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Bullies are incompetent

Last week, a UK government minister was fired for bullying. Mysteriously, the new Prime Minister brought Mr. Williamson back into government after he had already been fired as a minister twice before over other scandals.

Bullies are often trying to cover their own lack of competence by putting others down. In a cut-throat environment where everybody is fighting everybody else, there will be much more bullying. When looking for a job, ask about their bonus system. A company with large individual bonuses will have more bullying, no matter how many anti-bullying policies they have.

Why do Anti-Bullying Campaigns Still Look the Same?

A campaign is good, but action is better. This week is Anti-Bullying Week in the UK, and I support everything that fights bullying. However, it seems to me that most campaigns are still doing the same thing we did 20 years ago. Since we’re still running these campaigns, maybe our way of fighting bullying hasn’t been terribly effective?

The best way to fight bullying is by helping everyone build up their self-esteem. A person with healthy self-esteem is not a bully, and is able to shrug it off if someone tries to bully them. We’re not seeing many “Self-esteem weeks,” but I am hopeful they are coming.

Vote and Let Go

It’s your duty to vote. Once you have done your duty, you need to move on. The election probably didn’t come out exactly the way you hoped. It never does. But it is unproductive to worry about what will happen next. You make your voice heard at the ballot box, and then you leave the people elected to get on with their job.

I am happy that people are fighting to make the world a better place through political campaigning. But it is a demanding task full of struggle, bad arguments and dirty tricks. If you suffer from emotional trauma, you need to take care of yourself and let others do the political fighting between elections. You’ve done your part.

Fight Bullying by Giving Credit

Bullies are not high performers. But it might look that way. An article on workplace bullying in the Harvard Business Review explains how star performers are often targets. The purpose of this kind of bullying is for the bully to take credit for the victim’s achievements. In an organization with bad leadership, they sometimes succeed. If that happens, the bully is unfortunately considered a valuable high performer and is even less likely to face consequences.

You can fight this kind of bullying by working to create an appreciative environment. Whenever there is an opportunity, publicly thank your colleagues for their good work. This creates a workplace where others will also praise your work. Once everybody is happy to give credit where it is due, the bully has nothing to steal and will often leave the team.

You can Rewire Your Brain

You can rewrite a traumatic memory. Important events are stored in the brain as a combination of the facts and an associated feeling. Scientists are hoping to treat trauma by manipulating neurotensin levels in the brain, but there is another way. Trauma therapists have known for many years that it is possible to regenerate images in memory, and neuroscience is slowing discovering what happens in the brain.

It turns out that every time we access a memory, it gets weaker. Normally, we automatically re-write the same memory. That’s why we don’t notice the process. But when working with a therapist in a situation of emotional safety, we can re-write the memory with a different feeling.

If you want to know more about this process, and how it can help you, I’ll be happy to tell you more. You can book a time to talk at no cost on my website. I hope to hear from you.

Bullying Effects Can Last a Lifetime

We need a higher awareness of how much effect any form of bullying has on kids and adults. The media reports the tragic cases where bullying leads to suicide, but we don’t hear about the traumatization that affects the victim for a lifetime if not dealt with.

We need to alter the way we teach! Besides rules and penalties, we have to teach self-esteem and how to work through emotions throughout the whole school system. High self-esteem makes it easier to deal with the bullying and to report it. And people with high self-esteem are less inclined to start bullying.

Finally an Official Framework for Improving Workplace Mental Health

Toxic workplaces are bad for your health. You knew that, and I knew that. But now even the U.S. Surgeon General has realized it. Normally, the Surgeon General gives advice on smoking, pandemics, and cancer. But yesterday, they issued guidance telling companies to pay more attention to mental workplace conditions.

Some companies take good care of their workers, and they are the ones who have enough employees and low turnover. Others are doing less well, and those are the places that complain about not being able to find workers.

The Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being is a well-written document with both solid arguments for why it matters and what you can do about it. If you are in a leadership position, I encourage you to read it. If you work in an organization doing less than ideally on workplace conditions, I suggest you send a link to HR. You find the report here: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/workplace-mental-health-well-being.pdf

Software Doesn’t Prevent Bullying, But Self-Esteem Does

Can you prevent bullying with software? I’ve just heard of a startup that offers a system to schools with regular surveys and communication features. Their idea is to build a “social graph” and identify the children who have few connections. These are most likely to be bullied. I don’t think this will “solve bullying” as their marketing claims, but it might have a positive effect in directing teacher attention to the children most at risk.

What I know is that you can reduce bullying by building up self-esteem. A child with high self-esteem is less likely to be a victim of bullying. These children can also much more easily brush off any bullying that does happen without suffering long-term effects. Additionally, children with higher self-esteem are much less likely to bully others.

I work with self-esteem in both children and adults. I call this “bullying vaccination,” and this is one vaccination guaranteed to be without side effects. Contact me if you want to hear more about how I can help you, your child, your school, or your workplace.

Bullying Victims Need Help

Our anti-bullying policies have a huge blind spot: The victim. It is bad enough that only 30% of bullies are called out, but it is a disgrace that only 10% of bullying victims receive any help.

Some people can shake off the effects of bullying, but it might take 30 years. That’s how long it took me to heal myself. Many people I see in my practice have also suffered from the after-effects of bullying for decades. We must train at least one person in each school in basic trauma therapy. I do my part by teaching the RIM method, but I find school systems are unwilling to invest in helping bullying victims. If you are a parent, ask your school what they do to help bullying victims. Unless we all demand a change, nothing will happen.

Netflix is Bad for Your Mental Health

To save your mental health, reconsider your Netflix subscription. A new “true crime” Netflix show is, unfortunately, very popular. And the Netflix recommendation engine will relentlessly promote their most popular shows. If you give in and watch an episode, your mental health will worsen.

Dark and unpleasant content affects everyone, but those who have suffered trauma are affected most. Fictional crime is bad enough, but “true crime” is based on things that actually happened. That makes these shows even harder to shake off.

The painful problem is that most people with traumatic experiences from long ago think that time has healed them. It doesn’t. Time allows the brain to push the memory into the background, but the body still remembers. That’s why some things hit you surprisingly hard. Stay away from “true crime.”