Sandra Zerner is an M.Ed. that contacted me and requested to guest blog on this website. I couldn’t be happier with what she wrote below. Thank you Sandra for blogging here. ~Alan Eisenberg
WOULD YOU PUNCH YOURSELF IN THE FACE?
By Sandra Zerner, M.Ed.
This is the question bullies need to be asked in order to end the terrible problem of bullying.
No matter what the immediate trigger, bullying is always done, probably on an unconscious level, in order to reduce or get rid of pain. Think about it: do you know anyone who is deeply happy, content, grateful and loving who goes around bullying others?. They have no interest in or need to hurt others because they’re not in pain themselves. Only those who are suffering in some way feel a need to hurt someone else. They are trying to displace their own pain onto someone else. and probably don’t even realize they’re doing it.
So the first thing that needs to be done to help bullies is to help them acknowledge their own pain. One way to do this would be to ask them this very powerful question (which I read in a book by author Neale Donald Walsch):
What is hurting you so badly that you are willing to hurt others in order to heal your pain?
This challenging question helps kids get in touch with the source of their pain. They will need help with this, but once they are able to acknowledge the source of their pain they can learn productive ways of dealing with it. Many techniques and tools exist that kids can easily use to help them deal with their pain. But they have to become aware of it first.
The next step is to help kids understand that hurting someone else is like punching yourself in the face. Why? Because when you hurt someone else, whether it’s with words or fists, you are sending out negative energy. That energy ends up coming right back to you like a boomerang. Whatever you put out comes back to you. This is a concept many scholars have taught and most adults are aware of. But kids need to know that they are mistaken when they believe that teasing, criticizing, calling names, spreading rumors, and all other forms of verbal attack whether in writing (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, websites, etc.) or out loud, does not really make them feel better. They may feel a brief temporary false sense of importance or power, but it is fleeting and quickly gives way to feelings of remorse and sadness.
Many adults have been sharing stories on the Internet of having been bullies when they were younger and have come to the realization that bullying never “worked.” These people all share that they suffered inside their whole lives wondering how seriously they may have impacted their victims. They walk around with a terrible sense of guilt. They know now that the power and feeling of importance they felt temporarily did not help them in any way. Some of them say they suffered more than their victims.
There’s only one reason people do anything: they think it’s working.
Basically, we need to help kids understand that bullying just does not work for them. It doesn’t help them in any way, and, in fact, it only hurts them; once they understand this and learn productive ways of dealing with their pain, they will have an incentive to stop bullying.
Then we can help them take all that negative energy they were using to bully others and help them channel it in a positive direction to help make the world a better place.