“I Didn’t Know my Own Strength”, Surviving Bullying

A song title from the late Whitney Houston but some of the lyrics I can so relate to:

I didn’t know my own strength
And I crashed down and I tumbled but I did not crumble
I got through all the pain
I didn’t know my own strength

Survived my darkest hour, my faith kept me alive
I picked myself back up, hold my head up high
I was not built to break
I didn’t know my own strength

I think it is a rare person who can say they have never been bullied.  From childhood to adulthood people are being abused, assaulted, their confidence and self-esteem shattered for what? Does it give them pleasure? Do they lack confidence? Do they feel threatened? Or do they just see a weakness they want to exploit?

I have wanted to write something on this subject for a long time but a) didn’t know where to begin or how to put it into words; b) was sharing something so personal but felt that this issue needs to be talked about.   Bullying comes in many different forms, it does not always manifest itself in verbal or physical abuse, but can come in the form of slowly stripping away various layers of a persons confidence.

I have been a victim of bullying, over a period of time I completely lost ‘me’. My personality changed, I began to withdraw, my self-esteem slowly disappeared until I became a version of me that I did not recognize.  I have always been a gutsy and confident person, frequently met with bad luck but always found a way to dust myself off and put a smile on my face.  So when this broken version of ‘me’ appeared I was scared.

I had come to breaking point emotionally and I felt I had lost that spark in me that kept me forging through.  That fight that said ‘sod them’ they are not worth it, that smile had disappeared.  First I had to accept something was wrong which was very difficult, but then I slowly started to repair the damage.

Its very easy for people to say, change jobs! Firstly that is not always possible, secondly if you love your job why should you leave?   I started using social media – What? you may say!  It was a release for me to talk to people who did not know me, I was anonymous, I could talk about my passions and people respected my opinions – confidence boost 1

I wrote a diary, one where I expressed my feelings no matter how dark but I also put down positive and inspirational messages, lyrics, things that had made me smile.  It allowed me to put all my feelings down honestly without judgement, agenda or comment.  I could say or feel how I wanted and getting it off my chest was a positive step.

I started to find things for me outside work, positive experiences where I was accepted, respected and challenged – confidence boost 2/3 & 4

Everyone has an inner spark, a flame that fuses their passion and desire to be accepted.  When it goes out its devastating.  You can fight back in some ways but not all.

I got ‘me’ back, not the old me but a new version that is more confident, more resilient and more determined to succeed.  I am not saying it was easy or saying that I don’t have bad days because I do.  I will never be able to accept the bullying, but I understood why I was being bullied.  I found that my bullies felt threatened by my skills and experience and that the only way to make themselves feel better was to take away my responsibilities, undermine, put me down and hinder my development.

Employers all have policies on bullying but are they worth the paper they are written on?  Managers need to be trained in how to handle bullying, what are the signs and how it not only affects the bullied but also the people around them.  Stress at work is on the rise, managers and leaders need to take responsibility for their actions and create a place to work individuals can ‘thrive not just survive’.

I highly respect the brave and inspirational @bulliedbyboss she talks so much sense but also highlights what a major problem this is within the workplace.  Her blog sadly confirms that it is the bullied that are pushed out of the workplace rather than the bully.

I am sick and tired of hearing a persons behavior explained as “its just how ***** is”.  This DOES NOT make it acceptable.  Just because ***** has acted in this way for years doesn’t mean that it is right, it just means no one has told them that it is wrong, or managed them properly.

I remember listening to Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show one day and they were talking about mental health in men, it was explained that depression and anxiety were on the rise within successful and driven men.  One man who had been in a deep depression and come out the other side said something like.  “you never recover from depression and you never get the old you back.  But you learn to handle life in a different way and a new version of yourself appears”.

I am now a new and improved version of ‘me’.

If you are being bullied you are not alone so don’t go through it alone.



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