Bullying and the lasting effects

Remember the saying: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”?

This is one of the worst & most untrue things I have ever heard.

Judgement from others

This really matters to us. How other people see us, what they might think and what they say out loud about us impacts us on an ongoing and daily basis. We all just want to be loved, in whatever way that is shown.


When we are babies we are (usually) loved no matter what we do. Every burp is appreciated, we smile and the world smiles back at us, and our firsts are celebrated with clapping. We think we are amazing, and the world reflects this back at us.

Growing up though…

Is different. Very early on we realise that judgement is upon us. We go to school and someone else gets the applause, we notice & the niggle starts – “why didn’t I get that, why didn’t they notice me?”, and that’s just because of a forward roll in infant school!

And so it goes. We pick up on what people say and don’t say. Internalising all of, so the mental chatter running in the background of our minds switches on. We all have it, but for some people it is louder.

We grow up wondering then if we’re okay, whether people really like us, are we interesting, clever, important enough – ultimately are we lovable?

Meeting the bully

Very often this happens when we hit teenage years, and this can have the most massive effect on that internal voice.

We already have the internal desire for love, admiration, affection and then when bullying starts it is bewildering and frightening.

Suddenly the words are coming at us out loud, rather than from the back of our minds. How to cope with what’s coming at us? Of course different kids respond in different ways depending on their upbringing.

What I have noticed in talking to adult women about this experience is that they mostly keep quiet, try not to be noticed and hope that it just stops soon. They don’t tell anyone, they feel alone & develop the belief that they are the only one this happens to. They put up with it. And the start to internally believe what they hear, taking it on as their own.


This was the question I had for those women. Why stick around? Why not move away?

The answer practically to that of course is that they are kids, and moving away is not that easy. They are not in charge of what school they go to, what town they live in.

Why not tell someone?

The biggest response to this was “I was ashamed, what if they were right & there was something wrong with me”

Another response was that they felt they should have been able to cope with it. That they would have been seen as weak, or got into trouble themselves.

The trouble is…

We’re hardwired for connection. There’s no arguing with the bioscience. But we can want it so badly we’re trying to hot-wire it. ~ Brene Brown

This intrinsic desire for connection shouldn’t cause us trouble, but in the case of bullying it does. Because to have any connection even if it makes us feel terrible is better than no connection at all.

To be ignored, made to feel irrelevant, not noticed at all is worse than sticking around with the bullies.

To tell someone (an adult) risks being cast out forever.

Sticking around with eternal hope that the bullying will end, the language will change and life will get better is the solution a lot of kids go for.

As an adult

As an adult the effects can continue, even without us realising that we are still acting on what we heard during this time. We hold those words in our subconscious and somewhere a part of us believes the words to be true.

As adults we still desire approval, admiration and ultimately love from those around us to make us feel that we are okay.

You only have to look at social media to see this desire in action.

People don’t always realise that they are holding onto their earlier life experiences and the impact these can have on how they live their lives.

Understanding is power

Once you know, you have the power to change what you do. Our actions are run by our thoughts.

It is possible to change your mind and then change you life.