We all experience them in our adult lives. They’re in our workplace, our family, our social circles and our networks. They are the women that strip other people down. That create alternative and twisted versions of the truth that fit their narrative of the world. The women who attack passively, seemingly unprovoked. That form close and compliant circles around them that normalise their behaviour.
They can cause us stress, anxiety and self-esteem issues that can hold us back.
Let me tell you the five things you didn’t know though:
- They don’t know they are bullies. In fact, quite the opposite. Most adult female bullies feel like victims. They feel oppressed by anyone and anything around them that threatens them. Their self-worth, their identity, their view of the world. They are often riddled with anxiety and feel a need to regain control in their life. Their faces are often a patchwork of worry, fear and hatred – betraying their ‘secret’ that they are not the fierce lioness they have learned to pretend be to survive.
- If you are being victimised by a female bully (and be careful to notice where this masquerades as friendship but is actually a toxic relationship), they probably think you are the problem. Things about you or that you do which are good, impressive or different, make them feel something negative and so they attack you. You have sparked their anxieties, eroded their self-worth and their primal instinct is to attack…sometimes passively, sometimes publicly, sometimes slowly and socially. They can wrap bullying up as ‘gossip’, critique or passing comment. Or as public defence.
- You take too much of the ownership on yourself, because you are more emotionally aware. You look for contributions you’ve made to your relationship. You look for learnings. You beat yourself up for not being more confident and standing up for yourself. You look for how you can make it better. You may even start to believe their view of the world. You join the drama triangle and start your rotation from victim, to perpetrator and perhaps even rescuer as you try and help her help herself with some home truths or an olive branch.
- There is nothing you can do. Yes, she’s hurting. She’s a wounded lioness. She’s defending her young, her territory, her squidgy bits, her injuries. But only she can heal herself. And as we all know, that doesn’t come from lashing out and hating on others. That only attracts the same back in to their life and becomes a self-fulfilling existence. She will continue to be ‘attacked, betrayed and victimised’ until she learns that she is her biggest saboteur. Until she deals with the root of her anxieties and loves herself better. Her lack of self-worth.
- Only you know these secrets, and that is your power. The only way out is to get off the drama triangle merry go round; and that takes acceptance of 3 things:
- You did nothing to justify their behaviour towards you
- You are not responsible for fixing her
- You can only control your own behaviour, no one else’s
The only way to deal with these poor women, who, I should add, I feel desperately sorry for and can empathise with, is to ignore their bullying behaviours and move on. In whatever form that takes for you.
If it’s a family member, it may mean choosing to see the wounded lion behind the fierce roar to create objectivity before it gets to you. If it’s a friend, it may mean cutting them out while they heal. If it’s a work colleague or a business associate, it may require making some strategic, legal, career or business decisions to minimise their damage, whilst isolating that from their ability to create an emotional response from you.
It doesn’t mean we can’t feel sorry for them. We all know what creates bullies, but we can’t rescue all of them. Especially not when they negatively affect our lives. Your life isn’t about them. The bullying is about them. Your life is about you.
Use your super power to free yourself from the toxic associations and focus on being a role model and inspiration to others. To take ownership of their stuff, to choose to deal with their issues and treat others with the kindness and respect they deserve, no matter how wounded they are.
Tracy James is a Berkshire based Life Coach and Team & Leadership Coach whose mission it is to help people deal with their ‘stuff’ and get what they want from their life and their career. She also creates team and leadership development programmes in SMEs, who nurture their staff as their biggest asset.
Tracy’s own journey through coaching and thought hacking has helped her to transform her life and she loves helping her clients on their journeys’. She also runs the Maidenhead & Windsor and Reading tribes of Girl Tribe Gang that support women who are aspiring to quit the 9 to 5, running a side hustle or working for themselves.
Subscribe to her newsletter at www.brightyellowcoaching.com/newsletter, connect with her @brightyellowcoaching, or contact her direct on email@example.com for a free initial 30 minute chat about what you could achieve together.