A New Approach from Cosmic Kitty
The issue of bullying is one that has reached significant proportions. Depending on which reports you read, numbers go from one in four students being bullied during the school year to 3.2 million students bullied annually in the U.S., to 160,000 teens skipping school each day because of being bullied. The good news, as a society we are talking about it, and it’s no longer accepted as “part of growing up.” The bad news, bullies have new ways to express themselves via online channels. It’s not just the playground anymore.
From a personal perspective, I was the victim of bullying when I was a kid. I was pinched and picked on. I would even go home with bruises. But that was the 1970’s, and it was seen as a right of passage. The thinking and messages I got were that the world was a tough, unfair place. Better to learn that now. Thankfully that message didn’t stick; “Suck it up, Buttercup” has never been my mantra. However, the bullying did leave a lasting impression on me. It certainly created some issues around self-worth that I dealt with for years and some weight issues, but it also sparked some of my creative outlets as I sought to escape my tormentors. About the same time I was being bullied, I started drawing Cosmic Kitty, though she didn’t have a name at the time.
Now, 39 years later, Cosmic Kitty encounters a bully in her first book when she travels to the 3rd dimension. In an interesting twist, it’s herself in a parallel world. Katherine, the school bully, verbally abuses Cosmic Kitty when she tries to befriend her. As the story progresses, we learn that Katherine’s behavior is motivated from a place of fear and home troubles, as is often the case with bullies.
Here are a few things we can learn from Cosmic Kitty with regards to her bully, Katherine.
- Work from a place of compassion – Once CK realized that Katherine’s home life and her fear of being alone were motivating her behavior, it was easier for CK to understand and forgive. She realized it was not Katherine’s true nature to bully, just a reaction to her environment. I am not advocating we walk up to our bullies and tell them we have compassion for them, but trying to understand the motivation for a bully and dig a little deeper helps us not to be so afraid, and realize they are human too.
- Realize it’s not about you – Bullying is a VERY personal thing, so developing an understanding that bullying isn’t really about us can be a difficult concept. But the reality is that people bully because they have their own issues of self-worth and esteem, and they are likely being bullied themselves or have other struggles. You just happen to be in the way, or you are the closest reason they can somehow justify in their mind. You may be a little different from them, or it may just be proximity. But either way, to help keep your own self-esteem intact, remind yourself daily that this is not about you. It’s the inner demons of the bully that are the problem. As a matter of fact, you may even be a mirror for something they hate about themselves, which makes you even more of a target.
Just to be clear, I don’t want anyone to think I am advocating that we do not protect ourselves from bullies. There are great resources and protocols for getting help. I am only suggesting that we dig beneath the layers and truly understand what’s happening for you, and for the bully. Who knows, you may even end up with a new friend as CK and Katherine did!