Bullying and Self Esteem: The Bullied and the Bully
Bullying continues to be a pressing threat among students, one that unfortunately is dismissed, misunderstood or ignored. The potential consequences of bullying, however, including dangerously low self-esteem (which can lead to serious, lifelong issues for victims), suggest that we have to address bullying more directly in an attempt to put a stop to it once and for all.
If you are being bullied and experiencing problems of low self-esteem, you should remember that you are not alone. Many individuals are bullied at some point in their lives, and most, if not all, individuals experience low self-esteem. It’s likely even your bully faces this problem from time to time, which could be a reason why they are picking on you (in order to avoid some of the root causes of their own insecurity). Understanding that your experiences are similar to those of others is a great first step towards addressing bullying.
A principle to live by—not just in situations of bullying, but whenever you’re interacting with others—is one of mutual respect. Try to empathize with the needs of others, while at the same time treating them with compassion, especially when they are going through a tough time. Communication is key: if you understand where people are coming from, you can more effectively respond to their actions. In situations of bullying, this actually includes the bully as well. A bully’s problem doesn’t give them an excuse to mistreat others at all, but knowing about this can shed light onto some of the potential solutions for conflicts. You could end up helping them in the end, rather than allowing the cycle to continue.
Overall, bullying is not an acceptable way to manifest low self-esteem. Bullying, even if at face value, can seem like a nuisance and can equate to the physical, verbal, or emotional harassment of another individual. This is certainly not an okay way to treat others, and moreover can lead to some dangerous consequences. It is important to put an end to the bullying as soon as possible, hopefully before anyone gets hurt.
If you are the bullied, stay strong, and know that any hurtful comments or actions are likely coming from a deeper place of insecurity for the bully him/herself. That being said, it’s absolutely important to reach out if the problem persists: speak to a friend or family member that you trust, seek counseling from a teacher or a guidance office, or even contact a help line (like Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868). Low self-esteem as a result of bullying can escalate into serious anxiety or depressive disorders, sometimes even self-harm. Don’t let it get to that point, and don’t wait until it’s too late.
If you are the bully, seriously consider the impact that your actions have on other individuals. If you are going out of your way to make others feel small, maybe you should take a look at your own life, problems, and insecurities before interfering in those of others. In light of the potential consequences that bullying can have on victims, respecting others should certainly be one of your top priorities.