Words can cause so much pain and distress to ourselves and others. For a change, I will not be talking about "Self Talk" which is one of my favorite topics. Today I would love if you would watch this inspiring video of an exercise high school students went through run by theChallenge Day Team. The purpose was to teach them the power of their own words to each other. To show them how they had all suffered through some kind of verbal abuse and to also show them how similar they all really were. Children (and some adults) need to be taught that everyone has good qualities and that NO ONE deserves to be ridiculed for ANY reason. What a beautiful exercise this is and I would hope all schools would adopt something similar. While I may say "children" a lot in this post I certainly have met my share of adults that could benefit from this as well. I want to talk about the importance of our words to others and the affects they have, my experiences with bullying and prevention to lessen the effect of bullying.
My Experiences& The Effects of Bullying and Harsh Talk
Yes, I was teased as a child. No, not as much as many others but I think it is pretty miraculous if you make it through childhood without some teasing.My maiden name was Campbelland I can't recall the number of soup references I endured.... I was fortunate to have parents that taught me by example and never talked down to me or called me names. I was also blessed with learning early on (from my parents) NOT to judge people by how they look (they had friends of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientations etc. that were all wonderful people). I was shunned by some "popular" kids in elementary school because I actually did talk to everyone (Yes, ESPECIALLY those everyone made fun of repeatedly). I have always believed there is good in everyone and that everyone deserves respect. Whether it is someone you look up to or someone you think is not on your level somehow - you might be surprised with how much we all have in common. One of my favorite speakers; Wayne Dyer, says he looks at every new person he meets with the message in his mind "What am I meant to learn from this person?" We can indeed learn from every single person we encounter and I think that is a priceless lesson to pass on.
I have heard recently about internet bullying and have a friend whose daughter actually has switched to a tutor and dropped out of school because of that escalating into physical violence. Bullying and teasing has not gotten any better over the years and it is important children learn about bullying so they can be an example to others. Bullying brings down self confidence and brings up self doubt. EVERYONE has positive traits that should be nurtured, rewarded and shared with others. Now with new means to bully through social networking sites, IMing and texting among others this message is more important than ever.
Bullying is not limited in any means to childhood and knowing the importance of treating people kindly is one that stays with you once learned. I took the time during researching this post to think back to times I was teased and bullied and also the times I was not nice to people. I definitely had my moments where I might have "had a bad day" and took it out on an already over-worked and over frustrated customer service person -- whosejobit was to help me. I admit that while I am proud I went to The Bronx High School of Science, being around very smart kids all the time gave me a bit of intolerance to thosewho I deemed"not as smart." In situations with customer service people (and others) I am sure I have appeared arrogant and made people feel I was "talking down" to them. No one deserves that. Everyone deserves to be treated as you want to be treated and that is the golden rule repeated frequently in my house. I am sure I could have learned a lot from them. People that sit and listen to complaints all day have to be made of something special to let it roll off of their back and show up for work the next day.
For a while I worked in IT for a long standing and respected investment company in NYC. The pressure there was horrific. Employees would work on Power Point Presentations to bring in millions of dollars for hours on end and would not save their files. When a computer crashed they would scream, curse and threaten me if I could not recover the file. It played on my self esteem big time. I would hide in the computer room with my nose buried in building computers & fixing hardware and pray the phone wouldn't ring with someone yelling over the next lost file. Of course it always did because I was so obsessed about it. As the wise Carl Jung said "What you Resist Persists" and that it definitely did. I was unfortunately not in the right frame of mind to handle it appropriately or to realize "it was not me" they were angry at. Maybe if I had been open to learning from the customer service people I was so quick to think myself superior to I would have learned some valuable lessons and been able to cope better with my work situation.
Being teased and bullied can have horrible effects on people including embarrassment, altering life activities to avoid humiliation (even if it is an activity you enjoy) and even depression, violence or suicide. The lesson that they teach in this video is so important because it makes the children and teachers realize that everyone endures bullying in some form and it is WRONG in any form.
Prevention From Within and Healing From Bullying
What about "sticks and stones"?
Yeah yeah yeah -- we have all heard it and I know my parents repeated it to me as I have told my kids: "sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me". Truth is, unless the person is 100% self confident and is taught how to deal with insults being thrown at them -- they WILL let the words affect them even if not on the surface they will subconsciously. So prevention is a few steps:
1) Lead by Example
2) Teach children about self confidence and how to deal with disappointment and teasing
3) Teach children about no bullying or teasing and respect of ALL others.
If you are not around children often or want to help in another way you can also get involved with theChallenge Day Teamwho run events (ex. the above video) in communities to spread this important message.
I have mentioned my 2 favorite children's books about Positive Thinking by Wayne Dyer, "Incredible You" and "Unstoppable Me". My children can recite these books by heart and KNOW these lessons which include dealing with difficult situations, ignoring bullies and gaining self confidence. I have watched my son transform from reading these books and by me sharing the lessons I have learned in the last 18 months.
I just finished a book, "Dandelion" which is appropriate for children and adultsthat I think many would enjoy.It is about figuring out one's path in life and what listening to other's harsh words can do. Dandelion was written by Sheelagh Mawe, who is the mother of Mike Dooley from the movie "The Secret" and also has the wonderfullydaily messages and publishing company TUT. Dandelion is a horse, and unlike her mom she does not want to be owned, is thought of as "ugly" and struggles to find her way. It has been given rave reviews and is a beautiful little book with a strong message. Here's one of my favorite quotes;
"Make your own contribution! For that is your obligation and that is how you help others, by example. There's no happiness or satisfaction to be found in helping another before you've learned to help yourself."
We are born knowing "no limits" and feeling we can do anything. As we begin to experience disappointment; don't make teams, don't "have" what others have, are called names, etc.... we need to KNOW how to deal with these issues. If we do not know how to process these issues we store them inside and they do damage (as Tolle in "A New Earth" explains they form the "pain body"). When people are hurting they may lash out at themselves with negative self talk or lash out at others with bullying and teasing. Neither is a good response and either can be prevented.
When children do not learn these lessons they turn into adults that continue to bully. There were some teachers in the above video who also learned a valuable lesson that day. By going to the siteChallenge Dayyou can get involved to try to get an event to your local school or participate in many other ways. However you decide to spread this message it begins within yourself. Try and go through your past and remember the bullying events whether you were on the receiving or the giving end and remember how it felt.Forgive yourself and othersfor the past and live from now. Be the example you want to see and share this message -- it is an important one.