Do you have any experience of bullying? If the answers yes, or you’re not sure, you’ll want to read this post in full, to find out why therapy is important if you have ever been bullied.
Bullying, similarly to mental health & wellbeing and sexual abuse, hasn’t always been a prevalent topic of conversation in society as it is today.
Which means a large portion of people have been the subjects of bullying and have largely gone under the radar.
Along with all the other taboo subjects I’ve just mentioned.
And their stories and experiences of bullying, have never been heard, but have merely been skirted under the rug.
As though their stories of bullying and their overall experiences of bullying, are insignificant.
Therefore, are no longer relevant to the topic of conversation on bullying.
Precisely because, their experiences of bullying are in the so-called “past”.
As a result, why I want to address why therapy is important, in this post, if you have ever been bullied.
So let’s get going.
To understand why therapy is important you must first know if you have been bullied
I know it sounds strange not to know whether you have been the subject of bullying, however, sometimes we like to think of the best in people and ourselves.
Therefore, it can be really easy for us to deny to ourselves and others, whether we have been bullied, due to our shame and embarrassment of it.
In particular, because we’re afraid of what other people would think of us, were we to admit to ever being bullied.
In other words, will us disclosing we have ever been bullied, confirm what we’re already thinking about ourselves?
That is, that we’re not good enough, or there’s something wrong with us for being bullied.
As we’ve internalized the bullying directed towards us, to mean something about who we are as people.
Rather than to mean something about the bully themselves, and their own personal struggles.
In addition, the conversation on bullying has changed so drastically to what it was 10, 20, 30 years ago and beyond.
That if you were someone who had been bullied years ago, as I said earlier, you would have completely missed the conversation there is today on bullying.
So let’s kick off with a definition.
Definition of Bullying
Bullying, of course, is not a topic to be taken lightly as we all know.
However, when it comes to defining bullying, I like to refer to the NSPCC’s definition of bullying.
As it encompasses all the different types of bullying there are and take place in society.
Therefore, according to the NSPCC bullying can take the form of:
- ‘Physical bullying: hitting, slapping or pushing someone
- Verbal bullying: name-calling [i.e. idiot, stupid, dumb], gossiping or threatening someone
- Non-verbal abuse: hand signs or text messages
- Emotional abuse: threatening, intimidating or humiliating (i.e. making fun of) someone
- Exclusion: ignoring or isolating someone
- Undermining, constant criticism or spreading rumours
- Controlling or manipulating someone
- Making silent, hoax or abusive calls’
- Racial, sexual, transphobic or homophobic bullying
- Bullying someone because they have a disability.
So, take a close look at the definition and ask yourself (being really honest), whether you have any experience(s) or memories associated with any of these forms of bullying.
And it doesn’t have to be only in a school or a work setting for the definition of bullying to apply to you.
The definition is also applicable in your home setting and within your family environment (i.e bullying from parents, siblings and relatives).
In fact, it is especially important to take note of it if you have experienced any form of bullying in your family environment.
No matter how big, small or harmless it might appear to you.
Why? Let me explain.
Reason #1 Why Therapy is Important: Bullying within the Family Environment
The reason it is especially important to take note of bullying in your family environment is…
All forms of bullying, whether directed towards you or not, begin firstly in the home.
Therefore, creating an unsafe environment centred on intimidation, fear, humiliation, shame and guilt.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules.
However, in most cases, it’s not uncommon for a person’s first experiences of bullying to have first taken place in the home, which was then followed by school and bullying in the workplace.
As our earliest experiences and relationships, determine the outcome of all our other relationships in life.
How? Through our subconscious need to find safety and security in people, places and experiences, which are familiar to our own.
In other words, what is commonly known as the Law of Attraction.
The relationship between the Law of Attraction and bullying
If you’re not familiar with the law of attraction, according to the Urban Dictionary, it is the belief:
Therefore, if you have had any experience of family bullying, you are likely to have already formed a set of negative:
- Thoughts; and
About yourself and others, before you were sent off into the world on your own; From school to work.
Therefore, making you more susceptible to bullying from others, than those who had little to no experience of family bullying.
As your negative beliefs, thoughts and feelings drew you to those similar to you and your family background.
As a result, finding this perpetuating cycle of karma/abuse directed towards you as you’ve moved through your life.
Hence, the importance of therapy.
As it’s likely, along with the negative, thoughts, feelings and beliefs you formed…
You also formed a set of negative behaviours and reactions towards yourself and others, which do not and have not served you in your life.
However, the good news is, you can do something about your family experiences of bullying today.
And that is to work with a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist.
As they support you in processing your unique and specific experiences of bullying in a way you’ve never processed them before.
Therefore, also supporting you in changing your negative reactions and behaviours towards yourself and others too.
Giving you a second chance at life.
As I also talk about in my post 4 Mind-Blowing Tools that will Change your World and Help you to Overcome Past Regrets.
Reason #2 Why Therapy is Important: Overcoming the Stigma attached to Family Bullying
Another reason why you might be uncertain of whether you’ve experienced family bullying is precisely because of this, the stigma attached to family bullying.
As there is attached to school and bullying in the workplace, except with extra layers added on top.
So you might feel even more ashamed and embarrassed admitting to yourself and others, you have experienced family bullying.
As a result, why your experience of bullying growing up.
And perhaps to this day, has been disguised in the form of school bullying and workplace bullying.
Why there are extra layers of stigma attached to family bullying?
1) The belief ‘all families argue‘
If this is something your parents believed, they likely will have never had your back did your siblings or other family members bully you.
As the bullying to your parents will have seemed ‘normal’ and nothing to be concerned about.
However, the reason they likely had this belief is, they didn’t know how other families operated.
As they only ever experienced bullying from family members too.
Therefore, they didn’t learn how to stick up for themselves or how to set boundaries with the people surrounding them.
As a result, the bullying cycle continued and was passed down to you.
But the only difference is, you now have an opportunity to learn how to stick up for yourself.
And to set boundaries with the people surrounding you.
OR to make the choice to stop speaking to certain individuals within your life.
So you can rebuild it to include more emotionally healthy people, places and experiences.
As you too, become emotionally healthy by working through the therapy process for up to five years.
With a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist.
And yes, working with a therapist comes at a cost, but it is also now more affordable than it has ever been.
And, it might seem unfair you are the one who is now responsible for changing the outcome, but you can do it.
Otherwise, God would not have entrusted you with it, like he did me.
And I am living proof you can overcome the effects of bullying with support from a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist.
To live a much happier and more fulfilling life, than you potentially are at this moment in time.
- 5 ways not to waste your time (or money) in Psychotherapy
- Part 2: How to take on responsibility for changing the outcome of your life? Life choices
2) The belief ‘families stick together’
This belief, we ourselves may have formed as we struggled to build and maintain relationships with our peers in school and at work.
So we clung to family members.
And didn’t question their treatment of us as being anything other than family squabbling.
In addition, there may have been stigma within your own family were you to stop speaking to certain family members due to their treatment of you.
Therefore, stopping you from doing so.
Whilst on the other end of the spectrum, it might be the person/people in question, flipped from one minute being kind and caring, to being cruel and vindictive.
That we didn’t question it. We merely accepted it, as the good times were clouded by the bad times.
3) Wanting to fit in
The next reason is wanting to fit in, as we are wired for connection.
So we don’t want to admit to family bullying because that would mean we potentially will not fit in with others.
And it might mean to us ‘there is something wrong with us‘ if it seems everyone else we encounter has good relationships with their family members.
Therefore, keeping it taboo to discuss within our social circle of friends.
On the other hand, it might be all too familiar in our social circle of friends, that it becomes normal to experience this.
Blinding us from the truth of what this is really costing us on a mind, body and soul level.
4) It’s easier to dismiss and ignore
Lastly, the truth of the matter is, it’s just easier to dismiss and ignore because we have spent the majority of our lives with our family.
And, we’ve been exposed to it for so long, it once again becomes our normal.
So again we don’t question it or even believe there might potentially be another way.
Not to say, however, it has no effect on you because it does. It has a big psychological effect on you, which I’ll get onto shortly.
But you get so used to acting like it doesn’t hurt you that you just don’t think twice about it.
And you try to get on with life.
Reason #3 Why Therapy is Important: The Psychological effect
In environments where family bullying has been prevalent (and I can only speak from my own experience here)…
It’s not uncommon for family members to decide to become anonymous.
As Sam Fowler discusses in more detail in her Tedx Talk below, although her experience is not of bullying, but of addiction.
What Sam Fowler means by this, is ultimately unconsciously deciding, to conceal what you’re really thinking and feeling from others.
In Sam’s case, it was to protect her family from potentially experiencing additional stress, from the thoughts and feelings she disclosed to them.
However, it could be argued, Sam was also protecting herself from feeling the stress her thoughts and feelings might have had on her parents.
And that too, is similar to family bullying.
In that, we seek to protect ourselves from feeling shame and embarrassment by not revealing our thoughts and feelings.
As we’ve learnt it’s not safe to share our thoughts and feelings with family members, due to the fear and intimidating atmosphere created within our home.
Which then ripples outward into our relationships outside the family environment.
But, at the same time, we also seek to protect those who are hurting us from the exact same feelings we’re trying to protect ourselves from.
Through avoiding them and being extra cautious around them so as not to hurt them.
As we have interpreted their bullying of us, as justified, and blame ourselves for their reactions.
So we have double the burden and layer of protection in our armours.
Therefore, placing 4 detrimental consequences on our psyche.
1) Separation and Isolation
When we choose to be anonymous, an emotional wall is built within us, which separates and disconnects us from others.
Therefore, isolating them from you and you from them, as you and they, struggle to connect with each other on a deep and meaningful level.
This isn’t visible to the eye.
But rather, sensed in the air between you and the people you are attempting to connect with.
Therefore, feeling like there is an elephant in the room, which you are all avoiding and like ‘there’s something wrong with you’.
This, as a result, only makes you want it more, because as I said earlier we are wired for connection.
So at a core level, we want nothing more than to share our full open and honest selves with the world.
Even if we’ve convinced ourselves (through our conditioning), we’re okay on our own and don’t need anyone else in our lives.
And, to experience true connection and joy, we must first be willing to be vulnerable.
Which requires you to be open and honest about what you’re thinking, feeling and believing with others.
And when we struggle to, it causes us an incredible amount of pain within, as we work hard (whether we realize it or not) to hide our true selves from the world.
For more on this take a look at Brene Brown’s TedX talk below…
2) We become the bullied and bullies
Unfortunately, when we experience family bullying.
And we potentially decide to become anonymous (although people behave in different ways when they choose to do this)…
As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, you internalize the messages from those who bullied you.
Therefore, you direct the abuse you experienced from family members, towards yourself.
Through the thoughts (i.e. your inner voice) and feelings you have on a daily basis, which then influences your actions towards yourself and others.
For instance, you might tell yourself off when you make mistakes or put yourself down by calling yourself ‘stupid’ or manipulating yourself, exactly as you have witnessed and experienced.
As a result, causing you to further separate and isolate yourself, which re-enforces your already existing lack of self-esteem and self-worth.
At the same time, this inevitably will be directed towards others (i.e. our partners, friends, families, colleagues, children etc.).
In a bid to prove to our ego, that we are ‘better than others’.
So, we become both ‘the bullied and the bullies’.
Perhaps not as consistently as the bullies are/were at home to us, because we know it’s unacceptable to do so.
But nonetheless, from time to time and during events we experience as stressful, it comes out.
Because that’s how we learnt to cope with our stress (i.e. directing it towards ourselves and others) in ways, which are unkind.
3) Coping strategies
In addition, we’ll likely adopt a few more coping strategies, such as bottling our feelings and turning to things outside ourselves for happiness.
Which are unhelpful in processing our emotions.
As a result, damaging our relationships and separating/isolating us from others even further.
However, as you go through the therapy process, you’ll be taught new coping strategies to cope with your stress.
As a result, supporting you in developing far better and stronger relationships in the end.
4) You squash your inner voice
Finally, as a result of engaging in all the above behaviours, we squash our inner voice.
As we’re more likely not to listen to ourselves (i.e. our thoughts, feelings, wants, needs and desires) believing we are less than.
Therefore, avoiding expressing our true authentic selves with the world.
So, the world misses out on (as Marie Forleo says) ‘the special gift only you have’.
As you stop yourself from sharing your thoughts and feelings with those around you and the world.
Therefore, once again reinforcing your already existing feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem.
Reason #4 Why Therapy is Important for supporting you in overcoming the Psychological effects of bullying
At the time of choosing to become anonymous, we do so for survival reasons.
Since, at the age we decided to do so, we didn’t know any other way we could have survived.
But as we get older, we don’t need to do this any more, as we can choose to make a different choice.
And we have all the resources within us to be able to do this.
All we need, is an objective outsider’s perspective as I discuss in my post How to Renovate your Life with the Support of a Therapist.
Which therapy gives to us in 3 specific ways.
1) Why therapy is important – Providing a safe space to be open, honest and vulnerable
Being open, honest and vulnerable, allows therapists to give their open and honest feedback, advice and guidance on what you’re disclosing.
As a result, supporting you in gaining clarity and objectivity on your experiences, so you can make life better and move it forward.
However, it’s important to note here, if you’ve experienced family bullying and made the decision to be anonymous too…
It’s inevitable you will feel emotional towards all the bullying experiences you have faced when you talk about them, no matter how far you think you’ve buried them.
Emotions you will experience
In particular, you’ll feel:
- Shame; and
Therefore, talking about and being open, honest and vulnerable about your experiences, will not be easy for you.
However, as the saying goes ‘it gets worse before it gets better’.
So don’t run away from the feelings (or your true thoughts), because you have to process them to be able to move through them and be able to make life better.
Since by denying and avoiding them, it has the opposite desired effect to what you want.
In that, rather than minimizing the effect of these experiences on you, you maximize the effect of these experiences on you.
And the emotions build and build within you, rising to the surface, as they remain stuck within your body and mind.
Therefore, also why therapy is important.
As, the more open, honest and vulnerable you become, about your difficult, painful and distressing thoughts, feelings and memories…
Whilst receiving the appropriate support to be able to effectively deal with them.
The easier it will become for you to be more and more open, honest and vulnerable.
As a result, providing you also with the confidence to express your thoughts, feelings and beliefs with others, as you become more emotionally resilient.
For me, this took three years to get to, as I kept using work, going out, other people, places and experiences as an excuse to avoid what I was thinking, feeling and believing.
But, what shifted for me was:
- Lots of time spent at home with my thoughts, feelings and beliefs due to Covid-19
- Leaving my job
- Taking responsibility for what I was thinking, feeling and believing; and
- Utilizing the tools I discuss in my post 3 Tools to Grow outside Therapy sessions
2) Why therapy is important – Shining a light
Furthermore, once you openly, honestly and vulnerably talk about your experiences of bullying…
You allow your therapist to expand on other ‘seemingly unrelated’ topics, which emerge throughout the process.
As a result, allowing you to also gain objectivity on those topics too.
And I say ‘seemingly unrelated’, because it will appear as though the topics you’re discussing are unrelated.
However, everyone and everything in this world is so inextricably linked, that although we think the topics we’re discussing are unrelated, they are in fact related.
Therefore, why it is so well worth disclosing anything that comes to your mind when you are working with a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist.
Since only your therapist, will be able to draw the link, and can support you in connecting the dots overtime as you go through the process.
3) Why therapy is important – Un-learning and re-learning new beliefs
The final way, a therapist provides you with an objective perspective, is through supporting you in unlearning and re-learning new beliefs.
Since, as you become more comfortable being open, honest and vulnerable.
And a light is shined on your experiences.
You are enlightened to the thoughts and feelings, which are holding you back (although, this does also require reflection on your behalf too).
And, as your therapist expands on your experiences, and you reflect on what they have communicated to you…
You will learn and instil new beliefs, thoughts and feelings, from the ones you were conditioned to think, feel and believe, following your experiences of family bullying.
Therefore, overtime, retraining your mind to think differently about life, who you are and who others are, as they share perspectives from the fields of:
- Energy Psychology
- Spirituality; and
As a result, becoming better at attracting people, places and experiences into your life, which better support your new self.
As you leave behind relationships, which are no good for you.
Therefore, allowing you to make life better as you create a fulfilling and happy life on your own terms. Not the terms decided for you at birth.
Example of why talking is transformational for overcoming your bullying experiences
A great example of the transformational power of talking is this TedX talk by Daryl Davis on his experience of Racism.
What I particularly love about Daryl Davis’s TedX talk is he says:
‘If you can learn racism through dialogue, you can unlearn it through dialogue’.
And this too, is what I discovered in therapy, working with a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist.
Regarding, overcoming my own bullying experiences.
And thus, my own bullying behaviours towards myself and others.
So I could live a much happier, more meaningful, purposeful and fulfilled life.
Why Therapy is Important to stop Bullying in society
Before I sum up this post, I want to leave you with what I believe is needed to eradicate bullying from society.
And, it’s this…
Starting at the top, at a very micro and individual level.
In other words, starting with ourselves.
And looking within to explore, the kinds of thoughts, feelings, words and actions we have on a frequent basis.
So we can identify whether we are in fact engaging in bullying behaviours towards both ourselves and others.
As the two are intertwined.
Since, I believe it’s those who have previous experience of family bullying, and never received the appropriate support for their experiences…
Who are still living with the after-effects of bullying.
And therefore, are the ones unknowingly continuing to reverberate bullying across our cultures, societies and institutions.
To support you with this, therefore…
And to get the ball rolling on whether you would benefit from working with a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist…
I’ve listed three questions below for you to ask yourself.
And want you to provide the answer to, in the comments section towards the end of this post:
- If bullying was prevalent in my life, what would that look like?
- What might engaging in bullying behaviours towards myself and others look like?; and lastly
- What might others be doing at home, in the workplace, at school etc., to re-enforce bullying.
Since by asking yourself these three questions, you’re conscious and subconscious mind will come up with an answer.
And it is from here you can decide to work with a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist to explore them further.
And what’s great about this is, the more people who do this, the more people we can inspire others to do the same.
Not everyone will be open and willing to this.
But that’s okay, not everyone needs to do it.
Since even one person changing, can change and influence others to change their behaviour through their interactions with them.
So there you have it, 4 reasons why therapy is important if you have ever been bullied.
Firstly, having experienced any form of bullying.
But, even more so, if you’ve experienced bullying within your family environment.
As this will be part of the reason why you’ve experienced bullying in other areas of your life.
Such as, school and work.
Secondly, to overcome the stigma attached to family bullying.
As the stigma attached to it, will prevent you from being open, honest and vulnerable with yourself and others.
Therefore, separating, isolating and disconnecting you from having deep and meaningful relationships with others.
Thirdly, the Psychological effect of this on you and your life.
As you try hard to deny and hide your thoughts and feelings from yourself and others.
And finally, to support you in overcoming the effects of family bullying.
As this will have certainly had an effect on you and the outcome of your life today.