When I began writing my book ‘Finding Sofia’, it was with the intention of shining a light on bullying in its more subtle forms and on its profound effect on people. Spiritual wisdom, the environment and the power of inspiration all weaved their way into the story. However, it was after writing the book that I realized how deeply the bully reaches.
Since writing it, I have come to a much richer understanding of bullying and the profound impact it’s had on my life. I had long ago, allowed “bullies” the power to stop me from being who I really am. It may not have been their words or actions that affected me deeply, although definitely hurtful. Going deeper, I see it was the feelings I sensed coming from those words and actions that lasted with me. It was, most of all, the expressions on their faces, in their eyes. It contrasted so starkly from what I felt to be true inside, it all made no sense to me.
So as a child, having no other way to explain this imbalance,
I internalized it. “It must be me”, “I did something wrong”,
“I somehow failed”.
Oh, they were not clear thoughts, it was a feeling of them that just lay below the surface of everything I experienced. I’ve since learned, that was the voice of shame keeping me in it’s grip. Brene Brown, a well-known researcher and author, describes shame as feeling like you are the failure.
I took on all the mocking and ridiculing that was thrown at me. Then hey, I got older, the childhood power struggling was surely behind me, right? Not so much. My body, having become the emotion of shame after so many years of supposed failure, required more of the chemical mix that was shame. So the body, being the miracle it is, provided thoughts that filled in and became the bully for years. “You’ll never be able to do this”, “What do you know?”, “You’re not good enough”, “Stop pretending”, “You’re a fake”, “Nobody cares about what you have to say”, “Nobody wants to help you”, just to point out a few (I could go on).
I allowed my thoughts the power to keep myself small.
Once in a while I stepped out of my comfort zone slightly, only up to a limited point to keep me safe. Any accomplishments went unacknowledged and uncelebrated. Just like if a nation only unfurled its flag a quarter of the way, so they aren’t fully recognized. So the truth is that I bullied myself much longer than the handful of children at school. I gave my power away to the bullies and let them win.
I’ve since chosen to reframe what failure means to me. In fact, I now believe I can never fail. I can only win. Stepping out of our comfort zone or putting ourselves out there in some way, is cause for celebration. If something doesn’t work out as planned, then it requires an adjustment or tweaking. Therein is the win, having attempted an experience and knowing that it can always be changed, if necessary. If it does work out as planned, then what a joyful surprise!
So writing ‘Finding Sofia’ has shone a light on bullying for me, in the most profound way. The veil has finally lifted and revealed the underlying feeling of shame, of not measuring up, of being my own bully. There was such a wonderful release in knowing this and being brave enough to look at it, that now there’s room for honour. Room to honour my gifts, my curiosity, my unique perspectives and to celebrate them with love.
What are your thoughts telling you?
I can sit down now.