Saturday, 14 November 2015

A Compassionate View On Bullying & Why I Think It's Important

In this blog post, I want to cover the following topic:
1. A Compassionate View Of The Victim
2. A Compassionate View Of The Bully
3. When The Victim/Victim's Friends/Family/Strangers Become The Bullies and The Bully Becomes The Victim
4. Finding The Middle Path Between Bully and Victim (Without picking sides)
5. DBT Skills In School: In Bullying Scenarios
6. In-School Therapy Session with Bully & Victim In The Same Room: Why I Think It's Important
7. My Experience and Why I Think Compassion & Reinforcement of Positive Behaviour  Is The Way To Go.

1.) Compassionate View Of The Victim:
Your child, friend or student is being bullied. It is difficult to not feel compassion for the victim. Bullying is difficult and painful on the victim. It drains life out of the victim. They suffer at the hands of one of their peers or even siblings or parents. Their life is consumed by bullying like burning inferno. The bullying is hard for everyone on the victim's side, including friends and family. The victim's life begins to feel worthless and hopeless. And often times. schools do not help at all. I was bullied and school did not do anything to help. The victim feels scared and insecure. Life begins to take a downward spiral. Suffering overtakes their lives. According to recent studies, people who have been bullied as children are at higher risk of developing depression later on in life. But, not in all cases. They could develop other disorders too. Life is difficult when you're a victim of bullying.

2.) Compassionate View Of The Bully:
Many people will most likely hate me for being compassionate towards the bullies. "They deserve no compassion!" "They deserve to be ignored!" "They are spoiled, ignorant brats!" (Some comments I have seen in many mental health groups on Facebook.) But.... Is ignoring them effective? These people might have a difficult home environment. The environment might be invalidating. It might be abusive (either towards the bully or to others at home.) It might be a financially difficult environment. It might be distressing. The person in that environment becomes the product of the environment. The bully learns these behaviours from parents.... Or siblings. The environment around the bully increases chances of the child becoming a bully. Also, when speaking of the financially difficulty in the family, the child might not have everything brand new for the new school year. Their clothes might be old. The clothes might be without a brand. And in school, looking cool and having brand names is the social norm sometimes. And the bully is jealous of all the things the victim has that they with they could have because of financial struggles in the family. Many times, the bullies might be in groups, and there is peer pressure to bully from the group. In order to fit in, the bully will do it to feel safe and secure in the group. The bullies are often times insecure, or have not learned that there are different people in society. And anything from the social norms, the victim might be bullied based on the bullies view of social norm. So anything from race, to religion, to disability or even mental illness issues. Some bullies have a big ego, but in my perspective, they built it up to hide the inner brokenness. My dance instructor has told me and a my friends what happened when she went to teach at a school for one PE period. There was a tough girl, who acted like she was better than everyone else and did not need to try, But after the dance instructor's helper took the girl aside after a while, the girl broke down in the corridor. Toughness does not constitute emotional strength. Many bullies are the same. Act tough, but inside they are falling apart.

3) When The Victim And Their Friends and Family And Strangers Become Bullies and The Bully Becomes The Victim.
Already touched on that in the previous segment. But when the victim has enough (and rightly so), they, their families, friends and even strangers on Facebook groups often start a bullying crusade. They are human beings, they have emotions too. And since many come from broken and abusive backgrounds, they feel even more broken. In this situation, roles are reversed. And the bully is the one who feels the damage. Sometimes, the bully will strike back and the cycle goes back and forth. But sometimes, they will retreat. And when they retreat, the crusade does not stop. The shaming, guilt tripping and blaming and intimidation tactics I have seen used by family, the victim, friends, and strangers. And when the bully does not retreat, the cycle goes around. And it hurts everyone in the process.

4.) Finding The Middle Ground Between The Bully And The Victim Without Choosing Sides:
We're going into the deep and difficult territory here. Finding the middle path between the victim and the bully without choosing sides is difficult. Because we want to side with the victim. Of course we do! But, invalidating the bully can cause further damage to them, and cause bullying to escalate because everybody is ganging up on him/her. Often times, we don't want to listen to both sides, just the victim's side. So, what I think would be best to do is listen to each side of story separately, and then bring the two sides together (into the same room) and for them to listen to one another. Difficult, I know. But more often than not, two sides never hear each other out. Ever. Adults in the school situation just talk to them separately, and often just tell the person that is bullying to stop. But, the person does not often know how the other feels, and it continues. Raw emotions need to be expressed face to face. Not away from each another. How is the bully ever going to understand what the victim's feeling when the teacher is just saying for them to stop because it hurts the other? Which leads me onto my next point...

5.) DBT Skills in School: Bullying
I believe that there are many Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) Skills that people in the bullying situations can use. Most of the skills I list are effective across the board. There will be few that are specific to the person, and I will list them after I list hose that go across the board.

For everyone involved:
Mindfulness Of Others
Recovering from Invalidation
Self Validation
Self Soothe
Act Opposite To Emotion - and figuring out when to do that
Mindfulness Of Current Emotion
Mindfulness Of Current Thoughts

For Bullies and Victims:
Observing and Describing Emotions
What Emotions Are Doing For Me
Changing Unwanted Emotions
Crisis Survival Skills - yes, all of them
Ending Relationships - if needs be
Values and Priorities List
Build Mastery and Cope Ahead
Accumulating Positive Emotion

Changing Behaviour with Reinforcement
Changing Behaviour by Extinguishing or Punishing It.
Problem Solving

6.) In-School Therapy Session with Bully & Victim In The Same Room: Why I Think It's Important.
I believe that having both (or more) in at the same time will increase chances of positive relationship building. I believe having both (or more) in at the same time will help them to get to know one another, get to know about what goes on in their lives, and working on interpersonal effectiveness in this way will help a lot more, in my opinion. Because having separate sessions with all of them will not reinforce positive relationship building. There WILL be squabbles between both parties at the beginning and the behaviour might continue for some time. But, as they get to know one another and their personal perspectives, learn how to validate each other's and their own perspective, and find middle ground in their perspectives.... Positive establishment of a relationship might happen. If not, I believe that ending the relationship peacefully after a lot of sessions would be the best way forward. Because if we know that they'll never get on, it will make more sense to end the relationship on a positive note than to try to build a non-existent relationship.

7.) My Experience & Why I Think Compassion & Reinforcement of Positive Behaviour  Is The Way To Go.
I was bullied from a very young age. Truth is, when I was a child, I was quite antisocial. But, as I grew older, I have grown out of it and became sociable and wanting to help others (which I still do with all of my heart.) I had people call me names. I had people laugh at me standing up for other people. I had people hitting me with wooden planks while I was learning to roller-skate. I had people pick on me for having second-hand clothes. I had people pick on me for having a dysfunctional family. I had people pick on me when I visited my home country for holidays, and talking with their English teacher with fluidity and ease. They did not like that. I am Polish and live in the UK.
I had people wait for to beat me up after school. A person hit me in the head after asking for my pencil back in Primary 7. And a lot more. Over time though, as one of my bullies was an on-off friend. I went to her house a couple of times, and the family was broken too. And now, as I work through BPD, PTSD and Bipolar traits, I feel nothing but compassion for my bullies. Nothing but compassion. And I believe that things could have been different if positive behaviours were taught and reinforced when bullying was reported. But, nothing apart from "don't do it again" happened. And I believe that a Compassionate & a positive behaviour reinforcing environment is the way forward. No blaming, no shaming, no guilt-tripping and no bullying back. Everyone needs to have a compassionate heart for the other person in bullying situations, and learning positive behaviours and extinguishing old, cruel and hurtful behaviours will bring about the most positive change in the lives of the bullies & their victims.