The Empowering Feeling of Saying No

Quote, "Saying no means yes to your rights"

Saying “no” can be difficult and at times, even downright scary. Like when bullies are trying to force you to do something you don’t want to do.  You know the feeling when they threaten either physical harm or worse social exclusion if you don’t do what they want you to do. I know the feeling because I’ve been there.

Nobody wants to get hurt. The natural human response is to submit and make the pain, torment, or the threat of, stop. In your mind, you’re thinking, “Alright, alright! I’ll do it if you’ll go away and leave me alone!” I get that because it’s what I did. Sadly, I submitted to my bullies many times, too many times. I fell for the false promises that they would let me be and stop hurting me. But-

Saying yes to them meant saying no to myself.

They never made good on those promises. The harassment didn’t stop. If anything, it only got worse! Anytime I did say no, they would threaten me and yes, even physically attack me.

Saying no to a bully is never an easy option. Bullies don’t take no for an answer, least of all from their targets! However, not only is it necessary, but it feels darn good sometimes!
If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve said the word “no” a lot more than I did. I wouldn’t have cared about the retaliation I might have faced. Unless one of my bullies had done something drastic, like pulled a gun, I’d have stood firm.

In no way would I advice anyone to risk their life. If someone pulls a gun on me, I will do what I must do to stay alive! I’ll do what he wants and tell him what he wants to hear. Moreover, I’ll dance a jig wearing fluorescent orange and white polka-dotted bell bottoms if it keeps me from dying!

I’ll grant you, saying no is risky.

But if they only threaten me with the business end of their fists, I know I’m only going to come out of it with a shiner and a fat lip. In a situation like that, it’s much safer to say no. Those wounds will heal. But the psychological injury of wishing I hadn’t let myself down will last for years.

However, if you do choose physical safety first, I want you to know that you’re not wrong for that. In no way will I ever think less of you if you submit to your bullies’ demands. As I mentioned earlier, a natural reaction is to obey to keep from being harmed.

And the winner is...

Today, I say that little two-letter word a lot more and will continue to say it in the future. It doesn’t matter what people say, how they feel about it or what they do. I would much rather get the crap kicked out of me and still feel good about myself for taking a stand. Today, I’d rather take a beating than to cave under pressure.  I’m funny about letting myself down by doing something I didn’t want to do. To me, that’s worse than getting my butt kicked! But that’s just me.

Many times, I let myself down by saying yes.

My physical wounds healed. But knowing I let someone else force me to do something I neither wanted to nor agreed to, left a psychological injury that took a long time to recover from. I ended up asking myself, “Now, why didn’t I tell those creeps to take a flying leap off the highest cliff head first?” That feeling of powerlessness was worse than the physical pain I would have suffered.

So, permit yourself to say that tiny little word because it can be so empowering! You may indeed get your tail kicked, but at least you’ll feel good knowing you got hurt because you stood for something! Those psychological benefits will significantly outweigh the embarrassment of any beat down! Besides, you forced a bully to do something foolish and which will likely get him in trouble with an adult or the law! So, I ask you! Who’s the real winner here?

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Low Self-Esteem is Taught.

Newborn baby held in father's arms

Insecurity and a lack of confidence are not characteristics that we’re born with. They are taught! Not only by bullies or abusive family members but can also unwittingly programmed into us by caring family members who call themselves trying to teach us humbleness and humility.

These characteristics are both good virtues to have, but only in moderation. However, too much of it can cause us to suppress a little too much of ourselves and hide our own awesome personalities, talents, and gifts, which can grow into insecurity and, in worse cases, self-loathing.

a little girl hiding behind her mother's skirt

Each and every one of us is born with confidence and a heart of gold. However, over time, our environments, circumstances, and sadly, the people in our lives can slowly erode the natural confidence and goodness we were born with.

After being hurt for so long, we withdraw from others and put up a barrier to protect ourselves. We turn cold and began to harden ourselves to numb feelings of rejection and the pain that comes with it.

The Slow Erosion of Self-Esteem
Young girl bending down, covering her face with her hands, trying to protect herself from men's' fists, finger guns, and hands pointing at her.

Young girl bending down, covering her face with her hands, trying to protect herself from men’s’ fists, finger guns, and hands pointing at her. Women’s rights. Violence against women. Domestic violence.

Before long, we regard others’ feelings and suffering with indifference. In other words, we just don’t give a crap about anyone, how they feel, or what they think. Sometimes we even grow cold toward the people who love us because we have lost the ability to trust.

We no longer have any respect for others, much less ourselves. Lastly, we come to that evil place where schadenfreude takes hold of our personalities. In other words, we secretly or openly take pleasure in seeing others, especially those we despise, suffer.

We must make a conscious effort not to allow negative outside influences to make us cold and mean. Just as we take steps to protect our health, finances, property, etc., we must also take steps to protect our self-esteem. And we do that by how we allow others to treat us. We protect our self-esteem by setting boundaries and standards.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Why Bullies Sometimes Call You “Uppity”

Snobby group of cliquey girls with their ringleader pointing at you

Ever wonder why bullies sometimes call you “uppity?”

First, let’s examine the word, “uppity.” Uppity means arrogant, haughty, or pompous. It’s used to describe a person who thinks they are better than everyone else. However, a bully may label you “uppity, even though it isn’t who you are.

Understand that a bully’s definition of the word goes much deeper. You must look at the context in which the term is being used. Also, look at the circumstances which prompted the bully to make such a judgement of you. What would motivate a bully to refer to you as “uppity?”

Here are 3 reasons why bullies often accuse targets of being uppity:

Woman screaming and pointing an accusing finger at you

  1. The target displays confidence.

Confidence is power. When a person is confident and knows who they are, they’re least likely to allow others to control them. This is a huge threat to the bully’s power. Therefore, bullies will give targets the “uppity” label in hopes that the target will question themselves or worse, believe it, then feel guilty for it.

If the target falls for this BS and believes it, he will automatically “tone it down.” Consequently, he will unwittingly give the bullies the green light to gradually heap on more and more abuse.

Remember that a bully’s opinion of you means nothing unless you allow it to. Never buy into it! Keep your confidence no matter what!

Marginalized man putting out hands to block the fingers that are pointed at him

  1. The target refuses to comply with the bullies’ demands.

 Defiance is a huge threat to the bullies’ power. When a target refuses to comply with the bullies’ demands, mandates, or orders, he, in essence, gives the bully the middle finger. Then, he goes on doing what he wants and not what the bullies want him to do.

Ouch! This is painful to bullies. Why? Because, if the target doesn’t comply, then others just might feel emboldened not to comply. Defiance has a way of spreading and, once it spreads, the bully loses power. Bullies know this and, therefore, double down by labelling the target as uppity (among other labels).

Kids fighting with the quote, "Never fight until you have to. But when it's time to fight, you fight like you're the third monkey on the ramp to Noah's Ark... and brother, it's startin' to rain."

  1. The target defends himself.

When the target stands up for himself, this is also a threat to the bullies’ power. Why? Because the target just might put them in their place and make them look like punks. Therefore, the target takes back his power, leaving the bullies looking slack jawed and stupid. As a result, some bullies will retaliate to reinforce their dominance.

Therefore, you must keep your power. Resist the urge to comply. Push back when bullies attempt to abuse you. They may retaliate, but in you dig your heels in and continue to stand your ground, you keep your personal power, and with it, your self-esteem.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

What is That Coveted Je Ne Sais Quoi?

Charming older woman smiling

What is that Coveted je ne sais quoi? Je Ne Sais Quoi is French, and it means, “I don’t know what.” The term is used to describe a special but indescribable characteristic that someone has – a characteristic that is hard to name. It’s that unnamable characteristic that attracts people, especially suitors, and puts them under the person’s spell.

When someone has a certain je ne sais quoi, people will usually say things like, “There’s just something about him/her.” Someone who falls in love will often use that phrase when those outside the relationship can’t understand what the love-stricken individual sees in the person they’re in love with.

Some people were born with this mysterious allure and come by it naturally. These lucky people seem to attract people easily and effortlessly. Others, like most bullying targets, were not blessed with it and have great difficulty making friends. Shy people and those on the autism spectrum tend to have the most difficulty in this arena.

can this je ne sais quoi be taught?

Businessman schmoozing colleagues at a social gathering

Therefore, if you’re a target of bullying and you’re having difficulty making friends or finding love, the secret to getting that je ne sais quoi is to understand exactly what it is. Thankfully, it is something you can learn, and, once you learn it, you can use it to your advantage.

So, what is it exactly?

Simple. It’s social intelligence, which is a combination of confidence, charm, and charisma, or The Three C’s. The most precious thing in the universe isn’t money. It isn’t gold or silver. It’s these three traits because they set you on a path of success in every aspect of your life. However, to have the three C’s, you must first have healthy self-esteem.

Sadly, many targets of bullying don’t realize this. They want these traits so badly but don’t have the self-esteem to back them up.

As a result, they live a lonely and unsuccessful life. They secretly resent those who have that je ne sais quoi as they sit on the sidelines and watch them have a blessed life. Also, they may resent God for not blessing them with it, which only makes things worse.

man with confidence

Healthy Self-Esteem always comes before je ne sais quoi

Moreover, when a young target asks an adult how to learn that certain something that attracts people, the adult may only laugh them off and tell them,

“That’s something that can’t be taught. It’s something you’re born with. You either have it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’re just shit out of luck.”

Adults give them those types of hurtful responses because either they themselves don’t know, or they do know but would never tell them for obvious reasons. Consequently, young targets believe the lies and stop trying – at everything. They stop trying to make friends and move up in the world.

The resulting mentality becomes this: “Why do all that work if it isn’t going to get me anywhere? I’d only be spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.”

As a result, these people accumulate long strings of failed friendships and relationships and jump from job to job. Also, they run around with ne’er do wells. In short, they relax their standards and become content to cruise through life without extending any effort. Many targets end up on welfare and public housing and it’s because their self-esteem is shot to hell.

man holding a card that reads, "Low Self-Esteem"

Therefore, I often stress doing everything you can to salvage your self-esteem because, again, in order to have charm and charisma, you must first have a healthy self-esteem. Thankfully, you can also learn this. I repeat, no matter what others have told you, social intelligence can be taught and you can go from anti-social to social ninja in just a few years.

Here are a few things you can do to raise your self-esteem and with it, your je ne sais quoi:
  1. Smile! And by smile, I mean do it authentically. A real, genuine smile is one complete with the crinkles around the outer corners of the eyes. If there are no crinkles around the eyes, the smile is fake.
  2. When you’re talking to a person, say their name. According to Dale Carnegie’s book, entitled, “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” a person’s name is music to their ears. Saying their name when you speak to them just makes them feel that having a conversation with you is all the better.
  3. Engage in small talk. Never talk about anything deep. Great small talk conversations discuss topics such as the weather, sports, movies, music, and current events (just don’t go to deep on the current events).
  4. Realize that it’s not about you. One thing I want you to know right now. People care more about themselves and their lives than they do about you. It’s just the reality of human nature. Therefore, become interested in other people and their lives. People always love someone who’s interested in them.

Confident man reach out to shake your hand

Start with doing the above practices and don’t be afraid to learn new tricks. And realize that you will probably need to fake it, at first- fake it until you make it! It’s what I had to do. However, I discovered that when you act confident, you will soon feel confident. And when you feel confident, the fake becomes real.

Practice these things and you will soon be able to raise your je ne sais quoi and draw people to you. And once you do that, you might even be able to schmooze like a pro!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

3 Life Secrets Everyone Should Learn

When bullies are attacking you at every turn, it’s easy to lose that positive attitude you once had along with your self-esteem. If you aren’t careful, you’ll begin to doubt yourself and give up on your goals. Here are 3 Life Secrets that everyone (especially targets) should learn. And once you learn them, hold them close no matter how others may treat you. Also, use them to keep your self-esteem from tanking.

1. Positivity

Positive thoughts equal a positive mind. A positive mind brings positive opportunities. Positive opportunities lead to positive results. Altogether, they bolster confidence, which gives you a positive and extraordinary life! It’s a shame most people go through life without learning this little nugget of wisdom. They go to the grave never learning this and so many other life secrets.

Use the weaknesses others perceive you to have to your advantage. For instance, if you’re a female and you’re being bullied, use that to your advantage. Doing this is likely to garner you help from others, especially big, strong men. What real man doesn’t want to protect a woman. It’s in his DNA.

Moreover, if you are a petite and small lady, you can use your size to get protection as well. Remember that every weakness has it’s advantages. You only have to figure out what those advantages are and play them to the hilt.

2. Tenacity

Tenacity equals positive change and eventual success. To many people give up before they reach their goals. I’ve been guilty of this and it’s hard to admit to myself. But the trick is to go from where you are and never again give up. Keep working toward that goal until you reach it! You will be so glad you did!

Negative people will never see success, only hollow victories from time to time. Stay away from these type of folks. Because they will drag you down. They will deliberately derail you from your goals. And if you reach your goals, they will hate you for it. These people are not worth your time. Instead of focusing on them and the things they think or say. Focus on your goals and work toward them. It’s the only way you’ll keep these people from tearing you down.

Remember that attitude and self-belief are everything!

3. Beware of Jealous People

The reason most people find ways to discourage you and tell you that you CAN’T is because they’re very much afraid that you WILL. Moreover, if you continue to keep company with these people, they will bring you down to their level. Remember that misery loves company. Jealous people never win and they don’t want you to win either. So, stay far away from them.

Resting on your laurels for too long equals stagnation and and repels growth. It’s okay to take a short break every now and again. We all need breaks. However, the longer you put off working on your goals, the more chance you have of never doing it. Therefore, take a rest period. But get back to pursuing those goals as soon as you’re able.

With each major goal accomplished, raise the bar. You must continue to challenge yourself and flex those mind-muscles even more. You will set higher goals and you will reach them.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Self-Esteem and the People You Spend the Most Time With

One thing that few of us think about is that we each are the sum of the types of people we spend the most time with. In other words, if the people you spend most of your time with are negative, then negative is what you become.

On the other hand, the opposite is true also. If you spend most of your time with people who are positive and uplifting, then you will feel and be the same.

Likewise, when a target is surrounded by bullies eight hours per day, whether it be at school or work, this takes up most of his day. It’s even worse if the target has negative family members at home. Therefore, he spends most of his day with bullies which will, over time, turn him into a negative person if he isn’t careful.

So, if you’re the only positive person in the room, you’re in the wrong place! If you’re around people who drain you and make you feel bad, you must find a way to fix it without hanging around and trying to fix them.

Realize that each person has a mind of his/her own and to try and “fix” them is a waste of your time and energy. It’s up to the other person to improve themselves and they must be the one to do that. Moreover, you wouldn’t want that responsibility. Understand that any internal fixing is their job, not yours.

You can only fix things by removing yourself from their company.

You always know when you’re with the wrong people because you will immediately sense that something is off anytime you’re around such negative folks. You will feel exhausted just being around them because it will be as if they’re sucking the oxygen out of the room. You’ll feel yucky because they’re killing your good vibes. Therefore, you must get out of there… fast!

Don’t stifle your own peace, happiness, and, most of all, growth by continuing to hang around. Make it your goal to get out of that environment!

Take the steps needed to find a pleasant environment filled with people who are either just as or more positive than you. Then soak up their uplifting personalities, dispositions, and vibes. In doing this, you allow yourself to grow and continue to move toward self-betterment.

Realize that people can only meet you from the place they’re at. In other words, if the person is negative, they can only meet you from a negative place. And if your places contradict, it can only cause division and conflict. Therefore, you must go where you get the most positivity and that also means choosing your friends wisely.

And once you do, you’ll be glad you did!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

The Strongest, Bravest, and Purest Souls!

…are the mentally disabled people with special needs.

If you’re from my generation, I’m sure you remember the series from the early ’90s, “Life Goes On.” And if you remember this television series, then you automatically think of Corky Thatcher, the mentally challenged middle child of the Thatcher family, played by Chris Burke. He, in real life, has Down’s Syndrome.

I’m not writing this for personal gain. The chances are that neither Chris Burke nor any of the other cast members or producers will ever read this post, which is only proof that I write strictly from my heart and about what I’ve noticed on many, many occasions throughout my lifetime.

The Mentally and Intellectually disadvantaged have the purest and sweetest of hearts, yet they live in a world that looks down on them. They’re unwanted- shunned, ridiculed, and brutalized. Yet, most of them maintain their smiles and their unconditional kindness. Their moral compasses never waiver. They’re innocent, childlike, and have hearts of the purest gold.

They Exhibit the Most Resilience

I write books about unsung heroes, who are different and who bullies target daily. But I’ll tell you this:

These courageous, amazing real-life heroes are the best of the human race! I admire their unbreakable will, unshakeable courage, dogged determination, and amazing ability to keep smiles on their faces even under the most challenging of circumstances!

These are the people who have the fortitude to overcome odds that would be overwhelming to a cast majority of people. And I state this with full conviction.

These beautiful souls also work the lowliest of jobs- jobs that most people think are beneath them. They display the best work ethic, the most dedication, and the most pride in their work. Yet, others treat them the worst and supervisors and coworkers devalue the mentally disabled.

Most Others Don’t Appreciate nor Value Them

These angels have more heart and soul than those who are “normal” and twice their ages.

You have to wonder how they do it. How do the mentally and intellectually disabled find the resolve to go up against such tremendous odds every single day? How do they keep pushing amid jeers, jokes, and cruel insults? Situations under which most “normal” people would’ve thrown in the towel?

Another reason why I salute the mentally and intellectually challenged is that they don’t let on that they even realize it when the rest of the world is showing it’s booty to them. They’re the people who never complain nor seem to feel sorry for themselves like most “normals” do any time life gives them a one-two punch. Yet people give them the least respect. Others devalue and abuse these people the most- all because they see them as having the least power of all!

The mentally and intellectually disabled don’t retreat into drugs and alcohol. Instead, they retreat into their work and hobbies. They keep their minds occupied with things that interest them.

They Display the Most Talent

I’ve found that these people show the most talent in the arts. Many of them draw and play musical instruments like professionals! Yet, others overlook those talents because of who they belong to!

I don’t claim to know for sure, so I can’t speak for all the mentally and intellectually disabled. But through my observations over the years, I’ve come to realize that, maybe, the reason the mentally and intellectually disabled seem to handle adversity with such grace and aplomb is that they’ve accepted it as their normal.

I’m not saying that they don’t get hurt by it because they have feelings too. They have the same desires as everyone else- to be loved and accepted for who they are. We all have the desire to be apart of something and to be included. Humankind is hardwired that way.

But the mentally and intellectually challenged have such a way of bouncing back from years of repeated rejection- back to their cheerful selves much quicker! And they forgive much more easily!

They Forgive the Quickest

That’s what makes them such beautiful souls! They’re the brightest and most brilliant lights in a very dark world! And it will go to their credit and be celebrated in The Afterlife!

Therefore, all I can say to the millions of earth angels is this:

Keep up the good fight! Keep being a shining example to the rest of the world! I love you all!

My novel, “Kids Under the Latch Key,” is a first-person narrative about a mentally handicapped young man named Randy and a group of neighborhood kids who take him under their wings and protect him from the cruelty of several people in a small Southern town, who bully and label him because he is different. It is narrated by a now middle-aged Grace, who is one of the kids who befriended Randy and tries to protect him before an unexpected and tragic turn of events intervenes. The tragedy prompts Grace to question God and gives her a new perspective of the world and of people in general.

“Kids Under the Latch Key” by Cherie White

Drinking Dirty Water Means You’re Thirsty

You might look at the title of this post and think, “Well, duh!” So, let me put it another way.

Just because you’re thirsty doesn’t mean you have to drink dirty water. Even if it seems that dirty water is all that’s available. In other words, don’t let loneliness cause you to go back to toxic people just because good people are hard to find.

“Settling for toxic friends because you’re lonely is like drinking dirty water because you’re thirsty.”  – Cherie White –

Many times, when you finally get enough of being used and abused by fake friends and decide once and for all to walk away, you may be alone for a while. Life may put you to the test to see if you’re really and truly done with the creeps you once, very naively, called friends. Even worse, life may decide to drag it out over a few weeks or months just to test your strength.

This happens with many targets of bullying. And, consequently, they may wait a little while, but eventually they cave in and go back to the same people who treated them so badly. Or the target may allow their frenemies to sweet-talk them back into the friendship. However, what happens once they do go back?

Patience is a Must!

It’s true that these fake friends may be extra friendly. They treat the target well for a few days, weeks, or maybe even a month. However, they will eventually go back to treating the target shabbily again. Why? Because they see any second chance the target gave them as evidence that he was only bluffing when he broke off the friendship.

You’ll only look desperate, or, as the kids say today, “thirsty.” And ewww! that’s not a good look at all! Cringe is what it is!

Therefore, these fakers only lose respect for the target and no longer take him seriously. Even worse, if the target again gets tired of the abuse and walks away a second time, the fakes will only look at each other and say, “he’ll be back. He just needs to cool off.”

There’s a reason for the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I’m all for giving second chances, don’t get me wrong. Because people screw up from time to time. However, you should use judgement when doing so. Who is it that you’re giving the chance to? And have they blown any chances you’ve given in the past? ‘Very important!

Don’t Give Chances to Those Who Only Abuse Them

Again, second chances are fine. Just make sure you don’t end up giving them a third chance, fourth chance, and so on. And realize that there are instances when even a second chance isn’t deserved- there are some things you just can’t come back from. So, if you decide to give another chance, make this your rule of thumb- the second chance is always the last chance. If they blow that chance, that’s it and it’s on them.

When it comes to situations such as this, you must stick to your guns. Otherwise, your fake friends, your bullies, and others who are around to see it will only use you as a cat toy.

Therefore, when you walk away from fake friends, do it and mean it! Do it with the presumption that you may have to wait a spell before better friends find you. Then stick it out! Wouldn’t you rather be by yourself rather than with people who only use and abuse you? If you’re going to be alone anyway, it might as well be for a damn good reason. Because nothing feels worse than being alone…in a group!

The next time you get fed up with shabby treatment and decide to walk, don’t let loneliness cause you to go back to toxic people. Be patient and wait it out! I promise you that better people will come along eventually. Dry spells don’t last forever and if you hold true to yourself and stick it out, you will have better friends. And they will be people who are worth your time and consideration- people who deserve to have you in their lives.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Why You Should Befriend Other Targets

The old saying that “birds of a feather flock together” rings true. The Law of Similarity dictates that in order to find good friendships, you must establish common ground. Understand that those who share the same activities, experiences, perspectives, and attitudes have a high probability of developing close friendships. Humans are naturally drawn to those who share mutual interests.

How targets make friends is to find like-minded people to bond with. And nothing bonds humans like a shared contempt for the same things, people, and groups. Therefore, developing connections with other targets is not only necessary but wise.

When a target finds others who have been bullied by the same bullies, it not only confirms that he isn’t alone in the fight, but it’s a juicy opportunity to make friends and allies. And these new friends just might back the target up the next time her bullies come calling.

Commonalities Attract

Also, it reinforces the fact that the target is not a bad person. It says that, despite what bullies and most others have told him, he can make friends. It sends the message that the target is a likeable person and automatically discredits the bullies. Therefore, having friends who share the same experiences is a real self-esteem booster.

When targets unite, they share sameness and, therefore, are least likely to face conflict with one another. Each target in the group finally feels understood.

Case in point, sameness will always attract people to one another. People tend to become friends with those most like themselves. When targets begin to associate with and create ties with others whom the bullies have targeted, they immediately establish common ground. It is this common ground which quickly develops rapport.

A “Target Rich Environment”

If you’re a target of bullying and you find it difficult to make friends, you can create a “target rich environment” for  yourself by staying among other targets.

I cannot say this enough- we develop the best friendships with those who resemble us the most. We’re attracted to people with the same desires and pursuits. If you can find common ground, developing a positive relationship will be a cake walk!

So, how do you know that there’s common ground before you even talk to the person?

You start by noticing how the person dresses. Are there any similarities? If the person is wearing a tee shirt with the logo or picture of a rock group you like, there’s shared interest. And if they only have a slight interest in the group, you, at least, share a love of rock and roll music.

What a person is doing also gives clues. Also, their posture also has many tells in it. For example, if a person is sitting at the lunch table alone, slumps in their chair, and doesn’t interact much with others, you know that they have low self-esteem. And low self-esteem comes from bullying and abuse. So, don’t be afraid to go over and talk to them. You just might be the friend they’re looking for!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Things for Targets of Bullying to Consider

The thoughts and opinions of bullies are worthless to you, or they should be. This may sound strange to many targets, especially those whom bullies have brainwashed for so long. And that’s a terrible thing. Therefore, if you’re a target who has been conditioned, I’d like for you to ask yourself these questions:

Has it benefited me in any way to measure my value as a person by the opinions of bullies?

Would my bullies be able to hold up as well as I do if they themselves had to endure bullying?

Even on the off-chance that they could, does that give them license to judge me, a person who is enduring something that would break many others?

If we all worried about the opinions of our bullies and haters, the world wouldn’t have even a tenth of it’s population. Moreover, we wouldn’t have doctors, lawyers, writers, comedians, singers, actors, and other such great people.

They all would have collapsed under the crushing weight of anticipated judgements and personal attacks. Therefore, they never would have reached the heights of success that they have.

It’s Not What They Call You, It’s What You Answer to.

The truth is that your favorite rock star receives hate and vitriolic comments over a few lyrics in one of his songs. Even back in the pre-internet days, famous actors and musicians got bags of hate mail along with the fan mail.

Many targets of bullying have an intense fear of being judged and it’s exactly what holds them back in life. Why? Because it can cause you to hold back your feelings. Furthermore, you will allow this fear to stifle your talents and creativity.

Realize that  a bully’s judgement is only a reflection of their own fears and insecurities.

This is why you must never allow bullies or anyone else to make you believe that how they feel about you is more important than how you feel about yourself. Never take your bullies’ word over your own. Never allow their opinions to trump yours.

And once you realize how cheap your bullies’ thoughts and opinions of you really are, they will have less effect on you.

With knowledge comes empowerment.

Bullies and Their Unsolicited Advice

Bullies are good at giving unsolicited advice, even through they despise it when the shoe is on the other foot.

They give you free advice on how think, act, or feel under any circumstances. What bullies are best at is telling you how you should react to the very abuse they inflict. These morons have a lot of nerve, don’t they?

However, I want you to understand why bullies do this. Bullies give unsolicited advice because it serves them to do so. How does it serve them, you may ask? It does so by giving their audience the impression that they know more and are more qualified than you.

In other words, bullies don’t give advice to help you. They give it to help themselves– to look cute and like they’re smarter than you.

Therefore, if you don’t know why bullies do it nor how to counter it, it can chip away at your self-esteem. So, what are ways that you can counter a smartass bully who gives you advice you didn’t ask for?

You Don’t Need a Bully’s Cheap Two Cents.

You counter this by having a clear understanding that the amount of weight another person’s opinion carries with you depends on their relationship with you. Or, at least, it should.

Put another way, the people who are the closest to you and whom you feel closest to are those whose opinions you should value the most. These are the people who love and care for you the most- your parents, grandparents, your spouse- your dearest family and friends.

In contrast, the opinions of any bullies, fake friends, anyone who uses and abuses you, should carry the least weight. We should never value the opinions or judgements of bullies. Ever! Even if the bullies happen to be bosses, teachers, or any other superiors, you don’t have to give any worth to any opinions they have. Only with superiors, you may want to handle this differently. Perhaps the best thing is to keep quiet about it until you find a way out from under their thumbs.

Understand that all through life, many people will give their opinions. However, those opinions won’t serve you nor will they have any bearing on your life.

Never Give Value to Anything that Has None.

Opinions are like elbows and everyone has one. But the value of an opinion must always be determined by who they come from and the relationship you have with them.

Therefore, stop giving undue value to the opinions of those who aren’t worth your consideration. In that, you happily discard any unsolicited advice from anyone who hasn’t earned your respect. When you do, you keep your power and your dignity.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

A Deeper Reason for Self-Acceptance

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Today, we live in a world that consistently judges us. It seems that people feel they have carte blanche to point a finger at someone else.  They love to announce their flaws and weaknesses. Sadly, this seems to be the norm.

Everyone is trying to be (or look) better than the next person and lord it over them. You see it in the media. Also, you see celebrities calling out other celebrities in the Twitterverse. And everyday people do it on the street, in the supermarket, workplace, and at school.

What bullies don’t realize is that in pointing a finger at someone else, they only reverse it back on themselves. Because they’ve got to be pretty darned insecure with their own life to feel the need to disparage another person.

Anytime you come at another person without provocation, here’s what it says about you.It says that you’re trying to hide or distract attention from your own shortcomings by trying to redirect the negative attention to someone else. In short, it’s only proof of your own lack of self-acceptance. It also shows a lack of self awareness.

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Self-acceptance has always been a must-have but nowadays, it’s even more essential than ever before.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t be self-aware because we should. But too much self-awareness isn’t good. Why? Because, when we’re hyper-aware, we focus too much on our weaknesses and not enough on our strengths. Sadly, this is what targets of bullying are conditioned to do after so long.

There are two extremes to everything but there’s also that happy middle that we should stay in.

We must work on changing the way we see ourselves and begin loving ourselves more because only then will we be able to love others.

If you can’t accept yourself, you won’t be able to accept others either. Being a bully doesn’t score any points and it doesn’t make you feel any better in the long run. It only makes you look like an insecure little coward.

As the old saying goes, “You do you and let me do me.”

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Being a Target versus Being a Victim

Many people are under the assumption that being a target and being a victim are one and the same. However, they’re quite different and have different meanings.

It has been almost six years since the publication of my book, “From Victim to Victor (A Survivor’s True Story of Her Experiences with School Bullying).” Since then, I’ve learned so much and one of the things I’ve learned is the difference between a target and a victim. So, was I ever really a victim? No. I was, however, a target.

Notice the difference in the actual meanings between the terms, “target” and “victim.”

A target is a mark you aim at- as in a shooter aiming his gun at targets at a gun shooting range for practice.

A victim is a person or animal who others kill and sacrifice. When someone is sacrificed, they assume the blame and punishment for the sins and shortcomings of others.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Words have enormous power- more so than most realize. Therefore, I stopped using the word “victim” to describe people others bully and abuse and replaced it with the word, “target.”

Being a target is much more empowering than being a victim. A target can defend themselves. Whereas a victim cannot. A victim is powerless to do anything about their situation. There’s no power nor dignity in being a victim. However, when a person is a target, they maintain some power and dignity. In that, they lessen the impact of the bullying on their mental health.

If we can change the way we view ourselves and see our bullies exactly for who and what they are, they will have little control over us. Moreover, we’re less likely to allow their words and behavior to get into our heads.

A target is a person chosen by bullies to be a perceived enemy to attack. On the other hand, a victim is a person bullies harm, oppress, and destroy.

The word victim says that you don’t stand up for yourself but only capitulate. But the word target says that, although people attack you on a regular basis, you don’t give into fear and stand up for yourself no matter what it may cost you.

Your Choice of Words Can Have Consequences You Don’t Realize

When you view yourself as a victim, you give your bullies exactly what they want- power over your life. You, in essence, surrender yourself to them. Consequently, you will most likely to suffer physical and/or psychological damage.

On the other hand, when you see yourself as a target, you won’t acquiesce, and you’re least likely to take the bully’s behavior personally. Moreover, when you have a target mentality instead of a victim mentality, you buffer your self-esteem from the attacks and salvage your overall mental health. You maintain your personal power. You take control of your life and refuse to allow anyone to make you, their victim.

For example, I’ve witnessed both in movies and in real life, incidences of bullying where the bully would tell the target, “I’m going to make you, my bitch!” In other words, his victim.

This should give you a better understanding of why you should see yourself as a target rather than a victim. Because you are nobody’s bitch! Nope! You’re no bitch at all! You are a fighter, a warrior, a lion!

Realize that your bullies’ goal is to control you. And if you see yourself as a victim, you weaken yourself. Thus, you play right into your bullies’ hands. But when you refuse to become a victim, you refuse to allow them to take control over your life.

You’re a Target, Not a Victim!

It’s not my intention to minimize any suffering you’ve endured at the hands of your bullies. Bullying hurts, no doubt about it! And I feel your pain. So, know that everything you’ve gone through is real and your story is valid and worthy of being told and heard.

However, I want you to understand this. If you’re the object of bullying, you are a target, yes, but you don’t have to be a victim.

Think about it, victims accept responsibility for things they have no control over. They take blame for evils they never committed nor took part in. And when they carry these burdens that aren’t theirs to carry, they end up paying debts they don’t owe.

Here’s an example. A bully blames his target for his own anger, insecurity, jealousy, and incompetence. And it comes out in the bully’s behavior when he bullies that person. Then later the bully and others may gaslight the target when he speaks out.

Another example would be that a rapist wants to make their rape target responsible for their own sexual frustration, anger, and hunger for power by raping their target. Then, later, the target is presumed to be at fault for the rapist’s behavior by the defense attorneys in court.

A Target Endures Bullying but Refuses to Become a Victim

Sure, people hurl blame at targets just as they do at victims. However, the difference between a victim and a target is that the victim accepts the blame and blames himself for what happened to him then spirals downhill into depression, regret, and self-hatred. Whereas a target refuses to accept the blame because he knows with every fiber of his being that it is his attackers who are in the wrong.

He sees his attackers for the cowards they are. Therefore, he sees the incessant gaslighting as proof that they’re full of it and are only trying to cover their butts because they’re afraid of exposure. A target refuses to be made a victim!

You see, it’s all in how we see ourselves. And how we see ourselves is determined by the inner dialogue we have- the words we use when we think and speak to ourselves. And it can be the difference between living in a hell of depression and self-loathing or enjoying a heaven of self-love and acceptance and refusing to be destroyed despite the attacks and pain bullies inflict.

So, see yourself as a target but never a victim!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Self-Love Irrespective of What Others Think

No lie. This can be hard to do, especially if the people around you hate you and are bullying you. Loving yourself in the midst of bullying and in a room full of people who think horribly of you takes a mountain of hard work when all you hear from others is:

“You aren’t worth a damn!”

“You suck!”

“You’re a drain on society!”

“You’ll never amount to a hill of beans!”

I understand. If you hear that long enough and from enough people, it can break your spirit if you let it. And how you refuse to let it get to you is to see it for what it is- noise pollution!

Here are a few more ways you can refuse to let their abuse get to you.

Give yourself permission to be yourself.

Know that’s it’s okay for you to be you.

Train your inner voice, through practice, to love you unconditionally.

Know that it’s okay to have needs, wants, and desires.

Deny the urge to compare yourself to others.

Understand that it’s okay to walk away from drama, and that it’s not out of fear that you do so, it’s out of smarts and self-care.

Allow yourself to make mistakes and to learn from them.

Realize that it’s okay to leave if you’re in an environment where you aren’t valued.

And lastly, know that it’s okay if people get angry with you.

Realize that if you don’t love yourself no matter your circumstances, it can have negative consequences later. Therefore, it’s so important that you do!

Although you can never control how others view you. And you can’t control what others say to you and how they act toward you. We must realize that another person’s behavior is beyond our control. However, what you can control is how you behave. In other words, you can control how you respond to the behavior of bullies and other idiots who try to steal your joy.

Loving yourself in the face of bullying is revolutionary!

Therefore, you must do what you can to drown out this noise pollution. And how you do it is to see your bullies for the creeps they truly are, think good thoughts of yourself, and remind yourself of your good qualities. Believe it or not, working to think highly of yourself when nobody else does is the greatest act of rebellion against bullies!

Again, see it for what it is. The judgements and verbal abuse you consistently hear from the cowardly creeps around you, is nothing but a bunch of racket. In other words, it’s noise pollution!

When you work to like yourself when others don’t, you refuse to let bullies get into your head. In that, you train your brain to filter out other’s negative comments and remarks that serve no purpose but to damage your self-esteem. Also, you silence that inner critic that would otherwise nag you night and day.

Moreover, when you love and accept yourself, others outside the bullying environment and strangers who have no history with you will be inclined to also love and accept you. No, your bullies and abusers won’t like or love you even if you love yourself, but who cares about them?

So, love yourself despite what others think of you. You will be surprised at how it will protect your self-esteem. When you work to feel good about yourself, even while bullies are tearing you down, it will work as a buffer to the psychological attacks they launch.

You may come out of it bruised but not broken.

With knowledge comes power!

8 Ways to Heal from Bullying

Bullying is very traumatic and impacts self-esteem; it often takes many years to heal. People who’ve never endured bullying cannot comprehend how it can change your life. The good thing about leaving a toxic environment is that once you’re gone, you can begin healing and rebuilding your life. However, in many cases, it’s easier said than done.

Here are eight things you can do that can help you heal quicker:

1. Seek Therapy.

Though I realize that there’s a certain amount of stigma that goes with it, getting therapy is the best and most important thing you can do for yourself. Therefore, you must do what you must do to take care of yourself. Moreover, don’t concern yourself with the opinions of others about your care. Right now, you must do what’s best for you.

2. Rest.

When you’re fresh out of a bullying environment, you’re more than likely to be exhausted. Get plenty of sleep. Take some quiet time for yourself. Go on a walk in the park on a beautiful day, or take a pajama day. Get all the rest you can get for a few days.

3. Music.

Music is therapy in itself. Once you’ve got plenty of rest, put in some easy listening for relaxation, maybe some slow jams like TLC or Keith Sweat? Or pop in some dance grooves and rock and roll to make you feel upbeat and like dancing.

There’s nothing that lifts the mood like shaking your booty around the house to some Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul hits or rocking out to some Van Halen, Judas Priest, or Def Leppard. Whatever your taste in music, you’ll feel much better when you do. So get out those CD’s or stream some music on your computer.

4. Lean on the people who love you.

When you’re recovering from bullying and a toxic environment, one of the most important things you need is a network of love and support to balance the positive with the negative. Therefore, keep company with the people who uplift you, love you, and make you feel good. It’ll help you salvage the confidence you’ve lost.

5. Do things you enjoy most.

Indulge in your hobbies and favorite activities. Hobbies allow us to be creative. Therefore, if you create, you feel accomplished! So, rake in those little successes! You’ll feel so much better!

6. Exercise.

Exercise is a major stress-buster. And you can get rid of all that negative energy like anger and depression by sweating it out either in the gym or, if you don’t feel like going anywhere, a workout DVD.

7. Take a trip.

After being in a toxic environment for so long, sometimes, we need to get away for a while. Visit a family member in another state. Embark on a camping trip in the mountains or hit the beach and relax in the sun as you listen to the sounds of seagulls and crashing waves. I guarantee that you’ll return home feeling much, much better!

8. Treat yourself to a day or night out with the guys or gals.

You and your pals could go to a concert or out to lunch or dinner. Maybe go window shopping or to a bar and listen to a live band. In other words, don’t isolate yourself. Get out and have fun. Because sometimes it pays to go out and paint the town red!

Just go easy on the drinks, as alcohol is a depressant!

Healing can take a while to do and may also take much work. But in the end, it’ll be worth it!

With knowledge comes empowerment!