4 min read

People have a deep desire to be loved and accepted by others as it is an important part of human existence. When a bully singles you out and teases or abuses you, it can be very scary, hurtful, and depressing. Though perhaps you cannot beat the bully or force them to leave you alone, you can learn to manage the bullying and perhaps eventually end it. If you work to interact less with the bully, stand up for yourself, and cope with your emotions, you can overcome this obstacle. 

Distance yourself from the bully. Sometimes removing yourself from the possibility of a run-in with a bully can help avoid these negative situations entirely. Try taking a different route when leaving class, increasing your privacy online, or making sure you’re never alone with the bully. Also, try to sit away from them in class and in the cafeteria, if possible.

  • Sit with a group of friends when possible. Some bullies may be less likely to antagonize you when you are surrounded by others.
  • Let your teacher or manager know what is going on and ask for their help to find a solution to avoid hallway encounters.

2 Never attack them back. The bully is looking to control you by forcing you to respond to their negativity. Giving in can feel like a victory to them. Don’t allow a bully to influence you so much that you become a bully yourself or that you behave in ways that you will regret.

  • Take a moment to step back from the situation emotionally. Count to ten in your head if you need to in order to calm down and prevent reacting negatively, then walk away.
  • For instance, if the bully says something negative to you about your glasses, you can say something like “Oh wow, I’m sorry you don’t like them because these are my favorite pair! I wear them almost every day.”
  • If the bully makes a sarcastic, fake compliment, thank them. This will throw them off as well.

3 Document the bullying. Write down everything. Record what happened: when, where, how, and who was there. Write it in your journal or diary. This is important if you want to have a logical conversation with the bully or be able to demonstrate to an authority figure what has been happening.

4 Don’t walk alone. When possible, walk everywhere with a friend or two. The bully may find it easy to bully you when you are alone, but it is more difficult if you are surrounded with friends. Your friends can help insulate you from the bully and prevent any physical or verbal attacks.

5 Keep your valuables at home. Sometimes, you may be targeted because the bully may want something that you have. You could be wearing expensive jewellery or carry around more money than the average person. If the bully has talked about taking these items in the past or has actually taken them, limit or eliminate wearing or carrying valuable items on you. This way, the bully will be unable to take your things.

  • If a bully ever takes anything that belongs to you, report it to a teacher or your manager immediately.

Standing up for Yourself

1 Stick up for yourself. Though you will want to manage the bullying in the most mature and calm way possible, you should not allow others to treat you unkindly. A bully is looking for someone they can push around, so don’t be that person. A bully is more likely to show kindness to someone that they respect, so stick up for yourself and show them you won’t allow them to treat you badly.

  • Say something like “It’s not okay to talk to me that way. Do not talk to me again.”
  • Redirect the focus away from the insult and onto the attacker, without bullying back, with a brief response such as "Why do you say that?"

Prepare and practice your responses. Come up with some responses and practice saying them in the mirror. Planning a response will help you be ready and know what to do when you encounter the bully. Do some role playing of the kinds of situations that might come arise, like having to interact with them at lunch. It can be helpful to visualize yourself saying or doing what you plan. That way you won't forget in the heat of the moment and it can help you feel more confident.

  • For example, if a bully says hurtful things, think of how you will respond. You may choose to assert yourself, ignore them, or walk away.
  • If your emotions are running high when the bully is not around, it may be time to get some extra help. Consider talking to a trusted friend or adult.

Assert yourself but don’t be aggressive. This helps the bully understand what is okay and what is not. Part of working out a bullying relationship is setting these limits with them. Being verbally assertive helps communicate these boundaries and making these limits clear and plain can help change the conscience of both the bully and others watching.

  • Assert yourself with words such as: “Please stop that.” “It’s my turn.” “Please don’t touch.” “It’s not okay to do that.”
  • Report the bullying formally to a teacher, administrator or manager.

4 Practice positivity no matter what. Cancel out something hateful that a bully says with something uplifting. This will throw the bully off of their typical bullying routine as they are not likely to have ever experienced this kind of positivity after they say something mean. If they find that their bullying is unsuccessful in making you feel bad, they will likely retreat from you and the situation.

5 Tell an adult. Though you are likely hoping to end this bullying on your own and probably don’t want to get anyone into trouble, your peace and happiness is much more important. If you feel fear of the bully, you should go to an adult and they will be able to help you address the issue or perhaps even address it for you.

  • Consider going to your teacher or manager and saying “Hey, I wanted you to know that Marcus has been bullying me and I tried to ignore it for a while, but now it’s really bothering me.”
  • You can go to your parents, as well. Explain what’s going on and ask for their help and advice.

Fight only if it’s absolutely necessary. If the bully attacks you physically, it may be necessary for you to fight them to prevent harm to yourself. Though you should never initiate the first hit, you should not allow yourself to be beat up, either. Protect yourself at all costs. If possible, restrain the bully and then get out of the situation.

  • Avoid hitting the bully in the face unless necessary. Hit instead in the chest, shoulders, or shins.
  • Never use a weapon.

Coping with the Negativity

1 Remain calm and at peace. Bullies are often looking for an emotional response from their victims, so it helps if you avoid bringing emotion when and if you do respond to them. You can protect your feelings from hurtful insults by ignoring the unkindness or by using positive self-talk or by walking away from the situation.

  • Breathe deeply. Deep breathing can help you maintain your cool in tense situations. Breathe deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  • Another way to remain calm is to reflect back on a time when you felt happy or at peace. It can be helpful to think back on a recent vacation or moment with friends to recenter yourself back to happiness.

Practice positive self-talk. Often times, a bully is hurling so much meanness at you that it can be difficult to think positively about yourself. It is important that you don’t let yourself get caught up in the message of the bully and that instead you develop positive messages about yourself.

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with positive things about yourself. Start by asking yourself what you are really good at, or what your friends think is your best quality.
  • For instance, if a bully tells you that you are dumb, try looking in the mirror at yourself every morning and night and repeating something like “I am smart. I am strong. I am worthy.” Tell yourself this repeatedly until you begin to acknowledge that it is true.
  • Remember that the message of the bully is an opinion. How you feel about yourself is more important.
  • Meditate in the mornings and at night before work or school. Meditate on principles of positivity and gratefulness. Make a list of things that you are grateful for, or a list of all the things that are going well. These messages will give you strength as you start your day.

Find a supportive community. Though the bully may count for one interaction in your daily life, make sure that they are not the only one. Surround yourself with positive and affirming people who will lift you up so much that the bullying will begin to affect you less and less.

  • Seek community at church, with your current friends, with family, and with others that you trust and who love you. You never know if someone you speak to has been bullied before and may be able to give you advice on how to handle it with grace, respect, and assertiveness.

Practice self-care. Being kind to others is intertwined with showing kindness to yourself. Take time to yourself when you are alone to do things that you enjoy like reading, watching films, or exercising. These things can often get the bullying off of your mind and help transport you back to a place of joy and positivity, despite the bully’s actions.

  • Remember that you can’t help others unless you are good to yourself first.
  • Take a nice hot bath when you get home each day.

5 Talk to someone you trust. You may find the the bully can overwhelm you. If you feel that you are becoming depressed, seek out help from your family and friends. You may find it necessary to seek the help of a therapist. There is no stigma in reaching out for help when you need it!

If you feel like you are really struggling then always seek professional help as they are trained to help you with what you are going through.

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