An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. -Gandhi
My heart breaks at times for the suffering so many experience at the hands of a bully. I remember in kindergarten whacking the grade five school bully over the side of the head with a book and then running like hell as the hot breath of terror breathed down my back. Over 30-years later I can still remember the fear that had me glancing over my shoulder each step I took to school for the next year. Though maybe my book bag was heavy enough to ward the bully off as he never came back.
What I know now is that you can’t end bullying by bashing a bully over the head. Bullying starts with a bully but where does the bully begin?
No one is born a bully. Bullies are made. They feel disconnected, angry and alone.
I remember a girl in high school who was pretty, rich and a mean bullying girl. We were all terrified of crossing her. One drunken night she tried to take her own life. I remember being in a bathroom just a short time later as she confessed to me she felt alone, unwanted and ugly. Her parents were often away and she was alone in a big house by herself. She felt like people only wanted to be with her because of what she had or because they were afraid of her so she made sure they were really afraid of her. It is a shocking moment to see your bully revealed as a person with deep wounds.
It gave me awareness at age 16 that people who were angry were angry to keep the sadness at bay. People who were violent had forgotten how to be any other way. And the most powerful lesson was that if we can find love for them we can start to be the catalyst to help them see their true reflection and help them heal. My “friend” did not change over night but she became softer and less hurtful once she knew she had someone who accepted her as she was.
Bullies have witnessed power imbalances, perhaps violence and been the victim of it. They do not become bullies because they want to be – they don’t yet know any other way or they are terrified of any other way. Sometimes they have witnessed love as a source of pain so to love is the scariest thing they can do.
They hide their light or they do not know their own inner light but they have not lost it. They do not know they are worthy and worthy of love. They are fearful of others and so protect themselves through a strong defensive armor that keeps others at bay through their victimizing behavior.
When we blame the bully we become the victimizer and the bully becomes the victim. We actually perpetuate the cycle. What if we could love all – even the bullies as the greatest teachers preach? What if we could show the victimizer and the victims that there is another way?
What if at the same time we could inspire, elevate and help grow an “army” of teenage girls who spread caring, acceptance and a sense of responsibility for self and other in the world? What if we taught them key mindfulness techniques to learn to direct their thoughts in powerful ways? What if we taught them to see their own beauty through movement therapies that celebrate each person, our connection to each other and the Earth? What if we taught them to become powerful creative forces in the world so that they truly knew the potential of their own voice, their own genius and their own heart? What if we taught them ways to direct their own lives and to be a force of love in the world? What if in only a few short years young girls became women who did not ever contemplate suicide?
I can’t get on the blame train. I prickle at the people who point their fingers and call for an end to bullying. Of course we should end bullying but how? Do you yourself become a bully when you witness it? Do you yourself want to punish or persecute the bully? Where in you lives your own bully? Where in you lives your victim? As we ask these deep questions we can more fully accept, love and help those who bully. Remember the bully is a person full of potential and light even if we can’t always see it.
I cry for those who suffer both as the bullied and the bully. I pray I have healed all parts of myself enough to love the persecutor and not to become one. I ask to be given the strength to love those who are cruel, mean, unjust and hurtful and more than anything I seek to be a vessel of love in the world so I may know the deep truth of myself and all.
About Shasta Townsend:
Shasta Townsend is a passionate lover of life, cultivator of possibility and guide to radiant being both on and off the Yoga mat. She is the creator and director of Balanced Life Yoga, a freelance wellness, travel and well-being writer and a leader in grounded transformational spirituality. Her love of freedom and joy and her intention to always expand takes her to fresh and exciting places on the mat and around the globe. She offers group and individual transformation to help people live a life they love. Her own heart-based creation, Balanced Life Yoga is a community of light, transformation and possibility. You can connect with her in class or private sessions there (www.balancedlifeyoga.ca) or on Facebook (and follow her exploits and unfoldings).
More INspiration from Shasta Townsend:
Yes it is true. Unless of course you don’t find it attractive when people are calm, present and listening.
If you ask people what they want most in their relationships they would probably say deep connection. They want to feel seen, heard and safe. When we feel this way we open up deeper and allow ourselves to be witnessed, loved and truly in union. We create new levels of joy, trust and honest connection. Essentially we experience a state of Yoga through relationship.
Things ARE always working out for me…and they can for you too.
Recently I told an acquaintance this and she said, “Really? Why?”.