Today, we are going to take on the serious topic of bullying. I will be touching on my past experience of bullying, and the psychological effect it had on me, and we will address a very interesting question: why do people bully? The truth is that there is a pretty practical reason why bullying happens, and it doesn’t have much to do with the victim. It has to do with the bully themselves, and their underlying insecurities about their life.
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Here’s a background on my experience with bullying…As a kid, I was physically below average. I was short, skinny, and I hit puberty pretty late so I had a high-pitched voice. I remember being one of those tiny annoying kids that would run around and try and annoy people 🙂 Part of it was because I became insecure about other people not seeing me as significant or valuable. So my response was to go around and provoke people to get their attention that way. When we played sports at recess, I was always underestimated. Yeah…you guessed it…I was that kid who was picked last (me or one of my 2 friends usually). Things like this caused me to believe that I wasn’t valuable to others and that I was less than others.
I remember getting angry after a while because I felt so insignificant. I would yell at classmates, sometimes physically hurting them. It was NOT good…I started to dig myself a hole where people took advantage of my negative behavior and my self esteem suffered later in life. I felt less in social circles, while dating, and even in school (if someone was smarter than me, I felt worthless).
So that’s a bit about my story. Now we are going to answer the question: why do people bully?
WHY DO PEOPLE BULLY?
THE SEARCH FOR POWER AND SIGNIFICANCE
So, why do people bully? The main reason I think bullying occurs when you are growing up in elementary and high school is the search for power and significance. As a young kid in school, one of the main ways to feel powerful and significant is to be “popular”.
Regardless of age, people have a core need to feel significant and to feel acknowledged for something. This is the reason why people feel good doing things in the spotlight: being an actor, a public speaker, a singer, etc. So if a young kid wants to feel significant, one of the ways to do so is getting on the good side of the “popular kids”. Unfortunately, one of the things the “popular kids” acknowledge is putting down those that aren’t like them.
When you are young and naive, you are not aware of all the other, more civil ways that exist to help you feel significant like self-development. Instead, they go along with peer pressure and get power from doing what everyone else is doing. If you see that the “popular kids” are getting more attention from the opposite sex, and seem to have more friends, your natural tendency is to gravitate towards them.
WHY NOT FEEL SIGNIFICANT WITHOUT PUTTING OTHERS DOWN?
You may ask: can’t these bullies feel significant WITHOUT putting others down?
When answering the question: “why do people bully?”, one thing you have to realize is that bullies have a lot of underlying insecurities that you can’t see. In truth, they are just playing a fake character that enjoys putting people down. Internally though, they are feeling hurt.
One of the reasons they are hurt could be that they were a victim of bullying themselves. The bullying they experienced made them feel undervalued and insignificant. Now, they feel like they can get that value and significance back by bullying others.
Another reason could be that they have a hostile environment at home. Maybe their parents aren’t giving them the love that they need to grow, or maybe their parents don’t show love towards each other and are constantly fighting. This also has the effect of making a child feel unloved and undervalued, which can build up internally in a negative way. They can feel alone and unfulfilled, trying to search for that internal fulfillment that they long for.
Or maybe they don’t feel good enough compared to others. Maybe they don’t have any hobbies that they enjoy or are good at. Maybe they haven’t discovered any talents. If they don’t have reasons to feel good about themselves, they have a tendency to put that focus on others in a hurtful way.
When you are a child, you are unaware of the fact that you can give YOURSELF love and fulfillment by doing things like meditating and other acts of self-care. As a kid, you are emotionally vulnerable, and it is easy to convince yourself that OTHERS are the source of your self esteem and fulfillment.
THERE ARE INSECURE PEOPLE IN ALL STAGES OF LIFE
Why do people bully when they are adults? Even after people have matured and grown up into adulthood, they still have a tendency to be mean and disrespectful if they feel insecure about themselves. If they are acting this way, it is important to recognize that they are bothered by something in their own lives and that it has nothing to do with you. Maybe they are making fun of you for the same thing that they are bothered about themselves. For example, if they are making fun of the fact that you are short and skinny, chances are that they are bothered by a physical insecurity of their own.
It could also have to do with a poor control of emotions. When people get into a bad mood, they have a tendency to bring out things that are troubling them on the inside, often taking it out on others. We all have emotional swings. But when people have a poor control of their emotions, they let it get out of hand and can be negative towards other people. Also, when you grow older, it is socially unacceptable to blatantly call people names or be obviously rude. Therefore, people resort to passive aggression. They will slip subtle comments so that their rude behavior becomes less socially unacceptable. However, the victim feels hurt that is just as bad.
So logic doesn’t guide these people. There aren’t any good reasons why they should be rude or disrespectful to someone. They are guided by their emotions, which negatively affects the way they treat others.
HURT PEOPLE AREN’T MALICIOUS PEOPLE
Why do people bully? Aren’t they malicious? They aren’t ACTUALLY malicious people with bad intentions, they are just hurt. Celebrity psychologist Dr. Phil has a video where he talks about bullying. He says that a lot of people try to stop bullying by punishing the bullies. However, this doesn’t fix the problem, as it makes the bullies angrier. This causes them to continue lashing out at others and putting them down. What needs to be fixed is the root of the problem, which is the hurt that the bullies feel. And when you are a kid that is bullying others, you don’t have that self-improvement mindset. You probably aren’t aware of why you are bullying in the first place.
So if you are young and being bullied, or if you are an adult and feel targeted by someone else, recognize that you are not the problem. It is the bully who is letting their emotions get the best of them. As a result, you can develop a stronger self-image. You can realize that there are a lot of positive things about you that you shouldn’t let others take advantage of.
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