Was there someone who threw his/her weight around at those who were smaller and more vulnerable? It might even have been a teacher, a sibling or parent.
I think we can all remember incidents like this. But the truth is that bullies don’t just exist in schoolrooms. Or in families.
It is the mental bullies that tend to keep us stuck. It is what we have been resisting or are worried about. These thoughts bully us and sometimes we feel we are up against a wall.
The good news is that we can learn to disarm these bullies, but it takes courage and skill.
First we must meet the bullies as each arises, and find out what makes them tick. What are the patterns that shape them and make them appear so ominous?
Well, that’s scary!
Who or what is it that causes us to quail and look for something to hide behind or defend ourselves against?
Dr. Carl Jung has said we will never meet a monster outside of us that is larger than the one within.
Therefor it stands to reason that freedom from a bully requires looking within.
The Buddha taught that the lens by which we see cause the forms and shapes to appear the way they do.
We think it’s “out there,” but we have projected our fear and anger out there. These thought forms come back to attack us. This is how powerful we are!
We interpret what we are seeing and then act accordingly. The problem is we usually think our interpretation is correct, not realizing that we skew and trim what we see and hear according to fit the shape of our beliefs.
We have all been conditioned through our upbringing and culture to see things a certain way. These beliefs become the lens we look through.
It is difficult to see our own conditioning—our habitual ways of seeing, believing and acting. It’s like looking at the back of our head. It takes a mirror, and that’s what life is.
If we feel stuck or despairing of our ability to bring about change, then we are being bullied by our own conditioning.
No matter what we are perceiving we always have a choice of how we respond. This is grace!
A good rule of thumb is to start small if we desire to meet the bully within. For instance, take the thought of “should.”
“Should” is a bully. And it’s a common one. It tells us what we need to be doing and threatens us with unpleasant results if we don’t get in line.
How many times does the voice of “should” shame and guilt you into doing something? Or is it such a habit that you don’t even notice?
Ask yourself if there is something you should be doing right now instead of reading this blog?
I often hear a stern voice inside telling me of all the more useful things I could be doing other than writing these thoughts. It tells me I don’t know enough and they probably aren’t useful anyway. These “should be better, never enough” feelings comes from the conditioning of early childhood experiences.
As I sat with these attitudes I allowed myself to feel the heaviness of thinking I am most likely doing something wrong and trying to do better.
As I just sat there simply paying attention, a memory appeared concerning my oldest sister with whom I had had an adversarial relationship that wasn’t healed before her death many years ago.
I opened my journal and began dialoguing with her. Writing to her on paper helped, but monologues keep us stuck. We must also become the “other” and let the conversation flow, for it is in holding the tension of opposites that new ideas can be born.
I wrote to her, and then mentally and emotionally moved into her soul, into her personality (as much as one can do this.) I wrote back to me, verbalizing her thoughts and feelings.
Through this process I began to see things differently. We both had our views—and gradually I began seeing things from a different vantage point.
As I continued this work another thought suddenly arose. I realized this was a very old story that had stayed deep in my psyche for many years. It occurred to me that she was no longer this person! Of course, she had changed as I had, yet I was still holding her in that old story!
I realized what a waste this was. I felt such empathy and love for her. She was truly trying to help.
Then it occurred to me that my children were undoubtedly holding onto old stories about me from their childhood. But I’ve changed so much since then. I realized how inaccurate it is to hold people into their old stories.
To try to cling to “what is or has passed away” causes suffering.
It dawned on me that if I’m still holding old grudges about people in the past, it’s very likely that others are doing the same with me. What we give, we receive.
As the 23rd Psalm says, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death and find our place at the table of overflowing goodness. Can’t make an end run or fly over the dark places, the grudges, the hurts that lurk in our mind.
We can learn to meet the things that try to keep us worried and unhappy and watch them untangle and dissolve.
Our Spirit is always above the play and guiding us.