Bullies: just longing for Boeles?

Bulls? Bullies? Boeles? Or the elephants in the room?

Apparently my bully-ish thought-stream decided that a raging waterfall would be more appropo tonight. So, here goes…

Earlier today, I discovered that bully was, originally, a 16th Century term of endearment for a friend or lover (spelled boele). You’ll have to hang with me here to follow my spaghetti-brain logic.

  • If boele was a term of endearment for friend or lover…
  • Then, a boele would have been a person with whom you would want to spend time, yes?
  • So, in order to get someone’s attention such they would notice you and choose to be with you, you might have do something to communicate that degree of want to the object of your affections, yes?

Time out for a few examples:

  • When my son’s cats want my attention, they head-butt me. (Honestly, they won’t even let me send a text message on my phone!)
  • When my dog wants his water dish filled, wants food, or wants to play, he will stop at nothing until I give him what he wants and needs. He will head-butt my leg, step on my feet, pant in my face, lay his head in my lap, and generally becomes an annoying pest.
  • When my own kids were little, the times they would poke, push, interrupt, or cause a scene most often were when I was on the phone or maybe intent on finding buried coupons in the checkout lane of the grocery store.

(Are you following my spaghetti-trail so far?)

What if bullying behavior results from a painful and desperate longing for love and attention? How would that change the way we interacted with bullies? What kind of people would we need to become in order to fill that vast emptiness inside a bully who is longing for a boele? Wouldn’t we need to embody the strength of a valiant knight-in-shining armor? (Or at least we could be a decent dog-owner who could and would compassionately care for a pet.)


This seems to be where my falling-over-the-cliff waterfall-of-thought is heading tonight:

  • Working from an assumption that a bully, as currently defined, is a person who has developed a cluster of behaviors that present as harrassment…
  • Then, we might postulate that a bully has been abused, neglected, and deprived of the love and guidance a person requires in order to feel adequately loved and valued…
  • Then, it would make sense that this person is seeking to get attention any way possible.

Therefore, to stand our ground while simultaneously helping the bully get what he or she desperately needs, I *think*:

  • We need to communicate to the bully’s heart–probably in a non-verbal manner. (Most likely the bully’s understanding of words will be pre-loaded with hurtful, hateful, emotions.) I know from my teacher-experience that using soft eyes, a gentle smile that communicates “I know and understand”, and a gesture that invites an intimate, one-on-one personal conversation all work to diffuse the attention-getting behaviors.
  • If the bully becomes quiet enough to engage in communication, speaking to the heart goes like this: we tune into the emotion of the bully and give the assurance that we are going to be worthy of trust. We need to fill the energy-space with our mind-messages that our spirits are big enough and strong enough to hold whatever terrible hurts and flashbacks are haunting the bully. (We don’t need to be physically big to do this!)
  • We need to breathe easily, comfortably, and confidently, because the bully will unconsciously begin to mirror the positive energy we are giving out.

I’m guessing that you’re thinking that I’m expecting an awful lot of a young child dealing with a scary bully on the playground, right? Yes, you are so right. Consider:

  • A child has been totally loved, nurtured, taught wisely, and has been given a sense of self that feels like “love conquers all”
  • This child has had many, many experiences watching his/her parents deal with frustrating people–in traffic, waiting in line, acting angry and impatient, kids acting like a brat–and those parents have consistently responded like the knight-in-shining-armor that I described above. Furthermore, these parents have always explained their knight-like feelings and behaviors to their children.
  • This child has tried out the knight-in-shining-armor defense-and-rescue missions with his/her parents serving as supportive coachs (“Hey Nathan, I saw what you did back there with that ornery kid. You loved the orneriness right out of her. Way to go.”)
  • This child has assimilated the knight-in-shining-armor qualities into his/her purpose for living. Turning a bully into a friend is a very rewarding experience, and, you get an extra friend as a bonus.

Not feeling confident that your child can be the knight-in-shining-armor? It is a rare parent who can, because the prerequisite would have been doing our own hard work… making sure that any of our own past emotional hurts have healed, and that we have totally embraced our own sense of our life’s purpose–body, soul, and mind.

Yes. I am saying that if we want to make a change anywhere, we ALL have to do our own soul-searching and learn the hard lessons that were never taught in school. I think it will take all of us–parents, grandparents, neighborhoods, everyone–relearning and providing the supportive communities in order build compassionate, loving people from the newborn-stage on up.

We can’t pray it away. We can’t expect our schools to do it. We can’t delegate it to Congress. We can’t blame the bullies. We have to do the grunt work on ourselves–joining the conversation, praying for guidance, seeking knowledge, and becoming communities that heal the hurts.

This is my journey of discovery, too, but I’m also feeling more and more confident that FindingBreathless is heading down the right track. I’ve gathered some resources for healing, studying, and practicing on my Starfish Mission page. These are just things that I have discovered and that have worked for me. If you have additional resources, please consider this is an open invitation to join the conversation. Thank you so, so much, to those who already have!

Your participation and comments are always welcome.

Love, ❤ ❤ ❤





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