I Am Bullied As An Adult By These 3 Toxic People

What Constitutes an Adult Bully?

Just like children and teenagers can be bullies, so can adults. What defines an adult bully is if they regularly make you feel oppressed, belittled, humiliated, or de-energized.

The cruel actions that often lead to those feelings include personal insults, ridiculing jokes, threats, public shaming, invasion of your personal space, or unwanted personal contact.

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Blame

It’s your fault!

And because it’s your fault, you have to fix it. It’s your responsibility.

To put it simply:

Beware of anyone who refuses to be held responsible for their own actions, especially when it’s obvious that their actions are causing damage. Be aware of people who don’t want to be held responsible for their emotional baggage.

Those people will not accept the responsibility for their own mistakes and shortcoming, which is already bad enough because that will cost you time, energy, or even money if you are around them enough.

They might hurt other people and refuse to be held responsible. That is even worse. One must know what he is responsible for and be painfully honest about that.

But most importantly, they will not accept the responsibility for their own emotional baggage. When someone doesn’t accept the responsibility for their own emotions, they assume that their well-being is other people’s responsibility. And if their well-being is somehow fucked up, it’s someone’s fault and they hate them for it.

You may think that sometimes it’s actually someone else’s fault that your well-being is not so well. They have done quite the damage for you. They could be your family, a boyfriend/girlfriend, the government, a specific group of people, or whoever. And that might be true. But what you are missing here is that blaming is still a toxic deed because it’s about relinquishing responsibility and assuming the victim’s role (we will talk about victims in the next lecture).

Even if someone has been the reason for your suffering, it’s still your responsibility to pick yourself up and remedy the situation. That’s called maturity. Even if someone is somehow making you suffer emotionally, it’s your responsibility to walk away and to handle those bad emotions and overcome them to feel sane again. That’s called emotional maturity.

People who actively practice blame are neither mature nor emotionally mature. Remember that the most important requirement for being a toxic person is the inability to accept responsibility for your own insecurities and projecting them onto others. Well, it all starts with blaming someone or something else for what you are directly responsible for: your actions and your emotional well-being. Don’t be that way. And be careful of people who are this way.

Sarcasm is scatological humor

There is a difference between sarcasm and witty humor.

Sarcasm is more about making fun of people. It plays on people’s insecurities. It’s a way to tear down someone or of a group of people, for whatever reason, indirectly. A sarcastic comment, if you look at it a bit deeper, is nothing but an insult.

There is nothing funny about someone calling one of his friends, in front of a group of friends, “creepy nerd,” and then adding an insulting joke about nerds while making his friend feel small and insecure. All that while knowing that this nerd friend is socially awkward and is probably insecure about being called a nerd, for it asserts his insecurities about his social skills and likability.

That’s bullying. And the so-called nerd is mistaken if he considers this as normal behavior of his “friend”, especially if the comment made him upset deep down. And he will be in deep troubles if he doesn’t stand up for himself and silent that dick, for he will send a message to everyone around him that he is the type of person who can be pushed around and would do nothing but nervously laugh. Let alone that his mind is going to give him a hard time because he didn’t stand up for himself; his self-esteem will get a hard hit.

Take a Stand

For some bullies, a little more force might be needed. If a bully keeps pushing you despite your other efforts, you need to push back. Not physically, of course, but verbally. If there’s one thing that bullies hate more than someone shrugging off their flak, it’s someone standing up to them. Gil suggests the best way to do that is to point out their behaviour:

Assuming the bully is nonviolent and unlikely to find some other way to harm you, confronting them by pointing out that their behaviour is bullying is sometimes a good start. Avoid provoking them but, at the same time, question their motives and what purpose going after someone who has done them no wrong serves them. This shows that you’re not afraid to call them out and, if necessary, put them on the defensive.

Many bullies will back down at the first sign of resistance, so this can be highly effective. If you’re going to call them out on their actions, however, make sure you do it right. Here are some suggestions:

  • Prepare for the encounter: Psychotherapist Jenise Harmon at Psych Central suggests you prepare what you want to say specifically, as well as where you want to say it. Having a plan will help relieve some of the anxiety you might be feeling, and it can also help ensure you approach the situation safely.
  • Don’t attack them: Therapist Roni Weisberg-Ross at Good Therapy recommends you calmly and self-assuredly stand up for yourself. Avoid getting emotional or escalating the situation. If you don’t think you’re ready, focus on not giving them the reaction they want for now.
  • Be specific: Health writer Holly L. Roberts at Livestrong explains that it’s important to be specific about the issue at hand. Avoid blanket requests like “stop bullying me”, and specifically tell them what they’re doing that is not OK.

Also, make sure you decide if you want to handle this privately or with others around. This usually depends on the severity of the bullying, so you have to feel things out for yourself. A bully that’s just looking to get some laughs, or someone that doesn’t realise they’re being a bully, is probably best handled privately so neither of you have to feel embarrassed. A more serious bully though might be best handled with some help from friends or coworkers. You don’t want to gang up them, but having others around can help make sure things don’t escalate.

What to Do If Youre a Victim

If you’re the victim of an adult bully, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Pick and choose your battles. Choosing how to react depends on the number and severity of the bullying behaviors. If the behavior is not excessive or harmful and you only see the bully once in a while (such as at work or the annoying relative during family gatherings), you may want to keep your distance. Because of the amount of time it can take to handle bullying behavior in many cases, consider picking your battles if it isn’t directly harmful to you. 
  • Make eye contact. Eye contact can be significant, as bullies have less empathy when they can’t see your face or your eyes.  
  • Escape if you can. Ask if you can move your desk far away from the bully or limit your interactions with them whenever possible. If that fails, try again. Can you switch to another position in the organization?
  • Document the offenses. Document every single offense and try to keep the records for as long as possible. You may need them if you want to file a complaint at work or, in some cases, a police report if the bully’s actions become emotionally or physically damaging.
How Workplace Bullies Pick Their Targets

Separate Yourself from the Bully

As an adult, you have a lot more control over the situation than you did when you were a kid. You may not be able to “tell the teacher,” but you also can choose how you spend your time. You’re not necessarily stuck with them as you might have been in a school situation. If you aren’t looking for any kind of confrontation, Gil recommends some simple “avoidance strategies”:

Avoidance strategies can be as simple as upping the privacy on your social media, ensuring you’re not alone around the bully, or devising an escape plan should the bully try to corner you. While the passive approach may not be the most popular one, it may be the only course of action for some people who feel that they cannot address the bullying directly.

You can also ask your boss to move your desk, or be taken off of their project. Generally speaking, if an opportunity arises for you to get away from them, take it. It won’t work every time, but if nothing else, it’s a start.

2. Document, document, document!

Let’s say your boss becomes angry with you for calling out of work due to illness.

He tells your coworkers that you made up your illness and were just hungover and he even disregards the doctor’s note you provide.

Other employees witness the inappropriate way he treats you and the derogatory language he uses.

Use all of this to your advantage and take a well-documented account of the situation to HR!

Pro: Done the right way with thorough documentation, this method can help make your environment safe for everyone, especially at work.

Con: Many situations outside of the workplace don’t have a place for you to report actions.

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