Rude, inconsiderate, and just plain mean people have a way of draining your energy and good vibes. When their behavior brings you down, you might need to take action to regain your happiness. Thankfully, you can tackle situations like this without sacrificing any more of your joy.
The Science Behind Bullying
It’s tough to be on the receiving end of an insult or mean comment, especially from someone you may have considered a friend. Remind yourself that people turn to bullying as a way to take back control of their lives and make themselves feel more important in the midst of their own instability.
A study from Ditch the Label, an anti-bullying organization, showed that meanness is often used as a way to cope with stressful situations. Drama at home, low self-esteem, traumatic incidents, difficult relationships and being the victim of aggressive behavior themselves can all result in a feeling of insecurity that leads to meanness and bullying. Sometimes, just understanding that your bully’s behavior is more about them than you can help soften the sting.
Coping with the Chaos
It can be jarring to find yourself the victim of a bully, especially as an adult. Remember that you have more control in this situation than you may think. In some cases, quick fixes might be enough to help. Try these steps:
- Blocking the bully on social media to prevent their hurtful comments from following you into cyberspace.
- Ignoring their comments if you see them in person. Most bullies just want a reaction, and by not giving them one, they’re likely to lose interest.
- Speaking up and letting your bully know their behavior is unwelcome. This can be as simple as saying something like, “I don’t like those kinds of jokes, so please don’t make them around me,” or even, “That’s a very hurtful thing to say.” Bullies don’t expect to get called out, and speaking up can really make them shrink.
Sometimes a quick fix isn’t enough. Here are some things you should try if the situation is a little more serious:
- Talk to your employer if a bully is making you feel unsafe in the workplace or is making it impossible for you to do your work. Making them aware of the situation earns you an ally that can keep an eye on the situation, speak to the bully about their behavior on your behalf and otherwise intervene when necessary.
- Let your leaders know if you encounter a bully in a class, club meeting or other activity. There may be rules that prohibit their behavior, and the leaders may ask the bully not to come back.
- Someone who is making threatening comments or showing up uninvited at your home or workplace should be reported to the police. You may be able to get a restraining order against the person to prevent further attacks. Keep any text messages, emails, and other communications that support your case and present them to the police when you make your report. The police will also be aware of the situation and have more information about your experiences if you ever need to make a 911 call.
Here’s the bottom line. What a mean person says about you doesn’t define you at all. Their words and actions just reflect their insecurities, doubts and fears about their own lives. True friends want to see you succeed and grow, so the next time someone says something hurtful about you, don’t take it personally. They were never a true friend to begin with, and their words say more about who they are than they do about you.