A lot of us have them – an adult bully we can’t get away from. Growing up, if someone was mean spirited, we may have turned the other cheek and walked away or simply fought back! But what do we do when that person is an adult? And worse off, a co-worker or sibling? They are a part of our life. They will be around us. If we no longer can take the emotional distress and decide to step away from the bully, it could mean we are stepping away from our career path or other family members (Mother, Father, other siblings and nieces and nephews). We could then end up further hurting ourselves through self-induced alienation.
So what is it we can do?
Step One: Self-reflection. Remove yourself from a heated situation and figure out how exactly the adult bully is antagonizing you. Perhaps its subtle like not looking at you when they address the group during social hour or simply not giving you the common courtesies they would give a stranger on the street. Or it could be more pronounced like blatant name calling or diminishing anything and everything that comes out of your mouth. Get a solid understanding of exactly what hurts you and why.
Step Two: Confront the adult bully. Be calm when talking with them. Ask them what you did to prompt such behavior from them. If they are willing to hear you, this is a good sign. You can stop reading altogether. However, if they blow off your concerns or judge you for having feelings, this is when things get dicey. The aggressor is not at a point where they understand what they are doing and are unfortunately not willing to change their ways.
If the aggressor does attack you further, state your new boundaries and follow through. For example, until they learn to treat you will the common courtesy and respect, you will only interact on an as need basis.
Step Three: Obtain support from a superior in the case that you stand up for yourself and the adult bully continues to attack you. If the aggressor knows that they can walk all over you without consequence, they will. Therefore, if your boss or parents or other siblings support you in this situation, it will go a long way.
Step Four: If the bully continues to emotionally abuse you and the superiors in the situation are unable or unwilling to step in, focus on the other people in the office or home. Don’t let your entire focus be on pleasing the bully. The result will be feelings of emptiness as he or she will never be pleased and feelings of disconnection as time will be lost focusing on the bully rather than on those that love you.
Having an adult bully in your life is no treat and unfortunately, it may be years until the he or she changes. But to help take away the anger that comes with being bullied, remember, that person is probably the victim of an aggressor too (even if that aggressor is themselves!). They are human, just like you. They can and do hurt, just like you.