dealing with bullies, mental toughness

A Powerful Life Lesson: Learn to Manage the Bullies in Your Life

dealing with bullies, mental toughness

By Starla

March 19, 2020

The more accomplished you are, the more likely there will be bullies in your life trying to steal your success from you.

The most effective way to manage these bullies is to develop an unwavering level of mental toughness that can outlast any bully's attempt to invalidate you emotionally.

Here's my story.

I hit it big in the Parents Lottery. Coaching with tough love and compassion is encoded in their DNA, so not only do I come by it naturally, I was the beneficiary of it as their child.

In my sophomore year of high school, I earned the opportunity to play on our varsity basketball team. Unfortunately, a few juniors on the team were not happy with this. They attempted to intimidate me by making nasty comments in the hallways, leaving unpleasant messages on my locker, and sending 'physical' messages to me on the court.

I was being bullied, and it was a painful experience, as you can imagine.

I wanted to quit; however, my parents wouldn't allow it. And instead of running to school administrators and demanding the school system deal with it, my parents taught me how to properly manage the bullies on my own because, as they explained, 'there will always be bullies in your life.'

First, they encouraged me to view and understand the situation from the bully's perspective.

They asked questions like:

  • "Given what you know about them, as well as the situation in which they find themselves, what thoughts might be going through their minds right now?"
  • "What do you think is important to them?"
  • "What might they be worried about or trying to protect themselves from?"
  • "How might all of this be making them feel?"
  • "Is it possible they are lashing out at you because they don't know of any other way to deal with their negative emotions right now?"

My parents showed me how to employ empathy to understand the situation better and what was driving the juniors' to mistreat me.

Armed with that insight, I could see that their behavior was in response to the negative emotions they were experiencing due to fears they were ill-equipped to handle. So, sadly, they took it out on me even though it had nothing to do with me. Their reaction would have been the same if it was any other sophomore basketball player.

Along with empathy, my parents showed me how to emotionally detach and refuse to take anything personally, which put me in a much more informed place to decide how I wanted to handle it.

I didn't back down, nor did I retaliate. Instead, I did my best to remain unwavering in my confidence while staying laser-focused on all the proof that I deserved to be on Varsity.

It wasn't easy, but over time their mistreatment subsided because it didn't have the effect they were hoping for.

This powerful life experience resulted in a mental toughness I am incredibly grateful for today, and I pay it forward by helping my clients strengthen their mental toughness, as well.

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