Creative Every Day: Stand Up To Bullying

by @thewritermama on March 9, 2011 · 22 comments

As much as I like this definition of the word “bully” from (a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people), I’d best talk about bullying rather than bullies in this post.

Bullying is defined as “to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer” or “to be loudly arrogant and overbearing.”

I have been bullied. Have you?

I have been bullied as an adult. I have even been bullied in the recent past as an adult, by another adult, if you can believe it. (I bet some of you cannot believe it.)

Eventually, I stood up to the bully. I told her, over e-mail, that I’d had enough, and she needed to get out of my face.

And so she finally did.

I made a few mistakes before I confronted the person who was bullying me. Initially, I tried to appease her instead of standing up to her. She had been kinder to me once upon a time and, for too long, I tried to focus on that instead of how she was making me feel, which was bullied.

I did not feel indebted to her but I felt like she wanted me to feel indebted to her. Like many women, I sometimes have trouble with being “nice” to people whose behavior does not merit niceness, or at least no longer merits niceness. She had been good to me and I had been good to her; we’re even as far as I’m concerned.

Another reason I was so slow to boil was that her behavior towards me put me in a bad position. If she was so hostile and demanding towards me in private, what was she saying about me in public? I could only imagine. But today, I couldn’t care less.

I got a valuable lesson out of all this: that you should always stand up to bullying. You should stand up as swiftly and fearlessly as you can, because letting a person who is bullying you think, for even one second, that she holds power over you, is going to cost you energy that is going to drain immediately right out of your body.

So, yes, I lost some valuable energy in the short run. I got bullied. She had me in a corner. Intimidating me was her intention.

But I got all my energy back instantly, eventually, when I stood up to her.

And I would stand up to her again in a heartbeat, if she ever tried to bully me again.

I am a veteran journalist, author and coach with over a decade and a half of experience and a wealth of techniques to share. I am focused on making the world a saner, more expressive place. I help folks become more creative for personal enjoyment, professional development and transformational growth. Whether you are a professional creative or hope to become one some day, I can help you embrace your personal strengths, explore your creative possibilities, and evolve incrementally into your most inspiring self. If you are ready to achieve creative consistency in your life and career, email me about monthly coaching calls. To learn more about increasing your creative confidence, please check out my online school. Stay tuned for ways to save money by becoming a Beta User for my next new course by subscribing to The Prosperous Creative. And don’t forget to get these blog posts delivered to your inbox, so you never miss a post. If you appreciate my work—school, products, blog and social media posts—you are welcome to make a contribution of any size at any time. Thank you for your support!

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  • Yes, unfortunately I have been bullied….and it certainly is not fun! But for me it’s not a best practice to stand up to bullies. (It had some undesired consequences once; perhaps a consequence of small town life.) I’m really glad it worked for you. But for me? I’m now trying instead to control what I know I can–my reaction to the bullies.

  • How absolutely…surreal…that I should read this post this morning when, just ten minutes ago, I was on the phone with a sheriff’s deputy filing a report on the individual who assaulted my son at his school. You are spot on about standing up to bullies as swiftly and fearlessly as possible – and ab0ut how maddeningly difficult that can be for those of us suffering from chronic niceness. Good for you for summoning your courage!

  • I had a bully commenting on my blog. He made derogatory remarks to another commenter. I didn’t stand up to him at first and finally realized that I was the blogger, he was a guest assaulting another guest on my site, and he needed to be kicked off. I told him to quit belittling this other person and then I blocked him from ever commenting again. I want people to feel welcome on my site, not bullied. Thanks for the great post.

  • Besides high school, one of my toughest bullying experiences was in ministry. I was the women’s ministry leader, and a small group of women had decided that I was too young, too inexperienced, and made decisions too quickly. So they “ganged up” on me in a large, public meeting. They were right, I was young and inexperienced – I froze. Thankfully, my lead Pastor stood up to them on my behalf.

  • Lela

    Been there. Done it. I lost 10 pounds when I let my bully go 🙂

  • Laurel

    I’ve always said that even a rabbit will come out fighting if it’s cornered.

    Good for you for standing up for yourself. I’ve been where you are, and, like you, I finally stood up to my tormentor. It felt awesome. It was liberating. More than that: it was the right thing to do.

  • As a 20 year high school teacher (retired now; home with toddler!) I saw so much bullying, but this was at a time when administrators just looked the other way, with a “kids will be kids” attitude. I am glad we’re living at a time when bullying – of children and adults – is taken seriously. Good for you for doing what you did!

  • Pingback: Facebook rolls out new anti-bullying tools |

  • Kudos to you. I firmly believe standing up to bullies is the only way. And once you stand up to one, you’ll never really be afraid of another.

    This post really resonates with me. I was bullied as a child and it was an experience that continues to affect me to this day. One positive effect, though, is that, as an adult, I do not take sh*t from anyone now. I’m still slow to boil and give everyone the benefit of the doubt (bad day, problems at home) but when I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough.

    I tend to give off a “sweet, innocent” vibe in person that I find certain people read as “doormat”. It’s kind of messed up, but I almost relish having people think they can bully me nowadays because they never see the smackdown coming.

  • Just goes to show that bullying can take place in any sphere and among all kinds of people.

  • Anonymous

    Like anything, we need to be wise about bullying. If we dwell on it, it will loom large again. Or worse, we might be asking for it or provoking a bully. So good for you, Julia, for recognizing that one person you can control.

  • Anonymous

    I know that my daughter’s school counselor provides education on how to deflect bullying. She’s talked about the tools and how helpful they are. I don’t think all kids who bully are bad. I think a lot of them are under pressure and are acting out. School education is so important. Maybe you could suggest an educational session on bullying at your school if it’s not being addressed.

  • Anonymous

    It’s really important to have good boundaries online. I unfollow people on twitter if they seem careless or cavalier about other peoples’ feelings (including abusing their verbal power or using it in unproductive ways). I delete posts and unfriend sketchy posts or people I get a funny vibe from on Facebook. And I would certainly block any one who comes into my blog space and harass me or my readers. I would not even think twice. A few readers have had no qualms about writing disparaging scathing reviews about my books. I am always shocked and hurt by people who are intentionally hurtful, no matter whether it’s a real or virtual setting. Karma will take care of it. I don’t.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like this would make a good personal essay.

  • Anonymous

    Another interesting essay topic, perhaps?

  • Anonymous

    It’s always the right thing to do, I agree. And then we need to spend some time looking at whatever we did to invite the bullying, so that it doesn’t keep happening. I see how I was cowtowwing, and this lead the bully to believe that I actually liked and respected her, which I never did. This made her think I was weak and could be controlled using social pressure. But here’s the bottom line: if I didn’t like or respect her in the first place, why was I doing things for her? I felt social pressure to reciprocate, which is the beginning of a much longer discussion of how social pressure can turn into a big toxic swimming pool…a topic I would like to address further.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Bullying is weakened when it’s out in the open.

  • Anonymous

    You are making me a little nervous here, Jessica. You don’t want people in the present to have to pay for what happened in the past, right? Maybe it’s time to let go of the “sweet, innocent” vibe if it’s not the whole truth about who you are. That’s a fate a lot of women struggle with. Just because it was projected onto us, we don’t have to take it on. You might get a lot out of the book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. She does a good job of describing how we can all embrace our own identity and choices and stop masquerading as whoever other people want us to be.

  • Yikes! I guess that came off a little more psycho than I meant it to. What I meant is, I really am a sweet person (innocent is debatable, but I think I have the kind of face that gives that impression) most of the time, but I’m also ready to assert myself when I feel I’m being taken advantage of or treated poorly. And showing people that nice doesn’t necessarily equal doormat makes me feel good.

    So, I’m certainly not trying to take out what happened to the past on people I know today. Just not letting people get away with bullying behavior. Or at least, that’s how I see it.

  • Thank you for mentioning how long it took you to confront the woman who bullied you.

    In my experience, it takes awhile for it to sink in that we really are being bullied. We make excuses for the other person (must be having a bad day, under a lot of stress lately, etc.).

    I agree with you about standing up to a bully as swiftly as you can. Sharing your concerns with a sympathetic person works too. You want someone standing in your corner, backing you up when it’s time to make your move.

  • Fandwalker

    I feel sick after I say something that i know I should. It does not come naturally to me and I am learning how to do it. I want to do it in the most reasonable way possible as I believe all people should be respected- including myself. IT is hard when it is one’s siblings. However as a grown woman with children, I am developing the taste for honesty. Slowly. The relief of speaking what one feels must be said is tempered with strong tumultous feelings that is overwhelming. From my limited reading it appears this may be normal and will improve over time. I guess people who cross over boundries without a second thought are playing out their own inabilities. It is not useful for the boundry abuser or the person whose boundries are easily transversed. I must admit, I prefer kinder people on the whole.

  • Pattie

    I have been bullied, as an adult, more than once. Never again.

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