Grabbing the Bully by the Horns
There’s advice that I’ve heard over the course of my life about how to deal with mean people. This includes, but of course is not limited to:
”don’t let it bother you”
"just ignore them"
”be the bigger person”
”forget about it and move on”
”don’t give the bullies the power by letting them know it bothers you”
UGH, I say! UGH to all of it. I was bullied as a kid. Probably nothing next to what kids go through today with online bullying, but I was and it cut pretty deep. I‘ve grown up and moved on with my life (and had a lot of therapy since then) but I’ve also realized that growing up doesn’t mean you’re automatically exempt from bullies or mean people. Once you graduate from high school, you aren't forced to be around a bully 8 hours a day BUT it won't be the last time you ever encounter someone mean or rude.
Mean people are just a part of life. Sad but true. You also don't always get a total say of who surrounds you in every situation. Inevitably there will be someone that's kind of rude to you at work that you have to work with or be around because your kids love each other or whatever it might be. Here's the thing: we get to decide how we let those people treat us and sometimes acting like something doesn't bother you, drives YOU nuts. What good does that do?
Through the years I’ve gotten better at dealing with mean people. When I started the blog, I weeded out a chunk of rude/nasty/mean people. When someone would say something flat out rude or mean on my Instagram, they’d receive a block without a response back. Somewhere along the line I decided to be the queen of my own life. I’m not the queen of a lot of things, but I am the queen of my own life and my accounts online and THIS QUEEN gets to make the rules for all of those things. Rule: This queen says you don’t get to be in my space and be an a-hole to me. Sorry not sorry.
Sometimes I’ll share an a-hole comment on my account and I inevitably receive messages saying “don’t give the bullies that power!”...to that I now say, “actually, that gives ME the power.”
The reason I refuse to shut up and forget about mean is 2-fold. One: There is something SO DANG LIBERATING about taking the bully by the horns and saying, “you don’t get to treat me that way”. It’s something I haven’t felt confident about doing until pretty recently and now that I’ve given myself that power, it feels amazing. Two: I feel like a massive MASSIVE problem in our world is people feeling like they are alone. A common thread with people who do terrible things to other people and leave a trail behind them is a phrase that we all see over and over: “no one understands”.
People do. Actually, a lot of people do...we just don’t talk about it nearly as much as we should. So, my attitude is: share away! Not every time, but if you can help someone else feel less alone by sharing a story and you're comfortable doing it: GO FOR IT!
Being nice or kind doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. That's something my friend Chrissy taught me a few months ago when I was feeling super insecure about standing up to an online bully. I felt guilty for opening my mouth for the first time to let someone know that I saw their comments and that I didn't appreciate it instead of instantly blocking them. I chose to respond because we had mutual friends in common and I remember telling Chrissy that I felt like I was sitting at a lunch table with girls at the next table talking about me loud enough to make sure I heard them. She told me that being nice doesn't mean I have to be a doormat and that it's OK to stand up for yourself. Standing up for yourself doesn't make you less nice or less kind or less of a good person or mean. You don't have to brush it off or act like it doesn't bother you.
I wasn't mean in my response, I simply stood up from my lunch table, walked over to theirs and said "I can hear you, and FYI, I'd handle that differently."
I saw a blogger say this week on Instagram, “Say what you like to me but don’t expect me to take it” I dig it.
I’m not encouraging anyone to be combative or to use rude to defeat rude. Remember the ultimate rule numero uno for LIFE: Don't be an a-hole! That still stands! I truly believe in kindness. What I’m saying is, if something really bothers you, acknowledge it! It’s perfectly acceptable to say “wow that was super rude”, go cry it out and then delete that person from your IG, or your life. It takes a strong person to acknowledge how you feel and a strong person to say “you don’t get to treat me that way”.
YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF YOUR OWN LIFE. YOU MAKE THE RULES FOR YOU.
Pro tip: my friend Chrissy changed the name on her iphone to "Queen McCluskey" (that's her last name) so every time she gets an alert on her phone, her phone reminds her that she's the queen of her own life. GENIUS. Definitely stealing that.