If you were bullied as a child, you probably remember feeling helpless, unsafe, insecure, and alone. In fact, studies have shown that the bullying you experienced in childhood may have been so traumatic that you are still feeling the effects even today. There is hope for recovery. Here are six things you can do to recover from bullying you experienced as a child or as a teen.
1 Be Patient
Childhood bullying leaves deep scars and recovery is not a quick process, especially if you did not deal with the bullying when it occurred. As a result, you likely have a number of wrong perceptions and bad habits to break. Celebrate your progress no matter how small and give yourself time and space to heal. The changes may be small and slow but they are still changes. One day you will wake up and see a new person looking back at you in the mirror.
2 Find Closure
An essential part of your recovery is to move beyond what has happened to you. While you need to acknowledge how bullying impacted you, you also need to detach from it at some point. The bullying you experienced does not define who you are. Instead, rediscover who you are and close the door on the past. Some victims of bullying have found that writing a letter (that you never mail) to the bullies helps them find closure on what happened. Doing so, allows you to express all the pain and anger you were unable to express when you were a child.
3 Focus on Personal Growth
Identify areas where you need to grow or heal. For instance, do you need to build your self-esteem or become more assertive? Likewise, you also may benefit from learning to set boundaries, taking a self-defense class, or by joining a health club. Make a list of areas where you want to improve or change. It is best to make this list on your own rather than asking for someone else’s opinion. This way, you will own the changes you need to make. But if you are having trouble identifying your weaknesses, ask a close friend or family member what they see.
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4 Recognize Your Value and Worth
Bullying often causes people to lose confidence and self-esteem because it is packed with lies about your worth as a person. Reject the lies that the bully said about you and replace them with the truth about who you are. Focus on learning to be you again. To get started, write down your positive characteristics. What are you good at? What are your strengths? What do people like about you? What do you like about yourself? Focus on the positive things you have going for you and reject the lies the bullies fed you.
5 Reclaim Control
Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness can carry over into adulthood. As a result, you run the risk of living your life as a perpetual victim. Realize that while you cannot control what happened to you, you can control your reaction.
Start your recovery by taking control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
It is also important to own your reactions and realize that you can choose to make healthy choices. You have a choice on how to live your life.
6 Acknowledge the Bullying You Experienced
Victims of bullying often spend years minimizing the bullying, dismissing it or pretending it didn’t happen. Or, they succumb to feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame, believing if they had been different or tried harder the bullying would not have happened. The only way to begin the healing process is to recognize that the bullying occurred and that you were not responsible for it.
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How do you heal from childhood bullying?