How To Be a Friend to Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully?

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Self-Care Tip #253 – Humanize and forgive your bully.

How to be a friend to yourself when thinking about your bully?

Have you noticed that when we think about our bully, we don’t feel so good.  Just thinking about him!  Sheeze!  In our last post on bullying, Nancy said,

Wow! This one brought up WAY too much pain. I’m feeling very vulnerable and uncomfortable and hurt and stupid at the moment. 

There are jumbled emotions that flood us, such as anger, shame, helplessness, anxiety or more.  Our autonomics may even trigger, making us hypervigilant as if we were being attacked.  We are in defense mode – all the while sitting alone in a chair at our desk, in the quiet of our bed while falling asleep, or any other place of our generally hum-drum lives.  These feelings and nervous system changes come in a time and place when we are not in danger.  They come without us realizing their approach, stealth feet and skilled hands; we are in their company before we know it.

Is there no hope?  What can we do so we don’t feel victimized all over again.


1.  Do research on the bully.  Find out about him on the internet.  See what others have said about him.

This helps us:

  1. see him as a human, mortal, without superhuman powers.
  2. feel like we are less alone in this.
  3. realize that we are not chosen, so to speak, to suffer at his hands.  He is a bully and not just around “Me.”
  4. we didn’t cause his behaviors.  He chooses his behaviors because of the same biopsychosocial paradigm that we choose ours.
  5. realize that he hasn’t chosen to do his self-care, making him more vulnerable to his own negative feelings and behaviors.


  1. Humanizing our bully helps us move towards empathy and forgiveness.
  2. Anger debts only hurt Me and that’s not friendly to Me.

Grow our self-confidence

  1. Such as doing our own thing.
  2. Grow our own natural genius.  Work hard at it and see how it is there for us, like a friend when we are feeling pushed down.  Our friend will be standing beside us, reminding us of our value when this remembering tries to beat us down.  Our friend will be there reminding us that this negative event in our life does not define us.

Now if they continue, these rememberings, and if these rememberings are frequent enough that we believe our quality of life is affected, we may be looking at something else.  There are other medical illnesses that can disable our abilities to cope.  In this scenario, I am thinking especially about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

In PTSD, we relive experiences of trauma (which we perceived to have been life threatening to ourselves or observed by us in other(s).)  We may also feel hypervigilant, as if we are about to be attacked at times when our lives are not threatened.  We might have nightmares and avoid things that remind us of the trauma event as well.

PTSD is easily reactivated by other stressful situations – such as being bullied.  When we have a history of PTSD that has been quiet for a time, even years, we are more vulnerable to stressors reactivating it’s symptoms.  Then, although the said stressor may not have been a life-threatening stressor, we perceive similar feelings and neurologic changes we did when in the life-threatening situation.  Then, although the said stressor may be over and not recurring, those PTSD symptoms start happening all over again and may continue indeterminately – propagated by the disease process and not our bully event.

This might be endured and it may go away in time without treatment.  But it isn’t good for anyone while it is happening.  PTSD can improve with medical therapies.

Question:  How have you been able to humanize and forgive your bully?  Please tell me your story.

16 thoughts on “How To Be a Friend to Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully?

  1. “Constantly in defense mode” – Yes, I see that and see how that eats us up and causes diminished performance of other mental processes. Being in that mode all the time has a ripple effect. “Humanism him” – That is a strategy that seems to emanate from scholars on the matter who have not been and who are not now currently being bullied or oppressed. Who have never left the clinic to research “in the field.” To carry it to the extreme can we humanize the monster that is the rapist or child molester? Does our compassion have any effect on the bully’s dynamic of thinking or his actions? Empathy and forgiveness? You gotta be kidding. Do you know what it is like for a 12 year year old to face this on a daily basis for an entire school term? Probably not? Cope? Isn’t coping with a chronic negative stimulus as debilitative as being unable to cope. Coping with chronic stress is deaning as there is never closure. Now we have to cope with the bully and our lowered self esteem.There may be situations where “book smart” stuff is not applicable because we cannot negotiate with the bully. Ultimately we must stand our ground. It may be violent. So be it. And if we wind up in the hospital at least we have redeemed our dignity and the bully will now be on notice that his actions will from now on ALWAYS be met with your violent reaction. I was in the late teen classroom for 34 years and watched teens struggle with this and was bullied as a teen as well. Most often the violent way is the only way out. The only solution is to extract or eliminate the threat or extract ourselves from the environment.

    • ow. there’s a lot here that u covered and little of it pleasant for sure. rape and assault r more than bullying, though they are torture. i do get the gist though. IT ISN’T SO EASY! important point and true in all accounts. keep talking carl.

  2. Some of the people who bullied me are dead. My employer moved away. The pastoral counselor is still around and, as far as I know, still practicing. My husband wanted to start legal proceedings against her but pleas from me and essentially a threat from her supervisor stopped him. I have prayed to feel forgiveness. I have written a letter telling her I forgive her. I keep thinking I have. And then the bullying thing came up on this blog the other day and I responded…and I reacted! I know it’s PTSD. It’s nightmares about this woman, a stomach that won’t settle, and a major fibromyalgia flare I haven’t had a in a long time. I know I’ll settle down eventually and everything will get back to whatever normal is, but I hurt for kids who are bullied. I don’t know how they get through it…and I’m very much afraid, after a conversation with my daughter today, that my granddaughter is being bullied in school and in girl scouts. As a grandmother, I can do very little but love her. As a, for the moment, broken grandmother, I can do almost nothing. I’ve prayed a lot these past few days. Not sure what else to do. Bullying is so emotionally devastating. I’m just glad that maybe it is finally catching the attention of authorities – at least for the children.

    I’m sorry. I’m really hurting and I seem to ramble when I hurt. Didn’t know this subject was going to be so difficult for me.

  3. I still have resentment going back to age 6 and this teacher. My only consolation is that she was most likely mentally ill.

    • yes. i remember too that i felt so needy for my teachers approval and that need almost prepped me for perceived rejections. thank u lisa for sharing this bit of your journey and 1 wy how u cope. keep on~

  4. ” 1. Humanizing our bully helps us move towards empathy and forgiveness.
    2. Anger debts only hurt Me and that’s not friendly to Me.”

    This is something that interests me… I have a hard time having a forgiving nature, as much as I like peacefulness. Because it is so hard for me to let go of anger when I feel I have been “wronged” I work most of the time on trying very hard not to get to the “anger stage” to begin with. This often translates to trying to avoid conflicts at any cost. I’ve crossed paths in my life with people who have a bullying nature—and I have to say, I can’t shake the negative feelings I have about them. I’d love to be able to go through life without the anger debt… It seems to be tied closely to my justice/judgment side. Then there are other people, who have done things that might affect me, but it is easy to forgive them—it totally depends on the event and on what I think their intention was. This is a problematic area for me. At least I am aware of it and I try to mediate it within myself. Unfortunately, I am the kind of person who can hold a grudge for a very long time, and I wish I weren’t sometimes. 🙁

  5. well i was bullied by someone i lived with or and he r***** me. But that was him being a bully now do we look on this as good ? or do we look on it as being good ? being a friend to your self you have to let the pain go and forgive him. He learnt me manners and morals a bit mixed up mind but he kinda also fixed my head to how bad things can get. And what can happen he has my forgiveness and no i didn’t send him to jail he has already been there i was strong and forgave him.

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