Don't Let A Bully Silence You
I had a strange experience recently.
A colleague of mine was mocking certain things on FB. He was making fun of people for doing things that I myself do and encourage clients to do; things that relate to showing up authentically and catalyzing conversations.
I saw many of his posts like this – each one filled with such judgment – over the course of a week. In some cases, other people who I view as leaders in the industry were agreeing with him, joining in the mockery.
This is a subtle form of bullying, and for a little while, it worked. It put me on guard.
I admit… I got triggered.
What most triggered me was not the actual mocking itself, but my reaction to it. Somewhere deep inside I reacted to these posts with an old fear: It’s not safe to express myself here.
Damn, this fear of being judged, mocked, even publicly shamed, runs deep. Beneath the fear was a sense of shame and wrongness. If he is mocking these things, so the story goes, he must be right and I must be wrong.
The truth is, there isn’t a right or a wrong. I’m grateful for this person’s posts as they showed me where I had some more healing and growing to do. They also showed me how easy it can be for us to use words as walls rather than bridges.
How often have I – have you – mocked what was different? Made fun of something that we perceived as simplistic, formulaic or inauthentic; or that which we feared or didn’t understand?
How often have I – have you – gone silent, in the face of mocking or bullying? Or gone silent in the face of our fear of being made fun of?
I am grateful for the tools and awareness I have, that I was able to work with these old fears and stories in growthful ways. Yet I did watch myself choose silence for several days. I was tongue-tied and uncertain with how to talk about this.
There is a whole other dimension to this, too, about how this person also shares very kind and generous messages. Perceived through the lens of past abuse that I experienced, I could see this as further evidence that nobody can be trusted. He who is kind in one moment can be a bully in the next moment. This sets the stage for confusion, uncertain and insecurity.
No more, I say. No more. I’m done with those old stories.
I embraced my responses and used my tools to not be stopped by those old patterns.
I am not making this person wrong nor am I making myself wrong.
I am committing even more so to my gift with words and communication; I will not allow anything to stop me from expressing myself (including myself).
And I am sharing this with you to encourage you…
If you’ve ever been bullied or mocked…
If you’ve ever held back your expression out of fear of being judged…
Would you be willing, right now, to lower the invisible walls you put up around yourself to protect and defend yourself?
Would you be willing to honor your own fears and silence and now, choose something beyond those?
I am taking a stand for my full expression and your full expression. I also take a stand for communicating with kindness…
Instead of building walls, how might you use words to build bridges?
Instead of enforcing limitations, how might your words invite possibilities?