Archive for Bullying – Page 2

Can we trust Fluffy?


The goal of therapy is to expand our tolerance for the parts of ourselves and the world around us that scare or threaten us. To calm the storms.

It can be confusing because things we want to hold on to; relationships, people, jobs, commitments, can also be toxic and harmful.

Or perhaps they are not harmful but we are triggered because they are similar to a past trauma. How can we tell?

We have to face the pain in order to decode it. We have to feel the feelings in order to manage them.

It is one of life’s strange ironies that the key to all healing and happiness is to look at the hard stuff.   Growth requires the willingness to accept what is – both in ourselves and the world around us.


Is he? or is he really a cute little puppy? That’s what we have to discover

How To Stop Bullying: Band Together


These Boys Teach us to Band Together to Stop the Bullying

This video came across my Facebook page and I wanted to take a moment to dig a little deeper on why this is so important.

These boys show a great example of leadership and creativity and most importantly: solidarity.  By wearing the coats and ties they give status to their friend’s uniqueness.  They are sending a message that he is like us.  When we are targeted it is impossible to regain power and status on our own. We need the help of bystanders or someone with more authority and power.  That power can be in numbers  – as in this case – or in the form of one person.  In fiction he or she is a super hero with a super power. We don’t need super powers to solve problems. All we need is our creativity and the will to create change.

The result is that we build resilience for everyone.  The bystander develops confidence and skill, the bully is not shamed which is important for their emotional recovery, and above all, the person targeted has a shared experience that minimizes or eliminates the traumatic effect and speeds up recovery toward resilience.

Until we have laws to protect us we are on our own to stop bullying.  It isn’t always easy but bullying cannot exist in an environment that demands tolerance and acceptance of  our differences.  These boys showed great courage and are a great example for the rest of us.

Great job Danny and his middle school friends in Bridgewater, Mass!  This is how to stop bullying.

I’m Fine, Thanks. . . coming soon!


Something came across my desk that I just have to tell you about:

This is a trailer (and a request for funding) for a documentary about complacency. I watched the trailer and I just fell in love with it. Of course I will pledge and I hope you will too. But even if you don’t please get the message and pass it on.

In my work with people suffering from the effects of bullying, I see all too often how we stay in jobs, relationships, family systems where we are miserable, abused and lost because we think we have to follow the rules. We believe in one right way to be in the world: one way to be accepted by those around you, and if you’re not, then there is something wrong with YOU.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with you. Gay, straight, black, white, thin, fat, left, right…you are just fine the way you are. If you are not accepted, appreciated and cherished by those around you then there is something wrong with them. Not you. If you are unhappy in your job, your relationship, your life, then risk the change. Find people who get you. Follow that still voice, that tickle of curiosity, go where your heart is calling you. There are more routes and possibilities for happiness than you can imagine.

Reach out, step back, look up…set your course…If you are not fine, you will be.

The Myth of Victim Mentality


Why do people who are in abusive relationships stay in them?

Why don’t battered women leave?

Why doesn’t a kid who is bullied just hit back?

The common answer is that some people identify with victim-hood as a way of avoiding responsibility for their own lives. Some people just like to be abused and get some kind of pleasure from it. For kids, it’s part of their social development to learn how to live in a tough world.

These are all outdated and easy catchall explanations that blame the target and allow bullies and tyrants to continue to abuse with impunity. We know that abuse is wrong and thankfully we are slowly gaining legal ground that offers protection and accountability. But we still want to blame the target. Why?

The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that this is the easiest answer available that absolves us of the conflict we want to avoid. If we admit that the bullies and tyrants are the problem, then we have to do the hard work of confronting the reality, or worse, the bullies themselves. We have to file the police report, talk to the principle, and provide a safe haven for someone knowing that we now have our skin in the game. It is easier to be a bystander and attribute the control to the person we could never be – a victim.

People avoid conflict as much as they can because we haven’t been taught how to fight fair. We don’t know how to take on the bad guy. And worse, sometimes the bad guy is someone we know or even love. It’s just so much easier to think that this person who is nice to me would only treat you that way because you deserve it, asked for it, wanted it.

So what do we do?

First – let me repeat the premise that victim mentality is a myth. People do not choose to be abused. They adapt to it and learn to exist in and around it in order to survive. Depending on their age and level of brain development they initially go into shock and then their brains adapt. This adaptation is now being studied as part of a new field of brain research called Interpersonal Neurobiology.

What this new field of brain research is showing us is that the brains of people who experience trauma adapt in a way that makes them further vulnerable to abuse. It is not a conscious choice to stay in an abusive situation. The part of the brain that enables us to use reasoning and the capacity to problem solve is literally taken offline during times of high stress and trauma. And when this is repeated over weeks or years, especially in childhood, parts of the brain can literally be damaged.

Why do people who are in abusive relationships stay in them?

Why don’t battered women leave?

Why doesn’t a kid who is bullied just hit back?

It is because they have not yet developed or have lost the capacity to solve the problem themselves. They are locked in a room with a terrorist and they can’t even see the door.

They need our help. Most importantly, they need our compassion and understanding. Someone who is battered, abused, bullied is not enjoying the experience. They don’t deserve it. They want things to change.

Now that you know that, what will you do next time?

If you are interested in learning more about Interpersonal Neurobiology:
Interpersonal Neurobiology PDF
Being a Brain-Wise Therapist: A Practical Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology

Visual representation of my practice using Wordle



Just for fun I tried this website and created this word cloud. I took all the text from my website to see what words would be emphasized and sure enough the areas I work with most are showing up as the biggest in my cloud. This is good because it is congruent with how I thought it would look. If it had not, it would have been a great way to see just where I need to adjust. I personally think it is a great tool for identifying the themes you are operating from.

Try this: Write a letter to yourself describing your life right now and paste it into wordle and see what is reflected back. You may be surprised.

The road from bystander to leader takes time…


Yesterday I watched as the owner of my neighborhood 7-11 verbally abused and berated a woman who happened to park in a way that was unacceptable to him. She did nothing wrong, there were simply not enough spaces and she improvised, but he was relentless and it went on for several minutes. I was across the street by the time I figured out what was happening and just stood there paralyzed. I realized as I got into my car that I was acting the ‘bystander’ to an act of bullying and I specialize in bullying – so how could this happen to me? It is hard to change from being a bystander to a leader when confronted with bullying. It takes practice and even though you KNOW the research and statistics and what to do. When faced with brutality, you are also confronting the indirect trauma of witnessing it. I will remember this incident and do better next time and the next time and the next until I respond without thinking. “Stop your bullying because it is wrong and it won’t solve your problem” I hope you will too