(Photo courtesy of Steven Fernandez)
The painful memories of feeling victimised, humiliated and isolated as a result of being bullied can hurt for a very long time.
Whilst being bullied can have a massive influence on the way you viewed yourself as a child, that doesn’t mean it has to be the way you think about yourself, or make you feel socially anxious, for the rest of your life.
The impact of being bullied
The problem with being bullied is that it makes you feel rotten, hopeless and depressed. The dark cloud that follows you around then casts a gloomy shadow over the way you view yourself and the world around you.
This can lead to you suffering low self esteem, unable to trust other people and to develop defensive barriers to try and protect yourself against ever being bullied again.
The problem with defensive walls is that they can make you feel isolated because they block other people from getting close to you.
Rather than live a lonely life where you keep everyone at arm’s length, you can choose to take responsibility for recovering from being bullied and changing the negative thought patterns it might have given you.
Bullying is, after all, a primitive form of asserting dominance by ridiculing others, so you need to be able to treat it as such and not exaggerate its importance.
Whether you were picked on because of your appearance or because you said or did something stupid, being bullied because of one thing about you doesn’t mean you’re unlikable, worthless and unacceptable as a whole.
People are just too complicated for that, with too many facets and new experiences developing their characters all the time.
How to overcome being bullied
You firstly have to realise that bullying is unacceptable behaviour, whether at school or at work, and that it wasn’t your fault.
Instead you have to accept that whilst you might have been targeted for ‘special treatment’ that doesn’t mean you’re worthless, unlikable or unacceptable because you’re too complicated to be labelled by a single word.
You then need to start building your self esteem and sense of self worth by filling your life with the pursuit of fulfilling goals and rewarding experiences – take up a musical instrument, join a local film club and just fill your life with positively affirming interactions with other people.
CBT is clinically proven to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder
This idea of healing your mental scars and developing more positive ways of thinking about yourself and other people might sound easier said than done.
But the practices and exercises used in cognitive behavioural therapy to treat the problems of social anxiety that can arise from being bullied have proven to be effective in numerous clinical trials and have helped thousands around the world overcome their fears.
Becoming more socially active and developing healthy relationships with others might sound daunting.
But do you really want the actions of one ignorant bully to be able to impact how you choose to live the rest of your life?