Essentially – bullies have tasked themselves with the job of giving you feedback. Today I explore the idea that bullies bully with the intent to make someone self-aware. A strange way to try to improve something, but one worthy of exploration, all the more.
In an ideal world we get appropriate feedback from the people around us which will help us make us further self-aware – what we can improve on, where else we can look. Bullying, in a sense, I think is originally an attempt to do the same thing – to make someone aware of something that they do, that they should better stop. You may have noticed some people never do this, others do more, and others do it very aggressively.
Personal context: I have been accused of making people “self-aware” ever since I met other kids at school. I spoke my mind a lot, unfiltered. Hence I did not have an easy time making friends. But nobody ever considered me a bully – neither did I. What came out of my mouth was accidental, and you could never say that it was a lie or untrue. Now, I am aware this might sound like a think very highly of myself – but hey hang in there (yeah I think quite highly of myself btw). I think what it may have been – I directed people’s attention to where they didn’t want to look; and it was uncomfortable for everyone involved. The king isn’t wearing any clothes. Now, whether what I did was necessary or not is a whole other issue – speaking my mind was not rewarding to me, I got punished for it, even – yet it didn’t seem to motivate me to change. Either way, I wasn’t a bully, I was annoying for other reasons. For the sake of this meditation, call it being Pippi.
I’ve met bullies, I’ve suffered bullies – and they’re still around. And up until today I didn’t really figure that the idea behind bullying is very similar to what I was doing when I was a kid. It is an attempt to make the victim aware of something. It is as much as feedback as the shit I pulled.
But there is a difference – well, several, actually. Not only is bullying an active and aggressive form of behaviour with the side effects of some strange feedback, it is also a very reckless and form of feedback – mainly because the bully overestimates their situational awareness, or mistakes something that they are imagining is going on – a hallucination – with reality.
While Pippi only opens her mouth when there is something to direct attention to – when something of significance has just EXTERNALLY emerged, a Bully opens his mouth when something emerges INTERNALLY.
The unpleasant feeling a Pippi might address in you is a very different unpleasant feeling that a Bully will call up in you.
In one case you suddenly feel naked and want to run and cover up; in the other case you may feel disgusted, because someone is trying to puke their newly emerged internal conditions on you. They might express their insecure feelings with an attempt to exert control over the situation, other people, team members etc. They may have gotten slighted by something. Or they simply believe in something very dumb, and those beliefs make them see things happening that aren’t really happening.
The Bully kind of feedback is particularly repelling because it is not true. The bully isn’t really paying attention to anything new or anything significant – but rather is nitpicking, assuming you’re dumb, assuming you didn’t see something that you actually did see – OR is completely unaware of all the other things you were ALSO paying attention to, which might have made it look to him as if you weren’t paying attention to some little thing that he thought, matters. So, the bullies jump at you with an insult, a tease, a piece of criticism. And you will naturally feel insulted.
For some reason my first instinct, for a long while was to feel insulted. I took it as the other person just let me know he thinks I’m a retard. Of course I want to tell him to “fuck off.” Now, I don’t think we should focus on the bullies good intentions and be forgiving and thankful, but rather realise his low quality input is more informational of the bully than of our performance or awareness. So, the appropriate feeling here might be pity.
A classic situation is where an idiot makes a very low-awareness comment and you tell him to fuck off, and he proudly comes back with “learn to take criticism, you need self-awareness.” It is exactly funny because the one preaching self-awareness appears to be the least self-aware in this situation. The Bully assumes he is a Pippi – he mistook his internal conditions for external. And when someone is trying to enforce their hallucinations (and solutions to their hallucinated problems) on you – of-fucking-course you get disgusted, someone is attempting to change reality based on their hallucinations – that calls for a slap on their hand.
I think we all have this Pippi inside of us. But with deeply held beliefs, quick assumptions, lazy labels – we are not really fit to hold up a mirror to another person – it would not be a mirror, it would be a grandiose, unrealistic self-portrait. The magic solution here appears to be knowing to tell the difference between internal and external conditions hmm…