Why jeal­ousy of­ten trig­gers bul­ly­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - JUDI LIGHT HOPSON, EMMA H. HOPSON, AND TED HA­GEN

Are you fac­ing off with a bully who is at­tack­ing ei­ther you or some­one you love?

It helps to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics of bul­ly­ing, but rest as­sured, pure jeal­ousy is of­ten the trig­ger for this bad be­hav­iour.

Jeal­ousy is not the only cause of bul­ly­ing, but nine times out of 10, it is.

“You can’t fix jeal­ousy,” says a friend of ours who is a high school coun­sel­lor. We’ll call her Anna.

“If some­one hates the fact that you are a cheer­leader or the owner of a new car, it doesn’t help to try to fix this. You can’t,” Anna points out. “But, you can stop try­ing to bend your­self out of shape, try­ing to make the bully like you.”

A bully, she points out, likely has hate­ful feel­ings to­ward a lot of peo­ple. Any­thing a bully lacks eats away at his or her self-es­teem. So, it feels good to inflict some pain on oth­ers.

She says many younger chil­dren, es­pe­cially, will play up to a bully. Why? They hate the thought of some­one not lik­ing them.

Anna in­structs kids to de­velop a more neu­tral feel­ing to­ward a bully. “The last thing you want with a bully is an emo­tional con­nec­tion,” she in­sists. “Don’t try to hate or feel even a friend­ship con­nec­tion to­ward a bully. If you en­gage emo­tion­ally, it can be sim­i­lar to be­ing taken hostage.”

A neu­tral stance frees both the bully and your­self, if you can achieve this.

Peo­ple can envy the looks, in­tel­li­gence, life­style, free­dom or pop­u­lar­ity of another per­son.

The bot­tom line is, the bully is telling you, “I am not happy, and it’s your fault!” That’s why it’s crit­i­cal to tell your­self, “I’m not re­spon­si­ble for another per­son’s un­hap­pi­ness.”

It’s al­ways a good idea to dis­tance your­self phys­i­cally from a bully, if you can, how­ever. Never stay too close to some­one who is send­ing hurt­ful vibes your way.

While jeal­ousy is of­ten the un­der­ly­ing cause of a bully’s feel­ings, there are other causes as well. Th­ese other causes in­clude: Bul­ly­ing to force you to work harder. Some ag­gres­sive types use an evil at­ti­tude to co­erce you into do­ing more than your fair share.

Bul­ly­ing to keep you from tat­tling. If you know a bully’s se­cret weak­ness, such as steal­ing or ly­ing, he or she might bully you to main­tain your si­lence.

Bul­ly­ing to en­sure you don’t do some­thing. For ex­am­ple, a co­worker might bully you, so you’ll back off from push­ing for a pro­mo­tion or ob­tain­ing a po­si­tion the bully wants.

A bully is some­one who pun­ishes you — just for breath­ing. In short, a bully is a thief.

A bully can steal your dig­nity, steal your en­ergy, steal your op­por­tu­ni­ties, steal your lay­ers of pro­tec­tion and cause you to re­ceive pun­ish­ment of some sort. It’s per­fectly OK to es­cape the bully any way you can.

“I once got bul­lied in high school,” says a col­lege ju­nior we’ll call An­drea. “My bully was dat­ing my old boyfriend, and she wanted to hurt me badly.” An­drea ended up chang­ing high schools be­cause of this.

“My par­ents and my prin­ci­pal were all try­ing to con­vince me not to leave my school,” An­drea told us. “How­ever, my high school was a small pri­vate school, and my bully had ev­ery class with me!”

The jeal­ousy of the bully drove An­drea to a large high school. By do­ing so, An­drea ended her prob­lem. She grad­u­ated with hon­ours and won a col­lege schol­ar­ship.

Judi Light Hopson is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the stress man­age­ment web­site USA Well­ness Cafe at www.us­awell­ness­cafe.com. Emma Hopson is an au­thor and a nurse ed­u­ca­tor. Ted Ha­gen is a fam­ily psy­chol­o­gist.

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