While presenting on bullying at a conference for professionals last summer, I had audience members raise their hands if they were bullied as children and are still being impacted by it as an adult. I was amazed to see so many hands go up. This was still a problem for a lot of adults in the room. Bullying can have long-lasting effects to our mood, our self-esteem, and to our lives in general. Whether they were having an issue with their job, their partner, or some other place in their life, there were triggers in their day-to-day lives that were bringing up many old memories about the bullying they experienced.
One courageous man came up to me and shared some of the personal struggles he has had since being the victim of terrible bullying as a child. He talked about the pain and inadequacies that he still feels as an adult since there was no resolution to his bullying as a child.
If you were horribly bullied as a child and are still triggered as an adult by things that remind you of the bullying, how do you handle this? Can adults heal from childhood bullying? If so, how?
Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. Everyone’s healing journey is different. However, here are some suggestions for you to consider:
- Pay Attention to Your Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors. Become aware of sensitivities that may arise or triggers that remind you of something from your childhood. This can be a good indication that the bullying you felt as a child is still a big trigger for you.
- Consider Therapy. Especially if the bullying that you experienced was severe, it is important to get yourself into some counseling services. Talking and mourning the sadness and humiliation you felt as a child will help you become a much more in-tune adult. It is important as an adult that you have a place to heal and talk about the many struggles you suffered as a child.
- Plan for Coping. In counseling, you can also explore how the bullying may be coming up again for you as an adult, how you continue to be impacted. When you know what is triggering you and what memories it is bringing up for you, you can plan ways to cope with those triggers. Therapists can help you identify new coping strategies to help you deal with these triggers more effectively. When you are able to cope with your triggers, you are less impacted by them.
As children, many of us suffered enough when we were bullied and do not need to sit with these same feelings as an adult. It is important to be aware that these feelings and thoughts are the impacts from when you were bullied.
Please know that you are now able to get the necessary help to heal from bullying.
If you’d like help finding the help you need to heal from your childhood bullying, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Danielle Matthew, LMFT, founder of The Empowerment Space: firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-267-4282.