Why do I bully people?


In my last blog I wrote about my fear of intimacy.

It was the most honest I’ve ever been and I’ve spent the week’s following publication watching my reactions to revealing myself. My first response was pride and a warm fuzzy feeling of having bared my soul accompanied by the devastating sadness of having wasted so much time on being fearful and selfish.

Around the same time I reached out to some of the people I had abandoned or treated poorly and perhaps not surprisingly I got no response. I troubled myself with the lack of response to my heartfelt plea—here I was baring my soul and opening my heart to you and you responded by not responding.

Poor me

After a while I began to feel sorry for myself and found it easy to slip into a tiny pool of self-pity when I wasn’t paying attention. What I was doing was asking you to make me feel better—even though I know that it is an impossible request. I am responsible for my feelings, not you. I create meaning in my life and I choose how I feel about everything that happens or happened in my life. My feelings may be so habitually ingrained that it appears that I have no choice but I do, I always have a choice in how I respond.

As time passed I communicated with Jake about my reactions and he helped me see that once again I was victimizing myself. As soon as I hear myself whisper about my own powerlessness over my own actions I now know I am causing myself deep trouble where there need be none. I actually believe myself in those moments when I tell myself, “I can’t help myself” or “I didn’t mean to say that” or “I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t stop.”

Today begins the fourth week since my invitation to re-connect has been rejected.

So, what do I do? I pick a fight. I become a bully. Turns out I pick fights all the time; I’ve just never been awake enough to watch myself as I’m doing it. But today, I had a moment of awareness while I was phoning the city to once again complain about the management of my apartment building, and I felt myself growing bigger as I righteously complained to the city worker. I fascinated myself watching me change my stance from feeling sad and miserable to that of a self righteous, angry and indignant bully.

The truth is I feel better after picking the fight. Before the fight I could feel a cloud of resignation and defeat looming on my horizon, so instead of giving into being a miserable and sad victim I picked a fight and became a righteous victim. But still a victim. Holy crap what a trap I build for myself!

I call it a trap because what I am avoiding is feeling what I feel—I don’t want to acknowledge that my invitation to reconnect was scorned and that I am still grieving the results of my repeated selfish behavior. I am not yet ready to spiritually pick myself up and accept the lesson gracefully so my tendency is to sink into the abysmal cesspool of self-pity and powerlessness. And my way out of self-pity is self-righteous anger and indignation.

Underneath all of this is the cycle of repetitive stuckness. I imagine myself as a new driver whose car is stuck on the ice and all I can do is push harder on the accelerator and listen to my tires spin uselessly. That is an apt and almost perfect description of my victim cycle. I never move.

When I came home today to make my call to the city to begin my tirade against the management I passed the super on the sidewalk—normally we would greet each other, but today I ignored him completely . . . another way to be a bully. When I turned into the entrance of my building I saw the result of his attempt to deal with the sheet of ice in front of the entrance—he had sprinkled salt. What had been a stretch of ice is now a pool of icy sludge. In desperation other tenants have taken to making a pathway through the eight inches of snow piled alongside the walkway and I used that to enter my building.

Emotional sludge

What I clearly see today is that all of my actions are pointless while I am stuck in the victim cycle. Much like the salt on the ice, I create a pool of emotional sludge that goes nowhere and I use it to frustrate and anger myself.

So what the heck do I do? How do I extricate myself from my victim mentality when the cycle is so deeply embedded that I don’t even know I’m in it? Why, in the midst of my speaking with the city employee did I suddenly have the clarity that I was picking a fight as a way to lift me out of my sadness and put me back into righteousness? The answer is simple and profound. I am seeing my victim cycle more clearly today because of Live Conscious.

In the last eighteen months I have been working closely with Jake and Hannah Eagle and I have learned the principles of Live Conscious and I have learned to use Perception Language. By using these tools I am coming to accept responsibility for myself—all of me—my actions, my thoughts, my feelings and my deeply buried cycle of behaviors that have kept me locked in the prison of self-victimization. I do this to myself. I victimize myself and I fight with myself and with you to feel better about myself. After the fight I feel badly about my behavior because I yelled at you and then I’m back to feeling powerless. It’s a cycle I haven’t known how to escape.

What can I do differently?

I can begin by accepting that I live in a building whose management adheres to the policy of, “If it’s not completely broken do a temporary fix until it is.” I know this, I’ve lived here for many years, yet I still pretend to be surprised. It’s my choice to live here.

Secondly, I can remember what Jake says about kindness. No matter what the situation, I can always be kind. I’ve interacted with many supers over the years. They are paid minimum wage and get no support from the management office. It is a terrible job and I probably made his day worse by being mean and ignoring him. And, if I choose to complain, I can speak kindly, patiently and professionally with whomever is on the phone trying to fix my complaint. It is so easy to forget that I live in a city of 4.5 million people and perhaps my two-foot patch of ice is not really at the top of their priority list.

And, above all I can slow myself down and be honest about what is really going on with me. I am growing up and I am having growing pains. I am uncomfortable with my past behaviors and attitudes and my new way of being in the world isn’t instilled yet so I feel like I am slipping and sliding most of the time. I feel like an adolescent—nothing fits right; I am achy, sad and itchy most of the time. So what?

Now that I’ve sat and written myself out I am amused and abashed—amused with myself and my silliness and abashed at my persistent tendency to rush through the world based on what I am feeling, not what I know to be true.

Slow down sweetheart

My new mantra is, “slow down sweetheart, slow down and lift your eyes.” I want to remind myself to look up—at the sun, the sky, the weary winter trees.  Meet the eyes of the super, smile at him. He and I are in this together and I can choose to make him an ally or an enemy. I can make my life easy or I can make me miserable, what’s my choice to be?

Today I choose Live Conscious and Perception Language. My quickest and surest way of getting myself out of misery and into freedom is honesty, humor and kindness. When I remember to slow myself down and use Perception Language, I have a leg up and a way out of my self-indulgence.

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4 Responses to Why do I bully people?

  1. James March 1, 2014 at 4:07 am #

    I think this was one of the most touching and revealing posts, for me. I identified strongly with the behaviors. Thank you for sharing and helping to illuminate me to myself.

  2. S. Katharine Rivers March 1, 2014 at 3:40 pm #


    Thank you for your comments. I enrich and delight myself when people help and reveal themselves. I bring tears to my eyes. Many blessings.

  3. Marilyn March 3, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    I love the paragraph about growing pains. That is how I feel all of the time…

    As Pink Floyd wrote, just an earthbound misfit.

  4. S. Katharine Rivers March 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm #


    Good to hear from you! I am working toward growing myself out of this adolescent phase in a timely fashion.. going through puberty twice seems to be once too often! I look forward to consistently doing myself more gently. Thanks again for taking the time to respond, I lift and expand myself with your response to my writing.

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