Our idea of a bully is usually found in a school yard, but in reality it begins and ends with us, as a community. Since I am speaking as a communicator by profession, let me express my thoughts regarding this global topic by using my life as an example, one which mirrors both expressions of inner and outer bullying.
As a teenager in the 70s, the fashion for yoyo dieting began to take hold in a big way and, subconsciously, I began to give myself some personal criticism about how my body looked. This led to my illogical decision to go on a grapefruit diet. Fortunately, after a couple of weeks, sanity returned and I became conscious of how I had mistreated my body. Few people would recognize the action of dieting by fads as a form of inner bullying, but in essence, when we perceive our body as an object on which we attempt to exercise control, this is exactly what it is.
A year later, I worked as a horseback riding instructor at a summer camp. Technically, this was my first job in a position of authority over someone. I remember having to verbally reprimand a young boy barely in his teens who was “horsing around”. Again, unconsciously, I chose to express myself in a manner I had seen other adults use, but minutes after my speech, I knew I had gone too far. Two things happened almost simultaneously, the boy literally recoiled inwards energetically and bowed his head, while I felt the dissonance within me of the negative power of the words and tone I had used. I had crossed the line from instructing to shaming the other. I could not take back the moment or repair the relationship of trust I had so carelessly broken.
This happens on an hourly basis in our homes, schools, workplaces and, more frequently than not, in our municipal council meetings. Somehow, our inner and outer bullying has become rampant in our society of competition and progress. Yet, there is a shift taking place outside of this way of treating ourselves and others.
It is a conscious and collective shift towards collaboration and connectivity where, as individuals and as a community, we care more about how we co-create than what we “get” for our efforts. For now, we may not be aware of how this new way of being will affect every sector of our society. Yet, I trust that when this tidal wave of bullying has receded energetically and consciously from our experience, it will be replaced by it’s opposite and equally profound wave of mutual respect and understanding of the other.
It begins with each one of us.
“The one characteristic of authentic power that most people overlook is humbleness. It is important for many reasons. A humble person walks in a friendly world. He or she sees friends everywhere he or she looks, wherever he or she goes, whomever he or she meets. His or her perception goes beyond the shell of appearance and into essence”.