Have you ever heard people say the following:
“Aray tumharay bhalay k liye keh raha hun…”
“Inn kapron main tum moti nahi lago gi…”
“Agar mai nahi bataun gi tou kon bataye ga?”
These statements are supposedly said in your best interest but do they make you feel utterly shitty inside? I know, they do. This is what we call bullying.
Of course, there are people with whom you can have a healthy discourse but I am talking about those so-called friends or well-wishers who make you feel ungrateful and guilty of being who you are.
Under the guise of it being for your own good, it’s pure passive-aggression and manipulation at its finest. We all are familiar with these kinds of relationships. So familiar, that you can even think of one or two at the moment, off the top of your head. Right?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. I have been through this. In fact, we all go through it, at some point, which shows the magnitude of the problem.
Negative self-talk patterns
It started during my school days when others used to tear me down. I started to see myself more as a sports commentator in a cricket match, analyzing and calculating every thought, decision or every action that I took. Eventually, I started the act of self-censoring to shape myself according to their expectations.
Self-censoring is a sturdy foundation for negative self-talk patterns to be built upon. It crippled me and robbed me off of my self-esteem. I’ve always, always had these reoccurring passive-aggressive bullies pop up in my life, which made me feel that I need to change myself in order to fit in.
Feeling the urge to seek approval from others
The weird thing is, deep down I always knew that I am capable of everything and that I am good enough. But – a big “but” – the way I was being pushed around made me wary of owning that fact. The fact that I could do it, the fact that I didn’t need someone’s approval or advice beforehand.
But I would constantly wrestle with striving to fulfill my own ambition and checking in with others to see what was “right.”
I would feel pulled in so many different directions without even knowing what was really going on.
When people tell you “Tum dusra wala choose karlo yeh tumhare bas ki baat nahi hai,” or “tum iss shirt mein moti lagti ho, yeh na pehna karo.” or “mein tumhara dushman tou nahi hun na,” chances are, they don’t mean well.
I still remember that the same patterns would repeat and I’d find myself crying in frustration, sinking into bouts of depression without telling anyone about how deeply it was affecting me.
Eventually, I realized I was allowing people to push me around.
I realized I had to set boundaries. Hostile teasing, constant criticism and negative judgments – these were the alarms that I needed to keep a distance from those specific people.
There are various types of adult bullies. But the most dangerous are the passive-aggressive/covert bullies that sugarcoat their words, yet convey the message that you are not good enough.
Okay – we’ve identified the problem. Let’s see how we can actually deal with this plague.
Watch out for adult bullies. They could be everywhere
They can be your friends, close friends or even your best friends. In some cases, if you’re that unlucky, your parents can play this role as well. Again, I would say that you can choose people to have a healthy discourse about your insecurities and fears. However, not everyone is your well-wisher.
Shift your perspective
Remember that phrase from your childhood ” Ammi kehti hain jo kehta hai wohi hota hai”? Well, that still applies. People, who make fun of you/bully you, it somehow makes them feel better about themselves.
Truly malicious people aside, most bullies don’t intend to be mean or piss you off or make you sad; they mean to unload based on their own life experience. It deflects the energy they are feeling thrown at them from the world or they are simply trying to cope with their own surroundings and life choices.
If called out, or if things get too serious, they’ll claim they’re joking.
Have a confrontation phrase to avoid bullying
This is my favorite tip and it has helped me get through a lot of bullying situations. Even if you’re good at confrontation, it’s usually not a pleasant activity and you want to make sure that you stay cool and calm in case the other person becomes defensive. Not everyone is empathetic – that doesn’t mean you can’t be.
Here are some of my favorite confrontation phrases:
- “I respect you for you – please respect me for me.”
- “I understand where you’re coming from. But I need to do what’s right for me.”
- “I appreciate your honesty, but here’s how I view it:”
- “That might be your truth, but this is mine.”
- “This is what works for me so I’m sticking with it for now. When that changes I’ll consider your suggestion.”
Just be sure you’re staying kind and firm. Especially if this is a relationship you value. It might be hard not to go off the handle, but I know you can do this.
Perform an act of self-care right after this
After hearing hurtful words, or standing up for yourself if the situation allowed for it, do something that makes you feel happy. Listen to your favorite song, talk to a friend or just write down in your journal (if you have one) that you’re proud of who you are. Give people compliments, it will make you feel less irritated and annoyed and satisfaction is guaranteed.
Adult bullies don’t fade away, and from what I’ve observed, they just become senior bullies. Just like negativity is a bonding tactic we learn from a very young age, bossing others around or being disrespectful is a habit that we can carry with us into old age if we allow ourselves to go there.
We all are guilty and we do it quite often, but if you can catch it when you feel the effects on the receiving end, you’ll be way, way less likely to do the same to others. Let us know your confrontation phrase in the comments below. Your confrontation phrase might be helpful for someone else. Or share your experiences.
Cover image via dawn.com