Firstly, I was bullied, teased and picked on as a kid…until I punched a bully in the nose…so I thought that was an effective anti-bullying technique.
Karen has a hard road ahead of her with this book if she is going to change my mind!
Karen is challenging me on that but also acknowledges that no one should be subjected to physical violence.
Here’s the quotes that resonate with me so far:
“…a person is NOT their behaviour”
“Within every perceived monster is a wounded angel”
“No strategy can successfully bring about lasting change until the violence or threat of violence has been removed”
“Physical bullying has no place in this discussion and requires a zero-tolerance approach.”
“Why do bully’s bully? Because they can.”
“The difference between feeling bullied and empowered is self-belief. You cannot be made to feel small, you can only choose to feel so.”
Challenged by the last comment as I know and have helped those that have been continually beaten down and bullied over time and that comment in isolation is a large chasm to cross.
Also challenged at how quick we are to address physical bullying yet it is the psychological bullying that hurts more.
I also understand though, this is just the start of the book and its great that these challenges are being created in my mind, to note down and carry with me through the book in the hope that they are addressed further on.
Enjoying the read, feeling challenged, yet hopeful.
The language level is higher than that which I speak or learn which is causing me to concentrate more which is an added bonus.
Into definitions, backgrounds and myths on bullies.
Agree that bullies are weak and target those that they can, but one myth that Karen wrote about challenged me.
Myth# 2 Bullies seek out weak people
Here Karen writes that bullies often seek out those who possess and demonstrate traits and characters they are LACKING in. Which makes sense to the classic assault I dealt with as a Cop where a guy out for dinner with his girlfriend is accosted by a group of thugs…or in the book where those who get on with others or who are artistic are bullied.
My mind adds to this myth immediately supporting this myth with a truth. Bullies do not bully STRONG people.
That definition of strong in the physical sense is true. No bully is going to pick on the school boxing champ! But wait…
That’s only physical bullying. What hurt me were the words, the teasing, the labels and being made fun of. That’s the bit I want to get into.
I feel at this stage that there is more importance being shown to the bully than the victim at this stage of the book although my logical brain knows this will provide a solution to the entire issue…but as that bullied kid, I don’t give a s**t about the bully…yet. And that is the bridge I’m trying to cross in studying this book.
I can destroy a bully. But that just causes pain to the scared kid inside that bully.
I want to protect people from bullies, then help heal that bully.
Hopefully at the end of this book I’ll get there.
And for anyone struggling with bullying, I hope one day you can get to the point in the quote. But unfortunately so much of our value we seek from others…
Day 4 – Perception and Projection and The Blame Game.
OK. When I first showed my book to a psychologist, they mentioned Carl Jung so I had a base understanding, but this chapter was hard for me to read and understand because I am a visual/picture type learner, but I got there in the end.
A very powerful chapter that would have been easier to understand by people like me, or parents wanting to read a bullying book that may not understand or learn by text to have some form of visual aid/picture/diagram. This verbal explanation mirrors a diagram I put in my book (See the picture) called “How things work according to Dion” which was my way of explaining ‘expectations’ which was part of what Karen wrote here, that I didn’t have the literary skill to articulate.
I got through that chapter into The Blame Game chapter and they fit together well. Its building the understanding of how a bully is created now in my mind, and seeding the power of the victim to free themselves emotionally from the power that the bully is trying to exert over them.
A mind stretch for me because I am having to read above my level of English, but that’s how we grow!
Still in it!
Day 5 – Critical Acclaim – Testimony of constant subtle bullying
Getting momentum now after struggling over the wording in the last chapter, Karen is balancing the victim and offender cause and effect relationship and again reinforces that this is all a pattern and other people putting their projections on you.
Dealing with workplace bullying that I have dealt with quite a lot (and recently), these words resonate when you are the person that comes into the workplace and increases morale and productivity and how they then turn on you subtly first (when you are 6″4 and 115kgs it is seldom overtly done) then try to undermine what you do:
“The person who is feeling fearful, angry or jealous will never be appeased by the actions of another, because those feelings are always present regardless of what is happening around them.
There is literally nothing you can do if you are in a relationship with a jealous and insecure bully. At best you can hope for is a temporary calm and a short peaceful period until the next trigger happens…
…they inevitably blame those who surround them and see others as the instigators and cause of all dramas and upsets in their life.”
Being able to take the messages and put them into real life context increases understanding which is why the testimony is so powerful in story-telling.
Can’t wait to hear what solutions Karen advises.
This coping strategy in the interim I agree with though:
“In these situations keep a strong sense of self.”
Day 6 – Why Can’t You See Me?
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Dr Martin Luther King.
Oh oh, this struck an immediate nerve on my journey in the veteran support space…This will be interesting.
This chapter is very powerful because we’ve learned about projections from the previous chapters. You can’t control other peoples perception of you nor can you behaviour alter that. It is quite freeing…yet a throat punch can stop them being a wanker to you though…putting boundaries in place that you will not accept crossing I think is also healthy (I’m still learning Karen Clarke!)…Very important chapter. Im going to keep reading…
Day 7 – Hidden in the dark-Amanda’s story…
Alright, now I’m ****en angry. This piece of ****… man treats his wife this way and I’m supposed to continue to want to help the bully at the end of this book to break the cycle? **** that! When I was a cop I attended multiple domestic violence situations and one sticks in my mind where (thankfully and legally) I was justified in using ‘reasonable force’ to defend myself against a husband who was literally ‘holding his wife by the hair and punching her in the head while she was trying to get her daughter out of the kitchen…thats when I entered the room and pulled him off. He then turned on me and I dealt with him…legally, and painfully for him.
THAT interaction, her seeing me physically deal with her husband gave her the courage to go through with the court case where every other arrest, resulted int he complaint being dropped by her…because that’s what happens in domestic violence cases most of the time… When the prosecutor asked her why she felt so confident to go through with this case, she said (I’ll never forget this) “I used to think my husband was the scariest person on the planet. That there was no-one that could protect me from him…until that young cop came through the door and I saw the look in his eyes. He would have died to protect me. I knew then that if there were more like him, I could be safe.”…so I know the next chapter will lead me towards breaking the cycle, because its called From Bullied to Bully, and I’ve been there too, but f**k does this chapter set off the protector in me!!!
Rant over, will let it flow and see how I go with the next chapter…(deep breaths, its all about love…grrrrr)
Day 8 – From Bullied to Bully – Ryans Story
OK this resonates as well. My family was AWESOME. My Dad used to clip my ears if I looked sideways or answered my Mum back. Dad was a Mummy’s boy and I was brought up to respect women starting with my Mum, Sister and Nana.
I was brought up with ‘a man never hits a woman’ (when I would complain that I got the belt and my sister didn’t) and you always go to the aid of a woman in trouble…Ryans story of getting into fights to protect others resonated with me because I did the same when my mate Dip was killed. I wrote in my book that I became a werewolf and looked for conflict because I wasn’t able to protect Dip. My best mate Mapu called me on it, because I had become a bully in a sense, like Ryan did in this chapter thinking he was doing the right thing. I’ve never had domestic violence in my family, and never had anything by awesome and open dialogue with my parents.
I get what Karen Clarke is going here with the cycle, but I am still of the opinion that a bully that has boundaries that are able to be enforced and they are held accountable in order to protect the victim first, has to be stage one. From there, as Karen has said in previous chapters, it is not until the bully ‘owns their shit’ (as James Greenshields would say) can they get better. I also have to acknowledge that although there may be other reasons for the outbursts and behaviour, such as PTSD, mental issues, drugs etc…that’s the bullies behaviour to own and the victim and the family should never be subjected to it. Calming down now…maybe one more chapter…
Day 9 – When Friends Turn Away…
Oh how this is sooooo true. Interesting chapter to put next to the last one…its almost as if Karen’s personal journey is unfolding…was this chapter to seed that you can move on? or was it written in isolation of the previous chapters?…not sure yet. Loving these short chapters though.
Day 10 – Homophobia. A VERY short chapter here. In NZ when I was a community Constable, over 60% of all youth suicide related to gender/sexuality issues. From confusion to bullying. Hopefully some more practical tips and advice for if a teenage kid is reading this chapter that is either confused, (natural) or gay and struggling with bullying. In all chapters of this book I take on the mindset of someone going through what each chapter is talking about and making sure I have a takeaway or at the very least understanding and encouragement. That wasn’t contained in this chapter, so looking out for it in later chapters.
Cyber-Bullying. Critical component for suicide related issues. Again, I would have like to seen links to tools that parents can use, or a case study here. What would have been really powerful would have been a parent and child example of cyber-bullying and how they dealt with it. Again, for a critical component, a very short chapter.
No Kidding. AHA! Here is the information I was looking for. Not sure about the title and in the last chapter, it should refer to this chapter.
This chapter is exactly the format and advice that I would have liked to see in the Homophobia chapter and the cyber-bullying chapter.
This format has the background, the risks and the risk mitigation strategy. I didn’t see that in the Homophobia or Cyber-bullying chapters.
Starting to eat this book now. One bite at a time.
It doesn’t flow for me yet, but I’m getting gold nuggets and its making me think and shift my perception, which is AWESOME!
Day 11 – A Change In Thinking
Knowing Karen’s story this was a reinforcement but with a very profound quote in it:
“Things alter for the worse spontaneously; if they be not altered for the better designedly.”
Karen made a DECISION to change here thinking it all starts there.
At the end of that short intro to Section 3, there is a story called ‘The Old Cracked Pot.’ This was POWERFUL! I would have started the book with an intro speaking to who would likely read this book and tell this story.
Day 12 – Expressive or Impressive
Quote of the chapter:
‘Obviously a fresh approach is called for as conventional wisdom has not as yet delivered effective answers.’
OK, that quote kept me interested in this chapter as I began reading the book, learning as all people learn, by anchoring to what they already understand and expand from there. I started in the mindset of when I was a bullied kid, to see if the book would speak to me…it did a little at the start with the others stories, but not in a profound way yet…in the mindset of a protector, the book just sounds like its making excuses for the bully…in the mindset that I type this in and the dominant mindset of an open mind, looking to learn other perspectives and to grow and attack the problem at its source and look for a solution based approach, I really enjoyed this chapter. Another stretch, another perspective, but it makes sense.
I still feel that the flow of the book is difficult to concentrate on and I’m having to discipline myself to stay focused going from chapter to chapter as I don’t feel as though they link yet. Perhaps that is because I am stretching my mind or the chapters were written in isolation.
Time will tell, the journey continues!
Conclusion: From Bullied To Brilliant
Firstly, I learned so much about myself as a bullied kid, why people bully and how to break not only the hold it has over you for much of your life, but in my case, why I went so far the other way…to fight bullies globally as a trained killer. A Soldier. Then to the Police, then to Close Personal Protection.
Why my life’s purpose was shaped from the teasing, the bullying and how that felt.
Now, I struggled with the book from the start. It wasn’t written in my language and as a bullied kid, would have put the book down if I didn’t know Karen.
The reason is because of the title. I as a bullied kid wanted to learn how to then be brilliant.
This is not what the book was at the start or through reading the chapters. It was a battle with myself, my feelings, emotions and hatred of bullies.
When Karen says that bullied kids become bullies, I disagreed 100%…however, I did become a bully. I learned how to use fear and pain to control people as a soldier. Indeed, we are created to do this.
In the military world the word bully does not resonate, nor am I calling all military people bullies. What I am saying, is that if you break what a bully is down to controlling others using fear and pain, it is exactly what we do…however…
In the military world this is survival. The civilian word bullying with the same meaning in the military was ‘bastardisation.’ When you used the mechanism of fear and pain to increase learning and to be conditioned to fear and pain in order to survive battle, it is acceptable and logical. When you cross the line and physically or sexually abuse someone in that process, that is bastardisation…where you destroy the spirit. That is the civilian context of bullying.
Would I recommend the book? This is a tough one, because the way the book is written in its current form, the title should be “Understanding Bullies.” And as a bullied kid, I didn’t really care about that at all!
In my stage of the journey wanting to grow to a higher level and actually stop bullying as a parent, my priority is to protect my kids first, help the bully a very distant second…or 22nd…
I would recommend this book to those looking to understand bullying as a whole and to transcend their understanding from emotional responses to grow at a deeper level.
I have written two bullying book outlines to protect kids and adults from the effects of bullying that I have entitled “Bullies Beware!” How to bully-proof your kids.
Before reading Karen’s book, I would have fed the cycle of bullying. Now that I’ve read it and my understanding has increased, I can protect people from bullies, help them to help the bully we can help and make sure the bully that doesn’t want to change steers clear!
Would I recommend the book? Yes. But it will challenge you. If you are up for that, then read it.