Friday, April 22, 2011

My own worst enemy

 Bullying has been quite a hot button topic in the last year.  From our government who hosts a well rounded Stop Bullying website to educate everyone as to what bullying is, what forms it can take and how to stop it;  to The Trevor Project and the It Gets Better campaign which aim to prevent suicide amongst LGBT and other bullied kids and teens, the subject of bullying is getting a lot of attention.  On a more local level, the school in which I am located has created "Safe Zones", one of which I am proud to host, and we are working on student training for the fall based on our safe zone training that we hope has quite an impact and has a ripple effect to make people stop and think about how they treat others.   Bullying is not a new phenomenon but our hope is to make it one that is outdated. 

     It would be a little too..."Pollyanna-ish" of me to say that I just want to see people treat one another nicely.  Rather, I would just like to see us return to civility.  In my almost 30 years of working with the public I have seen countless times people treating one another badly.  People will say things and do things to store clerks, cashiers, waiters, bartenders and other service professionals things that they would NEVER say to someone that they know personally.  They treat people in ways that they would not tolerate someone else treating their families.  Whether it comes from a place of entitlement or a need for power it underscores the sense that people are willing to treat other people like total crap in order to get what they want.  No matter what that drives that behavior, I feel that this is also a form of bullying.  It's unacceptable and it needs to stop even if it's only one person at a time.  This is a passionate subject for me.  If there is one thing that working with the public in different capacities has taught me it is to stop and think before I speak in public situations and to be mindful of the other person involved and how my words can affect them.   

    I was sitting on my bed Wednesday night, kicking myself over an ongoing issue, having a pity party with my friends Ben and Jerry when I had a bit of an epiphany.  No matter how civil I am to anyone else, for years I have been bullying myself.  We often say, usually when referring to the choices that we make, that someone is their own worst enemy.  As I sat there calling myself all sorts of names (Stupid,Useless, Fat, No Will Power and more) I stopped for a second and really listened to myself.  In that moment I thought "Whoa!  I wouldn't let anyone else talk to me this way, and I wouldn't speak to someone else that way so why am I doing it to myself?"  That led me to thinking back over the years to the very number of times that I have torn myself down and then beat myself up while I am there.  It had obviously been so often that I do it without even thinking about it.  It shook me to my core to realize that if my husband were constantly talking to me the way that I talk to myself, it would be considered an abusive relationship and if I talked to my staff or my friends that way, I would be considered a bully!  What resonated with me most was that maybe I AM my own worst enemy! 

    As this is a new revelation for me, I haven't worked out where this is going to take me in my life's journey.  I am left wondering how much this denigration has held me back.  I am wondering how I can turn this situation around and make it a positive.  I am wondering how to stop this cycle.  I think my first step will be to find fitting affirmations and keep them with me. The lesson here is that no matter how positive we are in our "waking" moments, that negativity can creep back in at any time.  I think this will teach me to be on my guard.  I hope that it will teach me to be more aware of my thoughts, no matter how fleeting because they can derail your efforts in an instant.  One thing I know for sure is that if I am to work in the Anti-Bullying movement, I have to start with the way I treat myself. 

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