This week’s blog post comes from an amazing Rockstar Finu Cherian, who shows what is possible and is a living, breathing testament of the power each one of us holds within. I encourage all of you to share this very special post with others as you just never know who you may be inspiring and/or giving hope to along the way.
Finu-thank you for being a courageous warrior and showing others what is possible. You are truly leading by example and I am inspired because of you.
The effects of bullying are a ‘gift’ that keeps on giving. Just like herpes. It can last a life time. The bullies have long gone, but you carry them with you everywhere.
Bullies are self-loathing cowards. They are your parents, siblings, relatives, neighbours, friends, school mates, work mates, partners, strangers, and the list goes on. They take new forms. If the bully of your childhood was your classmate, the bully in your 30s may be your workmate.
What happens after the bullies leave? You are left with yourself. Their voices become yours. Everywhere you go, they are with you, like a shadow. Your life, instead of blooming, suffocates, corrodes. Instead of participating in life, and contributing to the world, you live in a prison. Life becomes a burden and an endless struggle. It is hard to explain to others. No, you can’t just get over it. No, you can’t just take some medication and be cured. You are left to clean up someone else’s mess. You are left to serve the sentence for someone else’s crime.
Years pass by, and you still struggle. Even if you may have earned your degrees, and have become accomplished in your careers, it is possible that the internal struggle continues. You are unable to trust people. You are unable to trust yourself. When someone is nice to you, you start questioning their motive. It may become difficult for you to accept kindness or love. A small problem becomes much larger in your mind. You re-live the bullying over and over again. You get used to the pain and anxiety. It becomes your comfort zone. It becomes more and more difficult to step out of this zone as time goes by.
This does not have to be the way of life. Have you become your own bully? Do you want to play the blame game, or take stock of your life and find a way to move forward? Each person’s time to recovery, and path to recovery is their own. There is no solution that fits all. What is important is the determination to get better. There is no physical enemy to fight against. This is a different and difficult fight because it is against your mind. The old way of thinking needs to go. Stop bullying (yourself) and start comforting. That is the first step. Master this until it becomes second nature. Don’t worry about the next steps. Be fierce in comforting yourself.
How do you comfort yourself when you are not used to it? Do the research and find your own way. Sometimes it is comfort that you need, and sometimes it is a rebellion against the rut you are in. It may be a nice cup of tea, listening to music, going for a walk, challenging yourself to learn something new, rearranging your furniture, painting your wall a new color, buying a new scarf and the list goes on. What would it take to make you feel comforted? Do your research. Find ways that fit you.
Once you learn how to comfort yourself, you have won a major battle. The old thoughts will pop up when you are tired, sleep-deprived, stressed etc. The reason does not matter. What matters is that you are able to identify that you need comfort.
The next step is to deal with the negative thoughts. Depending on one’s experience, they can range from merely annoying to being violent and traumatic. If each of these thoughts were a whiplash, would you allow it? The negative thoughts are much more difficult to control than whiplashes. Trying to ignore them or suppress them is futile. They merely gather more force. The good news is, mind is like a muscle. The thoughts that you exercise will be the ones that will strengthen. It takes determination and conscious efforts. Examine each negative thought. Address the anxiety and stress that comes with it. Then deal with the information in the thought itself. Most of the time the information is incorrect. Sometimes, there is some truth to it. If there is truth to it, then address it.
Another component to this process is forgiveness. Forgive your bully. Forgiveness is for you. It will set you free. It is not about the other person. It is about liberating you from the traumatic experience and allowing you to move forward. Forgiveness is different to different people. Forgiving someone does not mean that you have to be their friend or even interact with them. You decide what forgiveness is. Forgive yourself.
This is a life long struggle. Understand that. Remember that. Be alert to the negative thoughts. It is not them, it is you. Be alert to the negativity of others. It is not you, it is them. Be alert to the feelings of anxiety and stress. Deal with these. The first few times, will be very difficult. It will feel like an impossible battle. Stick with it. Put small dents in it. It will become easier and easier. Most importantly, do it when it is the right time for you, on your schedule, on your terms.