started causing me problems. But now that I am free of my bullying husband I can just look at her like she's an idiot, and shrug my shoulders of it all. She absolutely can't touch me. It's only now that I can do the ignoring strategy.

I feel for you re the school mums. I find the playground absolutely terrifying.

I'd say for the time being just accept that's what it is, and focus on finding whether undergoing any therapy can make a difference. It is likely to be expensive, and you may need to experiment until you find someone who can help you. But it is worth a try. (Tip - look into 'tapping' that worked really well for me)

Good luck!!

EverythingChangesButChocolate Fri 08-Jan-16 13:10:33

Thank you so much everyone for the replies :-)

I find a lot of the time I am also bullied by exclusion, so left out of things, or not treated as one of the gang, if that makes sense. I feel like I'm treated as though I'm an 'island' on my own

DrMorbius Fri 08-Jan-16 13:25:20

I feel like I'm treated as though I'm an 'island' on my own

Do you think that is how others see you also Op? Bullies never pick on the biggest, loudest person in a group (or for that matter, any member of a solid group). They look for waifs and strays at the edges or loners.

EverythingChangesButChocolate Fri 08-Jan-16 13:29:42

Yes I think they do see me like that.

I'm never really included in groups unfortunately.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 08-Jan-16 13:31:25

I agree with pocket
Find a counsellor or work on your childhood issues if you haven't done so before.
I experienced one bully in middle school but I just fought back.
Unfortunately you can't have physical fights in the adult world (you shouldn't at all actually but this was a long time ago)
I guess I've always been quite confident and I've never put up with any shit.
Do you belong to any groups at all? Do you have time for this?
If so then get on and do something that interests you and meet like minded people. It will help to build your confidence as well.

MyFavouriteClintonisGeorge Fri 08-Jan-16 13:40:51

My husband has been saying how he hates school drop-offs and pick-ups because of the whole, subtle popularity contest/general class-based competition going on.

We were talking about how we dealt with it. I told him that being black I am used to this kind of subtle exclusion. I realised I had learn to to shrug it off or I'd explode with the wrongness of it all.

So, I don't worry about what other people do, I concentrate on my own standards: be civilised and friendly by smiling and saying hello to everyone, even if you are just giving a small nod to someone when you make eye contact. Remember lots and lots of people have the same concerns and anxieties-you're not alone, though of course that is exactly what it feels like.

If people steadfastly ignore you, feel free to ignore them (genuinely ignore, not the same as snubbing or cutting dead). Never gossip or laugh at people. Don't perform, be yourself.

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