Though 'bully' seems like a very juvenile word, it remains apt to describe those who put others down for (seemingly) no reason, even in adulthood. A bully has no better way to cope with their own misfortunes other than making others feel bad in turn, and that type of person can be found anywhere.
Even within your family, where they often create a toxic, uncomfortable air, especially during holiday get-togethers when all your relatives are around.
It's not your fault that things like this happen, but there are things you can do to start overcoming that pain. This free, simple quiz will help you uncover the roots of this trauma and provide advice on how you can grow beyond the pain it causes. Start living a new life today.
The holidays are fast approaching, and while for many that means fun times to be had with beloved family, for others, it's not so sweet. If your relationship with your relatives is fraught, the holidays can be a dreaded time. Some of us will be anticipating criticisms, judgments, and insults thrown our way for the duration of the night, words we're not expected to fight back against.
What if it was different this year? What if you attended whatever dinner or other event with a new confidence and a new assertion that you will not be taking any insults lying down? This could be that year, and below are some tips that can help you get there.
1. Plan Responses Ahead Of Time
Prepare responses for triggering comments by anticipating your emotional triggers. Know your limits and decide ahead of time what sort of statements or challenges will warrant a response from you. This could mean deciding what criticisms to defend yourself from or what topics you'll shut down as soon as they're brought up.
Making these decisions maintains focus and reduces conflict. You can even rehearse planned responses so you feel more confident in saying them when their moment arises. In heated moments, pre-practiced assertiveness becomes a positive habit, especially when dealing with family you already know to be difficult.
2. Remove Yourself From The Conversation
If someone is pulling you into negativity over and over again, you're allowed to step away. In fact, it's advised. Retreat to a private space and get your feelings out somehow. This could mean moving your body, taking some deep breaths, or hey, even yelling into a pillow if it means calming your nervous system. Remind yourself that you're not obligated to be part of any drama.
Taking breaks reinforces your awareness and independence. It may take practice building up the confidence to just walk away, but remember that it's what's best for your emotional health. Others may react strongly, but you're not responsible for their emotions. Prioritize your needs above all else.
3. Set Strong Boundaries
Establishing boundaries in advance will have you feeling empowered should difficult situations arise. Communicate limits ahead of time if you feel the need. Tell people you won't be engaging in any conversations about a certain topic, or tell them you'll only be staying for a certain amount of time.
Expect resistance, but stand firm, don't let anyone pressure you into becoming more lenient. Each time you assert boundaries, you reinforce your strength and remind those around you that you're not someone who can be pushed around anymore.
4. Stand Up To The Bully, But Calmly
Defuse any criticism thrown your way by confidently addressing it. Maintain eye contact, pause, and assertively say, "Excuse me?" This signals awareness of the negativity without escalating hostility. The person who said something rude to you will have to face your calm reaction and either double down, making it clear how rude they're being, or back away, giving you the space you claim.
Keep a strong stance, speak with clear enunciation, and hold eye contact for maximum impact. This simple yet powerful response can catch any sort of bully off-guard, prompting them to reflect on their words.
5. When You Leave, Let It Go
After leaving a challenging situation, try not to spend hours replaying all that happened unless it's to pat yourself on the back for how well you handled something or how strong you were for enduring it. Ruminating on past negativity only reinforces old emotional patterns. Instead, celebrate that this difficult meeting is done and allow it to fade into memory.
Those accustomed to criticism often internalize it, so be sure to practice tons of self-compassion and kindness in the following days. Recognize your efforts positively, acknowledge something you could maybe change in the future, then let it go.
Putting Your Foot Down
Not feeling safe or comfortable among members of your family is just terrible. The people who are supposed to love and nurture you are instead making you feel belittled and self-conscious. They take out their own dissatisfaction with life on someone they believe they have power over. It's not fair, it's not just, but you don't have to grant them this power.
Gaining enough confidence that you can push back against their criticisms and accusations is extremely powerful. Once they know you won't simply take their abuse, they'll start rethinking everything.
Turning The Tables
Gaining that much newfound confidence may not be an easy task, but it's a journey worth starting. People who treat others poorly need to be forced into reflection. They need to be pushed back against into their own words so they can understand just how harmful they are.
There's no guarantee that every family bully will learn and understand that what they're doing is bad, but at the very least, you will grow above their petty insults. Gaining more confidence is not just for their benefit, it's for yours. You deserve to feel happier in your own soul.
Being happier doesn't only mean addressing present-day issues, it also means looking at issues from your past and healing them, too. If you feel lost in doing so, there are guiding tools that will help.
This free, simple quiz will help you find the root of your early-life traumas, the ones that still harm you today. From there, you can learn how to cope with and grow beyond that which still holds you back. Click here to learn more today and start a new, more peaceful chapter of your life.