Today is pink shirt day, a day that highlights the issue of bullying and brings awareness to the campaign to prevent bullying and celebrate diversity.
The target of bullying
As someone who was the target of bullying both as a teenager and as an adult, I applaud and support the Pink Shirt campaign.
I was first bullied at Grammar School in the UK – five long years of frequent physical attacks at the hands of various boys. At my lowest point, I locked the bathroom door at home, and took one of my dad’s razor blades with the intention of slashing my wrists. I can’t remember how long I stood there, staring at myself in the wall mirror, with that razor blade poised above my wrist. In my mind the moment is frozen in time.
Taking back control
At some point (and somehow) I came to a decision, and put the razor blade down. In one of those surprise ‘Aha’ moments I realised that I could either continue being a victim, or I could assert the control I had. While I couldn’t avoid the bullies, or stop them hitting me, or fight back, I could control how I responded.
Depriving the bullies of their pleasure or reward
I chose to no longer give the bullies the satisfaction of hearing me cry out in pain when they hit him me. From that point on I never made a sound when I was hit. I also chose to be nice to the bullies even when they were being cruel. A part of me seemed to instinctively understand that my depriving the bullies of the pleasure, or reward, they got from their actions, they would eventually lose interest in me, and pick on someone else. And that’s what happened. They didn’t completely stop picking on me, but the attacks became more infrequent.
It never entered my mind to report the bullies
At the time it never entered my mind to report the bullies to a teacher or tell anyone about what I was going through. In those days teachers didn’t offer any advice about bullying. In fact, many of them were themselves bullies, using the slipper and cane frequently and indiscriminately.
Fast forward thirty years and I found myself working for a ‘bully boss.’ She engaged in a different kind of bullying – psychological rather than physical. The bullying included, depreciating remarks, ever shifting expectations – setting me up to fail, angry outbursts, and questioning my ability. As a result of this bullying I experienced daily stress and anxiety. At the time I didn’t know how to cope and, as a result experienced a lot of unnecessary suffering.
A catalyst for change
This stressful work experience became the catalyst for my embarking on a period of in-depth research into stress and anxiety. I wanted to learn everything I could about these conditions, so I would never again have to experience that same level of stress.
I achieved my goal and now use my expertise to help others cope with stress and avoid chronic stress and anxiety.
Little has changed in 40 years!
Forty years on from my Grammar School days it saddens me to see that bullying is still rife in our schools and to know that their are kids experiencing similar physical and mental pain to what I experienced all those years ago.
As for our workplaces, according to the Mental Health Foundation, each year, one in five employees report they’ve experienced bullying (I wonder how many more people don’t?).
That’s why we need initiatives like Pink Shirt Day
This is why we need initiatives like Pink Shirt Day that raise awareness of the issue and help build commitment to preventing bullying and creating a positive and safe home, school and work environment for everyone. The more we bring this issue out into the open, destigmatise it and empower those who are experiencing bulling, the more power we take away from the bullies. Starve them of their oxygen and they will cease to thrive.
“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”
If you are struggling with anxiety or stress and would like to take back control, call me today on 021 056 8389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name & number, or use the Book Now button below.
Have a safe and happy week
REMEMBER - "When you change your mind you change your life."
Tony helps people of all ages live their lives free of unnecessary stress, anxiety and depression, and be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.