Whenever we think of bullying I’m sure most of us think of a mean kid in a playground picking on a nerdy kid; but what about other forms which may not be quite so obvious?
There are those people who try to make themselves feel better by belittling others in such a subtle way that those around may not even realise what is happening under their noses. The trouble is every single one of us has insecurities, whether it’s a big nose, weight issues, confidence issues, anxiety and so on and if we all took to trampling on others to make ourselves feel better the world would be a very miserable place. Yet a minority do exactly this to boost their own self-esteem.
I myself have come across these types of people before – yep, on more than one occasion and in adulthood as well as childhood. I have personally been on the receiving end of someone very quietly trying to turn a group against me, excluding me from conversations, laughing at me but making out to the group like it’s simply just a joke and getting them to laugh too, then making me look like the dull one because it seems as though I can’t take a bit of banter. The list could easily go on. I like to call this type of person a ‘dominator’ because that’s exactly what they intend to do – dominate over their victim to make them seem worthless and become the strong person of the group.
When this first happened to me at school (on a trip for a week) I really didn’t understand, all I could think was ‘what have I done wrong?!’ So as I then began to torture myself, I became quieter and more withdrawn from the group… exactly what the ‘dominator’ wanted – their victim to back down.
Luckily for me, two girls from the year below me had noticed and took me for a walk to talk about it. I was so relieved it wasn’t me, I was so glad they had reached out and reassured me that I had done nothing whatsoever to this older girl. They wanted to report her to the teachers for bullying me. The funny thing was, I still didn’t think it was bullying, I mean, she wasn’t beating me up or calling me names, she just didn’t like me. Do you know what? I never found out why she did this to me. She never bothered me at all once we were back at school and I didn’t tell anybody what had happened whilst we were away.
As adults, we don’t talk about bullying much either, but these ‘dominators’ are out there, they want to be the top dog, BUT they cannot be seen to be doing it in a mean way. Maybe somebody at work wants a new position but so do you, maybe they are jealous of you, maybe you are a threat (whether that is in popularity, looks, intelligence) but there is no way they will ever admit it. Whatever the issue, you need to remember it is theirs, not yours!
This type of people will always do several things:
- Seem nice to your face, but you will often catch them glaring at you when no one is watching
- They will be seen talking to you in a group so it appears they do like you to the others around
- In a group they will try to take centre stage and slyly begin to exclude you
- They will make comments that will sound like a dig at you but turn it into a joke by adding a laugh afterwards and encouraging others to laugh too
- They may play a practical joke and it will seem like just a joke to others but in their head, they are getting one over on you
- They will pick a couple of confidants to bitch about you behind your back – these will be people they have picked carefully and will trust. If you think you have heard your name, you most probably have – trust your instincts on that one
- They will get a group really liking them by gaining their trust, making them think they are funny and a real fun person to be around – this will enhance their strength
- The strength in numbers will be needed when they wanna have a dig at you and not have anyone to back you up
- Once this happens you will feel alone, like an outsider and weak
- The person will feel like they have won by having no one willing to stick up for you, people may think differently of you now and may like the ‘dominator’ more.
How to survive:
Remember that you have done absolutely nothing wrong! This person has chosen you because you are in fact a threat and are probably a strong character. It’s like they believe there can only be one alpha in a pack and you must go.
Facebook/Instagram can be fuel for this as it only gives a snapshot of your life and to others, you may have a ‘perfect’ life and jealousy can rear its ugly head.
My advice would be:
- Stay strong, do not let them wear you down.
- Do not show weakness at any point – if you need to cry, wait it out and do it in private.
- Keep your mind on the task, whether it’s a trip, work, a task etc. do what you need to do.
- Keep being you! You are who you are and you do not need to change for anybody. Hey, we can’t all get on, we are all different, we don’t need to change to please others.
- Definitely put some distance between yourself and the person, it will help your feelings immensely.
- Be prepared for the moment when things may blow up and the group turns a blind eye – this will most probably happen and you will feel like the loneliest person in the room. Remember you have better friends and family outside that room!
- Do confide in someone, anyone you can trust and somebody who will understand.
- Don’t try and convert one of the ‘sheep’ they may run straight back to the ‘dominator’ and you will end up looking like the bad guy, believe me!
- My best advice would be to not get sucked into their game. Be mature, rise above it all and once again, just be you.
If you are a person witnessing all this and you stay quiet, you are just as bad as the bully. How about you speak up and support the person who is being made to feel like a victim? I will never forget those two girls from my school trip, they saved my sanity and provided support when I felt so low. You may one day save somebodies life just by letting them know you are there to help.
If this is happening to you right now I imagine that you are most probably a fun, outgoing, successful, loving, mature, strong individual (but you won’t realise it), the person doing this to you is probably insecure, weak, immature, conniving and attention seeking. I know which one I would rather be!! Do not let bullies win, whatever their motives or tactics.