Before I jump into this post, I wanted to let you, the reader, know something. This blog post is specifically geared towards those who want to learn how to stop bullying on a personal level. This is not a preachy rant about how to stop bullying on a global level, so please don’t treat it as such.
I’m sure that if I asked a crowd of people with Asperger’s if they’ve ever been bullied, the answer would be a resounding yes. It’s a sad fact, one that I hope will change as people become more educated on how damaging bullying really is. Even people without disabilities are relentlessly picked on daily, often for things as small as the way they look or a quirk they might possess. Growing up, kids constantly pointed out that I had prominent ears, derisively calling me “Dumbo,” “Big Ears,” and the like. The name-calling got so bad that I wanted to have my ears surgically pinned back, a request that saddened and infuriated my mother. “Hayden,” she told me, “They make fun of your ears because they hate themselves. Are you really going to change the way you look because others hate themselves?”
I contemplated her words, trying to look past the hurt and really think about the meaning behind her words. It wasn’t until high school, around the time my life changed forever, that I finally understood how to combat bullying. You may be asking yourself, “Okay, kid, how? How do you stop something that millions of people struggle with?” My answer? You don’t. Other people can’t be controlled or changed, but you can control your response to their bad behavior. I’m not condoning bullying. I’m saying that your response can either empower or deflate your aggressor, because they count on your reaction being a negative one. So if your reaction is positive or even just indifferent, the bully will most likely stop. They won’t stop the first time, but after their repeated attacks on your confidence fail, they’ll eventually get the message.
The best thing you can do to combat bullying is using the phrase, “You’re right.” Say someone is verbally harassing you, and you feel your cheeks getting hot and your fists clenching. First, stop the escalation before it bests you, steady your mind, and calmly say, “You’re right.” Then you need to walk away. It doesn’t matter what they say to you. It could be the cruelest thing in the world. It could cut you to the bone, but you can’t let the bully see that. Remain steadfast in your indifference, and disengage. You can still hurt, but walk away anyway. I promise it will go a long way. If for some reason this doesn’t work, grab a teacher and have him/her take care of it.
Doing this is extremely difficult, but once you master it, it’s the best, most liberating feeling in the world. I promise you.
See this additional video by Danny: