Despite the noble efforts of many to keep bullying at bay and to educate the public as to how to do so, the reality of bullying nonetheless persists. Unless a new day dawns when the societal ills that empower bullies and which leave others vulnerable to them are eradicated in full, bullying will endure, at least to some extent. Until that day comes, if it ever does, let those of us who are targeted by bullies be inspired to rise above it! In case you have been a target and want to learn how to rise above, here’s how it can be done. These strategies come to you from an adult on the autism spectrum who didn’t know it until he was 40 years old, had to endure more than his share of bullying and emerged stronger than before!

  • See the bully for who he or she is: Bullies believe that they are stronger and smarter than their victims, though in reality, they are neither stronger nor smarter. Thinking of them in this light can help ward off emotional scars that would likely be inflicted otherwise.

What does the word “strength” mean to you? Strength is more than just a physical attribute. It also exists inside, in one’s mind, heart, and soul, which can be thought of as “inner strength.” Anybody who needs to bully others to feel strong and whole is not as strong as he or she might appear. This kind of dependence on the exertion of force is actually a sign of weakness. Therefore, never accept that you are smaller or weaker than the bully. If you have allowed anybody to persuade you into believing this way, it is never too late to believe otherwise!

  • Understand that bullies need help: At least some bullies have themselves been bullied or abused earlier in life, and so they end up resorting to bullying to “make things right,” to be able to feel strong after having been made to feel weak, or maybe because they did not receive the help they needed after they were bullied. If a bully seeks help and can eventually come to understand that happiness and fulfillment come from within rather than from imposing themselves upon others, then he or she can be rehabilitated and learn to stop bullying.

If you have been targeted, try to understand that there is probably a legitimate explanation for why the bully behaves the way he or she does. Not an easy task by any means, and it is not meant to excuse bad behavior or keep you from standing up for yourself. Rather, if you can put yourself in the shoes of the person who victimized you, then you are more likely to rise above any future bullying by virtue of knowing that the person who bullied you is just as human as you are, may have been bullied just as you were, and has probably endured more than his or her share of hardship.

  • Accept, or better yet, embrace who you are: Doing so builds self-esteem, and building self-esteem builds inner strength at the same time because the two go hand in hand. Consequently, inner strength helps you rise above the bullies.

Nobody deserves to be bullied, so if you are blaming yourself for being bullied, please stop. Instead, embrace what makes you different and work towards accepting those attributes of your personality that up to now have been bringing you down and which you feel are the reasons why you have been bullied. These attributes are an integral part of who you are. They account for what makes you unique and special. Nobody is perfect, we are all human, so be who you are, at all costs!

  • Remain focused on what matters most to you: Bullies often aim to get under your skin and disrupt your life. Do not let the bully win in this regard. Do what you need to do, cultivate your interests and talents, spend your time with the people you care about, and live your life. Nobody gets to sidetrack you from what matters most to you!

  • Anticipate that a bully may target you again and be prepared: Let’s consider bullying from a “big picture” perspective; doing so can be helpful. Perhaps you can draw the strength to rise above bullying from acknowledging and accepting that there is a darker side to human nature. As such, you can fortify your “inner defense” against any form of adversity that may be headed your way, including any bully with whom you might cross paths. Sadly, we hear too many stories in the mass media about war and oppression, the deep divisions inherent in our politics, a prevalence of “us versus them” tribalism, and bullying and criminal behavior on the part of some who are in positions of power in our society, to name a few. Consider all of the toxicity in our midst and be a realist with respect to the regrettable inevitability of bullying. See it coming. Be ready for it, even though it may not surface again (wouldn’t that be nice!). Fingers crossed.

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