Thoughts on Bullying

Last week, there were many common strands in the stories you told us about the people and animals in your lives. Animals were unusually restless and showed some out of character aggressive behaviors. People were having lots of difficulty with bullies and their controlling behaviors. It seemed some energy change was afoot on the planet and we were all scrambling a bit to figure out how to accommodate the change.

The Angels offered Flower Essence ideas. They suggested more Anxiety, Grounding, and Golden Armor Flower Essences than usual. They also suggested various Venus Garden mixes since these are so helpful with adapting to change. Of course, I continued to suggest my friend Flow Free and the Angels suggested that one as well. I usually had my quart jar of Flow Free water at my side to toast this suggestion whenever it was made. In fact, I can pause right now to take a sip!

The Angels last general comment went in another direction than Flower Essences. They suggested again and again, that everyone, four footed and two footed, spend more time outside in Nature.

As I heard a lot of stories about bullies and bullying behavior, I saw in this behavior attempts to feel “in control” in the face of change. Much as I could vaguely understand the behavior, I still found myself reactive to the bullying. The primary person in my childhood, my mother, was a terrible bully to me and others. Last week left me looking long and hard at how I coped with this then and how I cope with this now.

As a child, I fell into line when bullied. I was a poster child for good behavior. And I took my inner life far, far away from the bully’s realm. Nature was my solace and my safe retreat, as was the world of my imagination, my dollhouse, and my beloved books.

As an adult, I am still in a learning curve about bullying. As I listened to stories of bullying bosses, bullying in-laws, bullying friends and co-workers, children bullying parents, parents bullying children, doctors bullying patients, I realized my strong reactions were probably not very helpful to the person being bullied, given that they came from remembered childhood feelings of powerlessness and not from an adult perspective of acknowledging the gifts I have harvested from my encounters with bullies. I took comfort in the fact that in addition to my intense personal reactions to your stories, I also called in the Angels to offer their guidance and Essence suggestions, suggestions offered from a much more balanced place. I also tried to be accepting of my own process here and gently acknowledge to myself that there are good reasons why bullying is a particular challenge for me.

By the end of the week, I realized I wanted to really sort out what I had learned from a childhood of being bullied and think more about how I process this dynamic now. So I thought about this a lot over the weekend and arrived at a clearer understanding of what I had learned.

My experiences of being bullied earned me an acute awareness of bullying energy. I recognize it in the nuances of entitlement, snobbism, ideas of intellectual and cultural superiority, as well as outright physical bullying of a weaker, less socially powerful person. I saw it all and heard the justifications. This makes me a good sounding board for people who wonder if they really are being bullied.

Having experienced so much bullying, I try not to be a bully myself. I am glad I have this intention in life, even as I probably fall short in ways I don’t recognize. I made this choice because of my experiences being bullied. That was a gift of my childhood experiences. However, my thinking this weekend made me realize more clearly than before how I internalized the bullying I received into a heavy handedness with myself. Breaking habits of self bullying has been a focus of my adult life, but this work is not done.

Here are some hopes I have after thinking about this issue more. When I hear about other people being bullied, I need to be kinder to myself about my strong reactions. I have unrealistic and unkind expectations about achieving some sort of detached emotional state that might be more empowering to them. Right now I can’t do this when I hear stories that remain so highly charged for me. I need to accept that it is enough that I own my reaction as mine and offer the perspective of the Angels who actually can be detached.

I also need to remind myself during my own confrontations with bullies that I am not in the same powerless place I was in as a child. I need to reassure the little Molly that lives within me that she is now safe from this kind of bullying and that the adult part of me can and will protect her from these kind of situations and people. It seems like I actually need to have this conversation with little Molly. If I don’t tell her that adult Molly is going to protect her, she thinks she has to go into super good behavior mode, like with the Sears man last week. As someone pointed out to me in an email, maybe my treatment of my stovetop warranted some complaint from Sears about my appliance maintenance, however, nothing warranted the Sears man’s bullying behavior.

I also thought about the Angels suggestion to handle this bullying dynamic and general feeling of disequilibrium by spending more time in Nature. It occurred to me that the natural world is a good model of flowing with change. Nature is all about change. And Nature processes change without bullying. Nature is a sanctuary from bullying. This feels like a rather bold statement, but it feels true to me. Yes, animals eat other animals, but this is a natural law not motivated by a bullying energy. When household animals are bullying, perhaps it is an expression of living in a dynamic more like the human community than how they would live in the wilds. The ” I am better than you” ideas behind bullying are ideas of the human community not the natural world. Nature operates from a model of oneness and this eliminates any dynamic of bullying. Balance, whether in the form of weather extremes, or my favorite, slug infestations, is about balance. It is not about bullying. Acknowledging all this helped me to see why Nature was a solace for me as a child and why Nature remains a solace for me as an adult. It always helped me find balance and still does. It has been and continues to be a sanctuary from bullying and also a sanctuary from my confusions about bullying!

So that said, I am off to cut Red Shiso for a couple of hours. I have cut about half the crop since the end of last week. It is hanging in the little building where we dry the Red Shiso and so far, the crop is drying very purple. Such a good moment to have navigated the frost dangers long enough for the crop to get good and purple. A good moment. One I will savor.

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