Understanding a Bully: The Psychology Behind Bullying

Bullies are among the most feared and hated group of people who by the virtue of their aggressive and super impulsive nature has earned some not-so-music-to-ears tags.

Starting from the days of kindergarten to the professional life, we all might have been a victim of bullying to some extent. Sometimes in the form of an annoying classmate while sometimes as a dominating boss, bullies make their presence feel in some way or the other. (Learn about 5 main types of bullying)

Though you might have read a number of articles describing bullies as ‘villains’ or discussing ways to avoid or get rid of these people, today I have raised this topic to understand the psychology of bullying and what exactly goes in the making of a bully.

Behind every bully there is a bullied past

Newton’s 3rd law of motion states that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and this universal truth applies to all sphere of life.

Nothing happens without a reason; same goes with our bullies. While you might have had the perception that bullies are the people who unnecessarily annoy and terrorize weak people just for fun, reality is a bit different from this.

                understanding a bully

To understand bullies, first we have to analyze their past. Individuals who torture, annoy or bully others are, in most of the cases, the ones who were tortured the most.  Adolescents with troubled and violent upbringing are more likely to develop aggressiveness in their life style and thus bullying can be viewed as an act of psychological abnormality where certain people’s inability to handle their own emotions make them impulsive or less sensitive to others.         .

Observe them closely

One common thing among bullies is their love for violence.

If you can observe a bully in action, you are likely to see a deep unrest in them.

Bullying is the result of the turbulence of emotions going inside them which gets reflected in their actions.

…and in the long run, both the victim and the bully has to suffer

Hated by loved ones, neglected by parents, rejected by society and so on, these poor souls have gone through or are going through some really tough times which have resulted in this transformation. The journey from a small kid to a ‘ferocious’ beast is surely not a very pleasant one.

The fear, insecurity and the urge to seek attention makes them desperate to dominate and ill treat the ones weaker to them. It is the pain in the victim’s eyes that gives them momentary satisfaction from their own psychological problems.

The super manly bully cries alone

Nobody wants to be left alone. No human being is a born violent; circumstances force people to change. Bullies appear to us as over impulsive and strong individuals who are blessed with sound mental as well as physical strength who can handle even the most adverse situations easily.

But deep down their heart lie their pain, frustration and agony which troubles them every single day of their life; and with time the problems grow many folds.

If you ever had a friend who bullied others, you can understand what exactly I am trying to say. You might have heard him complaining about his life and the tragic incidences that trouble him.  And if you have gone closer, often you would have seen him crying and cursing his life.

Okay I understood their psychology, but how to tackle them

Mahatma Gandhi was sensitive enough to quote “An eye for an eye will make the nation blind” which implies that violence cannot be an antidote to kill violence.

Now If I can relate this quote with this issue it makes sense to understand the psychology from a softer point of view.

 While it is tough to avoid or resist a bully, it is tougher to understand their pain. It is clear from the above discussion that confronting, scolding or cursing a bully can hardly bring any change in them; rather the situation will deteriorate further.

                       understanding a bully

So the key lies in sharing their pain. Love is perhaps the best antidote to tackle a bully. The formula is short and sweet-Take the pain out of a bully and the see the bully transform gradually in to a gentle human being.

While a lot of people will prefer to stay away from them, I personally feel that avoiding a situation can never bring the optimum solution to a problem. And since our kids are not matured enough to tackle the turbulence of their mind, we need to step in and show them the right track.

The story of Amy Payne, a young lady who made peace with her former bully class mate can be a good example to show why bullies need love too. The film made by the young lady on the subject has managed to raise awareness among people to shower love on both the bullies and the victim.

If you believe it is impossible to befriend an aggressive bully, then I guess you need to think again. No matter how frustrating it may seem, but in the long run a little kindness from us can change someone’s life.

Note to parents and guardians

Being a parent you would never want your kid to be involved, by any means, in any form of bullying.

Irrespective of whether your kid is a victim of bullying or the bully himself, in either case it is you who will be the loser. Because if not checked in time bullying will somehow distort the normal psychology of your kid in long run.

The first thing however is to keep an eye on your kids movements to identify the initial signs of bullying. If confirmed take the following preventive measures tactfully.

Over to you

If you have come across some serious bullying or have handled such a case please feel free to share with us.

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A positive living and self development blogger and motivator.
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9 thoughts on “Understanding a Bully: The Psychology Behind Bullying

  1. Interesting read Tuhin. It takes a special person to befriend someone who is bullying them.

    I was bullied at high school by male and female peers- not physically but verbally. Extremely painful and isolating at the time. As a teen I did not give much thought to the “terrible” life they had, I just wanted them to leave me alone. I had no interest in being friends with peers who enjoyed humiliating and excluding me. Bullying can leave terrible scars – even decades later.

    I constantly speak to my children about their friends and peers. I always ask about their day at school to identify if there are any issues.

  2. I was bullied as a very little kid. This happened when I was about 7 years old. And my mom eventually talked to the girl’s mom. And it turns out that the girl had been previously the victim of another bully. And to help the situation, her mother arranged a play date with the other girl. So all this talk resulted in my being sent over to her house to bake cookies. It was kind of awkward, but we got along. And she wasn’t friendly to me after that, but she stopped pushing me down on the playground. So, I guess it worked.

  3. When I grew up, I was a skinny kid with a bad speech impediment. Trust me, I was bullied everyday until high school.
    Why would you want to befriend a bully? I do not care about the pain they might have suffered, they did not care about mine. I would rather befriend those that stood near me, when I was being bullied.
    Bullies are bullies, not because you were not friends with them, it is because they like bullying people. It comes down to making them pay a price for their bullying. If you do not stand against them, they will continue bullying you forever. The ones who were bullies in high school, end up being bullies as adults. These are the people who become racists, or are narrow minded.
    William Rusho recently posted…Massachusetts Renaissance Faire AKA Market of the MoonsMy Profile

    1. I can understand your pain William!
      But to prevent a kid from becoming a bully we(especially the guardians, teachers and parents) should go to the root of the problem.
      As you rightly said that bullies become racists or narrow minded, so we must control our young minds from the very beginning.
      Neglecting, cursing, handling strictly will anyway make them more aggressive bullies.

  4. Well as a child I was bullied really badly by my peers, I wont go into it though, as I got settled into highschool I became the bully and when I realised what I had become I almost killed myself. There are two sides to each story.

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