Auntie Says…The term “bully” is over-used and doesn’t mean anything anymore.

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Auntie Says…Bully? How about tormenter or bulldozer?—it’s a better fit.

There was recently an article in the news about a school bullying incident that escalated to the point of involving the police. Apparently the Principal and staff could see the situation getting out of hand and chose to use every resource at their fingertips. Bravo. 

The Administrator and staff aren’t miracle workers and realized their own limitations in dealing with a simmering situation. Having outside support is huge in taking a stand against the unrelenting bullying that some students inflict and others suffer.

It was the comments following the article that I found to be most insightful. Many said they were teaching their children to fight back—‘knock the other child down’ they said ‘and then kick them’. While the comments didn’t shock me, they made me sad in that there is a misunderstanding as to what is actually happening in the schools and it makes me think that we need to re-think the word “bully”. 

The word is used to conjure up the image of an overly aggressive kid who pushes a smaller one down and steals the ball. That kind of hands on school-yard posturing hasn’t changed over the centuries and is only part of the picture. Parents telling their kids to fight back are not wrong because they’re giving their kid permission to have a voice. It’s a matter of “how” they fight. Hands on doesn’t work and chances are the kid retaliating will be the one who gets in trouble. We’ve all heard it—he started it—but it doesn’t make a difference. Having someone treat you badly is not ok and screaming bloody murder until an adult arrives (or the aggressor leaves) is an option.

 

Bullying has evolved over the years. It doesn’t necessarily mean hands-on, violent confrontation—it’s become sneakier, slimier, and more silent. Imagine someone walking by your work station every day, several times, whispering, ‘you stink’ or ‘I’m gonna get you’… always out of earshot of any authority figure. What if you were being deliberately ‘nudged’ in the hallway—just enough to throw you off balance—constantly. It’s sometimes done with a smile by someone who’s considered a “good kid” and not necessarily your likely suspects. It can be like a game or power play to them. Imagine going to work everyday and having your co-worker treat you like that. What if, every single day—over and over—you’re told you should ‘go kill yourself’…‘go off and die’…‘no one loves you’? That’s a slow erosion of an individuals self worth and confidence. You might want to punch them in the face in the lunchroom, but then what?

I remember reading about a woman who was the target of an online hate attack. She said that though she knew all the words were false, it ate her up inside. Every time she turned on her computer it was there…mocking her. While computers and phones can be turned off, the hateful whispers, innuendos, the seemingly innocent jabs in the hallway, or the open mocking by individuals, doesn’t go away. The question I ask, is whether or not this nonviolent/hands off bullying is being viewed as being as serious as a bully knocking down a kid and stealing the ball. I’m not sure it is and I think it’s worse—much worse—and frightening.

Maybe we need to change the word ‘bully’ to ‘thug’ or ‘goon’…how about ‘bulldozer’? 

The real question is, what satisfaction do these bulldozer kids get out of making someone else feel like crap? I know one person had commented on the recent bully story saying that the home life of the tormentor needs to be the focus. I totally agree. The focus needs to be off the act and on to the wrong-doer. They’re inflicting life long pain for what we all see as ‘no reason’, but there has to be some pay off. I’d like to know what it is.

If you have a story to share…let’s chat.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Contact her at  faye.arcand@icloud.com or fayeearcand.com

U.S.A. Student Activism–March On!

Auntie Says…My thoughts are with the American students. March on!

Columbine. That word pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

It was April 1999 and I’ll never forget seeing the images of terrified high school students running for their lives. I, like everyone else, was horrified and sickened, but It got worse—much worse. School shootings in the U.S. became, I hate to say it … commonplace.

While for the most part I don’t talk politics or religion, my heart and voice are with every student in the U.S. marching and protesting for a safer tomorrow. I’m optimistic as I witnessed the planned walk out one month to the day after the Florida school shooting. It was an illustration of choosing a course of action in solidarity and it makes me proud.

The young people of today are the voters of tomorrow. Getting angry about the abhorrent gun laws, political rhetoric, and the seemingly lackadaisical attitudes surrounding school shootings is not only necessary, but required, for change. It takes a lot of courage and tenancity to take those first steps against the status quo and I applaud these young people for what they’re doing.

Like many, I’ve wept as the body count rises in the name of U.S. democratic freedoms. Even from a  distance where I don’t feel the same physical (gun violence) threats, I can still understand the grief faced by so many —too many. I seriously don’t know how they all cope and carry on after such harrowing circumstances.

In Canada, we don’t face the same fears about school shootings, but we still feel our neighbor’s pain and the aftershocks of grief and anger. For every individual that dies, there are survivors—the other students, the family, the teachers, staff, and first responders—forever changed in a way that we can only imagine, but there’s also the public. Let’s not forget the average person watching the tragedy unfold on TV and how it affects them. It’s a mood of uncertainty and helplessness suffered by millions of people in both the US and Canada. It’s a sad truth of the day.

Even if you don’t think your kid is aware of the news and current events, believe me—they know. The kids talk about it to each other and in class. They watch YouTube .It’s not a secret and yet as far as I know, the schools here don’t do anything like security drills or heightened vigilance. Who knows how much all the school gun violence south of the border is adding to the anxiety and depression for teens everywhere?  After a televised incident, I’d bet that all the teachers and administrators walk back into the school with a heavy heart. How could you not? It doesn’t matter where the incident occurs, it affects us all.

When I see the anger and determination on the faces of those young people marching, it gives me hope. Hope that there will be change. Hope that someone amongst those students, is a strong and forever leader—a compelling voice—that will bring about positive transformation. I also hope that the protest continues until it’s voice is so strong that it can no longer be pushed aside or ignored.

We joke about having ‘first-world problems’—school shootings should not be one of them. Let’s pray that the students voices raised in protest will be heard and acted upon. #NationalWalkoutDay #StudentsForChange #EndGunViolence #AuntieSays

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com 

Auntie Says…”What we think, we become.” (Buddha)

Here we are at the beginning of 2018 and I’d like you to take a critical look at your thinking. Is it centered around self doubt or truth? Are you overanalyzing a situation that you can let go? Let’s take a look…

A few months ago I met a young woman who described herself as “abrasive and unlikable”…those were her words. She’s in her mid 20’s, very attractive, fit, and presents herself as a professional. I was taken aback by her self effacing talk and told her what I saw. She said that she’d never felt good enough and couldn’t compete with the people around her—especially other woman. I asked her if there’d been a specific incident that brought this on and she said that she’d been very shy in high school and just “knew” that others didn’t like her.

This was so sad because she’d allowed herself to become crusty and defensive in her negative stance simply because of her own, (I think false) thinking. She compares herself to others, “knows” what others are thinking about her without actually experiencing it, and is stuck with that terrible echo in her head of not being good enough.

Does it sound familiar? It’s not unique—we all do it, it’s just to what degree. What we need to remember is that those messages we allow to live (and sometimes fester) in our brains are not always tried, tested and true. As we progress into this new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the internal dialogue and perhaps work on making some changes.

This is so powerful to consider because of all the situations you encounter and internalize on a daily basis. Thoughts, both positive and negative, can become a part of you as they loop around in your head.
Do you ever silently beat yourself up emotionally over and over for things you’ve said, or didn’t say? Did? or Didn’t do? Should or shouldn’t do? It’s endless.
All simple and mundane actions or words that have the ability to spin out of control and get in your head whether coming from your best friend, a co-worker or complete stranger.
The day can be lost when a comment, a look, or gesture gets caught in that loop in your head that won’t let you rest because you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve made an egregious error and force yourself to live it over and over.
Picture this…you’re walking down the street and someone vaguely familiar is coming toward you. You can’t remember their name or where you’ve met—what do you do? Panic? Hide? Then they walk by and don’t even look at you…Now where does your brain go? For some, it’ll go straight to the negative and disparaging.
I’m forgettable…They don’t like me…They probably think my shoes are ugly…I have bad breath…on and on.
Can you see the spiral getting out of control? A downwards descent into self doubt, anxiety, and depression—boom—just like that. You felt positive about the day when you left home only to slide quickly into the proverbial rabbit hole of darkness and isolation by your own thoughts.
Nowhere did you consider that the other person maybe lost in their own spiral, on the phone, or is too nervous to say hello because they don’t feel worthy.
What’s really happening is, that like the young woman who sees herself as being unlikeable, you’re stuck in your brain as judge and jury without a trial. There’s no truth in the thoughts—you’ve made them all up. If you begin to recognize the false thoughts you may be able to pull yourself back enough to reevaluate the situation and your conclusions.
The mind is so powerful and you can find the strength to realize that not all thoughts belong—they’re false, they’re damaging, they’re toxic. Close your eyes and imagine putting them in an envelop, sealing it and mailing them away. I know, it may sound silly, but remember you’re the one in control of those thoughts and sending them away may be enough. Perhaps each time you think a negative thought, you have an envelop on standby and stuff it.
One that always works for me is to recite ‘not my circus-not my monkey’. Simply meaning that I’m not going to allow those outside thoughts that don’t concern me into my brain.
What you need to look at is whether or not any of those negative, self destructive thoughts are enough to take you off your game. Find some strength from deep within and remember that not everything you think, or even feel, is truth, and just because you think it, doesn’t mean that you have to believe it.
If you find yourself stuck in the negative thought patterns with no sign of breaking free, it may be time to seek help. Let’s make 2018 the best yet.

 

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Reach her at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com

*Published by Black Press