What to do if you think you are bullying someone

What to do if you think you are bullying someone Brighter Life Therapy

As we have stated in a previous blog (click here to read What impact does bullying have on our mental health?), bullying is defined as behaving negatively towards other people with the intention to cause harm. 

In the previous blog, we spoke of the situations where bullying occurs, and the negative impact it has on those being bullied. But we have not covered what to do if you, yourself, are bullying others. So why do some people bully? And in what ways is it harmful to the bully, as well as the victim?

Thoughts behind bullying

It has been theorised that there are particular thoughts behind the act of bullying, and can lead people to believe they are not actually bullying at all. For example:

  • “I’m not being that mean.”
  • “They’re my friend, they know I’m joking”
  • “Other’s around me are saying/doing worse things”
  • “The person/group deserve it.”

But because they are just thoughts, thankfully they can be talked about and changed, leading to more positive interactions and behaviours towards others.

Reasons behind bullying behaviour

There are many reasons why bullying may occur. One reason may be that it is a learnt behaviour. From a young age, a person may have had bullying demonstrated to them and, therefore, may see that type of behaviour and form of communication as okay. If bullying behaviour is targeted at a particular group of people, that prejudice has also likely been taught and learnt.

Another reason may be the person is also being bullied themselves. Being bullied can lead to people feeling belittled, humiliated and likely develop low self-esteem. One way of attempting to regain power and control can be to ‘take it out’ on others. For example, an individual may be experiencing bullying or abuse from a parent at home. They may continuously feel trapped within a difficult situation. This may bring forward a multitude of painful thoughts and emotions that can be hard to work through, especially at a young age. As a result, the individual projects these insecurities and difficulties onto others.

A third influence of bullying behaviour is it occurring in groups. This is one example of ‘majority influence’, whereby the actions of a wider group can influence the actions of individuals. Those within a social friendship group usually share similar opinions, and behave in similar ways. This is how bullying can become a group behaviour, with multiple individuals within the group participating.

Social desirability can also have an impact, as each person may wish to remain an accepted member of the group, thus following along with the others to not be isolated, or even bullied, themselves.

What to do if you think you are bullying someone Brighter Life Therapy
A group of young people at college chatting in a positive, healthy way

Impact of bullying on the bully

In a previous blog, we focused on the impact bullying has on others. But actually, bullying certainly has a negative impact on those who bully too. For example:

What to do if you think you are bullying someone Brighter Life Therapy
What to do if you think you are bullying someone Brighter Life Therapy
What to do if you think you are bullying someone Brighter Life Therapy
What to do if you think you are bullying someone Brighter Life Therapy

How can we stop bullying?

The positive flip-side to this coin, however, is that these thoughts and behaviours can certainly can be unlearnt, as well as replaced with more positive forms of communication.

  • What about other people’s point of view? Sometimes it helps to consider how other’s feel when they’re being bullied. This can help deter an individual from bullying, as they possibly don’t realise the impact it can have.

  • What are the reasons behind this behaviour? There are many reasons why people bully others, and it is important for those who do bully to identify those driving thoughts and emotions.

  • Find healthier avenues for aggressive & angry behavior. If one of the driving reasons behind bullying is built-up anger, find an enjoyable and safe activity as a healthy avenue for these emotions. Physical activity can help with this especially. For more information on anger management, you can read our blog on this topic here.

  • Talk to someone. It is understandable that bullying is difficult to admit to others, but talking to someone can be a really positive step forward. It can also help when figuring out why the bullying is occurring and the steps required to make it stop.

  • Seek professional help. Sometimes it helps talking to someone who doesn’t know you as well, to help challenge difficult thoughts and emotions, as well as the behaviour they can lead to.

Can Brighter Life Therapy help?

As we have stated, bullying can be influenced by certain mental health difficulties. We can certainly provide mental health support for those who need it, including those who engage in bullying behaviour.

Brighter Life Therapy provides fast access to CBT and counselling treatment, which you can read about here. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0118 40 50 108 or by emailing info@brighterlifetherapy.co.uk

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