How to Build an Unbreakable Human: An Open Letter to My Bully

Dear Bully,

You tried to break me. Thankfully resilient people are hard to break. They get knocked down just like everyone else, but have a tendency to soldier on – more often than not – a little bit stronger than before. I’m not saying it’s been easy. Fear tactics work for a reason.

It helps to have an ace up the sleeve. Mine is in the form of my young son whom I regularly teach to defend against bullying. So despite the desire to slash your tires, I knew I had to find a healthier way to persevere if I’m asking him to do the same.

The thing is, suffering is inevitable. Why you force it, I’ll never know. There seems to be enough to go around in this world already. What I do know is that from pain can come wisdom and from suffering can come strength.

I also believe that we come by our way of being in the world honestly, as our “best strategy” to meet the challenges of life. You learned to play on the defense. I suspect you’ve been hurt one too many times so you come out swinging, expecting the worst from people. I’m sorry for that, but it’s not a reason to torment others.

Resilience is a skill that, more often than not, is built through enduring hardship. When practiced, it helps buffer life’s challenges and enables us to live with greater purpose and joy. When I heard you bought the house next door, I saw an opportunity (tinged with an uncomfortable amount of irony) to model for my son just how to build more of this precious quality.

Breathing down my dark thoughts, I turned to my little boy and said, “What do you say we cut the prettiest flowers from our garden and go welcome our new neighbor?”

He knew the pain you caused me over the year and with the pureness of heart that only a child can posses, happily agreed to the task. In that moment, it was no longer clear who was teaching whom. His readiness to forgive reminded me of how much we sacrifice on our way to maturity. Imagine how different the world would be if we all treated each other with that same degree of kindness?

Walking over to your house, the old conditioned fear returned. Am I stirring up more trouble? Will she see this as subterfuge? I stopped and was about to turn around until I looked down at my son, walking happily with our makeshift bouquet. I realized it doesn’t matter what you think. It matters what he thinks.

To be ruled by love instead of hate is the last of the human freedoms and I’ll be damned before I let you take that away. I’m teaching my son not to cower in fear but to rise strong in the face of doubt and uncertainty. The following tips can also be helpful in building the resilient qualities of an unbreakable human being:

Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Assisting others in their time of need also helps.

Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting what cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can.

Focus on what matters. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”

Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching, wishing they would just go away or collapsing in hopelessness.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength (even while feeling vulnerable), increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

In peace and health,

Your Neighbor

 

 

 

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