Being bullied as a child, I’m sure you may still haven’t forgotten the experience just yet. You probably haven’t gotten after the feelings and pains you underwent as a child, and that is perfectly understandable.
Maybe as a child while you were bullied, you felt helpless, unsafe, very insecure and alone in this whole world and you still remember those feelings and thoughts that ran through your head as you were bullied. Studies have shown that if you experienced bullying as a child or any other traumatic experience, you probably still will be having the effects even till now when you have become an adult.
Some of the effects of bullying are that you would begin to doubt yourself and your capabilities, you will lack the ability to have quality friendships as well as you would troubles having faith in people and what they tell you.
If you fail to heal as a child, address or resolve these feelings before you grow into an adult, you will never gain closure, and this lack of trust in yourself will eventually keep hunting you even as you progress into adulthood.
Consequently, as time progresses, your lack of trust in yourself will damage your self-esteem and this will be the outcome you would be experiencing. Don’t think for a minute that this lingering outcome would go away because you grew up. No, it would not. In fact, research has it that most adults who were bullied as a child would be at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder, depression and suicidal thoughts.
How then do you heal? How do you gain closure? How do you eventually move on from the after-effects of the bullying you suffered as a child? There are nine things you can do to help heal fast or reverse the feeling of low self-esteem:
1. Don’t deny the fact that you were bullied
Most people who were bullied either try to downplay the extent of the bullying they suffered, dismiss it as not being bullied or they often pretend as if any of such happened. Doing this three things is more or less like “saving the rain for the latter-day.”
Some even succumb to the feelings of guilt, have the feelings of shame and/ self-blame saying “they probably deserved it”. They begin to believe that it is something they have done or did that warranted the way they were treated and if they had been different or tried harder in terms of their actions, they wouldn’t have been bullied.
The very first way of healing fast is by first, acknowledging that they were bullied. You need to realise and tell yourself the truth. Yes, you were bullied, and No, it isn’t any of your faults. You didn’t do anything to warrant the kind of pain you went through.
2. You must make sure your health and recovery is a priority
A lot of victims who were bullied have been seen overtime dealing with quite a number of different health issues. These can include several diseases such as insomnia, different stress conditions, anxiety-related problems, headaches, post-traumatic stress disorders, eating disorders and so on.
Trying to keep this issues to yourself to avoid you being criticised is a form of you harming yourself all the more. Remember there are many things that bullying can affect. Bullying not only affects your self-esteem, your mood or your self-confidence, it can also affect your health if care isn’t taken.
3. You must reclaim control
It is possible to carry over the feelings of powerlessness as well as helplessness from childhood into adulthood. Because you felt helpless while you were being bullied, it is enough to make you think there is nothing you can do when decisions aren’t going your way. You might even begin to assume the role of a victim without knowing it just yet.
You need to realise the fact that what happened to you was beyond your control. There was absolutely nothing you could have done about it. However, in as much as you could not control what happened to you, you can control your reaction to it now.
You can control your life now, and you need not live under the outcome if being a victim anymore. You must start your healing process by controlling your mind and your thoughts. You must assume control over your emotions, responses to other people’s actions as well as you must start taking better actions and making healthier choices.
You must also accept the fact that it is in your position to make better choices now. Now, you can control how you respond emotionally to other people’s words and actions. It is within your power to choose how you should live your life, and that choice would determine how the rest of your life plays out. Stop choosing to react as the victim. Stop playing the victim’s role and take a better hold of your life.
4. You must accept that you are worth more
Accepting your self-worth and value is very important. There is a saying that goes “People see you the way you see yourself”. This saying is authentic. We understand that bullying has caused you to lose your self-worth and your self-esteem and you know why?
It is because bullying is packed with several lies that don’t accurately speak of who you are. In point 3, we discussed how you should take control of your reactions, and this is an excellent place to start. Realise that all that was said about you during the years when you were bullied are nothing but all lies.
You must reject all the lies that were said about you which have been lodged in your mind and heart. Replace them with the truth of who you are. Discover who you are and what you are capable of doing and replace the lies said about you with the reality of who you are.
You must focus on discovering your unique personality and potentials. You can start by identifying what is great about you and writing them down. And before you go thinking about the fact that nothing is great about you, that is another lie you must debunk. Everything is great about you.
Start by writing all your positive traits and characteristics. What are your strong points? What are your strengths? What do people say is great about you? What do people like about you? What do you like about yourself?
What are you great at? This and many more are the questions you must answer and write down. You must focus on the positives about you and reject the negative statements made about you.
5. You must avoid isolating yourself
One of the fastest ways to recover from the after-effects of bullying is to avoid staying in a place all by yourself. Doing this will make a lot of negative thoughts stream into your mind. To quickly recover, you must maintain contact with all your supportive friends and families.
Don’t make a mistake of thinking you can handle the outcome of bullying all on your own. You can’t deal with the consequences of bullying on your own so don’t even try. Likewise, stop trying to bury the fact that you were bullied in your mind. If you must talk to a counsellor about your past, then go right ahead and do it.
If you also feel your family and siblings can help you if you talk to them about it, then you should speak to them about it. If getting into a support group will help you become better, go ahead and join a support group. Do whatever works for you to get better.
6. Focus on your personal growth
To grow, you must figure out the areas which you are lagging. You must identify the areas you need to heal and grow. For instance: do you need to become more self-assertive? Do you need to boost your self-esteem and self-worth? Do you need to place more value on yourself?
You must answer this questions sincerely and help you to grow. You can also decide to set boundaries, join a few clubs or volunteer societies etc. if you need to.
7. You must change how you think:
It is very easy to get used to being bullied such that you always begin to think you deserve it and even when you are not bullied, you begin to miss being bullied. You need to learn how to take total control over how you think.
You need to take control of your thought processes. You need to remind yourself that you need to be happy again. Set your goals on things that make you happy and bring immense joy to you.
Avoid focusing all your energy on thinking about the past. Forget the past and create a new, better and happy future for yourself. Although it is good to sometimes reminisce in the past, however, it is not right to focus all your energy on the pain you had to endure all the while as a child.
You need to set out time to reminisce and deal with your past, but you must be very careful in doing this so that it doesn’t consume or overwhelm you. If you feel that you would be overwhelmed, then perhaps you should be looking for an outside help who is trusted and capable of helping you.
8. You need to recover and find closure
An essential part of your healing is that you must find closure; a permanent closure at that. I’m not trying to ask you to deny the fact that you were bullied or the fact that it affected you at so many areas of your life.
All we are saying is that you need to get to the point where what you went through no longer affects your well-being and joy. While you must acknowledge the effects it had on you, don’t let those effects determine your future happiness. You need to shut the door on the past and move on to the next joyous phase of your life. If need be, express all your anger and hurt.
Some have even derived closure by having to write a letter to their bullies expressing how hurt and angry they feel. If you would derive closure doing this, by all means, go ahead and write it. Just do whatever you need to do to help you close that door so that you can move on without any baggage from your past.
9. Be patient
Having to heal and recover isn’t a one day job. In fact, it is a gradual process. Initially, when you begin, it might feel as if it isn’t working and you might even be moved to want to give up on the entire process altogether. However, you shouldn’t give up.
You must have to deal with all the wrong perceptions as well as some bad habits you probably have had. Dealing with this is almost like breaking a lifelong habit which isn’t easy, but it is in fact very possible. All you need is consistency.
Celebrate your success and how far you have gone whenever you maybe break a new habit or move past a bad phase of your past. No matter how little it is, celebrate and encourage yourself.
The changes you end up seeing will begin gradually and grow into a massive new you. So go ahead, start the healing process you need and move past that unfriendly phase of your life. One day, you would wake up and realise you have turned into a better new you.