School Bullies, Hate, and the Road to Forgiveness | The BridgeMaker

School Bullies, Hate, and the Road to Forgiveness

By on Mar 04, 2012

As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy rent-free space in your mind. – Isabelle Holland

I had my very own school bully when I was younger.

I’m sure I’m not the only adult in the world who has been bullied at school in one form or another – many individuals get bullied when they’re young. It’s almost inevitable that someone in a class will be labelled as the ‘spotty, nerdy kid’, and at least one other person will be labelled as the ‘class bully’.

The first category is where I fell. I was labelled ‘four-eyes’ and ‘cry-baby’ due to my oversized glasses and my natural tendency to hide away and cry whenever things got rough. I wasn’t very confident at a young age.

Of course, what didn’t help my confidence was the bullying I received – I was bullied to a point where I developed a stammer. But I reckon the worst part of it was not that I was bullied infrequently by a small number of people. It was that I was bullied frequently by one particular person.

Hate And Fear

I’m not sure whether this bully knew me from before school. I didn’t know him until one year when he caught me talking to a girl that he liked. My talk was completely innocent as I was nowhere near ‘flirting’ age, but he took exception to this and from here on, the bullying began.

He was in the year below me, was smaller than me, and yet managed to assert his dominance over me to the point where I didn’t dare stand up to him for fear of being laughed at, let along physically beaten up. I tried to avoid him more than once, but he had an uncanny knack for following me around, even into the toilets, when he would then try and rally other students to his noble cause of picking on me.

Because of all this, I feared and hated him. I’m not sure which of the two emotions was the stronger, but my expression of hate was the same as my expression of fear, so it all came out in the same way.

He had the upper hand over me, and he knew it.

Not only did he know it, but he’d frequently use it too. Once, I was in the park with a couple of friends playing on the climbing frame. I was happy, until I saw him at the other end of the park with his larger group of friends. I froze – I couldn’t believe that he had made his way over to the park at the same time as me!

He then saw me, but instead of commencing the usual bullying, he just looked at me and smiled.

But this wasn’t a nice smile, it was a knowing smile. A smile that said that he was still in charge over me. That was all he needed to do – I couldn’t think of anything else during that day. It was that bad.

Learning To Forgive

And yet despite the situation being that bad, my feelings towards him today are of pity and pardon. I have since forgiven him for all the mental torture he put me through, and I have let him go from my heart. It took some time, but I have now reached that state.

It wasn’t easy to begin with. When we’re young, we look up to our parents, family, teachers, and friends to guide us and tell us how to live. If we’re told we’re not good enough for something, we won’t do it. I had extracted certain information from my bully – that I wasn’t worthy of friendship, having fun, or being with girls that I liked. My feelings are different now because I have learned to forgive him.

Note the key word there – learned.

Forgiveness did not come naturally to me as my negative feelings were too powerful to think of anything different. But after I finished school and I saw less and less of him to the point where I reckon he had forgotten me, I began to view the situation differently.

Why should I let him continue to dominate me? Slowly but surely, I learned another way of thinking. I learned that it’s possible to forgive someone and move on.

Here’s how I learned to forgive my school bully:

  • Self-forgiveness – Before I could forgive my school bully, or anyone else, I learned to forgive myself first. I was still beating myself up over the torture I had received, telling myself I was no good and the bully was right. This was the hardest step, but I learned to tell myself that I was good enough, that I could have those things which the bully prevented me from having. Why should I limit my life? Self-forgiveness of my own destructive thoughts opened the way for forgiveness of others.
  • Perspective – I remember one day walking in the area where my school bully used to live. This was a few years after school, and I had grown in confidence. The area was derelict, run-down, and unappealing to anyone who walked by. In fact, the neighbourhood I lived in was a lot more attractive. And then it hit me – I lived better than he did. Once I had realised this, my dormant feelings of hate and fear began to rise up again to be immediately replaced by feelings of pity. Why I should fear someone who is worse off in life than I am? If he can’t run his own life, why should I let him run mine? This feeling of pity enabled me to forgive him for all the things he prevented me from having, as I’d assume his lack of such things scared him to the point where he’d hoard them for himself.
  • Letting go – Finally, I experienced the sensation of letting go. Once I had gained a fresh perspective on the past, I realised that there was no point in holding onto it. It wasn’t helping or serving me anymore, so I let go of the bad sensations. I imagined myself speaking to my bully, forgiving him for his past deeds and thanking him for helping shape me into the person that I am today. In my mind’s eye I embraced him, and then I let him go. He left my mind, and so he left my life. The feeling of ‘release’ was beautiful.

This is what I used to help me forgive my school bully and overcome my feelings of fear and hate, and I believe you can use these too.

What past grievances have you been through when you struggled to forgive someone? Have you ever forgiven someone for doing you wrong? Let us know in Comments below. Reading by email? Visit the site to share – just click here.

Millions of people worldwide are restricted from living the life of their dreams by the limiting beliefs that control them. If you want to break those limiting beliefs and live life your way, then visit Stuart Mills at Limitless Believing.

  • Alyssa B

    It’s like my brain wants to fight me from moving on, everytime I consider forgiving my old bullies I can’t stand the thought of doing so like they don’t deserve it and they don’t. But that’s probably a toxic way to think, right?

    And the notion of feeling sorry for them because they had it bad and took it out on me also makes me angry, once you make someone else a victim that’s no longer an excuse. And what about the bullies who don’t have it worse?! Stuff like this always mentions the poor bully angle but what if they had the same if not better than everyone and just wanted to feel superior?
    I don’t know how to let go of my anger on this subject?!

  • greatdane

    Forgiveness is the ultimate betrayal of yourself, once you have the physical and mental resources (i.e. when you are an adult) you should seek revenge, I did, and it was GREAT! I’ve never felt so good looking down at a bloodied and broken former bully, kicking him again and again while he begged me to stop, it was almost a spiritual experience, closest I’ll ever have anyway. Reject forgiveness and seek revenge, justice will make you happy.

    • Charles Hurst

      Just curious greatdane–really no snark intended. I was a small kid and had one ringleader so to speak for three years in high school. And I think a lot of people “forgive” because they would still fear the person. I think it is a self defense mechanism that gives them an out for the fact they still fear the future bully.

      I’m not that guy. I grew up into first bodybuilding, then martial arts then decades of thai boxing. I’ve coached for MMA events now—that’s how long I’ve been in the fighting arts. And I’m successful. The bully shaped me by default. I am a very good physical therapist that can bridge with the physically and mentally hurt. The fighter and the practitioner of physical therapy are the same person and one is an asset to another. I didn’t know that until my mid forties–I finally learned it training in thailand.

      Now the person who was the bully–he became very rich. You would see him on wall street—he owns his own company. And I look at this guy and can’t believe I was ever afraid of this “suit.” And he was a kid at the time.

      But would I have ever become a fighter if not for him. Then a healer in the medical arts—-where I now contract and also make a lot of money. Not as much as him but I probably have a total freedom that he will never have. I take six month vacations. Being a victim turned me into a fighter. Being a fighter turned me into a therapist. Combining the two made me lethal in life.

      And the fact is I could easily hurt him now and probably use only my left hand. So I’m not running or betraying myself. The Thai would say I should thank him–for making me who I am–which I spread goodwill now on others. And train others to defend themselves and gain honor in their lives.

      Sometimes I wonder—should people pay for their sins—for tormenting someone? Should there be justice. Should the predator be allowed to gain a life of luxury with no consequences? I think I did the right thing. The events of childhood took decades to undo—for sure—but the later rewards were staggering.

      What are your thoughts Stuart?

  • Debbie – It’s a shame that bullying continues into adulthood, as well as from school. One would hope that people learn from experiences, but this is currently idealistic, and far from the truth. I’m glad you were able to transcend the negative experiences 🙂

    Nancy – Forgiveness is indeed an act of self-love! Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts 🙂