I came across this term recently. What is an emotional bully? It is someone who bullies someone at an emotional level. How do they do that?
There are two strategies that are involved both of which insidiously complement each other:
- Failures are magnified. The bully magnifies the failures of the bullied. So everything that is not right is put under the magnifying glass and every aspect of failure is dissected to show its grossness. Every which way the person who has failed in a certain incident has their failings picked apart, and that material is brutally used to bring down the victim.
- Successes are minimised. When the victim does something well it is greeted with a phrase like “that’s just what anyone would do”. Curiously this strategy can go so far that the bully emphasises the inadequacies of the victim so much that they even make the successes into failures by labouring how they really should and could have done better. So even when they do well they fail! Moreover, when there is a significant achievement by the victim this can be undermined by the bully looking for any fault that they can find in what they have done in that instance.
So am I an emotional bully? I feel as parents we need to be very much on our guard in this issue. We can so easily fail in this realm. Failure to acknowledge success and continual griping about our children’s failures can be disastrous to their welfare. I have come across adults who have ongoing problems in their lives simply because they were emotionally bullied in a family situation as children.
But it so easily applies elsewhere. Bosses in a workplace can be guilty. Church leaders can be perpetrators of these heinous activities.
Oh Lord help me never to be an emotional bully.
(Originally published at Venabling on 11th June 2014).