“Next time” you think, “Next time, I’ll stand up for myself…”.
You’ve probably replayed over a thousand times in your head how you’re going to react ‘next time’ they give you S***… The thing is, it doesn’t always work like that. In the moment, it can be so hard to find the words to express yourself, especially if you’re hurt or emotional.
One of the biggest pieces of advice people love to give in the face of being bullied is ‘Just stand up for yourself’… as if it’s that easy, right? 🙄
Ditch the Label is here to provide some practical anti-bullying advice with some things you can try when you’re in the moment and it’s all getting a bit much:
It’s ok if you can’t stand up for yourself
For a few of us, it might work and the person doing the bullying might respond and stop altogether. However, not everyone is able to stand up for themselves in that way.
If that person is you, give yourself a massive break and try a different approach that you feel you can do instead of giving yourself a hard time for what you can’t do. Here at Ditch the Label, we never condone using violence or physical force to sort things out and will always opt for a more peaceful approach to end bullying, such as talking things through.
Places you can go
Do you have places at school and home that you feel safe in and that you can go when you need some time away from it all? Have a think about where they might be, especially at school. If you are having a particularly tough day it helps to have places to go to get away from it. Try talking to your favourite teacher and asking them if you can go to their classroom, or seek out some downtime in the library. It is important that you have a safe place to go. When it all gets too much, simply turn your back, walk away and go to your place to chill.
Who have you told?
Telling someone is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Check out this article for more tips on who you can tell. If you still haven’t told anyone and it’s getting harder and harder on a daily basis, the time is now to tell someone you trust who cares about you. keeping it all to yourself doesn’t work and only adds to your stress and the intensity of the situation.
It is 100% OK to cry.
Yep, that’s right, you are allowed to cry. Crying is a very healthy and natural reaction to being treated badly or feeling pain. What’s not so healthy is shaming yourself for not being stronger. Newsflash: crying is not a sign of weakness, nor does it make you pathetic.
There are many differing opinions around whether you should or shouldn’t let the person or people bullying you see you cry. At the end of the day, there really is no right or wrong when it comes to how you process your feelings as it happens to you. Whatever situation you find yourself in, it is always made worse when we judge ourselves for not handling it better.
Strengthen other friendships.
Try and focus on other friendships where you do feel safe. Naturally, when you are being treated badly it can become a very big focus in your life and it’s easy to overlook the friendships that do matter to us. Ask them for advice, what would they do if they were in your shoes? Be real with them about what you are going through and talk to them about backing you up when or if they see it happening.
Making a joke or using a comeback line can work at deflecting nasty comments directed at you. Alternatively, you could try dismissing them and not react at all. People bullying you are looking for a reaction so humour and silence can work to readdress the power balance. By ignoring them, you completely disarm them, when they realise they’re not getting a reaction, they’ll likely give up – give it a try, if it doesn’t work, no biggie. There are plenty more options at your disposal…
Sticks n’ stones
If the bullying is consistently verbal, what happens after a surprisingly short space of time is that we start to believe it. Our minds start to think that because we are hearing the same message repeatedly, it must be true. This is why verbal bullying is very damaging psychologically and can cause deep emotional pain that no one else can see – only you can feel. It’s super important that you take action when anything verbal is directed at you.
The action is relatively simple: you need to work at counteracting those negative messages by repeatedly telling yourself the opposite of what you hear. This will help you in the long run, it might feel weird or silly or maybe you are thinking it’s not that bad but life is too short and your peace of mind too important.
Fake it to make it.
Being bullied leaves pretty much everyone feeling victimised in one way or another. What underlies all advice around overcoming bullying is finding ways to empower yourself to carry on in the face of being treated badly by other people. Walk tall, look up and make eye contact. It’s ok to feel scared and anxious but when you can, try to not let that show in your body language.
Are you keeping a diary of what’s happening? If not, you need to start now. Keep a record of all events – time and place and what is said or done. This will help when it comes to talking to your parents and any teachers. Most likely this will feel like the last thing you want to do but it is, in fact, one of the most important things to do. keeping it all logged will also help you to realise that yes, it is bullying and no, you’re not being ‘too sensitive’.
If the bullying you are experiencing is cyberbullying read this article.
It’s hard to tell if what you’re experiencing is bullying especially if it’s coming from a mate or group of mates. Have a read of this article to help you figure out the line between banter and bullying. The best way to determine whether or not it is bullying is to analyse how it makes you feel. If the answer is ‘like S***’ or thereabouts – chances are it is bullying. To make doubly sure – try out this quiz.
For more practical advice check out Ditch the Label’s Top Ten Tips for Overcoming Bullying. Most important is to talk it out – join the community to chat with digital mentors and like-minded people who have seen it all before!