Bullying can occur throughout our lives. While we often associate it with our childhood, adults are not immune. Everywhere we interact with others—at work, in relationships, with family—there is the opportunity for bullying to happen.
It can be challenging to admit to ourselves when we are the ones doing the bullying. None of us wants to think of ourselves as ‘bad people’ but there are many behaviours that constitute as bullying. Identifying that your actions towards others are negatively impacting them will help you find ways to change.
No matter what stage of your life you’re in, understanding why you bully and how to stop is an important part of leading a happy and fulfilled life.
Why do I bully others?
Many people who bully have been through stressful or traumatic situations or events. If you don’t have the emotional tools to process or deal with your trauma, you may use these behaviours to try to cope.
Sometimes, the traumatic situation that you are reacting to is having been on the receiving end of these behaviours—whether in your childhood or more recently in your past.
Some reasons you may bully others:
- Feelings of anger or frustration
- Having experienced bullying yourself
- Lacking remorse or being unaware of the impact of your behaviour
- Attempts to improve social standing
In some cases, bullies can show signs of lacking empathy or have trouble expressing certain emotions.
Are bullies insecure?
While it is difficult to pinpoint specific characteristics of bullies in general, insecurity is a common trait. You may bully as a tool to try and improve your social standing and, therefore, make yourself feel more secure.
Feeling powerless and needing more control may lead you to these actions; these feelings go hand in hand with a sense of insecurity. If you are then rewarded for this behaviour in any way, it may become repeated.
How to stop bullying
If you are a bully, you need to acknowledge that what you are doing is wrong. You may have downplayed the impact of your actions and written it off as ‘not a big deal’ in order to justify your actions. Recognising that this is not the case and acknowledging the effects that you have on the person on the receiving end of your actions is an important step in changing your behaviour.
No matter what the reason is that you have for targeting someone, your actions cannot be justified. You need to understand this and put a stop to your bullying.
This behaviour can be a sign of underlying mental health problems or unresolved issues from your past. Receiving treatment from a therapist will help you to get to the bottom of what has led you to these behaviours. Work with your therapist to make sure that you don’t feel the need to lash out at those around you.
Where to go from here
While bullying may seem to provide some relief to the underlying issues you are experiencing, it will end up exacerbating them. You will end up feeling more isolated and alone. But, just because you have bullied before, doesn’t mean you are destined to repeat these behaviours.
You can work with a therapist to rework your defence mechanisms and develop healthier ways of coping.