Compliments of ginparis2002 via Flickr

In the show Hoarding:  Buried Alive, we see appalling images of individuals living in filth, blockaded by their belongings that to the point where they can barely move. This show is a metaphor for anxiety, depression, and poor self-image caused by others.

Instead of feeling a part of the expansive whole, we sometimes find ourselves cordoned into a mental closet. Buried in an avalanche of other peoples’ insecurities, it’s difficult to experience any hope that your own situation will improve.

This is the aftermath of bullying. Years of having others hurl their projectile self-loathing and inadequate past history (onto you) result in a pile of mental excreta pressing down on your psyche. Reports have noted live persons drowning in their own physical mess.

The same can result when you say nothing in the face of abuse, and choose to become its victim time and again. Abusers initially will test the waters to see how you react – and, they will become puerile in the face of no pushback. Hyper vigilance, PTSD, and a general failure to interact can be the aftermath of acting as a whipping post for someone else.  

To break the cycle of abuse, consider the following:

  • Make the first step in demanding respect. Bullies heap their perceived inadequacies onto the most passive. “Bullies eat nice people alive.” In his insightful work The Book of Awakening, Nepo explains that failure to voice unhappiness with others’ behavior simply perpetuates a cycle in which you feel maligned, and in which they experience carte blanche to take advantage. Clearing the air gives someone else an opportunity to do better, and a chance to recognize their limitations – which he defines as “failures to see the obvious.”
  • Step back. If you hold the reigns tight and take the lead in relationships, you may be getting your way at the expense of your peers. A relationship is with someone, not at them. It’s the result of two people engaged in a mutual sharing, and an exploration of unseen territory as equals.
  • Find a constructive outlet for your issues, and don’t let others bear the brunt of your bad day. Yelling, degrading, demeaning, and belittling are behaviors that should never be reserved for sentient beings. As Feiler notes, “If you enslave, oppress, or in any way devalue another person, you are, by extension, doing the same thing to God.” Join a gym, find a support group, or enlist a health care provider who is qualified to assist with your ailment.
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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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