Bullies are everywhere. Many of us have experienced their unpleasant games and tactics. Bullies are seldom invited and make their presence felt when least wanted. Bullies are astute and choose their targets carefully. They seem to know the weak spots and how to expose the raw vulnerabilities of a person or group. We find it hard to talk about bullies just in case our conversation is overheard and unnecessary consequences follow. Our own story about bullying may just be too difficult to discuss.
This novel corona virus, or SARS-Cov-2 virus, feels like a global bully in our midst. It is adaptable and has moved to live in a bat then a pangolin and now in the human body. The threat is that it will continue to adapt again and again. The virus is so small that 500 million of them can fit on a pinhead but its power does not lie in its size but rather in its ability to disturb and destroy life. The virus needs a host and can wait, even up to five days on a metal surface, until a human touch finds it. This virus can spread wildly from one person to another in order to survive and multiply further by making use of a human host and the host’s need to connect with others.
Responding to any threat or danger, such as a bully or the corona virus, is so hard. The consequences of the threat, such as the lock-down or isolation and a dreaded disease or being hurt is a real possibility and fear. There are seldom simple and clear solutions to dealing with any threat or danger. The first priority is to keep ourselves and others safe as best as we can and for each of us this may mean or require something different.
I thought it may be helpful to understand how we keep ourselves safe and protected when facing any threat or danger, for example from a bully. Our survival responses of flight, fright or fight are the most common and expected in such situations. Fighting against a bully with anger, rage and hitting back is often a first response and although the rage releases some of the stress we feel, it seldom removes the problem, and the anger and frustration may stay under the surface, erupting when it all gets too much. Flight is the need to get away from the situation by either running away, denying or ignoring the reality. This helps us to avoid the issues in the vain hope that we can escape from the dangers without having to face them. For some of us, a fright response, seems like we are frozen, stuck and unsure, and the way in which we cope. It is all too much for us and so overwhelming that we are left standing, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed yet not knowing what to do. None of these response should lead to judgement, as they are what they are, simply responses. We are all different and we each have our own experiences and stories that are behind our coping with a threat.
The uncertainty and not knowing the consequences of this pandemic may seem to be one of our greatest threats to our (perhaps false) sense of safety and security. The reality of bullies is that they adapt and change and hardly go away. They just seem to come back in another form and time. We do, however, have the freedom to choose a different response to keep ourselves and others safe. I want to share a few thoughts about surviving this corona-bully-virus by choosing a different response: