Thursday, May 1, 2014

How to Forgive a Bully

Last night in my A Course in Miracles study group, a friend mentioned to me that one of her friends is currently reading my book, "Forgiveness is the Key to Happiness".  She is only partly though it, but she is coming to understand how important forgiveness is.  However, as many of us do, she has something big in her past that needs to be forgiven, and the idea of letting it go not only confuses but upsets her.  She was raped.  She said to my friend, "Why do I have to forgive someone who RAPED me??!!"

In addition, I've been thinking a lot lately about people around the world who are right now dealing with powerful bullies, dictators and political enemies that need to be forgiven.

I admit that this is a difficult kind of forgiveness.  It takes a little more soul searching and growth to forgive on this level than just forgiving the guy that stole your parking spot at the grocery store.

What's a bully, really?  Bullies are people who experience a great deal more fear than you and I do.  That's why they act out in ways that we would never ever consider.

Remember that everything that any of us do here is either an act of love or it is a call out for love.  That's it.  In every moment, we are either in a state of love or in a state of fear.

Where most of us drift back and forth between love and fear throughout each day, bullies have indulged their fearful sides.  More, or practically all, of their daily thoughts (both consciously and sub-consciously) relate to fear.  As they allow their fear to grow, their behavior becomes more and more aggressive.  The fear is the cause and their aggressive behavior is the effect.

Whenever we act out our fear, we create guilt in our minds (again this can be conscious or sub-conscious).  This means that the more a bully behaves like a bully, the more their guilt increases, which in turn, leads to even more fear.  After all, if we believe we are guilty, we also believe we should be punished.  The increased fear leads to ever more vicious and harmful behavior patterns.

A bully can be someone you know whom is merely unpleasant to be around, but he can also be threatening, combative or violent.  He/she can be a dictator, a rapist, a spouse batterer or even a verbal abuser.

Before you begin to approach forgiving a bully, it helps to do a little self-introspection.  Even though you may spend a great deal more of your time in love thinking than the bully you are forgiving, it's important to remember that we all have many fear thoughts each and every day.  When we judge a bully for indulging in fear, aren't we really judging him for something we often do ourselves?

Think back and review your life.  Haven't there been moments when you yourself behaved as a bully, even just a little tiny bit?  Did you ever bully your little brother or sister?  Were you ever part of a "popular" crowd in school that excluded or made fun of less popular kids?  Have you ever bossed your spouse around?  Your children?  Your employees?  Are you ever just the teensy-est little bit bossy?  Do you like to get your way?  Have you ever behaved selfishly?

The scale of your actions may be much smaller, but again, bully thinking is bully thinking.  When you are thinking and acting as a bully, you are out of alignment with love.

We all have things in our past we're not proud of.  Looking back we might see that at the time that we were behaving badly, we had our rationalizations.  We did what we thought was in our best interest at the time.  Yes, our little mis-behaviors are nothing compared to rape in terms of their effects.  But at the causal level they are the same.  They come from fear based thought.  And all fear based thought is the same.  It is simply non-loving.

One more thing you might try before you attempt to forgive a bully is empathy.  It's actually extremely sad that your bully feels so very alone and afraid that he believes his only option is to behave this way.  What caused all that fear?  What was his childhood like?  He must have experienced terrible rejection.  On a deep down level he must believe in his worthlessness or he wouldn't be so desperately trying to prove his value to himself through abusive acts.  Take a moment and think about his pain.  Think about how he suffers each day from fear, loneliness, guilt and self-hatred.

You certainly don't have to condone his actions, but can you find a little love somewhere in your heart to offer this poor tortured creature?  Just the smallest scrap of sympathy?  This is very important because when you are able to see another side of this situation you are taking your first step toward flipping the switch in your mind from fear to love.  You are releasing your own fear, and as you do this, you release your own guilt and pain.  This is how you find your peace.

If you feel you need help forgiving a bully I have three guided meditations that will teach you a process for forgiveness.  To forgive a bully that is harming you in your present, try Forgive Someone NOW.  To forgive someone from your past try Forgive Your Past NOW.

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