Monday, January 20, 2014

The Story on Bullying

There is a story I once heard about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but   Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. (Source unknown)

Isn’t this the story for so many of our experiences in life ~ whether it is at home, at school, at work, or in our communities? Think about bullying, for example. We may wish there was no bullying or violence. We may wish for people to be a little kinder, or a little more compassionate. We may wish for things to change, or for things to get better. But wishing doesn’t change things does it?

There has been interesting research on something called the “Bystander effect.” In events where someone was attacked, beaten up, being bullied, for example, and there were witnesses, there are numerous accounts when the no one did anything to help. When the witnesses, or bystanders, were interviewed they were asked why they didn’t do anything to help. As expected many responded that they were too scared, or they didn't know what to do, or some said they didn’t think it was their business to get involved. But the most common reason given was that Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Think about the bystander effect in your own experiences. Was there ever a time you can recall when you wished you stood up for someone? Or that you wished someone had stood up for you?  So often the memory that no one helped is felt with far greater pain than the act of the bullying  itself.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

So is this how the story ends?  Nobody doing anything? That’s up to you. It’s not how it has to be! In fact, instead of the ending, I believe it’s time for a whole new chapter! However, it’s going to require a “plot twist” if we want to change the culture to be more mindful and kind-full! What do I mean by that?

Let me tell you another story I read about. It’s about Harry Houdini, a Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts at the turn of the century. He was famous for escaping from handcuffs, chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, having to hold his breath inside a sealed milk can, and more. One day he was challenged to escape from a jail cell. The door was closed behind him and he quickly, and confidently, got to work picking the lock with a little tool removed from his belt buckle. Only this time, he wasn’t having success. In frustration, 10 minutes goes by, then 30, 60… Two hours later he drops to the floor in sheer frustration and exhaustion. As he does so, his back hit the door and it swung open! It was never locked!

When we are facing bullying, it may seem like there is no escape or that we can never get it to go away. The lesson from Houdini’s story, as it relates to bullying, is that we can’t keep doing things the same way if it’s not working! You can’t stop bullying and violence with more bullying and violence. You can’t stop bullying by remaining silent. That’s like trying to “pick that lock” over and over, as most us have done for years. Instead, you have to do the things necessary that will be effective in helping to stop bullying, or to reduce its impact.

Think about it! You can’t wish to complete or even have a chance at winning a marathon, for example, if you never do the things each day to make you a better, stronger, long distance runner. You work-out!

To stop bullying, like an athlete, you work-out! You’re doing the things to help improve your emotional intelligence “fitness” skills, and improving your “cardio” by strengthening your heart-centered responses.

Thank goodness for influential positive role models before us who showed the power of taking action on a dream or wish such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. They showed us it is possible to change a culture through nonviolence. They lived it. They lead and inspired others to do the same. One person… taking action… changed a whole country!

In fact there are lots of unknown people joining the current Compassion Movement in schools and communities across the globe, getting what I call “Compassion-Fit”- doing what it takes every day to contribute to a little more caring, a little more courage, a little more compassion in every day living to make the world in our homes, schools, workplaces, and communities a little happier!

Compassion is recognizing the pain of others and taking action to help stop it. People sometimes respond with “He hurt me, I’m gonna hurt him” (or someone else). This thinking keeps you stuck like Houdini in that cell by doing something the same way over and over which is not effective. Others may think "It's not my problem why should I get involved or why should I care?"

I am going to share a Secret that may help: Hurt people hurt people. They, too, are stuck in that limited way of thinking and responding. The pain is passed on over and over with the same results - not getting beyond the pain, or anger, pr fear. When people try to hurt us through bullying, it has nothing to do with us.  It’s “their story”- it’s what’s going on in their lives. Perhaps they are being bullied, abused, having family or relational problems so their anger, sadness, or pain is being directed out. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it can help us develop seeds of compassion if we understand this. When they are bullying we can see it as not being personal, and stopping it from becoming our story.

“If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.” ~Marvin J. Ashton
If we want bullying to stop we need a new "key". That key is to stop allowing the story of others to become our story. Take your pen back and begin writing your own story! In our "Circles of Compassion" program we expand on these concepts to write your “STORY”:

S = STOP: Practice heart-centered and effective ways to stop the bullying, as well as to stop our own reactions (fight or flight or self-destruction) which adds more aggression or pain and keeps us locked in that box/cell. 
T = TAKE 5: Practicing how to step outside the box/cell look at the infinite choices available to us through mindfulness and raising emotional intelligence.
O = OUTCOME: By utilizing our formula Events + Response = Outcome (E + R = O) we practice reminding ourselves of what Outcome we want (peace, happiness) and setting the intentions to get there.
R = RESPOND: Practicing responding with choices from the heart and mind and taking ACTION to produce new Outcomes (not wishing, not standing by).
Y = YOU: Practicing the skills and habits to help you succeed to become the very best version of YOU! Going for your personal best by setting goals to be Compassion-Fit with a commitment to non-violence to break the cycle of bullying and aggression by breaking out of that limited thinking. Keep raising the bar in compassion in every thought, word and action in daily living!

"The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday." (Unknown)

Everybody can do something about bullying. It begins with Somebody -ONE person making a conscious decision to reach out to Somebody. “To the world you may be one person, to one person you may be the world” when you reach out and show compassion. That’s how we change the world- one caring and courageous choice at a time. Let’s raise the bar on compassion beginning right now!!! I commit! I'm getting Compassion-Fit! Will you join our Circles of Compassion?

Get Compassion-Fit Video below!

Dee DiGioia

Dee DiGioia is author of “One Caring and Courageous Choice at a Time” which includes her original movie for elementary school-aged children to help stop bullying through learning to be Champions of bucket-filling and compassion. She currently teaches (coaches) her “Circles of Compassion” Teen Leadership pilot program in Folsom, CA. Approximately seventy 6th and 7th grade students are committing to becoming “Compassion-Fit.” A Coach is someone who carries us from where we are to where we want to be, so with a little guidance, the students learn and practice the skills to help them become positive role models in their peer groups to contribute to a more compassionate culture. 

Contact Dee DiGioia for your next conference or workshop for parents and/or educators to begin a "Compassion-Fit" program in your school or program!

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