Lao Tzu says “He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”
There have been several programs on TV over the last few months that have been about bullying and they were all somehow focused on the victim. Let’s take one of them as an example – I think it was one of the Private Practice shows a couple of weeks ago. There was this young chap (let’s call him Eric) around 14 who had lost his father at the age of 8 (or so) and now it was just him and his mum. His dad had gotten him interested in Japanese comic strips and it was something that he continued on his own. The kids at school really didn’t ‘get it’ and he became the butt of their jokes and because he didn’t react in any way, pretty soon the ‘jokes’ became violent and he was being taunted and beaten up on a regular basis.
Eric’s mum’s way of dealing with this was to take her son out of harm’s way and the result was that over a period of 2 years, Eric changed schools 8 times. Not a good situation, I am sure you will agree. As Eric moved from school to school, he became more and more the ‘butt’ of the bullies and not having any time to form any of his own roots and find friends who had similar interests, meant that he was on his own more of the time and being on his own, made him more susceptible to being the prey of bullies, and so the cycle continued.
Eric eventually started making up ‘pains’ and fevers to get out of school and his mother eventually took him off to see a doctor. The doctor (let’s call him Phil) happened to be a child psychologist and when Phil examined Eric for his so called ‘stomach ache’ the truth came out. Phil told Eric that he needed to ‘stand up’ for himself and that bullies, when confronted, would usually back down and he would then be left alone. Good advice, I am sure you will agree – but this is a TV program, so of course it didn’t work like that.
Eric, in an attempt to ‘stand up’ for himself, took a knife to school and of course he was busted by one of the teachers. Mother dearest was furious with Dr. Phil, because this was of course all of his fault, and would not allow Eric to see the doctor again and of course to ensure a good dose of drama, Eric attempted to commit suicide.
As he regained consciousness Eric spoke to Phil and explained how he felt that he could not meet anyone who he could connect with at school because his mum kept moving him and Phil explained that the first step would be to ‘stand up’ to his mother. Eric’s mum, of course only wanted to keep her son safe and again wanted him to move to another school.
Eric, eventually stepped up to the plate and convinced his mother that this was something he had to do for himself, he had to overcome his own fears and he had to face his tormentors, without showing them any fear, and he had to find ‘the others’ like himself – he could no longer run and he could only do this if she left him in the same school.
The message for me, was very clear – there is a very wrong and a very right way to gain victory over your enemies, but in order for that to happen you have to gain victory over yourself and (as in this case) it meant Eric facing his own fears and gaining control over them.
Gaining a measure of control over myself, my fears and insecurities was one of the biggest steps forward that I took and for what it’s worth, it made my (at that point) self esteem soar. I felt as though I had conquered the world and that made me feel and react differently and that made other people see me in a totally different light altogether.
So the next time you feel tiny and insignificant in the face of the world, remember to gain control of your fears, of yourself and that victory will carry you through any kind of adversity.
You will be all powerful because you will be victorious over your biggest enemy – yourself!