Renegade's Guide - Blog #8
by James Gavsie
We all love the Story of the Bullied kid who gathers their courage and stands up to the bully. We’ve seen it in thousands of movies and TV shows; after getting beaten down relentlessly the underdog finally gathers their courage and successfully confronts the bully. It’s a story that remains popular to this day even though it’s been told millions of times in countless different ways. We never get tired of it. Ever.
And why is that? What is it about this story that makes it so emotionally compelling? Why do we love someone taking a stand?
I’ve got a theory.
The reason we’re so enamored with this story is because it represents Strength, namely the strength that we wish we had when we were in a similar situation but unfortunately couldn’t call upon it.
When I consult with kids, teenagers, and adults who are being bullied I often hear them saying how they wish they had the inner strength to stand up to their respective bullies. Now keep in mind that many of the people who come to see me about their bullying issues have already seen a therapist, psychologist, or specialist of some sort. They’ve been told what to say to the bully. They’ve been told why they should stand up for themselves. They may have even been told how to do it.
There’s still something missing. Gathering that inner strength to execute the anti-bullying game plan is the problem.
For some people it’s fairly easy. Oddly enough, these don’t seem to be the people that get bullied that often. For others, it’s much harder. And when I say others, I’m including myself. At least, how I used to be. I was the gentle giant, or rather the big overweight kid, who didn’t like fighting. I got bullied a lot. And although I knew what words to use and how to say them and even why I should stand up to the bullies the unfortunate truth is I simply didn’t have the courage to do so. This was how things were for me for ears until that one fateful day….
I was in high school in my freshman year. My older brother had befriended some seniors who were the legitimate toughest guys in high school. They had their drawbacks mind you. Sure, they had failed a few grades and were a few years older than everybody else. Sure they were very scary looking. Sure they intimidated anyone, including teachers, who looked at them wrong. However, they looked out for me and the other students who were getting bullied. Think of them as the bully’s bully.
By watching them I saw something interesting. I saw how they stood up for themselves and, more importantly, how they stood up for others that needed it. When I asked them why they defended others they said it was the right thing to do. And that was the catalyst that started me on my own personal transformation from Victim to Victor. To summarize the experience, I saw how inner strength was called upon and used.
They modeled the behavior and actions that I needed for myself. They gave me a visual blueprint to follow. In essence they led by example. That behavior that they modeled became much easier to copy and adopt as my own. Even many years later I can remember the strength of conviction they had when standing up for someone. I can still pull strength from that.
So how does that help us? It’s simple. If we want our kids to be able to stand up for themselves we, as parents, have to show them how to do it. Not just tell them about it. Not just say why it’s important to do so. We actually have to do it… for real. We have to stand up for ourselves and/or for someone else. And our kids have to be there to witness it. And then we have to talk about it with them.
Modeling behavior that we want for our kids to emulate has been used beautifully as a learning tool throughout the ages. In today’s society where we have so many different types of bullies it won’t take long to find yourself facing one of those situations where you’ll have to confront someone who treated you unfairly. Take that as an opportunity to stand up for yourself within viewing distance of your child. Let them see how you calmly and confidently confront the person who wronged you. If the bullying in question was unintentional demonstrate to your kids the reasonable way to deal with it. Show how you avoid over vilifying while at the same time communicating that you will not be pushed around.
And then discuss it openly. Ask your kids how they felt you handled the situation. Ask them what they would have done differently. Create the dialog.
This tactic works, and it works well. You just have to make sure that you can drum up the courage necessary to confront your bully. By doing so, your child will have a better grasp of how to do it for themselves.
Founder of Max Impact Martial Arts
A.K.A. James Gavsie, author of the soon to be released book "The Renegade's Guide to Stopping Bullies"
Follow me on Twitter @jamesgavsie