Bullying Comes In Many Forms

Bullying! When you hear that word, what comes to mind? Well, as a Sexagenarian, for years, my first thought was schoolyard boys picking on a more vulnerable girl or boy. For those of us where Lord of The Flies was required reading, you know what I mean. I have seen people impacted as adults from childhood bullying, which is not always physical, but when it is, especially in the 21st century, it is not limited to boys. Palpable scars are often the residual effects, and therapy or other corrective experiences may be the balm to provide relief.

A Whole New Animal

Bullying has become a whole new animal with the rise of the Internet.

We know that social media and texting has many benefits, which is another topic for another time, but the dark side of it has incredibly malevolent effects. Sometimes the abuse is stealth and initially noticed only by the oppressed recipient. Other times, the damage morphs into mob psychology with others joining the choir.

The Harmful Effect of Virtual Bullying

There is a form of bullying that is not physically harmful but can be mildly hurtful or extremely destructive. On many occasions, I have heard about both. Sadly, many adolescents have been receivers of this. Recently, I saw a young adult who, as an adolescent, was the victim of such harsh cyberbullying that the police had to get involved. My clients who are parents often share their angst watching their children experience this, especially their daughters. These budding females pull up Instagram and view pictures of their exclusion as their pals have a grand old time. I emphasize daughters because females, for the most part, connect on a very emotional level with their friends. When they are left out, the feeling of betrayal is quite excruciating.

Across The Life Cycle

Shunning, in this form, is not reserved for children. Although more harmful to our young ones because they lack the developmental resources fortifying against this behavior, adults through the life cycle may fall prey to this. Education and age do not shield them from the hurt incurred as they bear witness to these actions. Also, those who do the ostracizing may be quite educated.

Not long ago, one of my clients experienced this kind of behavior. A relative thought she would do their bidding for them on a specific topic. My client said, ”No.” Consequently, when she commented on social media, the relative ”liked” everyone else’s comments but hers. I supported the stance she took, which was for self-preservation. I went on to remind her there may be more of this behavior to pressure her into succumbing to their demands. Painfully, this very generous woman is aware of the possibility of more negative ramifications.

Another client also revealed similar but more innocuous behavior because the players involved do not influence her. This client disagreed with someone on social media. She was meticulous, and few people would have known to whom or what she was referring to unless they searched and carefully read the reference. Over the next few days and weeks, it became clear that the opposing party rallied her supporters as all of them ignored my client’s posts.

Platinum-Style Authenticity

At the suggestion of another, my client reached out to try and clear the air, promoting the ”agree to disagree” mantra. The response was crickets. Thus, my client quickly withdrew the invitation. She is gritting her teeth but has decided to take the high road by giving limited but supportive engagement. My client decided she will not acquiesce to the drumbeat of petulance and recognizes in the long haul that this is life. Sadly whether they be young or old, many will not defend themselves or others to avoid upsetting the apple cart. As I indicated to this client, in the short run, you risk this kind of behavior when you buck the trend, but in the long term to be what I refer to as your platinum-style authentic self, of which I devote a chapter in my book Stop Depriving The World of You, there is nothing more liberating.

What About You?

Have you ever been bullied in any form? What has helped you overcome and be the best you can be despite this? Has tenacity or the better word, grit, been the main ingredient?


Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett views herself as a life-long learner, a pursuer of excellence, a work-in-progress, and a seeker-of-the-truth. She is also referred to as the "Unstuck Expert" in her many roles. Why? Because for over thirty years, she has been assisting people to get unstuck. Darlene's primary roles are now Therapist, Hypnotherapist, and Author/Writer. Although she loves speaking, it is now secondary and done mainly through her podcast, "Get Unstuck Now. Because of her wealth of experience, Darlene began putting her thoughts on paper.  Many of her blogs can also be found on Medium, Sixty and Me, and Penning these articles set the stage for her first book, "Stop Depriving The World of You," traditionally published by Sound Wisdom. Being a believer in pushing oneself as long as one has life, Darlene has tried her hand at fiction, hoping to have something completed in the no-so-distant future. Over the years, Darlene has been described as animated or effervescent which contradicts the perception of a psychotherapist. She firmly believes in the importance of being authentic and discusses platinum-style authenticity in her book.

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  1. As a young high school girl, who never dated, I did not go to any dances and did not get to the prom. But I was always asked to help here, help there, but never good enough to hang out with. I overcame this with my faith in God and my close relationship with HIM. He is my rock! Thanks for this great read!

    • Thank you, Lynn, for sharing your story. Yes, sometimes, it is faith that gets us through many things. Those people do not know what they were missing. Their loss!💖

  2. Thank you for this meaningful article on an important topic, Darlene. Overcoming all types of bullying can take great courage and commitment. I cannot imagine the world now with cyberbullying a very real and awful experience for young women (especially). How important to form in person connections with people who deeply value you as a person-with gifts, skills, talents. This can be part of the healing-get help and create new, healthy friendships-relationships with high quality people-hold one another high and lift one another up. Becoming independent of the good opinion of other people can also be such a liberation and this can take years of internal growth and self-discovery.

    • Thank you, dear, Laura, for reading and providing such beautiful reflections. After reading your amazing articles and remarkable book, you are a shining example of the possibilities through growth, change and openness. Thank you again!💖

  3. Beautiful piece dear Darlene Corbett, LICSW ! 👏💙👏

    This thought-provoking article reminded me of an incredible book I read written by Mark Manson and called “Everything is f*cked”.

    How come? The #underlying of this subtle kind of bullying you’re brilliantly exposing is the fact that most adults never truly become adults. They rather stay adolescent in their approach to life… Everything is seen as a trade-off!

    Here is an extract from the book:

    “Adolescents approach life as an endless series of bargains: I will do what my boss says so I can get money. I will call my mother so I don’t get yelled at. I will do my Homework so I don’t fuck up my future. I will lie and pretend to be nice so I don’t have to deal with conflict.

    Nothing is done for its own sake. Everything is a calculated transaction, usually made out of fear of the negative repercussions. Everything is a means to some pleasurable end.

    The problem with adolescent values is that if you hold them, you never actually stand for something outside yourself. You are still at heart a child, albeit a cleverer and much more sophisticated child. Everything still revolves around maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, it’s just that the adolescent is savvy enough to think a few moves ahead to get there.

    In the end, adolescent values are self-defeating. You can’t live your entire life this way, otherwise you’re never actually lihing your own life. You’re mearely living out an aggregation of the desires of the people around you. To become an emotionally healthy individual, you must break out of this constant bargaining, endlessly treating everyone as a means to some pleasurable end, and come to understand even higher and more abstract guiding principles.”

    Thank you again my friend for having highlighted such an important topic! 🧚‍♀️🙏💎