What Was I Thinking: Married/Divorced x 3

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Dealing With the Bully

I was an “Army Brat” and moved around constantly.  Every time I entered a new school, I was “tested”.  Every society has its Alpha male and its pecking order.  That is especially true of school age males.  When I would arrive, that local balance was thrown off and everyone waited to see where I fit in.  It would only take a matter of days before someone would step forward to see just how far I would let them push me around.

I never let them push me.  Ever.  I always stood my ground and I never backed down.  That doesn’t mean I always got into fights.  I learned that as often as not, simply standing up to them was enough.  Usually, the bully was not so much interested in actually hitting me as he was in intimidating me to establish his inflated and false sense of superiority.  By standing up to him, I made him make a choice.  He could either bring it on or he could puff up, make excuses and tell everyone I was not worth his time and effort.  Translated from bravado into the common tongue, it meant that he didn’t want to risk getting hurt, or worse, dethroned.

The few times I actually did end up in fights usually resulted in draws.  At 5’6″, I do not tower over anyone.  So fighting someone 6’0″ in high school to a draw really meant that I won in the eyes of everyone else.  I remember telling one young man, just before he came at me, that while he would probably beat me to a bloody pulp, he was going to either lose or break a body part in the process.  That one ended in yet another draw, and while my face was swollen for a few days, he did indeed end up in a cast.  Once it got around that I wouldn’t back down, even if it came to an exchange of blows, I always seemed to earn the respect of those around me and I was usually then allowed to exist in the new group unmolested.

What prompts me to write this was a post I read over on the blog Moment Matters.  The post was titled “Bullying Helps” and while I don’t agree wholeheartedly with the post, it does give a different take on the issue of Bullying.  We will always have to confront bullies of some sort.  As people assert their dominance and try to climb to the top of the heap, many will use any means necessary to get there.  Some will out smart us.  Some will out maneuver us.  Some will be faster, stronger, better.  Some, when all else fails, will resort to intimidation, or, as more commonly referred to, bullying.

Whether in elementary school, high school, on an athletic field, or out in the real world of business and employment, we have to learn to deal with these people.  They will step on us if we let them.  I refuse to let them.  I tell my players not to be intimidated on the field and I tell my students not to be intimidated in the classroom.  Emotional, intellectual, physical bullying is out there and it is a horrible fact of life.  But it is a fact of life and it is a fact that must be dealt with.

Not everyone wins a trophy and I have always hated that shift in our society.  I am all for trying to identify and work with the bullies in schools to get them the help they need to stop their destructive behavior, but we must also learn to fight our own battles and not give in to intimidation.  Once the bullies learn that their behavior will not get them the results they seek, they start to change their behavior.  I have seen it time after time after time.  The ones that don’t change, most often end up isolated and friendless.  This is the case in schools, in business, and even in world politics.

Understanding that the bully is really the weaker one and having the strength of character and will to not allow them to push you around will take you a long way in this world.  Sure, you may end up a bit bloodied in the short term, but you will be the better person for it in the long term.

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12 comments on “Dealing With the Bully

  1. Alex Jones
    April 29, 2012

    This seems to be a universal situation of all situations where groups of males (females to a lesser extent) gather, where a testing goes on to establish the social ranking. Many animal species have developed an alternative to fighting, which is display, and another is to provide a benefit that is useful to the group.

    • Chuck
      April 29, 2012

      Yes, I alllude to the display in the post, when I talk about how more often than not, simply standing up solved the issue. The other person would “puff up” and walk away, still produly holding on to his perceived place, but not engaging in a physical altercation.

  2. reikae
    April 29, 2012

    Even though I have girls we’ve had to deal with the bullying situation. I taught them to stand their ground and not be intimidated no matter what the situation is because there will always be forms of bullying throughout life; just as you mentioned.

    From various incidents in which they have had to stand their ground my girls have developed a sense of self-confidence that given them the poise and ease to deal with some very interesting issues they have had to face.

    My 12-year-old tells her friends, “Just look them in the eye!” She has learned what you mentioned, standing up to them solves the problem a majority of the time.

    • Chuck
      April 30, 2012

      And with girls it can be so much worse then the physical intimidation that is usually what boys suffer. Good for your daughters!

  3. creativenoodling
    April 30, 2012

    There are so many things in this post I agree with and like. But the part about society’s shift towards “everyone’s a winner” stood out. If everyone’s a winner, then no one is. My goodness, isn’t that basic Hume?

    • Chuck
      April 30, 2012

      Hume pointed out that we do not have an impression of the self. No matter how closely I attend to my own experience, no matter how fully I notice the mental operations presently occurring “in my mind,” I am never directly aware of “I.” What I do experience is a succession of separate and individual ideas, associated with each other by relations of resemblance and causality. Although these relations may be extended through time by memory, there is no evidence of any substantial ground for their coherence. The persistent self and the immortal soul are philosophical fictions.

      In a nutshell…

      • creativenoodling
        April 30, 2012

        Then I must have my philosophers mixed up. Easy to do when it’s been over a decade since that college class. Which one had the basic principle: If everyone did X, and by doing X caused Y to ceased exist, then to do X is wrong? For example, if everyone killed innocent people, then innocence would cease to exist, therefore no innocents to kill, so killing of innocent is wrong. It’s going to make me crazy if I can’t figure which philosopher I’m thinking of.

      • Chuck
        April 30, 2012

        That would be Rule Utilitarianism. J.S. Mill and Jeremy Bentham are largely credited as the “fathers” of Utilitarianism.

      • creativenoodling
        April 30, 2012

        thank you. prof chuck to the rescue. i can sleep now.

      • Chuck
        April 30, 2012

        LOL…yes, I’m sure it was keeping you awake.

      • creativenoodling
        April 30, 2012

        you have NO idea!!!!

  4. susartandfood
    May 2, 2012

    I can identify with this on a certain level. I was moved around a lot after moving to California from Nova Scotia. Three fourth grades, a total of 12 schools from 4th grade to 12th. Makes you tough and certainly shakes any shyness out of you, or sometimes makes it worse. For me it just pushed me to be okay being me.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2012 by in A Southern Perspective, Family, Friends, Life, Philosophy and tagged , , , , .
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