“Sticks and stones break bones. Words fracture spirits and hearts.” —Lorna Stremcha
Bullies and Self-Image
Mean-spirited behavior and wicked words are like cancer slowly eating away at your spirit. These things drag you down and hold you hostage.
Many of us, unfortunately, face a bully. I faced many in childhood and adulthood. Some of the meanest and most damaging bullies were those I encountered in the workplace. Sadly, bullying is wreaking havoc on our self-esteem, self-image, physical health, and mental health—regardless of age, race, religion, status, or sex. My research has revealed many others who are being bullied.
Bullies know how to destroy self-confidence. They also know how to create fear. When Mimi, a former teacher from Pennsylvania was bullied by members of her school administration, her self-esteem was one of the first things to go. Mimi began to question her every move, trying to avoid any action that would create more problems. She simply didn’t know who she could trust, and was always on guard. She became angry. Mimi’s anger grew from frustration.
As the mother of a special-needs child, Mimi found herself losing patience and self-control. She realized she needed to speak out and to find help. And she needed to continue speaking out until people began to listen. Only after Mimi felt someone understood, could she begin to regain control of her life.
Bullies can do a lot of damage to your self-image, and calling on reprogramming techniques can be a saving grace.
My experience with bullies in the workplace lasted almost a decade. I felt powerless, overwhelmed, isolated, ashamed, humiliated, and ugly. I felt like yesterday’s trash! These were feelings I had never felt even as a child who had been abandoned and abused.
The point is, I get it!
I believe I can help you gain a better understanding of bullying and help you understand we sometimes bully ourselves and contribute to our own unhappiness and unhealthy habits. It is also my belief my experiences will help you gain a better understanding of negative self-talk and demonstrate the necessity of reprogramming.
Tim Fields, the author of Bully in Sight: How to Predict, Resist, Challenge and Combat Workplace Bullying: Overcoming the Silence and Denial By Which Abuse Thrives, defines workplace bullying as “the repeated mistreatment of one’s employee targeted by one or more employees with a malicious mix of humiliation, intimidation, and sabotage of performance.” Fields also refers to workplace bullying as psychological harassment and violence done to you by others. Zogby reported workplace bullying to be two to three times more prevalent than illegal discrimination, affecting one in six workers.
Bullies usually appear when someone in power or authority feels threatened by another person or subordinate that displays qualities and skills that they do not possess.
The bully’s personality is dominated by his or her need to feel good.
Psychological Damages Related to Bullying
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Personality disorders
- Periods of unworthiness
- Permanent or semi-permanent feelings of hopelessness
- Panic attacks
- Periods of tearfulness and irritability
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of humor
- Loss of joyfulness
- Other forms of abuse also cause similar problems. Even after someone is removed from an abusive situation, the effects can be long-lasting.
- Another trauma or event can often cause these underlying problems to surface.
Psychological Damage Related to Domestic Violence, Rape, and Child Abuse
- Experience PTSD
- Waking up in a state of panic
- Obsessive behaviors
- Avoidance of pleasurable activities
- Isolating self from friends and others
To start your healing process read Lose the Baggage, Lose the Weight a woman-to-woman recipe for life. To learn more about bullying and workplace abuse read Bravery, Bullies and Blowhards Lessons Learned in a Montana Classroom.