The other day, I was once again about to violate my very wise friend’s life motto: ”Try not to hurt others, and try not to hurt yourself”. Not the first part, gosh no – but the latter one, in the long run. She cautiously reminded me of what I seemed to have forgotten: While being very keen to not hurt others, we sometimes might forget ourselves over that. Or then because we consider our own needs as selfish, self centered or just not that relevant.
Another friend of mine mentioned something very much related to this topic. I, feeling a bit self-ironic, made a joke about, well, me. Instead of laughing, he asked me to please stop bullying myself. It’s true, when it comes to ourselves, we have a way higher pain threshold than we set for others. We automatically avoid hurting others intentionally, while we don’t even think about this when it comes to us kidding about ourselves. Or have you ever asked yourself to shut up because it’s making you feel uncomfortable?
Bullying is a human habit that we could easily refrain from. No one really needs it. In general, bullies are probably mean to others in order to feel better/smarter/superior while it just makes themselves look bad in the end. With growing emotional and general intelligence, bullying seems to decrease – that’s why kids are much meaner than university students, for instance. However, if someone with a fully developed emotional intelligence decides to be a bully, things can get really nasty. The only thing I ask myself then is: What’s the purpose? There are a handful of those people even in my current, grown-up, university environment. I can only feel sorry for them because they chose to be such bad people, but I will probably and fortunately never understand them.
Luckily those are the minority, and intelligent people usually don’t bully. Let’s mention a positive example here to explain it, before we move on: A girl from my program, who had been bullied throughout high school by the “cool” ones for not being as fancy as them, was now, together with the other “uncool” ones, very superior to the It-girls in university life when it came to grades. But when the other, formerly “uncool” ones started making fun of those “not-so-clever-people”, she defended those – she was not craving for revenge. In fact, she couldn’t understand how someone who had to go through the harassment themselves could now do the exact same thing. Kudos to her!
But why do we keep bullying ourselves? Does it makes us feel better? Probably with this self-bullying, also known as self-irony or sarcasm, we want to be seen as fun, easy to deal with, and not too sensitive. But here comes the twist: Did you know your subconscious mind does not understand irony? Besides the fact it does not understand sarcasm, it also doesn’t get negatives. So whether you honestly tell yourself ”I don’t look bad tonight”, or in a sarcastic way ”I look crappy, I should drink more” – both reach your subconscious mind as negative messages. And there you go, you just have successfully bullied yourself and made yourself feel bad. And probably not even intentionally.
Regardless of seeming not modest enough or not subtle enough, we have to value ourselves more. Don’t listen to people who want you to be modest when you achieved something great – you don’t have to brag, but be proud of it! And this goes especially to the ladies out there, cause for some reason most of them feel even more guilty about being proud than their male counterparts. And even if it sounds silly, tell yourself what a nice person you are now and then. It will boost your self confidence and that will only positively affect others. Self confident and balanced people are usually not mean, but very helpful.
I have this mirror I got from a friend that tells me nice things – how handsome I am (yes, I think it was produced for guys), and how awesome. It admittedly loses effect after a while, but just try it out: Place yourself in front of a (normal) mirror and appreciate who you are now and then. If no one watches, you don’t even have to be ashamed. And if someone watches – well, tell them how nice they are, too, will you?