As adults, we’re so lucky that we never have to rely on anyone else for our self-esteem, aren’t we?
We are rational, self-aware beings who fully grasp that the only thing we have the right and ability to control is our own behaviour; that other people’s opinions are immaterial; and that no matter how we might FEEL, we are undeniably and absolutely still worthwhile individuals with the power to influence our portion of the world for better or worse (and on the whole, we choose the ‘better’, though the choice itself is entirely and always within our control).
Isn’t it comforting to know that in spite of anything going on around us, we can be wholly responsible for how we react? That no-one else can make us feel bad without our permission? That we have everything we need to stand, autonomous, and allow the crap to just slide off us, leaving us unblemished?
And so we are left empowered…OR feeling desperately inadequate, because in spite of all the Capable we are ‘meant to be’, personal experience tells me that when you start from a precarious and fragile sense of self-worth, having been a victim of sustained bullying (the definition of which I would expand to cover all forms, from schoolyard to domestic, from cyberspace to workspace; physical or emotional), ESPECIALLY if the bullying took place in the tender, formative years of your childhood, there is very little likelihood that your sense of self is going to be robust enough to withstand the harshness of living in a world which too often lacks compassion.
These things will not ‘just slide off us’, because habit and experience have reinforced the neural pathways which immediately internalise and assume blame for the slings and arrows flung by others.
Worse, with exposure to a sufficiently vicious and ongoing environment of tearing down, undermining and belittlement, not only can you develop a default process of accepting that you somehow deserved this Next Bad Thing, but your own brain can fall under the spell of the power which sought to destroy you. Your very own mind takes sides with whomsoever it was that has designated you ‘less than’. Then you truly are in a pickle, because having accepted that powerful, negative voice as an authority, how can you help but begin to view yourself with similar levels of revulsion and hatred?
This authority may not use the power of sticks and stones to break your body, but its tongue is a weapon which could (and too many times does) prove lethal.
Those words are like toxins thrust into the soul and left there to rot it, slowly, excruciatingly. And sometimes the poisons which are too engrained to purge will become triggered by events in the rest of life, and even many years later, can continue to have a devastating impact. If the wounds in the psyche remain unhealed, it is quite possible that one day the pain of continuing to live just becomes too much, and another damaged soul makes that final, terrible decision to not do it any more.
Bullying can kill.
Fortunately there is an antidote to this slow, agonising decline to un-being, and it lies in The Village.
It’s true that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and for every word spoken in hatred, words spoken in love can help to mitigate the damage. Where there are trusting, nurturing relationships between people, individuals have a secure place from which to build their self-opinion. When people take an active role in building each other up – armouring one another with the outpourings of truth, of kindness; of compassion: of LOVE – then those they care for become resilient; aware of their worth; safeguarded.
Life for me, personally, has been incredibly unstable lately. I’ve had some really bad times, a bunch of meltdowns, and some bad news. I have ongoing anxiety issues, and am still combatting the complexity which occurs when a lack of self-worth tangles itself up with body-image issues, infertility, miscarriage, and the after-effects of four truly horrendous years of marriage thanks to spousal illness.
I have been desperate. I have felt beaten down to nothing. And on various occasions have felt unable to go on, and as though I would like the pain to stop, once and for all.
The Village saved me, and it, too, used language backed up by action, so demonstrating beyond shadow of a doubt that it believed what it was saying, and that I was a worthy recipient of its message. Each time I felt like doing something drastic and making the pain stop forever, The Village stepped in (whether it knew it or not) and delivered that message which let me understand that even if my sense of self-worth was so low, and my anguish so intense that the prospect of just stopping breathing began to look tempting, I couldn’t do it.
I care too much about the people in my Village to put them through that pain and loss, and that was what kept me going – what kept me moving forward over bridges, rather than off the edge of them – the wonderful, breathtaking idea (which still feels almost too precious to hold) that I would be desperately missed. That I mattered.
The words The Village used?
“I love you”
I will live to learn why.
Compassion. Friendship. Understanding. Care. Nurturing. Loyalty. Encouragement. Trustworthiness. Building-up. Security. Respect. Peace-making. LOVE.
Those things Build from Bullying. Those things build The Village.
And The Village saves lives.
We’re stronger together – please build it with me.
This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a particular focus on Building from Bullying, as well as the broader topic of compassion.
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American Indian Mom, Finding Ninee The Quiet Muse, Chronically Sick Manic Mother, Just Gene’o, Driftwood Gardens,Getting Literal, Head Heart Health, The Meaning of Me, Paper,Pen,Pad, Blogitudes, 1000Speak, YvonneSpence
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