How to Stop Adult Bullying

Bullying is any repeated behavior, by another person that makes you feel bad about yourself.  It can take many forms like manipulation, blame, criticism, insults, humiliation, excessive demands, rumors, gossip, cursing, intimidation, sarcasm, exclusion, etc.  It can happen at any time or anywhere. Many times people will be bullied by their own family members or by coworkers.

The effects of being bullied can literally make you sick.  Here are some of the health problems you might have if you are the victim of bullying:

  • Insomnia/Nightmares
  • Exhaustion
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Skin Problems
  • Frequent colds/flu
  • Headaches
  • Stomach Problems
  • Eating Disorders
  • Decreased libido
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Stress disorders

How to Deal with an Adult Bully

Do not pretend that just because you are an adult that you can endure bullying and avoid confrontation.  You cannot let it continue if it is causing you physical and emotional pain.  Here’s what to do:

Acknowledge the bully is abusing you.  This is not just an admission of what is happening, but also the letting go of denial, excuses, and justification, and realizing how severe the problem actually is.  In your heart you know that you deserve better than this and that it is time for a change.

Assess your options honestly. Take a good hard look at your relationship with the bully.  Is it your mom? a coworker? What do you give in this relationship? What do you get?  What do you want to get from the relationship in the future? What do you want your life to look like?

Decide you will take action. Your self-respect and self-worth are on the line.  Promise yourself that you will no longer remain quiet and that you will not tolerate it any longer.  You are the only person you can change.  Decide what changes YOU can make that will change the situation.

Document the abuse. Keep records of dates and places of each incident.  This will help you see the reality and magnitude of the situation more clearly.

Establish Boundaries. Don’t keep it a secret; tell an advisor or friend.  Establish clear boundaries of acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior and communicate these boundaries to the bully.  Defend you boundaries no matter what.

Arrange meeting with bully. Make sure this happens with other trusted people around.  Tell your bully what you don’t like and explain to them how it makes you feel.  The bully will be defensive, but hold your ground and explain that you are trying to make the situation better for both people.

After meeting with the bully it might be a good idea to take a hard look at yourself and see if there is any internal work you need to do.  Why have you put up with this behavior for so long?  In addition to these steps you should also make sure to hold your anger, practice confidence, take charge of your own life, talk about it with others, and evaluate your progress.  If your changes in behavior lead to positive results, then enjoy your new freedom and continue to take control of your own life!  If these changes do not promote positive results, then it might be a good idea to seek outside help and consider some more serious alternatives.  Either way, do not give up! This is YOUR life.

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One Response to “How to Stop Adult Bullying”

  1. Tracy says:

    It’s truly important to be cognizant of the signs of adult bullying. Here is an example: You’re at a party and the host tries to pour you more wine, after you have said you are stopping because you need to drive home. He/she says, “Aw, c’mon, just a little more…” and begins to pour. You know if you have more you will be impaired. Looking the person square in the eye and saying, “No”, firmly, is priority number one. You can always be charming after he/she has stopped their actions and say, “Thanks, though! I’ve had a great time!” This one incident actually happened to me. That one isolated action may not be considered bullying by itself, but this person’s other actions added to my perception of this person (lightly insulting people when they say the need to leave or continuing to utter bigoted conversation even though it is known that it makes the other people uncomfortable). I’ll tell you this: The person has certainly been respectful of me and my boundaries since I intervened. Good luck with your own adult “bullies” out there!

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