Tag Archives: bully

My First Steps

The new calendar year begins.  A prime time to think about life, direction and perspective; to reflect on past thoughts and seek out new lines of reasoning. So, on a rainy fog-filled morning, with coffee cup in hand, I strained my eyes thoroughly, browsing through the multitude of headline stories presented by online media outlets.  At the start, I searched for inspiration among the black and white lines of text.  Then, as my posture slunk further to a form that asks “are humans really supposed to sit for hours this way?,” I realized that inspiration was the distant star of emotions triggered by my perusing.  Frustrated, disconnected, fearful, sympathetic, enraged and ultimately betrayed – those were the emotions and reactions ranking near the top of the list.

From death and destruction caused by suicide bombers, to people complaining about the requirements for the Nobel Peace Prize, to a child plagued by unstoppable weight gain due to a surgery side-effect, to a list regarding the ‘11 Dumbest Things Said By Media About Women In 2013.’ These were just a smattering of story lines; each snagged my attention and triggered a distinct emotional response.

Actually, because of my responses to those stories, I am reminded of my earlier blog post (“Frustration Loop” published October 2, 2013) when I mentioned briefly a method of thinking, described as reaching outside of one’s self as an immediate response to anything encountered.  I then continued by asking if perhaps there is another first step, which would include “reaching in.”

To develop and apply the concepts of thinking methods, I wanted to break down how I normally think, which I will describe as “looking outward” and then try a different perspective or method of thinking, that I will describe as “looking inward.”

So, what is that first step in the method of thinking timeline (either outward or inward), before any emotion, or any action may be triggered?  Is that initial step so natural and engrained that it pushes my train of thought down a well entrenched path without me even thinking about it?  I think so, or else that’s just my excuse for procrastinating with this blog post and staring at a blank screen.

Okay, down to business then.  In order for this to make sense to me, I need these concepts (looking outward/looking inward as methods of thinking) in a useable everyday format.  Let me work with a concrete example.  I’ll take a media story that I just saw online and process the experience in both methods and try to note the timeline and details of both.   Here goes….

I  just saw a story streaming on the Today show about a teen bullied because of her looks and deciding to get plastic surgery.  She got a nose job and a chin implant and feels confident enough now to go back to school and make friends, after not wanting to leave the house for a couple years.

Outward – First Steps:

*I think about the story as it is told, those involved, the circumstances, the choices, the outcome.

*I feel judgments rising, emotions gathering energy.

*I feel frustrated that this kid got plastic surgery in an attempt to affect people’s judgement of her.

*Then, the frustrated spiral continues when I ask myself, are these the values that we want our kids to live by?

*Then, there is the counter-argument in my own brain – she is empowered and can do what she wants as long as there are the resources for it.  If it raises her confidence, then great.

Ah, the loop of no clear answers and frustration, feeling a pressure to form an opinion and a convincing argument, the automatic and expectation that I should have or make a judgement.  I am left feeling slightly manipulated, drained a bit of energy, leaning toward  ‘who cares’ apathy.

Inward – First Steps:

*I listen and watch without judgement – a calm pool.

*I gather the details for the sake of knowing, observation.

*I have no opinion; I feel compassion.

*I understand the story’s perspective, but give no energy to it.

*I maintain my perspective.

*And I let the encounter go.

*I move on.

There is no analysis, comparison or pressure to form an argument. In this example, I do not think as the first step, I listen.  I am not launched onto the mind’s path of judgement, of creating an opinion.  I do not personalize the story, or take it in.  I maintain my own perspective and empathize with the characters involved in the story and observe the various facets of a society intertwined.  I feel full and deep with the warmth of heartfelt interaction.

Interesting.  So, the first few steps lead perhaps to more questions, to more “concrete example” work.  Hmm…another coffee cup in hand, another rainy fog-filled morning and the new calendar year continues….

© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2014

Bullies and Blame

I’ve been struggling with composing a post about human expression and fragility, but it’s as though my brain synapses are clogged with chunky cement soup, hardening slowly, threatening to mold into a frozen stillness forever.  Maybe that is a little melodramatic…  Actually, the thoughts and connections just aren’t quite firing as expected and the concepts have not come fully together.  Amazing how fragile even communication methods seem to be.

While that “fragility post” conflict has not been conquered as of yet, during the thought process, a related topic snagged my attention – bullies and bully behaviors blamed so often that “bully”  appears to have become the news headline of the season.  Coincidence or not, the multiple events that recently flooded the front pages were reported by media to have been motivated by bullying, or carried out by those who may have been bullied.  There were the violent tragedies involving teenagers committing suicide, and involving a kid bringing a gun to school to kill others.  And there was the parent accusing a winning high school football team of bullying with their high score. And most recently, a NFL player’s behavior towards a teammate was described as bullying.

Whether “bully” is appropriate or not in each instance, through the media presentation, “bully” has become the scapegoat, the focus, the blame.  Perhaps it is the victim mentality perpetuated by mainstream media.  Perhaps it is the same old broken record of needing to find something or someone to blame in order to identify a problem to fix.  Maybe the concept of blame is getting some plastic surgery, a new face. The face of a bully – and no one likes a bully.

I remember a particular bully at my junior high school who for some reason simply hated my best friend.  No particular reason for the hate, and the bully intimidated my friend with biting words and dagger stares in the hallway, which were reinforced and enhanced when the bully walked by with several of her friends.  The bully sessions never progressed to punches or physical contact, but most of the time that is not needed to fully get the bully intention across.   Of course, today, add technology and social media and bullying becomes much easier to accomplish and more widespread.  From personal experience and just living through the public school system (okay, just living within our society), bullying behavior exists and can have severe consequences. But, does it deserve all the blame? Or is this only a method of thinking and does “blame” even need to be established?

Of course, this line of questioning leads to additional questions.   But maybe it’s worth wading through the question marks.

If not bullies, what should the focus be?  I definitely do not have a definitive answer, but do bullies cause suicide?  I don’t ask that out of insensitivity, but I’m just trying to see another perspective, another “how” of thinking.  Because the one that is offered to me through media just isn’t working out.  What about focusing on elements within an individual and an environment that directly impact methods of thought such as self esteem, self confidence, peer pressure vs thinking for yourself, communication, creative expression, stress/anger management, self defense tactics (physical and emotional) and creating personal boundaries?  – a discussion applicable and relevant on a society level, for everyone, not just the “bully” and the “receiver.”

Changing the focus, not to change the “blame”, but to change how one even thinks about the issue.  At this point, I have an engrained expectation to hear about violent bully tragedies on a daily basis. I expect news stories about the next school shooting to be caused by bully behavior.  How am I thinking? Do I want to continue with a reaction-based frame of mind, or does that strengthen victim behavior? Instead of reactive and waiting for the next incident, what if I change the perspective to pro active, aware of the behaviors, motivations and intentions surfacing to the extent that the actions are not simply thrown to the scapegoat of “bully?” Perhaps the whole concept of “blame” should disintegrate from our vocabulary and method of thinking.

© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2013