creative spark #59: inside the bully’s mind

Think before you act.

We’ve talked a lot about bullying lately, and that’s great. But today we’re going to look at this issue from a slightly different perspective.  Yesterday, I participated in a fascinating panel discussion at Emory University in Atlanta that concerned multiple perspectives of bullying.

Dr. Sarah Vitorino encouraged the audience to not just identify with the “victim” of bullying, but also to try to gain understanding of the bully’s frame of mind when an incident occurs. This human understanding can go a long way toward healing the impact of a really bad situation.

So ask yourself, what makes a bully decide it’s okay to pick on someone else? What provokes that person to act out physically against another?

For today’s introspective creative spark, I ask you to imagine a little empathy, and perhaps even gain some compassion, for those individuals who lash out at others. There is usually more than one good reason bullies act the way they do.

Your spark?  Create a back story for a bully. Consider these questions about your bully:

  • Which elements in his or her life may have altered his outlook?
  • Did one childhood incident in particular shape the way a bully physically responds to others?
  • Can you pinpoint the emotions that trigger a bullying incident?
  • Why do you think the bully chooses one person in particular to single out for verbal or physical attacks?

Really try to nail down the triggers for aggressive behaviors. In doing so, you just might begin to understand the whole bullying equation and realize just how complex our behaviors can be.

And in trying to have empathy for the bullies in life, perhaps you may learn that what the schoolyard bully really needs is a friend.

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