What happens when YOU are the biggest bully in your life

A teenage girls reflected in a section of mirror above her head.

Bullying is a traumatising experience for anyone who has been through it. But what if the bullying isn't coming from an external source? To quote a classic horror movie, "What if the call is coming from inside the house?"

It might not sound like a real thing but it’s possible that YOU are your own biggest bully. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • Telling yourself that you’re not smart enough to do something

  • Thinking you’re not cool enough to hang out with certain people

  • Saying you’re not talented enough to do the things you’d like to do

  • Putting yourself down in front of other people

  • Imagining other people badmouthing you or laughing at you

  • Watching social media and feeling like it’s pointless to create anything because it won’t match up to what’s already there

Self Talk

Think about how you talk to yourself when things go wrong or when you make a mistake.

Do you call yourself an “idiot”, berate yourself for being “so stupid”, or say that your friend or sister or classmate would have “seen it coming a mile away”?

If you do any of these things, ask yourself why. You would never dream of saying any of those things to someone you care about so why say it to yourself?

Loving yourself isn’t just a trite or corny thing parents and teachers encourage for no reason. It’s a crucial part of life. If you don’t love yourself or back yourself in the things you do, how can you expect anyone else to? 

You teach other people how you want to be treated. So be kind to yourself.

Self Awareness

If you’re feeling sad or unhappy about yourself, your life or who you are becoming, that’s okay. It’s normal to question things and to feel confused or even trapped by the boundaries of your daily life. 

Firstly, self-awareness of how you’re feeling is always a good thing, as is the ability to reflect on your situation. Be proud that you’re able to do this. 

Are there specific triggers that make you feel worse, like social media or being around certain people in school?

It’s good to know that not everything you see on social media is true and there are so many tools people can use to edit their images and videos.

Also, just because someone is confident or seems popular at school, it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect for them either. We have no idea what other people are dealing with behind closed doors which is why we should always lead with kindness.

Self Care

Forget bubble baths and manicures and any other superficial things social media has told you is self care. 

Yes, these things are fun to do but they don’t equate to looking after your mental wellbeing. 

Have you heard about the concept of resilience? Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversities that we may face in the course of our lives. Here are some basic things that we need in our daily lives in order to build a foundation of resilience and to maintain our wellness:

  • A good night’s sleep; using a mindfulness app can help with trying to settle racing thoughts

     

  • A balanced approach to food; what we eat directly affects how we feel
     
  • Water; keeping hydrated can help reduce feelings of tiredness

     

  • Being outdoors; natural sunlight and fresh air can help to lift our mood

     

  • Movement and exercise; exercise can release feel-good chemicals in our brain that boost our mood and energy levels

Embracing our Differences

When we see fashion, beauty or travel influencers on social media, it’s very easy to feel less than or wish that we looked like them or had their body/home/lifestyle/hair etc. 

But, if you think about it, how boring would it be if we all looked the same? Or if life was picture perfect all the time? We need the rain to appreciate the rainbow. We need the cold depths of winter to appreciate the warm, sunny heights of summer.

Each one of us is unique in our own way, and this is true of our bodies and our personalities. It can be a good idea to take the time to identify and focus on the things we like about ourselves and our bodies, and to work on not comparing ourselves to others. 

Talking it Out

Sometimes speaking with a trusted adult can be helpful. They may be able to offer support and advice for dealing with your feelings around what is going on for you right now.

This trusted adult could be a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, etc., whoever you feel comfortable with and that will take the time to listen and help you.   

Childline is here for you anytime – we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The services are free and confidential. 

If you are not yet ready to discuss it with your trusted adult, you can talk to Childline by phone on  1800 66 66 66 or through our web chat on www.childline.ie

5 great tips on how to AVOID being affected by Bullying

Two teenage girls sitting on a sofa smiling and laughing.

Every one of us will deal with challenging people in our lives at some stage. A lot of us will experience teasing or bullying in some form and it's important to know how best to respond.

*Note: If you’re being bullied and your emotional and mental health is at risk, please tell a trusted adult or get in touch with us in Childline via our Live Message button or by calling 1800 66 66 66.

While it’s not possible to predict whether or not you will ever encounter bullying, it’s good to be prepared in case the situation arises. 

In order to nip a potentially serious situation in the bud, it takes a little self-confidence, compassion and an ability to find the humour in your situation before anyone else does!

1. Speak up for yourself from an early age

If somebody says something to you that you don’t like or calls you a name that hurts your feelings or makes you feel bad about yourself, tell them. You don’t have to get angry. The person may not have meant any harm, in fact, it’s likely that they will be horrified that they have upset you.

By expressing your feelings in a calm, honest and upfront manner, you will ensure that it doesn’t happen again or if it does, you won’t be spending time with that person again.

2. Take control of your reaction

Have you ever thought, ‘If only that person would leave me alone/keep her opinions to herself/quit making those snide remarks/mind their own business?’

We all have at one point or another. Unfortunately, people don’t change because we want them to. As much as you might want to change someone’s behaviour or attitude towards you, we’re sorry to say, you can’t. You can only control your reaction to what has happened.

When you realise this, you have the power to make plans to ensure it doesn’t happen again. That could be removing yourself from the conversation/friendship/situation or talking to a trusted adult or family member about it so that the anxiety doesn’t build up and start affecting your sleep or general mental health. 

3. Use humour to diffuse the situation

You may have heard of some people who use humour as a ‘defense mechanism’. This is when someone chooses to see the funny side of a situation that could escalate into an argument or row if it continued. 

It works against potential bullying in three ways:

  1. It relieves the tension and shows that you don’t take life too seriously.
  2. It confuses the bully and makes them less likely to try again if they think you will make them look foolish.
  3. If you make the joke first, you take control of the narrative and remove the power from anyone who may want to use it against you.

4. Remember, it’s not you, it’s them

As you go through life, you will learn that the sooner you learn not to take things personally, the sooner you will start living a much happier life. Of course, that’s easier said than done!

But it’s a lesson worth learning early because a lot of the time, the bullying is not about you or something you’ve done. It’s about something the bully themselves is going through. Maybe their parents are getting a divorce or their pet has just died. Perhaps they had a massive row with someone they were close to and want to take their frustrations out on you. If you remember that, their words and actions will have much less effect on you.

5. Show compassion for the bully 

If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Eh, are you crazy? Why should I feel compassion for them?’, we get it. 

It’s never easy to feel sympathy for someone who is making our lives miserable. But, by showing them compassion, you make yourself feel better. There is an old expression: ‘Revenge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to get sick’. Hoping that your tormentor one day ‘gets what they deserve’ might sound satisfying but if it ever happens, chances are it will just feel hollow.

If you can show them compassion, not only will it improve your wellbeing, there’s a chance that it will shock the bully out of their behaviour and even inspire them to apologise for what they’ve put you through.