Saturday, June 27, 2009

The psychological effects of bullying carry far into adulthood - an analysis by me.

One of the most prominent things that I remember from my childhood was feeling bullied, pushed around and abused, being frightened of other people who enjoyed the fact that I was frightened of them and feeling helpless and controlled by others who had wicked intentions. I was constantly aware of my small size, excessively thin frame and tendency for violent emotional outbursts which instead of intimidating the bullies, simply added further fuel to the fire and caused them to torment me further.

I do not blame anyone for this, nor do I hold bitterness towards those responsible. The purpose of this letter is to acknowledge and confront the fact that this kind of treatment when one is currently going through what is arguably their most impressionable age has a far greater impact on the human heart and soul than what is often realized at the time, and that the deeply felt effects of this abuse carries on far into adulthood and can greatly affect the adult lives of those who were prominent victims of childhood shame, abuse and bullying.

The psychological effects of such abuse is very deeply felt and realized and often subconsciously we build walls around the real depths of our damaged psychological profile and build fake lives around keeping ourselves safe from the damage we have already received into the core of our own hearts. We are not living out of a real place when we do this, but a fake one and our entire lives become a bubble that we create around ourselves. However, reality does not favor those with such bubbles, much as they expect it to. Life is not fair and does not choose to exalt some into a place of complete freedom from suffering - we must all suffer in our existence. Therefore it is inevitable that our bubbles, however thick and well constructed, will one day be pierced and we will be forced to face our own reality.

I write this now as since coming to Taupo my own bubble has been greatly pierced and I have been forced to face up to some of the realities I have carried inside myself for many, many years. The most prominent thing I have been realizing is a direct result of childhood bullying and abuse - the feeling of complete helplessness and powerlessness that comes over you when you realize that there are people who strongly dislike you and take pleasure out of your suffering who will be waiting for you once school finishes, or once the lunch bell rings. You are painfully aware of your own shortcomings and are beaten down on a subconscious psychological level without even realizing it, and are shoved into a victim mentality and head space before you even know it. You begin to dread school, or where ever the bullying takes place, and even once you are in a safe environment such as home you are unable to feel safe as you are continually filled with dread with the knowledge that sooner or later you are going to have to go into that situation again where you are powerless to change anything, as those causing your torment are often far bigger than you, or have much greater numbers.

The resulting psychological profile that you are subconsciously thrust into is as follows - I am weak. I am powerless. I cannot fight anyone who tries to attack me, nor can I stand up for myself or influence anything. If I try to influence anyone or anything, my feeble attempts at taking charge of a situation that is hurting me will result in a complete collapse as I do not have the inner mental strength to see it through. If I am overly nice to people, perhaps they will not hurt me. Therefore I spend my entire life in fear, hoping that someone will choose not to bully me today because if they do I am unable to do anything about it. My life is not mine, but yours and is in your hands completely, so I cannot let myself become angered or defensive as you will not be influenced by it, but will simply destroy me as soon as I do anything that you don't like as the power over my life is not mine but in the hands of the abuser.

The victims lose the ability to take charge of their own lives, make decisions and often find it very difficult to truly trust people and really connect with others in relationships. They feel as if in their life that they are alone on a little boat that is violently thrown around in a cruel, unrelenting storm that never ends and their only hope in many ways is for the storm to just crush them in order to put them out of their misery, as there is no hope for the storm to ever die down. The victim stores all of this up in the core of their heart and without realizing it, lives their entire life out of this mentality, too afraid to do anything and take any chances, afraid of themselves, their own feelings and their own power and of real, honest connections with those around them who genuinely care for them. If unchecked, these deeply held behaviors that are drilled into the core of a persons being from a young age can destroy their entire lives and cause them to live a life ruled by fear, a life of cowardice and a life of unstable hope and foundations that will one day eventually collapse all around them.

My answer to this, and even my realization of this, has come through my conversion to Christianity. Due to my childhood experiences I wanted nothing but a totally safe life, where I could keep a lid on the reality of where I had come from and live in a nice secure bubble. However, God has taken me through everything but that. At first I resented the journey I was on and wanted to live a nice, shallow and safe life, but as time went on and the trials became more persistent I realized that this was no way to live, and that true peace and freedom was never going to come from external circumstances but from inside my own heart. And inside my own heart was a black empty void of pain and fear and if I really wanted my life to improve, the choice I had was not to turn and run from that which I was facing, but to allow myself to really journey into those dark areas and find out what was really going on.

As time has gone on and I have done that, I have found peace, strength and confidence that was never there before. It has not come through evasion of my own truth but doing my best to face it head on, with the help of others who have faced that same journey. It has been excruciatingly painful at times and I have had many days spent in a bleak spiritual fog where I was unable to define what was really going on, but through the help of God and others I have found the answers eventually and moved on to a greater level of strength and confidence as a person. I have been able to take on more responsibility and do things I was never able to do before.

What I have learned from my experiences is that bullying others really does destroy lives, and that lives are not changed through niceness and avoidance of issues, but confrontation and honest reflection. Sitting around in self pity, even if we have been bullied, will not change anything. We must take responsibility for our own spiritual growth - we are the ones who are responsible for our own spiritual development. The world out there, as dark as it is, can be a place of indefinable riches when it comes to the realization of spiritual truths - if we let it. If we really want to live a rich life, a free life and a blessed life, then we must seek to first understand the truth about ourselves - regardless of how dark a journey that can be. Once we have learned to understand who we truly are, we can then understand and speak accurately into the lives of others and share the knowledge we have gained from our own spiritual bodybuilding. Our pain is a rich avenue for spiritual growth and understanding - if we choose to approach it in the right way. It is only through confrontation of the truth about ourselves, regardless of how bleak it is, that we will ever truly be able to become a person of influence - someone who is really capable of changing the world for the better.

I hope this has been some help or encouragement to someone out there.

God bless


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