A few months ago, I had a conversation with a rather young family member, who shall remain nameless, but got me thinking whilst I was cooking my spaghetti after working late at the library. The youngster in question, was telling me they weren’t enjoying school too much because a small group of fellow classmates were being particularly crappy. Okay, it wasn’t quite worded like that, but if you remember back to your school days, you can probably imagine what I am talking about, snide remarks, whispering behind backs, you know the sort of stuff. It’s something I remember from my school days, and I wish I had given better advice. So, I thought I would take to the blog, and write an advice guide on how to deal with such douchebags, applicable to the young and the old, because I could probably pick at random someone I know, and find they can tell a similar story.
So here goes;
1) People are douchebags, and this is going to happen throughout life.
I hate to say this, but this is true. I remember when I was staying with my cousins in Bangor, we were in the garden, and we saw a Zebra Finch in which one of my cousins decided it would be a good idea to try and coax it inside. I thought he was bonkers at first, but being a knowledgable animal lover, he explained that because it was a foreign bird, if it tried to nest in the garden, the other birds would basically attack it until it died, something known as mobbing. Of course, we were unsuccessful in our attempts, so I don’t know what happened to it, but I can relate it back to this. People are very much the same. One of the key behaviours that make me convinced that we are a product of some form of evolution, is the need to make someone a scapegoat. We have never moved on from our animal mentality, and feel the need to move in packs, or to become a part of a pack. When there is someone or something that seems foreign to our pack, we immediately feel alarmed that it will threaten the harmony, and so we feel the need to make that outsider into a scapegoat, and make it known that that thing, or person, is not welcome. This behaviour is usually initiated by the pack leader, or the alpha, who needs to assert his or her authority so that they can retain their position, and other, less significant members of the pack, feel the need to follow suit in order to remain accepted by that pack. It sucks, but sadly, that’s the circle of life. Now, most of us have moved on from that animal instinct, so no longer feel the need to maul people to death, but we use a much subtler method to make the outsider understand it isn’t welcome, mainly by trying to make the outsider as miserable as possible. Or, just by whispering about a stranger’s mannerisms, clothing etc behind their back, so that we can mark them as an outsider so that it can make it easier for us to “attack” if need be. Unfortunately, because we haven’t quite yet evolved as much as to not need a pack mentality, this is going to happen with certain groups throughout life. I’m 21, it still happens to me, and many others older than me, at work, at social groups, even on busses full of strangers. It sucks, but if you think of it this way, it’s easier to understand, so it may make you feel better.
2) For every douchebag, or group of douchebags, there will always be someone who appreciates you.
I’ve gone through life having to deal with such behaviour. In fact, I can guarantee that everyone reading this will have done. The first key to coping with it is to understand why it happens, as explained in point 1. What you also have to understand, is it isn’t your fault, but I will leave that to point three. My second step, would be to realise that you are appreciated.
There are people that are going to go out of their way to make you feel like crap. The next step is to think of all the people who appreciate you. If need be, make a mental list. Who, when such things happen, or other disastrous stuff, is there to listen? For example, I have my parents, who, whenever things go wrong, or people are being particularly crap, I call and moan to. I have friends in other cities and countries that I will chat to, or phone at 5am because some idiot at the local bar made a comment that upset me. I have friends who I can meet for coffee, or just moan to. I have relatives in the Staffordshire countryside who I can go and visit, and moan to over a bottle of wine. Your list may look different to mine, but I guarantee that there will be at least one person who you can talk to.
Another way to look at it, who appreciates you? Who, when things are going badly, turns to you at their darkest hour? Who, when they need cheering up, do they give you a call and you’ve gone for a coffee or a drink, because they want you to cheer them up? Who, when they need something doing, immediately turns to you?
Once you realise that there are people who love and appreciate you, the person, or group of people who make try and make you feel crap, seem pretty insignificant, even if just for a short while, and that’s half the battle.
Adding a sub step, you also have to ask, who gives you honest advice? People that genuinely care will sit you down in a corner and give you honest advice when you screw up. It may be critical, but do not confuse them for the douchebags. Douchebags will either point out your so called flaws in public at your expense for amusement, or make snide comments, or whisper behind your back. A kind friend will give you advice whether you ask for it or not, and will do so discreetly, to try and cause you as less harm as possible. It’s easy to confuse the two when you’re at your lowest, but believe me, it’s a sign of appreciation for you and your feelings, so hang in there.
With this step, it also makes it easier, if things are getting unbearable, for you to tell someone, maybe who can even intervene, a teacher perhaps? A parent? A friend? By doing the above of this step, you realise you’re not alone, people do care , and will take you seriously if you need help.
So I move on to step three.
3) Realise that it isn’t your fault, and don’t try and change yourself.
If we turn to step one a second, you will see that the behaviour is something that, although simplistic, is part of the circle of life that you can’t change. Which means that no matter if you wore different clothes, acted differently, didn’t have a regional accent or weren’t so eccentric, they’d find something else to scapegoat you for. The pack mentality is a simple one, so you have to realise that IT ISN’T YOUR FAULT.
Using step two, you will see that there are people that appreciate you, and that if you were a terrible person, those people wouldn’t care about you as much as they did.
So if it’s a mentality that you can’t change, and you have people that appreciate you, why bother to change yourself?
So now, if you’ve accomplished the above three steps, I think you may be ready to deal with four and five, the killer moves that I use which allow you to combat such behaviour. They have worked for me, but if you have a different method, or find that these don’t work, in which case, hang in there, but so far as I know, they’re effective.
4) Kill it with
You’re probably looking at the screen thinking I am insane right now, but let me explain. The mentality explained in step 1, is simple. The aim effect, is to make you feel excluded, or insecure enough that you back off, withdraw within yourself, or leave the shared environment. Which means they are looking for a reaction. By backing down, you give a desired reaction. By responding with equally snide remarks, or being visibly upset, or being physically reactive, you give a reaction. For me, the “stick up for yourself” method never worked, because it showed people that the mob actions were affecting me, which just meant they worked harder at it to pursue the end goal. What I eventually started doing, was being nice in return. If people were whispering about me, responding with a smile. If people made snide comments or tried to ridicule me, I would just laugh it off and continue acting in the warm friendly manner as I would with friends. It started to work, and it really did frustrate people trying to bring me down, that they just couldn’t get to me. It takes a lot of bravery and practise, and believe me, there are times where it’s really tempting to just punch someone, or make a comment back, or throw my drink over them, but being nice has been more of a weapon than any of these things.
Of course, obviously, if people are waiting for you every day outside the gates of school to beat the crap out of you, then being nice just isn’t going to cut it. In this case, TELL SOMEONE, and if you end up in a fight, defend yourself physically.
5) Do not give up, be strong, work hard, be successful.
Believe me, this is a brilliant step. At secondary school I was bullied quite badly, and there were times I really wanted to just give up, hide, or in some cases, even die. However, with the encouragement, and severe talkings to from parents and family, I stuck to my books, studied hard, and am now at university. This is what my dream of success was, and despite everything, I made it this far. My next goal, is to study abroad in Krakow, or either start working within Politics in the UK and work my way up. What does success mean to you? Set yourself an ambition, or a goal, and work for it. You don’t even have to tell anyone about it. It can be something big, like travelling the world, or something simple as knitting a scarf. By doing this, you not only have something to stick to, that you can you use to remind yourself that all the douchebaggyness is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but when you achieve it, it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to look back on all the crap that was happening at the time, and go “wow, even though all this happened, I’ve still accomplished this?!” In addition to this, nothing pisses douchebags off more than by seeing that despite the fact that they really tried to make your life a misery, you still accomplished your goal.
6) Do something that makes you feel good
Chances are that if people are being douchebags, you’re going to have moments when you feel low. Make sure you take time out to look after yourself. Watch movies, find an empty space and just scream and let out your frustration, enjoy a night in with a take away and a bottle of wine (if you’re over 18), arrange a coffee, a night out, a trip to the cinema or theatre with a friend, dress up and make yourself up even if you’re not going anywhere, dye your hair a new colour or give it a new cut. When you’re having to try and cope with stress laid on by other people, it’s important to do things to remind yourself how important YOU are, and make YOU feel happy. Otherwise you won’t have the energy or confidence to do the other five steps. Not only that, but there are times when you just need to realise how important you are to yourself. Whether you believe that your being on this earth is a result of a scientific accident, or at the hands of a creator, you are a unique individual with feelings, habits, emotions and characteristics that make you special, and it’s good to remind yourself of that sometimes. Having a goal can remind you of this too, as said in step five.
I hope this helps whoever reads this, if you’re going through a rough patch at school or work or Uni, and are having difficulty coping with people that are just going out of their way to be douchebags, then just remember these 6 steps. I cannot claim that they will solve all your problems straight away, but even if reading this gives you some comfort to know that there is someone out there who genuinely wants to help you, then I’m glad to have helped :)