Bullying – It has to stop!

What is Bullying?  According to the Oxford English dictionary:

bullying

What I find most interesting is the paradox between this definition of a bully being someone that targets people that they perceive to be vulnerable (weak in this context), yet I and so many others right now are talking about the power of being vulnerable i.e. leaning into your fears, understanding who the true ‘you’ is thereby making a bigger world contribution.

Paradox has also been highlighted by reading Brene Browns (https://twitter.com/BreneBrown) new book ‘Braving the Wilderness’ where she talks about the ongoing and regular tension between paradox that exist in the world.  The key 4 paradox that she covers are:

  1. People are hard to hate close up. Move in
  2. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil
  3. Hold hands. With strangers
  4. Strong back. Open front.  Wild heart

For me, the difference between vulnerability as a weakness (bullying targets this) and vulnerability as a strength (leaning into fears, dealing with challenges and giving/receiving effective feedback) is the use of power.

  • Bullies abuse power to belittle and hurt others e.g. a senior leader belittling a colleague whom they know they have power & influence over

Bullies are manipulative, fear-led and angry

  • Those that lean into their own vulnerabilities harness power within themselves, by taking accountability and ownership for knowing themselves intimately and using that insight to make the best positive contribution to themselves those around them and ideally on the world

Those that lean into their vulnerabilities are open, live in freedom & see opportunity

Why do I feel compelled to write this blog?

In an overt world of fake news, deep polarity and lack of ability to debate and an outright lack of humility & trust in every area of our most important institutions, this short blog is a call to action.

A call to action to stop sitting on the side-line when someone ‘just’ says “you are a dickhead – you do not deserve to have XX” or a senior leader emails you stating “you are not credible” copying the person in questions peers & their line management.

These are both simple yet real-life examples of bullying.  Either could be in any context but one was in my youth and one is a recent example from the world of work.

Do we really feel that harassment & bullying at work is acceptable? In 2018?  Ever?……

My back story

I was bullied, physically and mentally, for two years between the ages of 12 and 13.

I was the ‘new kid’ on the block, moving from the South East of England, growing up in the west of Wales known as “little England beyond Wales” as there was no Welsh spoken and so many English people moving out there.  The era was late 1980s.

Very quickly I was targeted by a group of around 10, ironically, mainly English boys.  Bullying for me included:

  • Being physically punched regularly
  • I was belittled & shamed publicly for what I looked like, for what I wore and for just being who I am
  • The bullies were slanderous & persistent in their abusive language about my family, the thing that hurt the most

I have actually, not until literally now writing this blog, again felt that raw emotion of feeling alone & fearful.  I have through writing this blog fully re-opened the lid on all of those feeling and emotions as I strive to step into my wilderness as Brene Brown refers to it.

The bullying stopped after 2 years after they got bored of me not retaliating.  Every single time I took it and/or walked away from it.  Not once did I ever retaliate.  Maybe I was too scared to retaliate.

Value through Vulnerability

I have over the past 2 months started to publicly share my story of bullying, self-harm, substance abuse & mental health as I am driven and deeply passionate about helping others, especially men, learn to be more vulnerable (positively)

I have a blog and podcast which are in their infancy, but mediums that I am keen to develop with the help of others as I truly see the lack of self-awareness and vulnerability as two of societies biggest ills:

https://valuethroughvulnerability.com/

https://anchor.fm/value-through-vulnerability/episodes/An-introduction-to-Value-through-Vulnerability-e1734m

Too many of our global organisations are led by fear-based senior leaders, operating with a cloak of invulnerability and deep lack of self-awareness. 

They feel they are above the law, but actually, they are scared.  Scared of failure.  Scared of missing out.  Scared of admitting they do not have all the answers (and why should they need to feel that way with so many people around them eager to support)

Too many people, especially men, have grown up in a world of “be the stronger man,” “or man up” or “don’t me a woman.”  These incessant messages from all areas of society & family have to abate and that can only start if we all take more personal accountability for dealing with our own fears, helping others deal with theirs and through acknowledging and sharing our histories and back stories, no matter how painful.

Bullies exist as they have their own issues going on.  Their own fears.  Their own hurt.  However they do not walk away.  They have to find someone else to channel their anger and hurt towards.  They are suffering.

The only way we can shift the dial on this issue is by understanding and dealing with the key 4 paradox that Brene Brown cites:

  1. People are hard to hate close up. Move in

I do not have any hateful relationships, even for these bullies of my youth, but this blog is one part of moving in and opening the lid on the serious issue of personal & workplace bullying & harassment

  1. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil

This blog is one example of this

  1. Hold hands. With strangers

The building of new contacts & friends via social media and face to face is a major step forward here

  1. Strong back. Open front.  Wild heart

I have always had an open front, but my work on my fears over the past 12 months has significantly helped build a stronger back and the clarification of my personal purpose and values now offers a true North towards my wild heart, of which the drive to increase self-awareness & vulnerability is a major part

GT bullying.png

I have registered today to become a bullying champion with Bullying UK https://twitter.com/bullyinguk – I ask anybody else to do the same:

https://www.bullying.co.uk/anti-bullying-week/bullying-uk-champion/

More of us need to speak up.  More of us need to lean into our own fears and vulnerabilities positively, to share our stories to aid the recovery of our self and others.

The more stories that are shared and the more love that is spread from the inside out, the more we can and will shift the world towards a more inclusive, transparent & cohesive world.

This is not utopian.  It is a call for more humanity & society.

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