Tag Archive | bullying

Bullying the Beauty out of You.

Although Americans sometimes dismiss bullying in school as a childhood rite of passage, this form of aggression may have long-lasting psychological ramifications for victims as well as for bullies, reports the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

There has been a lot of focus on bullying in the past several years and the impact it has on people, especially teenagers. Bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents.  Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis.

Bullying behavior can be physical or verbal. Boys tend to use physical intimidation or threats, regardless of the gender of their victims.  Bullying by girls is more often verbal, usually with another girl as the target. Bullying has even been reported in online chat rooms, through e-mail and on social networking sites.  Social media has made it easier for bullies to continue bullying outside of school.

Children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. Some victims of bullying have even attempted suicide rather than continue to endure such harassment and punishment.  The rise in suicide has brought this issue into the forefront.

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting, kicking, threatening another, teasing, name calling, excluding from a group, or sending mean notes or e-mails. Often, children are bullied not just once or twice but over and over (Olweus, 1993; Roland, 1989; Smith & Sharp, 1994).

A conversation with my daughter and a program on MPR about bullying came together while I was driving to active a memory in me.  I was aware of this memory but had never put the label of bullying on it until after the conversation and during the radio program.  When I was a teenager I had a very bad completion, that was very embarrassing for me. I just wanted to hide my face.  I grew bangs to cover up the pimples on my forehead and kept my head down so I wouldn’t be seen.   To make matters worse it was also one the issue that my brother’s like to tease me about.  I was given the name “Zit Face”.  I was often called that name by my three brothers and it was written on the walls in our hallway.  It was humiliating for me.

I remember my brothers following me home from school and calling me “Zit Face”.  The worse incident I remember was coming home one day and a few houses from my house my brothers and about 5 of their male friends were waiting for me.  As I approached a chorus of adolescent voices sang out ” Zit Face” over and over as I ran past them and in to my house.  When I told my mother about what had happened she told me I was too sensitive and that I should just let it runs off of back.  She didn’t realize that her response reinforced my humiliation.  It is one thing to experience bullying and another not to get support to deal with it.

Bullying Causes Long-Term Emotional Damage

Studies show that the experience of being bullied can end up causing lasting damage to victims. If I think about it I am still impacted by the experience several ways.  I know from personal experience that bullying can drain the beauty out of you.  As a teenage girl, just starting to be interested in the opposite sex I internalized feelings of not being beautiful and questioned if boys would like me. I am sure that on an unconscious level this still impacts me today.  Words and gestures can cause more harm than physical assault, especially damage that is sustained during the formative childhood years when our concept of your self is being created.  Bullying causes damage to their self-concepts; to their identities.  Being the repetitive target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable and effective individual.

It would be great if the average person was possessed of unshakable self-confidence, but this just isn’t how identity works. Identity is a social process, that is developed when we are children based on how other people interact with us. Confidence is based on experiences of success.  Bullying teaches people that they are explicitly not part of groups; that they are outcasts and outsiders. It is hard to doubt the reality of being an outcast and an outsider when you have been beaten or otherwise publicly humiliated.  I was taught at a formidable developmental stage that I was not attractive and undesirable.  My brothers reinforced this by telling me I was ugly.

I am so happy that this issue is getting more attention and adults in school and at home are beginning to put things in place to stop bullying.  I know now that I wasn’t “too sensitive” but that I was reacting to the sting of abuse.  Adults have a responsibility to their daughters and sons to protect them from this behavior and help them develop a healthy self concept.  Don’t let anyone bully the beauty out of your precious children.

There are a lot of resources available to parents to help them understand what bullying is and the impact of bullying on children, as well as ways to support children who are being bullied.

http://www.stopbullying.gov/

http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/

Ellen DeGeneres has a long list of resources http://ellen.warnerbros.com/2010/10/resources_to_help_stop_bullying_0930.php

 

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The Saboteur of Beauty

It might sound odd to connect the saboteur to beauty but there is a definite connection.  If you can’t see your own beauty the saboteur is at work in the unconscious. We are like Sleeping Beauty, unconscious, waiting for someone special to wake us up. Sleeping Beauty  does not see her beauty, her promise, her power or her magic.

What is the Saboteur?

The saboteur is a survival archetype. Archetypes are energies that create specific patterns and determine attitudes, preferences and choices.  They develop when we are children.  The saboteur sounds like someone who will betray you, but in reality it is in place to not only protect you but help you see the many ways you undermine yourself.

The Saboteur may be the most difficult of all the archetypes to understand, because its name is associated with betrayal. The purpose of this archetype is not to sabotage you, but to help you learn the many ways in which you undermine yourself. The Saboteur’s fears and issues are all related to low self-esteem that causes you to make choices that block your own empowerment and success.

Examples of sabotage in where beauty is concern are over eating, not eating enough, covering up or hiding your beauty with unattractive clothing, and covering your face with hair.

The power side of the Saboteur is total commitment to achieving the task. On the power side we operate with clarity and focus. We are not distracted by external events and issues, nor by our own fears and insecurities. The Saboteur governs commitment. The developed Saboteur guards self, home and everything else important, so you see it has a strong positive purpose.  It guides us in and out of situations by allowing us to feel incredibly creative and vulnerable at the same time.  The combination of these two energies activates our potential to rise out of self-destruction.  Once maturity is accomplished, the Saboteur becomes our ally and alerts us when we are in a vulnerable state and leaves clues that we can see.   We know when we are about  to sabotage ourselves and we can make conscious and empowered choices.

Examples of the Beauty Saboteur in Action

The Saboteur can be activated by bullying.  I was listening to MPR the other day and they were doing a segment about being bullied and how it can impact the rest of their lives.  For young girls bullying is usually about how they look.  I was reminded of my own childhood and realized that I was bullied.  I never thought of it that way until I heard this MPR segment.

The extreme bullying happened when I was a teenager by my own brothers.  I talked in an earlier blog about the wall in my house that had “Lynn (my original name) is Dumb, Fat and Ugly” scribbled all over it.  It was reinforced by my brothers telling me that and telling their friends, usually boys, that I was dumb, fat and ugly.  I remember one day when I was an adolescent, with a not so clear complexion, coming home to a yard full of neighbor boys and my brothers shouting “Hey zit-face!” over and over and laughing.  I was so embarrassed I wanted to crawl under a rock and never come out.  I had to see those boys everyday and when I did I felt humiliated.  There were about 8 of them but it might as well been a stadium full because that is how bad it felt.  Every time I looked in the mirror I was reminded of that day.

My saboteur has been really active since I started working with a trainer and also since starting the Dimensions of Beauty project.  I am seeing how it is very concrete, literal and black and white.  It is actually fun to see because it is helping me with my writing.  I am able step into shoes that I know a lot of women wear.

The MPR guest commented on how those bullying experiences make us want to become invisible so no one ever sees us.  That way we can’t be hurt like that again.  That experience becomes our own Saboteur and those comments are unconsciously repeated when we feel we don’t measure up.  I have often felt invisible in my life and just recently began to understand why.

The Saboteur can be activated by the media.  We are inundated with images of beauty throughout the media that become our gauge for how we should look and act.  I have worked with many clients over the years who have struggled with how they look.  One that stands out was a young girl of about 15 who I thought was adorable.  She was thin, pretty and out going, but she could not see her own beauty.  One day I showed her pictures of  Hollywood stars with and without make-up from a website I found.  She made comments like ” that must have been a bad day” or “I can’s see the difference” when there was dramatic difference.   No matter what was said she would not accept that she was a beautiful girl because the Saboteur was in charge.

I had another client who was 18 and was a cutter.  I learned during our therapy that she also had an eating disorder.   She thought she was fat and ugly and that was so distorted but she wouldn’t hear my telling her she was anything else.  I couldn’t get her mother on board with her therapy and support because I learned from talking with her that she had the same issues.  She had verbalized her feelings about her self-image for years and her daughter internalized it for herself.  I think this is very common as well.

Archetypal patterns awaken in us our own divine potential if we learn to embrace them and listen to what is behind their messages.  They can liberate us from the limitations of our thoughts and feelings and shed light on the dark or little-known corners of our souls and amplify our own brilliance and strengths.  Our challenge with any archetype/fear is to face it and recognize the opportunity it presents to learn its inherent lessons and develop and aspect of personal power.

The power side of the Saboteur is what inspires me to start this revolutions in beauty consciousness.  I have seen how it has held be back and now it is empowered to support other women to awaken to their beauty in a new way.