I recently listened to the Fleurish podcast with Whitney Simmons on mental health (you can listen to it here). It is an awesome discussion about being an influencer and the effects on mental health it can have. Whitney talks about online bullying and the hate comments she gets on her content. She also goes on to talk about the death of her close friend and the anxiety and depression diagnosis she received following his passing. Hearing her speak about difficult topics and her road to recovery is powerful. Whitney Simmons has been a personal role model to me, and I find her content on both YouTube and Instagram to be educational, empowering, motivating, and just plain entertaining! To hear her speak about people on the internet being mean to her makes me frustrated, confused, and angry. Just like everyone else, influencers feel emotions and go through difficult life circumstances (even if we don’t see it online).
With regards to their discussion around the bully, I found myself recognizing that nobody addresses the bully. It sounds strange but how can we reduce bullying if we don’t talk about the bully. In the podcast they discuss what it is like to be the victim of bullying and question how anyone could put that kind of negative energy onto someone else. Everyone has probably said something mean out of anger or low self-esteem or some other negative emotion. The reason a bully takes the time to be negative is because they have that negativity built up inside them and it must be let out. A fast way to make yourself feel better is to look at someone doing worse than you. Being a bully is a quick self-esteem boost because you get to feel powerful and look at someone feeling worse than you. If you are a bully or if you have ever bullied someone, this might resonate with you. It is okay to recognize times that you were hurting and so you hurt someone else to alleviate your negative emotions. What matters is how you act in the future because of this recognition.
So how do you recognize if you are being a bully? Are you putting others down to make yourself feel better? Do you find yourself saying things to others that you wouldn’t want someone to say to you? Do you react to difficult emotions by using harsh words or actions towards others? If you think you might be using bullying as a way to cope with your emotions, there’s a few things you can try. Is there a better way that you can communicate your needs? If you are lonely, make plans with friends. If you are feeling low self-esteem, try complimenting people and change the way you talk to yourself. Painful emotions can be hard to deal with. We live in a world where anger is more acceptable than crying and saying you’re struggling. Therapists can be a great way to tackle some of these difficult emotions and work towards self-growth. But if you aren’t there yet, it’s okay, self-reflection, doing things that make you feel fulfilled, and finding ways to let your emotions out that don’t hurt yourself or others are ways to cope. Things like going to the gym, journaling, and creating art can be outlets for those tough and painful emotions.
If people have hurt you, it can be easy to pass on that hurt to others and continue the cycle of hurt. However, we have the choice to make changes that break the cycle and can heal your life and others.