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NPR ran a story on the effects of being bullied.

It was based on an a study from England.

“Midlife … is an important stage in life because that sets in place the process of aging,” says Louise Arseneault, a developmental psychologist at King’s College London and the study’s senior author. “At age 50, if you have physical [and] mental health problems, it could be downhill from here.”

Midlife? That’s baby boomer territory.

Have you been bullied and haven’t gotten over it?

You can still do it. Here’s how.

Imagine a childhood filled with so much bullying that you had to pretend you’re paralyzed to get a break.

And it continued for years. You couldn’t wear short sleeves because of the bully bruising on your arms.

See, bullies like to beat on you until you break. If you don’t break, they keep pounding.

The idea is knowing how much you can take. There’s a line in the bully / victim relationship no one talks about.

You hear about people bullied to death, or a victim snapping and taking out the bully along with everyone around them.

Neither of these are a satisfactory result.

Growing up afraid of a bully colors reality. Isolating the bully experience helps.

If you’re bullied by one person, it’s a ‘them’ problem. If you’re bullied by everyone it might be a ‘you’ problem.

Settling in with the idea of one bully is better than keeping your head on a swivel for all bullies.

Once you make up your mind you won’t be bullied by more than one kook you get a rainbow effect. It’s a happy time.

You’ve got your bully and that’s the limit. One. For the rest of the bullies in your life you get the green light to shut them down.

Of course it’s not easy. Bullies know things you don’t.

Now it’s your turn. Use your bully experience to your advantage. It never gets better than topping a bully at their own game.

Once you gain the confidence of whomping on the minor bullies, you’re ready for the big time. In an evolutionary sense, you’ll know when to stand up and fight.

No one says punch the bully out. They’ve been at it a while and don’t go down easy.

Without holding a grudge, keep your bully revenge quiet. You don’t want them thinking they got inside your head and stayed.

Instead, use an incident of bully behavior toward someone else no matter how minor, and explain in a calm voice that their behavior is not acceptable.

Remind the bully that it’s not about you. You’ve gotten over being bullied just fine, thank you. Others don’t have it so well, so you’re just standing up for them.

The bully should understand you’ve got a whole can of anit-bully ready to pop all over them if they don’t change, but it doesn’t mean you need to explode into fists of fury.

It does mean refine your message. While you go through that process, keep an eye on the bully. They might come after you.

This brings us to the preparation you need before ending the bully cycle. You could go to the gym and get big and strong. Or head to the dojo and collect a few degrees on your black belt.

Before going through all the trouble, ask yourself, “was Gandhi pumped up? Did Martin Luther King have a black belt?” That’s right bullied boomer, take a turn down Non-violent Avenue this Easter.

See, the bully kicked your butt because they could get away with it. You took it then because you didn’t know what to do. Take it now because you grow stronger by not retaliating, and you’re doing it on purpose.

No more fear, no more guilt. Join the non-violent movement and you’ll be in good company. You’ll still get your butt kicked one way or another, but at least the bully knows they are morally wrong.

If that’s not good enough, put on the boxing gloves.

You’ve dealt with a bully?  Tell us about it.




About David Gillaspie


  1. Linda Barrow says:

    Glad this subject is getting more attention. Great article!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Hi Linda,

      There’s so much attributed to bullying, not much of it good. But you’ve got to agree, the worst thing about bullying is the helpless feeling.

      That’s when the game needs to change.

  2. BoomerPDX,

    I was an “innocent” 6th grader back in the early 70’s and we – my friends and I were tired of getting hijacked for lunch money and our lunches, any candy or gum we had on our person on the way to school everyday by an elder middle-schooler. We either gave into the bully or we would have our faces dragged through the dirty ditch water or gutter, or horse trough or something worse on the way to school.

    One of the four us who hung around together came up with the idea that we take our parents ex-lax laxative and make it look like candy we brought in our lunches. When the unsuspecting bully took our lunches and candy one day he had the misfortune of wearing off-white courdoroy pants to school that day. That afternoon we saw the downtrodden bully leave school physically sick and in tow of the Vice Principal and his parents being walked to the car with a messy “gross” stain in the back of pants.

    Naturally my parents received a call from the parents of the bully and the conversation was around how we did this to their poor son. I don’t know to this day if my parents were relieved to hear of the bully’s misfortune or if the bully was relieved, but he never bothered us again!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      HI Rob,

      Great bully story. Too often we shame ourselves for letting a bully get the best of us. You found a better to handle it than most.

      The exlax chocolate trick. Messy, but effective.

      Now as parents we have a better idea of the bully effect. I don’t remember telling my kids, “If you get beat up at school, you’ll get a beating at home until you take the bully down.”

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