We have social relationships, interpersonal relationships and intimate relationships – there is a huge array of different relationships we can have from one day to the next but how aware are we of them? Do we take note of them or acknowledge how they make us feel?
For the majority of the time we do not pay heed to the effect our dealings with people can have on our emotions and thoughts unless they are extremely positive or extremely negative. However it can be in those subtle encounters where we can grow as individuals or where we can begin to doubt ourselves.
Having experienced quite a number of my teenage years a victim of bullying I know the devastating effect it can have on a person’s emotional development. If the consequences are not dealt with it will carry through to your adult life and can affect your relationships, unknown to yourself – working relationships, friendships, family and more intimate relationships.
Recent years have been good to me and it has allowed me to study personal development, coaching and bullying to try and understand how it all happened and why it all happened.
How it happened was my ignorance to emotional intelligence (EI), not understanding the effect some relationships were having or not having on me, how I dealt with certain relationships and how I dealt with my own feelings. Ignorance can be seen as a harsh word but that is what it was down to – I had a lack of awareness and a lack of knowledge of my emotional wellbeing.
If we are not aware of our EI it is difficult to see the signs of bullying or negative influence, particularly in group / social environments. For example our working environment can be stressful at times and we spend 8 hours a day with colleagues we might have good, bad or indifferent relationship with. People can have very subtle influence on us during those hours – a comment that might make you question your ability, a look up and down at your appearance, social isolation at break times. Once or twice is manageable but if it is a repeated and targeted exclusion or comment then it falls under the bullying tag and is a serious issue. This applies to all areas of social interaction be it in groups (schools, sports teams) or individuals.
If we can acknowledge to ourselves how an interaction makes us feel we can start to take some control on how we react to the situation. Our reaction is the key to how we take control – our reaction will determine the outcome. We cannot control our reactions if we are not aware of our feelings and EI.
E + R = O (Event + Reaction = Outcome)*
As to the ‘Why’ bullying happens, it can vary quite a lot but the main reasons a bully does what (s)he does is down to their own lack of confidence, their own lack of empathy but mostly their own lack of power. Research shows that bullies themselves have been or are victims of bullying. Someone has dented their confidence, reduced their self-worth, and taken their power to control their own life. It can be down to rearing and conditioning at home – the bully’s relationship with others has determined how they perceive life and how they deal with EI.
It is a vicious circle and will continue if we all remain ignorant in dealing with negative relationships. Awareness is essential – emotional intelligence awareness, bullying awareness, how to react awareness.
We can change the outcome of relationships by dealing with them. Address areas of concern you have, separate yourself from situations that make you feel uncomfortable or negative, choose to ignore comments, stand firm on your beliefs and take control. Get to know yourself more internally and allow the ‘real you’ to shine.
Life is a challenge but the more we open up, the more we learn. Knowledge is power – awareness is key.
Relationships can be magic and fulfilling – finding people you enjoy spending time with, laughing with, competing with and growing with is one of the best things in life. If a group makes you happy or a person lights up your day, embrace it and hold onto it – work hard at keeping it and most of all enjoy it.
* – Irish LifeCoaching Institute Reference
By: Stephen Maguire – Performance & Development Coach