Fight Bullying with Your Mind

Social media has made bullying worse. The tone online is much harsher, and people will make horrible comments to complete strangers. That makes it hard for bullying victims and other victims of trauma to participate in open online communities.

It has not been a priority for Facebook, Twitter and others to crack down. Fortunately, politicians and regulators are starting to demand they do more than ban a single bully here and there.

Twitter just rolled out a new feature that looks at a tweet before it is sent. If the software thinks the message is bullying, the user gets a prompt to review the message before it is sent. That’s a good idea and something all social media platforms should implement.

However, your mind is much more powerful than technology. If you work on past trauma and build up your self-esteem, mean comments will not have any power over you. Contact me for free to learn more about how I can help.

Does Your Job Provide Happiness?

Are you one of the oppressed workers of the world? This year, not many places had the traditions large gatherings for International Worker’s Day on May 1st. But many people use this day to reflect on their lives and careers. You are not an oppressed worker in a hard and dangerous job in a British 19th-century steel mill, but you might not be in the right job for you.

There are only so many minutes left in your life, and you are spending many of them on your job. Some people are fortunate to have a job that makes them happy. I’ve been happy in my earlier work helping people as an occupational therapist. I’m even happier now in my own practice helping victims of emotional trauma overcome their past. Other people have a job they are not that passionate about, but which provides the fuel for their life outside work. An old friend of mine has a regular IT job, which pays for him to pursue his passion for playing folk music. He makes enough money to live, to buy and maintain instruments, and travel to the festivals he wants.

Your life is yours to live, and you can choose either path. But if you have a job where you are bullied by your boss, your co-workers, or your customers, you need to find a way to move on to other things.

Bullying is Expensive

Workplace bullying is extremely expensive for employers. There is lost productivity of the bullying victim. Once the victim leaves, the company has to spend time and money finding a replacement. Then there is a cost because it takes a while before the new employee learns the ropes and becomes productive. But the largest cost is the loss of engagement that affects everyone.

An engaged and enthusiastic employee is more than twice as productive as a disengaged one. When people witness bullying happen to others, and they see no intervention from the company, they become disengaged. If the company is not protecting your colleague from bullying, do they really care about you? That’s why allowing just one bully drags the whole department down. And that’s why it is good business and should be a leadership priority to root out bullying.

Start a Book Today

Reading a book can change your life. I have read several books that have had a huge impact on my life, and I have written one that readers tell me have had a huge impact on their lives.

Today is World Book Day. If you’re not already reading a book with the potential to change your life, pick one up today. If you have ever been bullied or had other traumatic experiences, I recommend my own “Life after Bullying.” It contains the method and tools I have developed over many years as I fought my way out of the long-term consequences of severe childhood bullying.

It’s on sale at Amazon.com (https://vester.li/wbd21), and many other bookstores are also running promotions. Get a book today.

Playing it Safe

Do you always play it safe? We all have our personal risk profiles. Some people climb mountains without safety ropes, while others won’t climb more than two steps up a ladder. People who suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem, like bullying victims, tend to be the most risk-averse. In a pandemic, being careful to adhere to all the guidelines is useful. But in life in general, being over-cautious means you miss out on things you could safely have done.

Researchers in the UK were working with a group of 400 children and found that teaching them chess decreased their risk aversion. In the game of chess, you need to be able to take prudent risks – maybe sacrificing a piece to gain a decisive advantage. Chess was a safe environment for the children to experiment with risk – the worst thing that could happen was that they lost the game.

If you are feeling risk aversion is holding you back, look for a similar safe environment where you can practice taking small risks. If you are anxious about speaking to strangers, join a club or association where everybody has an interest in common. In this environment, it will be easier to ask a stranger a question because you can expect everybody to want to share their knowledge and love of your common subject.

Write it Down

Don’t let your bullying complaint evaporate. When you have been subjected to bulling or other inappropriate behavior, put down in writing what happened. That has two important effects. First, it makes your mind less likely to keep reminding you of the incident. Second, it allows you create a complaint that cannot evaporate.

When something important happens, good or bad, your mind recognizes it. Because it is important, your minds wants to hold on to it. That means it will regularly remind you in order to refresh the memory. For good memories, that is great. For bad experiences, you want to tell your mind that you got this on paper, so you don’t need any more reminders.

The people in your organization’s HR department or the school district have lots of things to worry about. If you report bullying, your important report might get lost in a pile of less important, but seemingly more urgent, tasks. But once a report is in writing, it cannot easily evaporate. It becomes a record in a system. There are people who will be evaluated on whether they address the complaints in that system. And if complaints about specific people pile up, they are more likely to be taken to task.

Sometimes You Need Help

Sometimes you do need help. I try to provide useful self-help advice for everybody who follow me on social media, but if you have a serious issue, you will need to work individually with someone.

One point where my American friends are ahead of us here in Europe is that there is little or no stigma attached to visiting a psychologist in the US. In Europe, it would be very surprising to hear someone in casual conversation say “as I told my therapist…”

I want to make it as easy as possible to work with me, so you can simply click a button on my website to set up a free 20-minute call. Or click this link: https://vester.li/i05. I’m here if you need me.

Meetup: Overcoming the Effects of Bullying

I host an online meetup about overcoming the effects of bullying today at 7PM CET. Being bullied leaves scars that can take many years to heal, and the current situation can re-activate trauma from our past. Join me to hear about the three steps you can take today to overcome your bullying experience and move forward in your life. Sign up here: https://www.meetup.com/Life-After-Bullying-online-self-empowerment-group/events/276458577/

Speak Up Against Bullying

Ireland has taken step forward in the fight against workplace bullying with their new “Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work.” Having an official definition of what constitutes bullying can be helpful. It means that a company HR department that receives a complaint has something to compare the reported behavior to.

Rules are one part of the fight against bullying, but the most important part is yours. If you are subject of bullying, you need to report it. If you witness bullying and don’t want to step into the situation, you also need to report it. When we all speak up against bullying, the bully faces consequences and bullying decreases.

Workplace Bulling

Working from home has decreased bullying by bosses and co-workers. Workplace bullying often happens in informal conversations, and there are simply fewer of these when working from home. If you find that you are actually happier and less stressed when working from home, that can be an indicator that you were having negative workplace interactions you might not even consciously notice.

Keep a log of how you feel (for example in a journal, as I discussed yesterday). Start now when you are working from home, and continue it once you get back to the office. If you find that you feel worse back in the office, start paying attention to the tone of your interactions at work. There might be subtle bullying happening that you don’t notice.