me kay cooke

Bullies, Bullied, Bullying

What happens inside your mind when you hear the word ‘bullied’. What assumptions do you make and what is your default emotional reaction? 

I think the word ‘bully’ is a powerful metaphor that instantly shifts the words and pictures inside our minds (NLP calls these submodalities). We each have a view about the word, which can easily be branded as a weapon of mass toxicity, and quickly accepted as a truth or identity (he is… she is… they are …). But wait, where is the skill that allows us to unpack the component parts of what is really happening? Do we really have to take sides?

I believe we have a responsibility to tune up our eyes and ears, investigate the subjective experience of both the so called bullied and bully, guide their behaviours, and stay out of their social narratives. Neither bullying nor bullied are resilient behaviours.

To help build resilient behaviours, a useful first position is to build a map of the ‘whole system’ that supports both bullies and bullied. Let’s attempt to map the example of the teenager experiencing online contempt for her performance.

From the perspective of the parent: Mum has recognised her own ability/responsibility to ‘manage’ public perspective (remove a certain video). She perceives this as an irritating but manageable detail within the bigger picture that is, staying focused on building her daughter’s performance career. IMO this is a smart move regardless of the ‘reasons’ (bullies, trolls) given. We can understand this move intuitively as we’ve all removed a post or two from social media, haven’t we?

From the perspective of the teenager: The girl ‘wants’ to express her vocal artform, this is a powerful emotional feeling of motivation to connect to the wider world. She also recognises the social media system cultivates and harnesses public opinion, which can feel both a strong pull towards (her imagined) social recognition and a fearful (imagined) social rejection.  

From the perspective of the industry: Public performance industries thrive on a global celebrity culture that is seductive (especially to teenagers) and ruthless. Talent streaming relies on dividing and antagonising social opinion by stirring up human emotions and removing all fact. Every single player, ever, is disposable. Every and any story with clashing emotional content will be used to drive attention and manipulate the masses. This is not personal, it’s a cash cow.  Some ‘systems’ are more honest about these structures than others and some with integrity even ‘coach’ their players.

From the perspective of the fans: Celebrating the successes of others feels great to brains in ‘thrive’ mode. Lots of nice feelings of connection, admiration, compassion etc with an abundant flow of goodwill. A simple strategy to feel good.

From the perspective of the haters: Celebrating the successes of others feels threatening to brains in ‘survival’ mode. It’s as if the attention is scarce and will go elsewhere. Feelings of anger, jealousy and bitterness feel good – temporarily. A simple strategy to feel good.

Helping the bullied: Clear goals, simple personal boundaries, a fountain of great feelings that can be tapped into at any time.

Helping the bullies: Clear goals, simple personal boundaries, a fountain of great feelings that can be tapped into at any time.

Of course this is a simplistic view. And it’s not really about bullies and bullied. Those are simply the observable behaviours, which are only the outputs of thinking and feeling.

In a perfect world we’d all be immersed in our ‘thrive’ brains. But we are not. So how can we expect our children (and therefore society) to ‘thrive’ if they live in a system that deliberately profits from manipulating the thoughts and feelings of others?

We have to educate the next generation and their support structures to learn to drive their thrive brains, and as an application/specialist application of NLP, our Happy Brain work is powerful in doing this. We have a specialist tool kit that helps build resilience and a simple teaching model of thrive/survive.

Click here for more information (next Happy Brain training in November)

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